It began with a hairstyle.
As a rule, I don’t care for books that open that way – cryptically.
But on this occasion I have no choice, because it’s exactly what happened.
August 1999. An overcast morning. I was standing in a cramped office in Amsterdam’s
red light district, trying to persuade a Dutchman called Lars, whose company
arranges brothel-tours, to take me on a tour of a brothel. A simple enough
transaction on the face of it (“You run tours, I want to go on one of
your tours, here’s a handful of meaningless colored paper that you Dutch
people call money, let’s move.”), but for some reason Lars didn’t
I can’t remember now exactly what his answer was, but the gist of it
went something like this: No.
“Aw, come on, Lars! Please??”
Unfortunately, his English wasn’t too good, and my grasp of Dutch is
non-existent – to my ears, everything they say sounds like “Heeeri,
hooori, yerdi-oooori, ooori-ooori” – so instead I decided to try
a fresh approach, adopting a technique that’s worked well in the past
when dealing with foreigners. I call it Shouting and Pointing.
“HOOKERS!” - jabbing my finger at a poster over his desk. “ME
- INTERVIEW - HOOKERS!”
In the picture, four buxom women in garters and low-cut bodices were draped
over a leopard-print couch, leering out at us like a bunch of mildly-inebriated
Rockettes; only…well, their bodices were a little too low-cut for Rockettes.
And the one on the far left had a big nose and thyroid eyes, so I doubt she’d
have passed the auditions. But they served my purpose.
“TAKE ME TO THE HOOKERS!”
“Heeeri,” Lars protested, shaking his head. “Erdi-nyora-yeeri,
Which I can only assume is Dutch for ‘stop shouting’.
And I was just wondering what else I could do short of slapping him to get
my message across when, at that moment, I was distracted by something red
and shiny that shot by the window outside...
Extract from Gullible's Travels: The Adventures of a Bad
Taste Tourist, by Cash Peters. Published by Globe Pequot Press.
© 2003 Cash Peters. All rights reserved.