Last week I read an article about what men don’t like in a woman. Correction: The article was more about what men don’t like on a woman. Neon colors, as well as heavy make-up were encouraged. The piece was called “How to Turn Off Men” or something like that.
Coming out of the narrow alley in the mornings, dragging the dog with me past the puke stains, piss perfume and splashes of graffiti on the black brick walls, I step out into the raging beauty of Amsterdam. My eyes open a little wider, I always stop at that point to acknowledge the view. The dog has stopped long before me, of course, but here I let her sniff the black corner of the house by the alley to her heart’s content while I stare in amazement across to the other side. The view has expanded, a broad canal wanders in front of me filled with green murky water. Boats are moored to every inch of the canal.
The dog can move as slow as she’d like now, I am not in a hurry. We take long pauses under each and every tree, looking down into the boats, littered with garbage in the summertime, before the plastic fades to grey. The remnants of yesterday’s pick nick on the quay. The historical canal houses are flashy but not too flashy. My eyes attempt to accept all those gifts of man and God in one panoramic scan. I constantly worry that I will not remember each and every detail on the houses, and finally after a long wrestle with my conscious every morning, I relinquish myself to the inevitable realization that I cannot memorize it all at that exact moment. “But wait,“ I think looking upwards, “Oh yes, yes, now I remember, there’s the house depicting the man standing with a lit fuse in his hand next to the canon on the top.”
We were just beginning to stand under a certain tree, a door opened, a woman emerged from the house. A blond woman in her early thirties, wearing no makeup but well-tanned, walked towards me. “Neon,” I thought eyeing her pink shirt. Not blaring neon but see-through neon, the seams screamed a little, the body of the garment shimmered. “Was she trying to turn off men?” I wondered. “Was she all dressed and ready to get out in the world to totally not interest men? Was this the day’s occupation?” I noticed an open window in the house. The naked torso of a man in his mid-thirties was watching her leave. She wasn’t smiling, he wasn’t smiling. She knew he was watching, he knew she knew he was watching. She didn’t look up or turn when she got to the bridge. She didn’t wave, he didn’t wave. He left the window open, but he wasn’t standing in it anymore.
“Did she put on the shirt to have a fight, or were they having a disagreement before she selected or put on her shirt? Would things have turned out different if she hadn’t selected neon? Was there a symbolic message in the choice of shirt?” We moved on to the next tree. “Look,” I thought to myself, “There’s the door with Jesus and the lamb.” All meek and mild, in a sky blue dress.