The flight to Amsterdam from London was brief, and I boarded the train for Bergen at Schipol Airport. Bergen is an idyllic, seaside artist's colony about a hour and a half from the city. I checked into a quaint inn in the middle of the quaint village, and walked the quaint main drag in search of a quaint pub. In case I didn't mention it, Bergen is really quaint. According to signs posted in windows of most storefronts, it was a good weekend to be in Bergen. A jazz concert and sailing regatta were scheduled over the ensuing three days. |
I hadn't stepped more than 10 meters from the inn when two, blond, six-year-old hooligans sporting toy, wooden guns confront me. "Halt!" they command in unison.
I figure I'll play along. "Geuje middag," I say, putting my hands on my head.
"Dag, maneer," the leader acknowledges. Then in English, "You will give me your papers!" He tried to say that with a menacing face, but his visage was just too cherubic.
I handed over my passport.
After a few moments of concentrated, brow-furrowed, head-knotted scrutiny, the little guy says, "Your papers are in order. You may pass."
"Dank u well," I say bowing slightly.
"Austoblift," they answer together and wave me on.
I hadn't taken two or three steps when I heard...
I turned and stared into two very grave countenances.
"Your papers again, Mr. Myers--if that's your real name!"
Once more I hand over my passport and place my hands on my head.
One of the little thugs leafs through the pages deftly. Uh-oh, he discovers Saudi Arabian visas and others from Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.
"Ah ha! Your papers are not in order!" he announces triumphantly. "You will come with us!"
People stare with curiosity and amusement at a tall adult being prodded down a busy street by a miniture militia. I wink at the pedestrians. "Les petits soldats," I mouth to a group of startled French tourists. They smile back.
In order to make the situation more realistic, and help the boys with their game, I begin softly chanting the Azan--the Islamic call to prayer.
We stop at a beautifully-finished, ornate, wooden gate after which one of the little toe-heads opens, I am ordered to pass through. Inside is a marvelous, high tea style garden party attended by about fifty well-dressed people, four of whom, upon seeing us, dash over with red faces projecting anger and embarrassment.
"Are you all right?" a gentleman asks me with concern. All four cast murderous glances at my captors.
"Fine. I'm just playing along with the boys just to see what they had in store for me." I'm hoping as restitution I'll be invited to stay, maybe meet some of these attractive people--get my weekend started with a bang.
"Okay, then, weareverysorry," The lead guy said in a rush, and I was briskly ushered out by the elbow, expecting a kick in the pants. The boys are shoe-horned out right behind me. As the gate slammed, a frustrated oath was uttered, "Godferdamme!"
The boys give me these sheepish grins, and I smile back with a Gaelic shrug.
"Why did you start speaking to me in English before you saw my passport?" I asked the mischievous little buggers.
"We can tell you're American."
"How?" Their disclosure floors me because most people I meet overseas assume I'm European. The French almost always speak to me in their language even as I board their air carriers in the US.
"We can just tell." They looked at me like I was dull-witted.
"Well, your English, unlike my Dutch, is excellent. Do you learn it in school?"
"Oh no. We learn German and French in school. English we learn from television."
We chatted for another fifteen minutes, I bought them ice cream and said adieu. I looked back once to wave, but they were busy trying to stop an automobile with their wooden guns.
Gene Myers http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/AfterHours.html
Find out what else happened order "After Hours: Adventures of an International Businessman" available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and www.borders.com
New from Gene Myers: SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE, PublishAmerica (August 2010)
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