Macy and I walk the nine streets of Amsterdam, small shops and curiosities, fuming coffee at fuming cafés, and bicycles that seem to grow out of the streets and canals filled with boats. A mini-break I can’t afford. But neither can I afford my life, so I decided it didn’t matter anyway.
There is nothing better than sitting at a cafe (in this case called Pluk) and watch people go by. Apparently, they call it watching monkeys here. We’re all for it.
‘Dentist monkey, for sure. Look at his teeth, they are too white,’ says Macy fully confident.
‘No,’ I say, ‘I’m voting for broker monkey. He looks too sharp to be a dentist if you ask me. And he’s too fast as well. Definitely broker monkey.’
‘Library monkey across the street. Look at his clothes.’
‘No, I’m sorry to say he’s sales monkey I just heard him say he reached his target and will receive his bonus.’
‘How are your ears so sharp? Sales monkey with an edge of a library monkey, and probably not a very good sales monkey if you have to call your friends you made your targets. Look at her.’ She takes a sip from her pink wine in the excitement. Pink wine is what you drink here when the sun is out and you sit outdoors and it looks exactly what it sounds like: pink. It takes a little lighter than wine, somewhere between wine and lemonade, which makes it very easy to drink; like lemonade.
‘Stylist monkey going straight for Laura Dolls.’
‘The shop we’ve just been, where they sell the incredible vintage dresses. Seriously?’ The woman disappears around the corner. ‘I’m following her.’ Macy jumps up and starts shadowing our stylist monkey. I stay put to guard our pink wine. Five minutes later she is back and crashes into her chair fetching her wine on the way down. ‘Stylist monkey, I even checked.’ ‘Okay, next one’s yours.’
A group of young men walk by. Two regular and one very handsome. Macy leans her head towards me: ‘my pleasure.’ She takes another look. Smiles. Tilts her head once more. ‘Graphic design monkey.’ ‘I’m with you on this one, but has a girlfriend, and not a fling but in a long relationship, likes to skateboard and mountain bike occasionally and has a thing with the artist Escher.’
Macy bends over and stares at the guy we just monkey-labelled. He turns his head. She produces a vague smile and falls back in her seat. ‘Oops!’ She takes a pink sip.
‘Okay, Jackson lookalike by the corner. Stay at home dad monkey,’ I say with a surprise in my own voice.
‘Stay at home dad monkey. Huh. Probably with wife with top job monkey.’ From around the corner a woman enters with a baby buggy and a phone in her hand. She immediately hands the baby to daddy and has practically no eye for them thanks to her busy phone life.
‘Wow, how about the guy with golden earing. What does he do?’ Macy looks at me with eager anticipation. But I’m done with monkey search and just want to soak in the sun and get on one of those hyper super duper bikes that look like they come right off the beach. ‘Golden earring monkey.’
Golden earring monkey smiles at us when he passes and I get an unsteady feeling. I suddenly see a weapon in my mind and I stiffen and hold my breath. Release, I say to myself. Macy leans in: ‘it was just a golden earring, not an almighty stripe.’ ‘Apparently Almighty Stripes come in various forms. Shake it off.’ Macy hands me the pink wine and throw it back in one gulp. Golden earring monkey raises his glass to us. I get another sharp streak in my head. ‘Can we leave? I’ve seen enough Dutch aapjes. Let’s get on a bike and feel the wind that will make our cheeks glow and our hair dance.’
‘Can’t we just cycle?’
‘Fine. Let’s cycle.’
‘And get a bottle of pink wine on the way.’
‘Let’s cycle and get a bottle of pink wine on the way.’
‘And maybe a Dutch monkey as a souvenir.’
‘Can I have a world traveller monkey?’
‘Good. Pink wine, bicycle, world traveller monkey.’