May 2, 2007
Today I wandered around Amsterdam with my friend JP from New York who now lives in Brussels. He came in on the train for the day. I was shopping for some gifts my wife when I noticed he and a local shopgirl were flirting heavily with each other (falling for Dutch girls is a major hazard for unattached American guys in this city). He was just asking her ordinary tourist questions about what to see and do... but something was going on, everyone could feel it, there was palpable frisson between them...
And then I paid, the gifts were wrapped, and it was time to go. "Vamos," I said and we headed to the door. The girl was watching JP. Just as we were almost outside, an unremoved security tag in my bag set off an alarm and we had to go back inside. Grabbing the opportunity, JP asked the girl out for dinner... "Oh, but tonight I have a birthday party," came the reply. She sounded disappointed... He was flustered and said something like, "Ahh. Um ok. Sorry." Again we headed out. He started talking about her immediately. "My god," he said shaking his head. As we walked away he kept looking back, his disappointment growing... "It's like she was tearing apart my molecular sctructure." "Dammit why didn't I ask her to do something after the birthday party, or before...tea. Anything"
"Just go back," I urged, "The worst thing she'll say is no." We walked another few blocks before he finally turned around. I waited at an outdoor bar. An hour or so later he returned, crushed. He had procrastinated. The shop had closed. The girl was gone.
But at least he tried and maybe some day soon he'll return to find the place again, because those moments when your molecular structure gets torn apart are rare indeed and you never know what might happen when you ask the right girl the right question... sometimes you even end up married to her.