Missionary Position(3)

By: Daisy Prescott

Luckily for me, the sun didn’t set until after ten during summer. Despite being past five, I had a few hours of daylight left to wander around the center. Once outside my little oasis, the sounds and smells of the city greeted me. No less than three bicycles almost ran me over while I stood on the street gathering my bearings. Mind you, I stood in the middle of the street, but ringing the bike bell and shouting at me wasn’t the warmest welcome to Amsterdam.

Lesson learned.

Sticking to the sidewalks, I meandered across the heart of the city, past food trucks selling pickled-herring sandwiches and falafel restaurants. I didn’t mean to make a beeline straight to the infamous Red Light district, but somehow my feet carried me there. Maybe from memory. Along with Lizzie and Maggie, my two best friends from college, I spent a hazy week wandering around, looking at art, drinking beer, eating stroopwafels, and visiting local cafés for brownies. Special brownies.

A café sign on my left announced they had followed the trends in baked goods and now offered “special” cupcakes. I wonder if the medicinal properties of marijuana helped with jet lag. It couldn’t hurt, I convinced myself, buying a chocolate cupcake with rich chocolate buttercream frosting.

Special or not, the cupcake tasted delicious. Brilliant marketing—the thing you ate gave you munchies for more of the same.

Further wandering through narrow streets brought me face to face with Amsterdam’s notorious women in the windows. I watched them watch me watch them. Who was the true voyeur? Several curtains were closed, indicating the occupants were busy or napping. To my left, a door opened and a man walked out, closing his fly and adjusting his shirt. I stopped and observed him greet his friends with fist-bumps at the end of the block. I licked a smudge of buttercream from my hand while they stumbled off into the fading light of evening. My mind spun with hypotheticals.

What if men stood and sat in windows offering anonymous, safe, consensual sex for women? Would we take them up on it? Would our girlfriends wait for us to do the deed and then high five us?

Movement from the window in front of me returned my attention to the little street. Apparently, safe, consensual sex with one of these women could be offered by a series of hand-gestures. Not wanting to appear ungrateful, I shook my head and smiled at her offer.

I needed and wanted to get laid, but paying for it? Not my thing. Plus, despite a brief exploration in college, I knew I was straight—not narrow, but straight.

I wouldn’t meet Mr. Right Now in Amsterdam’s Red Light district, but I could find a new BOB.

I crossed an arched bridge over the canal to a row of shops. The first two stores I visited were clearly for tourists and women who didn’t love their clitorises. Definitely not the right place for me. Third time was the charm when a Betty Page inspired woman in a pin-up girl outfit greeted me from behind the counter. Not only was she adorable, but informative and more than helpful. She lovingly wrapped my newly purchased battery-operated-boyfriend in tissue and put the box into a discreet, elegant purple shopping bag. Success.

Pleased with my purchase, I decided to celebrate with a drink, fried balls for dinner, and people watching in Leidseplein, the site of many late nights during my first visit. The busy square promised lots of eye candy and the potential for flirting.

With the exception of a heroin addict sleeping in a corner, the tram ride across the city could have been Disney World’s version of Amsterdam, crossing charming boat-lined canals and gliding past colorful pastel buildings. From my window seat, I even spied shops offering wooden shoes. Amsterdam knew how to play to its clichés and still be chic.

Sitting at a table for two outside one of the bars on the square, I ordered a beer, and yes, deliciously gooey, fried bitterballen.

Neon lights from the square’s famous bars and clubs bounced off puddles from an earlier rain I’d missed during my epic nap. I needed to make a plan for my week or else I’d spend my days eating cupcakes and napping. Not a bad week, but I wasn’t here for pleasure only. I had some prep work to do for Ghana. Tomorrow’s plans included a cocktail reception to celebrate the African Art auction the day after. The financial sponsors of a huge touring African sculpture exhibit planned for the end of next year would also be hosting the reception. My research in Ghana might earn a contributing essay in the catalogue, so I needed to play nice. Taking out my moleskine notebook, I made notes about my schedule for the next couple of days.

“Is this seat taken?” a man’s voice asked.

I blinked up at the vaguely familiar face.

“Oh, you don’t speak English? Shit, I don’t know how to say it in Dutch.” He ran his hand through a mop of brown hair worthy of a member of a boy band.

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