To Bee Honest…
Seems like a random topic, right? Nope.
I arrived back home on a Wednesday and the gloomy Amsterdam weather was a major let down. Adding salt to injury, I had all these outdoorsy plans for the anticipated weekend visit of an old high school buddy, first meeting in 11 years (hey lady!). I needed the Dutch weather to cooperate. As her luck or mine would have it, Saturday was a blistering hot day. Cheered by the weather we both dressed in shorts and t-shirts, nothing remotely scandalous or particularly revealing and headed out to explore.
After enjoying what some regard to be the best apple pie in Amsterdam, we chatted happily as we walked to our next destination. Randomly, two young boys in their late teens caught our attention, I don’t remember how. We briefly halted as they quickly caught up to us. One of them gestured at his wrist nervously and seemed a bit shy. Feeling like a magnanimous aunt I decided to help him out, “Do you want to know the time?” His friend confidently answered, “Yes. How much for one hour?” I was shocked. I have lived in Amsterdam for almost two years now and done quite a bit of global traveling alone but never have I been mistaken for a sex worker. Dumbfounded, I spun around on my heels and strode off, continuing with our conversation as though nothing untoward had happened.
It’s been exactly 7 days since this event. I have retold the story multiple times and watched as friends tottered between horrified laughter and righteous indignation. I’ve also had the time to imagine multiple ways in which the situation could have gone. Here are my alternate scenarios:
I briefly took kickboxing lessons, my instructor kept yelling at me that I wasn’t angry enough. “Think of someone you want to punch in the face”, he would yell. What can I say…I am a happy kid. Well, with these boys I believe I could have been tempted to try my uppercut and round house kick. My instructor would have been pleased with my anger level. On the other hand, while they were relatively scrawny boys I learned early on that boys and girls just aren’t built the same, so fighting may not haven been the best idea. Plus, seeing as I’ve never been in a physical fight, I can’t say I would have won if they decided to hit/fight back.
I could have attempted to talk to them like the misbehaving kids they are. Given the speech about respecting women, how they should never assume anything about a woman based on race, looks, dressing, etc and hoped they stood long enough to listen. Chances of this are probably slim to none.
I have NEVER been one to curse or throw around swear words. However, I honestly believe that in this instance I would have been justified. A number of fucks, interlaced with bastards and stuff would have probably been liberating. How long the liberation would have lasted for, I can’t say. I know I would have been mortified if my yelling and shouting drew a crowd.
4. Walk Away
Even if I had enough time to get over my shock, this would still have been my response. Why? Because these boys are simply boys, products of their immediate environment and they need life lessons and loads of manners. However, hitting them or yelling obscenities probably won’t have accomplished anything, nor would a scolding from a random woman. As much as I would have loved for them to feel the ramifications of their actions in some way, I think the cost of delivering that lesson would have been too high for me. So they live to try the wrong woman another day.
I refuse to let this random event colour my love for the Amazing Amsterdam (get it?). Truth is assholes aren’t restricted to any one colour, race, gender, nationality or anything. Although it would be marvellous if we could have a couple (or a 100), of jerk islands and deport offenders to them, we don’t. This incident has just reinforced my believe in “good men…may we raise them”. I know the original saying refers to women but I believe the adaptation is apt.