Act 3, Scene 2
Paying For It

Ancient Rome, The Italian Renaissance, And Postmodern Love

by Frederick Noble

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My friend, Richard Van Ingram, drew this and other cartoons for me while I was gone.

One phenomenon of note - after a couple of nights of window shopping in the district you can't help but look at every attractive female passing on the street and think "Wow, I'd buy that for a gilder!" You have to remember that not all women are professionals. Most are only amateurs at having their way with you and walking away with a profit.
Other notable bits - smack in the middle of the district is the Christian Youth Hostel. I suppose they're trying to take the Word to those what need it most, but with a curfew of something like 11 PM I think they must lose more souls (and clients) than they convert and those who need conversion the most are the ones out later than their curfew.
Also of note - the section of the district that contains the fattest and ugliest prostitutes available surrounds a church. You can't even put a bar within 100 yards of a church back home but here you can literally walk across the street and enjoy Mary Magdalene's descendants for a modest fee. One has to wonder which establishment gets the most business...
So while sitting in my favorite bar in the district (it had the cleanest bathroom and the best view of the main drag), contemplating The Act way too much, I watched the crowds pass by. The tourists ignored the ducks passing behind them in the beautiful canal. Instead they stared into the sex toys and video supply shop, which is a huge franchise operation in Amsterdam. On one hand it was sad, on the other I was guilty of the same instincts much of the trip.
I'd had enough beer to steady my nerves but not so much that it would hamper a potential performance. I'd seen a cute blonde girl in the same window every day that interested me. Pretty, but not intimidating. So I headed around the corner to see if she was at work. Not yet, or she had a client at the moment, so I went back for another beer and more people-watching. Still no luck half an hour later, then again half an hour after that. So I gave up and headed around the block to my selection for runner up, an Asian woman surrounded in bondage gear. I figured I was going to pay for it I might as well get the full treatment.
"400 gilders" she said. I'd been in town long enough to know she was asking too much since the average was 50 gilders (about $30.)
I didn’t feel like adding to the pressure with a haggling session, even if I could have afforded it, so I headed back to the bar for another beer. The pretty one Lena had pointed out was busy, and frankly intimidating and cold (even if I could have afforded her) so I continued to shop. I passed someone who caught my eye but she was conversing with her next potential client. I'm not one for the shop 'till you drop philosophy so I wandered downtown for a bite to eat and came back around to find her free.
Or, “not busy” I suppose I should say.
She opened the door and I sat on her steps for the negotiations.
“Hi,” she said in a friendly way.
“Hi,” I answered, timidly. “How much?”
“What do you want to do?” she said with a thick Hispanic accent.
“Have fun.” What was I supposed to answer? I suppose she was asking for specifics but I’m just not that bold.
“50 gilders,” she replied.
The price was right. I went in.
There was a fair-sized bed, coffee table, sink, nothing special but everything was clean and comfortable. There was a large mirror on one wall that made me feel like I was being watched, like maybe it was one of those two-way mirrors. I don’t know why my instincts told me this but I tried not to think about it.
She asked for the money up front. I handed over the gilders. Then she asked me to take off my clothes and have a seat. I dropped my clothes on to the coffee table and sat back, trying to relax. She brought condoms over and tried to roll one onto my less-than-interested penis.
"Why are you so nervous?" she asked.
"Never done this before," I answered.
She didn't ask which part of "this" I was referring to and I didn't feel the need to go into detail about the differences between paying for it and having it thrust upon you.
She made a valiant effort to get my body to cooperate but the whole scene was just too weird.
How can I put this delicately?
Like most businesses what you see in the window isn't always what's in the store. Unlike products, services cannot be returned for your money back so when in Amsterdam always make sure to get a good look at your service provider before laying out the money. Once I got a better look at my provider I realized I was in a store that wasn't quite right for me!
When I got home, Richard gave me the cartoon below for a welcome home present.

I gave up and got dressed.
"Thanks for… an educational experience." I said as I retreated.
I cruised on to see if my top interest had opened for business but she wasn’t there. I had another alternative, one I'd seen in better light and with fewer clothes, but she wasn't there either. I got another beer and shopped a little longer but it became obvious:


I headed for the train station to retreat to KØbenhavn (Copenhagen) and Lena's warm embrace and decided I’d swing back through Amsterdam on my way home. A sulky long overnight train took me further north into the cold.

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