“Have you heard this song before?” My wife asks as she turns up the radio a little for me to hear the lyrics. “It’s so weird.”
“No, I’ve… Wait… What’s he singing?”
“I’d catch a grenade for ya.”
“Really? Wow. Why?”
“I don’t know but it sounds like a nice song until you listen to the lyrics. Then it just gets creepy.”
“Why would he… Oh my god! What was that one? I’d jump in front of a train for ya? Take a bullet straight through my brain?” I say, repeating the words I have just heard. “Under what normal daily circumstances does he expect he would need to do all this?”
A few moments later we have pulled into a petrol station and are crowded around the car radio, analysing the lyrics.
“For the sake of argument, if we said he was catching grenades and taking bullets to save the one he loves I still fail to see how jumping in front of a train would accomplish anything. At that point he really is just committing suicide.”
“And then complaining that she won’t do the same for him.” My wife adds.
“Yeah. Maybe he just really desires a girlfriend who lacks even the most basic of self preservation and survival skills. I think he should lower his expectations a little. He needs to come up with some more reasonable and realistic things to do for love, stuff like; I’d make a midnight snack for ya. Put the toilet seat down for ya.”
“You are such a romantic.”
“Wait… What was that one? I’d throw my head on a plane for ya?”
“No. I think it’s put my head on a plate for ya.”
“Well that’s just stupid. How is that going to help anything?”
(We later found out the line was in fact; I’d throw my hands on a blade for ya… which is still stupid.)
“He sounds a bit stalker-ish if you ask me,” I inform my wife “I bet he is the weird silent one at the office. I bet you it’s three in the morning and he’s just suddenly shown up on the doorstep of a girl from accounting who he’s never spoken to and started singing this stuff.”
“Are you trying to say you would not catch a grenade for me?”
“I’d catch a grenade for you.”
“I’d throw it away again quickly of course. I’m not stupid.”
“I would hope not.”
See you in two weeks. I’ve set up some pre-written automated posts (which include a blast from my personal past) for you to enjoy in the mean time.
It is nine years ago. I have only been in the Netherlands for two months. I am standing at the bar waiting to order drinks as the club’s music rings in my ears and my foot taps to its beat. My friends are somewhere on the dance floor.
I wait for the barman.
Suddenly the attractive young girl waiting next to me turns her attention in my direction. She smiles and flicks her hair. I smile back but don’t flick my hair since that would look silly (short hair plus being a man). She says something to me in Dutch which I do not understand. Never the less it sounds evocative. Using my English charm I reply with the kind of smooth romantic line that would make any girls heart melt.
“Sorry. I don’t speak Dutch. What did you say?”
Amazingly this line does not work. The smile fades to be replaced with a puzzled look which in itself only lasts about half a second before she picks up her drinks and leaves without another word.
I will never know if she was saying, “Your place or mine, handsome,” or, “Excuse me. You’re standing on my foot.”
It is a late summer evening six years ago. I am still young, free and single. I am standing at the checkout of my local Albert Heijn super market. The young and attractive Dutch girl in front of me beeps the ingredients of my pasta dinner over her scanner. I decide to show off a little and talk to her in Dutch.
“Mag ik een tasje?” I ask.
With a smile she reaches under the counter and gives me the requested bag. The rest of our little flirtation continues in Dutch as she asks the usual questions; do I have a bonus card, would I like to pay with cash, would I require a receipt. I reply to all her questions with my perfect Dutch vocabulary. Slowly our brief little moment comes to pass. I am about to leave but then…
“I have to ask. Are you English?” she suddenly asks.
The poor girl. She is obviously powerless against my irresistible English charm. I turn back to her with a smile. There is still a long line of people waiting to be served but all she must be able to think about is the terrible feeling of knowing she let me walk out of her life without getting my phone number. Maybe my dinner for one was about to become a dinner for two.
“Yes I am.” I reply with my best ‘I’m British so I’m as smooth as James Bond’ smile.
“Rightttttt. You’re accent is horrible. You should never talk Dutch again.” And without another word she starts serving the next customer.
My ‘smooth as James Bond’ smile suddenly becomes an ‘awkward as Hugh Grant’ stammer. After a few stunned seconds I decide to leave… quickly.
Spotted sellotaped to the tram stop at Koningspein in Amsterdam:
I foresee two possible outcomes.
One will result in a very touching scene between a father and son a few years from now when the inquisitive young boy asks how mummy met daddy. The proud father will put his paper and pipe down, pick up the young boy and sit him down on his knee. As they sit together next to the fire in the father’s favourite old leather armchair he starts to tell his son a most wonderful story about a romantic search across an entire city to find the girl who had quite unexpectedly taken his breath away one summer day on tram number five. It is the kind of epic love story that poems and novels are written about. It is a story that stays with the young boy. It shapes and forms many of his own thoughts and ideas about love which eventually lead to him meeting his own wife many more years later… and then, a few more years later still, it is a story he tells to his own children about how grandmother met grandfather…
That or a lengthy court case resulting in a restraining order. It could go either way.