skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Monday, 21 December
Right before Thanksgiving, the wife and I traveled once again to Bruges. It was our third trip over there and my first to Amsterdam, where we flew in and out of. I've been thinking a lot about how to write it up, and have largely been stymied. I'm still not quite back yet.
General notes, I guess: weather-wise, we got utterly creamed. There was exactly one day in which we were not rained on, and we're not talking Pacific Northwest polite rainfall: we got doused every fucking day. On our first night there, we sat glazed in front of the hotel TV, trying to get our bodies adjusted to the jet lag (with occasional fun bouts of me throwing up nothing), when a truly epic thunderstorm descended upon us. Naturally, I chose this very moment to wander downstairs for a cigarette.
The lightning was close and intense, so it was a smart thing that I was holding an umbrella up in the air. As a rule, I like to feel safe by holding a largely metal object up in the air when there's massive amounts of atmospheric electricity in play. I struggled to light my smoke in the ridiculous gale, and was largely unsurprised when my umbrella got inside-outed by the wind. "I've really got to stop smoking," I thought as I stood battered by the storm. I watched a middle-aged lady attempt to cross a canal bridge, and her hopeless umbrella met the same fate as mine. I stood under my crippled, useless bumbershoot, shivering and staring at the twisted tines of the poor thing and welcomed myself to Europe.
I hope it goes without saying that neither of us could give a ripe fuck about the bad weather.
We had a week of the town to ourselves before we were met by our traveling companions Will and Julea (and, for a brief couple days, Warren). We had set ourselves up in a two-story apartment with a rooftop balcony that overlooked the city's famous belfry. The three of them had a rough ride to Bruges from Amsterdam, and arrived hours later than they anticipated due to four different train changes necessitated by things like dogs wandering onto the tracks and train operators needing to stop for gum in Ghent. After such a harrowing trip, one thing was called for: a ridiculous bender.
The wife and I had laid in a solid liter of Jameson's whiskey, which we attacked like Huns. Warren in particular went after the luckless bottle as if it had done Warren some grievous wrong in the past. (I confess I wasn't far behind Warren in draining the thing.) At some point in the evening, Julea took exception to a hideous oil painting in the apartment, a depiction of some long-forgotten matriarch glaring out with a secret fury at the living world, and clambered up onto a decidedly unsturdy desk to cover it with a blanket. That's when my wife went a little pale and announced she was going to bed.
Some of us were to be discovered, the next morning, a bit on the moany side, and we laughed over our night of excess. Warren, for his part, blamed the brand of whiskey. "Fuckin' Jameson's!" he howled. "Every time I drink that shit, I wake up miserable!" We attempted to offer an alternate theory--that he had drunk a simply unreasonable quantity of high-octane moonshine--was met with scorn. "Fuckin' Jameson's!" He would occasionally yell this while looking to Zeus for answers that were not forthcoming.
It wasn't all debauchery, of course. We made sure to get our culture on, visiting some museums, taking in public sculptures, and in general freaking out over the absurdly adorable local architecture. We climbed the belfry tower, noting that, while cruel, Colin Farrell's observation from In Bruges that morbidly obese people could never make it all the way up was completely true. We were at the top when the clock struck 2:00, causing certain female members of our party to scream, which was also charming. Further evidence that heterosexual men are just assholes: nothing pleases us more than when our gals are screaming like fire alarms. This is why we subject our poor mates to things like horror movies and intolerably loud noises: the hope that they will jump up and down and grab onto us, both of which are utterly delightful to us.
There was a ton of other things that we did, of course, but then this post would be nine miles long, but I'm sure I'll get to them soon enough. But there is one last story to tell before I go hit the bed.
We spent the back end of the trip in Amsterdam, where we flew in and out of. On our first night in Amsterdam, after a fairly spectacular meal featuring oysters, the wife and I were sacked out in our hotel room. It was around 11:00 PM, and I was questing through the channels in search of something to watch. The BBC was already in full boring mode--whatever, reporting on countries I, as an American, have barely heard of, such as Scotland!--so that was out. I wearily kept punching the channel incrementer.
Suddenly, there was . . . well, there was a thing. It seemed to be a documentary, though since the narration was in Dutch, it was difficult to tell what the fuck it was about. Interestingly--I guess--the subject seemed to be these four or five guys from America; they all seemed to be from New Jersey. I only say that because they were all sort of paunchy fucking schlubs who were phenomenally unattractive. I know that's a mean stereotype about New Jersey mooks; they could have been from Montana. But if I had to guess, well, I'm sticking with New Jersey.
So there's these mysteriously ugly dudes speaking (in English) to their interviewers about . . . what? It was strange, but yet the filmmakers seemed to think there was something interesting about them, something worth documenting. We soon found out what the hook was.
As the Dutch narration continued, one of the fellows suddenly stood up and lowered his pants, and revealed a simply absurdly huge dong. Seriously, he just stood there while the camera filmed, briefly, his thoroughly inactive flaccid dick. A few minutes later, one of the other tools did the same thing: he dropped trou and stood there, bored as anything, as the camera captured precious footage of his drooped, indolent cock. Now, like I say, we don't speak a word of Dutch, but it was around this time that a particular cross-lingual phrase started to come through in the narration. It sounded something like this:
". . . oop blarg munchkin bedonk't ENOR-MOUS PAY-NIS flimp gramm crocker schmoot . . ."
They kept saying this phrase. "ENOR-MOUS PAY-NIS." Soon, we were helplessly laughing, and now the phrase has become household shorthand for a quick laugh. (I'm surprised it hasn't come into usage sooner, given the fact that I have a ridiculously immense member, but that's another post.) We just couldn't believe it. Who would ever want to watch such a thing? Who would ever get the idea to make such a thing? These guys were, to a man, utterly hideous and complete dolts. One unforgettable scene displayed one of the big-dick dipshits shamelessly making out with his nasty skank of a wife at some cafe, which was awful enough; they appeared to be testing the structural integrity of each others' gumlines. Then the camera pulled back, and down, and then zoomed in to the under-the-table action. The guy's wife had her hand on his crotch under the table, and was, during this grotesque make-out session, enthusiastically fingering the man's penis through his jeans, rolling it between her fingers as if soothing a particularly aggrieved iguana. It felt like watching evolution go in reverse.
Okay, I guess it was all debauchery after all. (Not really. Next up, I'll talk about ice skating and frites covered with gravy and tiny little bunnies. Seriously.) I'd like to say I'm happy to be back, but apart from forced business trips and visits with your odious family members, are you ever glad to be back?
(Mom and Dad: a rhetorical goof. I do not actually find you to be odious. Merry Christmas!)