Saturday, December 6, 2008
amster! amster! dam dam dam!
i just saw this article on the bbc news website that dutch authorities are trying to "clean up" amsterdam by shutting down HALF the city's brothels, sex shops, and marijuana cafes. i put "clean up" in quotes because i think the correct phrase they were looking for is "water down."
they're also planning on reducing the number of "sex windows" from 482 to 243. "sex windows" is a bit of a misnomer. they aren't windows you have sex with. that would be weird. even for amsterdam. they are just windows, through which you can view prostitutes. no big deal. and for people too proud to pay for sexual favors, but still curious enough to want to see the red light district, amsterdam is spectacular for window shopping. but don't make eye contact! when i was in amsterdam, we were checking out the red light district and saw this LARGE prostitute sending a scared looking young man out of her booth. we were laughing because she was sweaty and gross and out of breath and he looked like he wanted to sit in the shower and cry for a few hours. the big prosti caught our eye and started yelling for us to "come here!" it was terrifying.
but it was all part of the experience. and i didn't really experience anything TOO crazy. and part of me kind of regrets that. i mean, i don't wish that i had visited a hooker or anything like that. i just feel like i should've done something more amsterdamy, ya know?
there were a few semi-crazy stories from the trip. one night, we got a little too drunk at this campus bar and i convinced the girl we were staying with (a friend of my friend, mike's) that we were sober enough to go into the city to check out some more bars. on the train to the city, my friend mike somehow fell and cut his head open and was bleeding pretty badly. but we were still smooth enough to convince everyone we were with that we could totally still go to some bars in the city. so mike is like all sprawled out in the train, with his head tilted back, holding a tissue to the gash, trying to stop the bleeding. suddenly he lurches forward and barfs all over the floor of the train. finally, the girl hosting us is like, "okay, we're not going into the city. we'll get off at the next stop and turn around." then one of the conducters comes back and sees mike, bleeding profusely from the forehead, sitting in front of a bunch of barf, and the conducter asks, "is he okay?" i'm wasted and say something like, "yeah, just needs another beer." and the conductor actually laughs and just walks away. looking back at it, i can't believe we didn't get arrested or at least thrown off the train or something.
then later that night, mike woke up and started making a ruckus. he somehow thought he was still on the train and he wanted to get off. we couldn't get him to realize we were back at his friend's flat. it was kind of scary. kind of comical. funny what alcohol and headwounds can do to the brain.
oh and another story from that trip: we were at a party one night and it was a lot of international students. and this one guy and girl call me over to them and the guy asks me where i'm from. i say the states and he reacts disappointedly, the girl seems triumphant. i ask what gives and they tell me they were just looking around the room trying to guess where people were from. i ask where they guessed i was from. the girl guessed ireland or america. i tell her that's a good guess because i'm going to school in ireland, but i'm from the states. i ask the guy where he guessed i was from. "portugual," he says. "portugual?" i say. "yeah," he says, serious as hell.
it's not a very interesting story but for a minute it made me feel like i looked exotic.