Missionary Position(2)

By: Daisy Prescott

I smiled at my new supermodel friend. If her brother shared her genes, maybe I would look him up when I arrived. “Bye, Anita.”

“Say hi to Gerhard for me.” With a sparkling white smile and a wave, she disappeared into the crowd of travelers.

What an odd, yet friendly, woman.

I spun her card on the bar. Anita Hendriks, management consultant. She had the same last name; the brother part could be legit. Gerhard, though. Get harder. I giggled and finished the last of my saketini. Scrolling through my mental file of lovers, aka The United Nations of Peen, I realized I’d never slept with a Dutchman. Maybe Gerhard could check off an item on my fuck-it list.

BEING A PROFESSOR might sound glamorous and interesting to some, but for me it meant having to fly coach on international flights. A window seat earned me a place in a slightly higher level of hell than a middle seat or the row right next to the bathrooms where the seats didn’t recline. Still, it was hell nonetheless.

The crush of summer tourists filled the flight to capacity. College backpackers, stoners, and shifty-eyed men populated the plane. I doubted they would be seeing any Van Goghs or Rembrandts.

I wanted a cigarette. Damn quitting. Stupid aging and health. I reached into my bag for a piece of nicotine gum. Over the past three months, I’d managed to wean myself off cigarettes, deliciously comforting, soothing, invigorating, cancer-causing cigarettes. After smoking for decades, I missed the habit of it. At least flights were smoke-free these days. Otherwise, I might have been tempted to stand in the smoking section and acquire a contact nicotine hit.

Groggy after a sleep-aid induced nap, a gray sky greeted me when the plane landed at Schiphol Airport. Even in summer, Amsterdam had more rain than my beloved Portland. And cooler temperatures, I realized as I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck. The variation in climates meant I had packed for three seasons for two countries. Ghana promised to be hot, humid, rainy, and dry, but never cool.

At immigration, Anita’s business card fell to the floor when I reached for my passport. The man who picked it up and handed it to me looked half my age, which meant he was young enough to be one of my students. This reality didn’t stop him from brushing against my side and flirting with me while we waited in line. With his guidebook opened to “cafés” I knew the type of adventure he wanted. Been there, smoked that. Before he could continue his attempt to flirt or ask to share a cab into the city, I brusquely thanked him and moved forward to the immigration agent.

Sitting in the back of a cab slowly making its way through morning rush hour into the heart of Amsterdam, I pulled out Anita’s card with Gerhard’s name on it. I admitted I was more than curious. After the attentions of the much younger man in line, I wondered how old Anita’s brother was. It would be crazy to call him. Anita was gorgeous, and if her brother swam in the same gene pool, chances were he was just as tall, blond, and athletic. Everything I didn’t typically find attractive. Although I shut down Backpack Romeo in the airport, these days my type meant anyone with a pulse, single, and not looking for a housekeeper. Viagra optional. I took pills to sleep and had a wee nicotine addiction. Who was I to judge the need for a little blue pill?

My fingers flicked the card to the beat of a techno song on the radio.

Anita wasn’t a friend or even a friend of a friend. What would I say? Hi, I thought your sister tried to pick me up at a sushi bar at JFK, but turns out she wanted to set me up with you.

No, that wouldn’t work.

Hi, your sister gave me your number. I’ve never had sex with a Dutchman, so I’m calling you. Are you up for some Flying Dutchman action?

No. Wasn’t the Flying Dutchman some haunted ship doomed to roam the oceans forever? Maybe I could ask Gerhard.

Jet lag forced a yawn from me. After stretching my arms and rolling my neck, I tucked the card back into my purse. No need to rush things.

First things first. Coffee and something made of ninety-percent butter. Maybe some cheese. Followed by chocolate.

Maybe some bitterballen.

I snorted. I might have been too old for college backpackers, but my sense of humor still lingered around that of a fourteen-year-old boy.

Amsterdam, I’m coming for you.

You too, Gerhard.

JET LAG SUCKED. I left home yesterday at five-thirty in the morning and landed at about the same local time. My brain was too tired to calculate actual travel hours, and my eyes burned like I’d pulled an all-nighter. My little hotel sat on a narrow street along a canal. Each room had been designed as a mini studio-apartment and the manager left me petite, freshly baked apple pies for breakfast. It was a nap trap. Coffee and breakfast only made me sleepier. I broke the rule about no naps on the first day of jet lag and took an epic nap—I fell asleep after breakfast and woke at dinner. First day in Amsterdam blown. Art and culture would have to wait until tomorrow.

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