Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Dutch Girls

July 16
The Dutch girls—Hilda, Ella, and Amber—are in a punk band, but they had time to drive around Scandinavia for a couple weeks in Hilda’s sister’s car. They offered me a seat for the drive from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It’s hard to find time for all their band-related responsibilities—making posters, designing t-shirts, etc—even though they’ve cut the work load down considerably by declining to learn instruments, write songs, or develop any proficiency as singers. “We’re a social experiment,” Ella explained.

Canadian Andrew and I had no trouble believing they were three-fourths of Aus Der Flasche, their fictitious band. They look like female rockers; Ella’s nose is pierced, Amber’s lip is lanced, and Hilda (who is no stranger to peroxide) has a silver stud in the center of her chin. They have contrasting and complementing “looks” that seem destined for the cover of a fledgling magazine.

“If we could just come up with one song,” Ella mused over Asian food the other night. “Then we could have a CD to give out to people.”

Their plan is to heavily promote a concert and see how many people they can get to show up. When it comes time to play, the power will go out or one of the members will be in rehab or something. They’ve been working on the idea for two years now but it remains only an idea.

I can’t remember how I met the Dutch girls but I think I was with Canadian Andrew and Australian Nicole one day last week when the Dutch girls said they wanted to rent bikes too and we all walked around the city all day failing to find cheap bikes. That night we ate Asian food and went to a bar with a funny retro-metal band.

I hadn’t hung out with the Dutch girls without Andrew or Nicole and I wondered how it would be on the six-hour drive (that turned out to be nine) in Hilda’s sister’s tiny car. I knew they were all good friends and they spoke Dutch and I was coming in and messing up their dynamic. But there’s a certain kind of bonding that happens when you sleep next to someone and after the first round of naps on the drive through Sweden we were all quite friendly.

Meeting people and getting close becomes so routine that you don’t even see it happening after a while. It doesn’t feel so strange and fantastic to become fast friends with some exotic foreigner because it’s not strange anymore, it’s just something you do.

The Dutch girls are all about six feet tall and have boyfriends back home. I realized as we sipped Tuborgs at the edge of the Copenhagen pier that I’m much better at platonic relationships than I was before I left. I can only think of one from my first 25 years but I’ve had plenty out here.

The Dutch girls look like a fashionable punk band but they don’t act like it. They don’t like places with strict door policies even though they could get in. Their trendy/non-judgmental ratio is as high as you’ll find. The only exception seemed to be in their disregard for the hostel’s shoes-off policy. “We never take our shoes off,” Amber told me.

“This is a society,” I insisted mock-earnestly. “There are rules.”

“We’re in a band,” Amber re-joined.

They invited me to drive on to Rotterdam with them but I wanted to stay a bit longer in Copenhagen and once they get back home they’ll have jobs and boyfriends to worry about. So I was asleep when they gathered their stuff and left for the long drive down to Holland. When I woke I found a note and a beer on top of my pile of clothes and electronics. It said they’d really like to see me in Rotterdam and that I was good company. It called me Paul, because I had chosen that Beatle when our foursome handed out names. In the upper right corner it said “Kopenhagen, 14-07-‘05” and I knew as soon as I saw it that the idea of the date was sad. It was a morning in July during the year I took my trip and whenever I read the note from now on it won’t be that day anymore. In my mind I could see Ella writing the note as I slept in the bunk below her but it’s hard to say who wrote it for sure because it was signed “Aus Der Flasche.”

I taught Amber and Hilda "Dash" the game Bill and I made up in Central Park a couple years ago. It was thrilling to launch an international edition...


At 11:14 PM, Blogger Meghan said...

I must say that I've enjoyed reading this blog. Very refreshing. Took my mind of my world for a while. Thanks for that! :)

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Avinash Arora said...

Hey brook! yeah, it's akshay's little brother
i just stumbled upon your blog, this is awesome. you're gonna come back a completely different very cultured man, hopefully you'll still come over my house get drunk and spin me around upside down. P.S. i love the posts about the rude indians, don't worry i'm not offended....cuz it's completely true, they hate white people
haha, just kidding...see ya in the states soon

At 7:26 AM, Blogger Brook said...

avi! you're supposed to be 12 years old (and i'm supposed to be 20), what happened?
tell your brother to invite you into the city so we can all go out when i get back.


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