I am in a café called Meduza right now; it is early afternoon and there is already far too much caffeine in my system. fuego tells me that I should recognize the place, having seen the movie Hostel — in the film the place is ostensibly in Amsterdam, and some semblance of plot development occurs there. If you watch the movie (I don’t recommend it, but those things happen), you can snap out of your coma for that scene and tell yourself, “hey, Jerry wrote a blog episode there!”
If I look up from my laptop and past fuego’s shoulder, there is a woman drinking some sort of tall, layered drink that might involve chocolate. She is distracting; I think she is used to people looking at her, but for me the fascination is a little different than the effect she is trying to achieve, I suspect. By any empirical measure she is attractive; her hair is long, with multiple layers of varying blondeness, her eyebrows are perfect arches over her wide brown eyes. Her skin is a deep salon bronze, her lip color carefully selected to match. Her clothes are simple but work well on her. The overall effect isn’t beautiful, however, and certainly not pretty; she is well-crafted.
As I wrote that last sentence she was joined by a friend (an English tutor, it turns out), very American, and I will admit that the artificial woman’s voice is very pleasant, smooth and low so that her words stay at her table, in sharp contrast to the penetrating nasal quality of the newcomer. So she’s got that going for her, and that’s a pretty good thing. She’s got the Czech cheekbones as well. The natural qualities are there, but she has chosen to hide them beneath a layer of artifice, an attempt at perfection that undermines and distracts from what is already there.
Clearly, this woman needs a coach, someone in her corner to give her the confidence to let her genuine qualities speak for themselves. Someone like me. She’s caught me looking her way a couple of times, and I know what she’s thinking: “That guy obviously has a discerning eye and a healthy disdain for convention. I bet I could learn a lot from him.” It’s either that or she’s thinking “Someone should teach that guy to dress better, and trim that scruffy beard.”
It could be either one. Fifty-fifty, I figure.