My dad knows I'm single. Out of four sisters, I'm the only one chronically solo and I think he worries. But imagine my surprise when he makes one of his rare calls only to chat about his colleague's son, who coincidentally lives in Amsterdam.
Now this could all be a nice, friendly 'networking' set-up, disguised as another American in the city needing a helping hand, or my dad is trying to hook me up across the ocean. I try to imagine the best intentions here and agree to reach out to the guy, S.
After a few casual email exchanges, S. and I decide to meet up one night. He has a 'local' on one of the more colourful streets in the city, but I agree to see him there after work.
I pull up on my Batavus and take stock of the 'local' - a well worn Irish bar crowded in front with teen tourists - and have the feeling this is going to be interesting. I take a breath, and set off inside when I pass a stocky guy exiting the bar. He gives me the full on 'up and down' leer and part of me has the sinking feeling this is the guy. I notice the baggy khakis and the wrinkled polo tee and feel even more assured.
"Are you S?" I ask him. "Hey, yea," he replies as if I'm just one of the many girls to ask him this. "I think we were supposed to meet," I explain. He quickly perks up in recognition and tells me that he's actually working as a promoter for the bar's pub crawl, which will be starting any minute. I don't know if any of you have been on a pub crawl, but I have and it is not meet and greet material.
Because it's still mellow at the bar, and I told my dad I'd say hi to this guy, I try to relax and S. takes care of ordering some drinks. A few minutes later he arrives with (surprise!) Irish coffees and I launch into friendly convo, asking how he ended up in Holland.
Through his very thick Philadelphia accent, S. proceeds to describe - or brag rather - of his adventures as a bookie, travelling across the US, making loads of cash, buying 'sick' cars and 'condos' then landing himself an arrest warrant.
I am beginning to wonder what kind of guy my dad just sent my way when S. goes on to descirbe how he apparently escaped to Costa Rica and fell in love with a Dutch girl. It didn't work out between them, but he decided to come to her hometown anyway and check it out.
As I listen to S. unfold this unbelievable tale, I can't help myself from thinking how far this guy is from my type. Everything from his silly boastful attitude and his (lack of) style to the overuse of cringe-worthy words like 'bro' and 'wudder' are just plain turn offs to me. Geez dad, do you think I moved all the way to Europe to meet a Philly boy?
Just as I'm clocking my romantic interests at nil, S. tells me about the career in professional straight razor shaving that he plans to harness here in Amsterdam. He seems genuinely passionate telling me about what I thought was a dead art, and giving high-end skilled shaves to men who appreciate the old school barbershop style. Definitely a break from the bookie days - I'm impressed.
I take another look at S., and come to an important (if obvious) observation about men. They come in all shapes and sizes, I will like some. I will dislike some. But they are all unique and each with special - even surprising talents.