Barfly 2015 (after Bukowski)

I’m in Bar Bukowski, an Amsterdam watering hole in the hip Oost area, inspired by American author Henry Charles Bukowski.

20151219_21_Amsterdam_webThere are quotes from that straight-talking, grog-swilling, poet of the people all over the place. On the wall in front of me there’s an illuminated poster for Heineken on tap and a quote at the bottom:Stay with the beer. Beer is continuous blood. A continuous lover.

The playlist is 80’s Western pop – like Take on Me by a-ha and Lionel Ritchie’s All Night Long. Men at Work’s Land Down Under comes on and I realise that I’m probably the only Aussie in here, maybe the only native English speaker. The only people I can see and hear talking are Dutch people who look like they’re in their twenties.

By and large the funky young staff are wearing one of two uniforms: jeans with tight black t-shirts or long-sleeved collared shirts buttoned all the way up to the neck. All the young men have beards.

There’s one other woman working the bar. She’s in her early twenties, with bleached blonde hair to her shoulders and a full centimetre of dark-brown regrowth casting a shadow around her face. It gives the false impression she has a little more depth than all the others.

She’s in black and orange sneakers, and black socks all the way up her calves. Instead of one of the hipster uniforms, she wears a white one-piece that ends half-way between her waist and her knees. If I was wearing it you’d call it a long t-shirt; maybe on her it’s a short dress.

Her belt, which they’re all wearing I realise: thick, black, with a holster at the front of the left hip for a notepad, a pen and what looks like a portable EFT device. Maybe a cloth. Sitting above her waist at the back, angling down at the front.

On the front of the white one-piece, below that belt-band, are four black horizontal lines. Across her chest is written, also in black, three lines one under the other: BE STRONG / MY CHOICES / MY MISTAKES.

She’s beautiful. They all are. Do I find her attractive? No. If I was 5 or 10 years younger I might, but as I approach 40 I find the appearance of people young enough to be my children more interesting than anything else.

A couple around my age take a seat at a nearby table and the illusion of an 80’s-music infused bubble of beautiful young Dutch people ends. I’ve had enough to drink here anyway – two beers on your own in one place is enough – it’s time to move on to somewhere else.

I pay the bill. €10 for two beers. There’s a Bukowski quote at the bottom of the receipt: Find what you love and let it kill you.


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