The Science of Sex
Two Evenings in BAR6
Section 24 of
The Tyranny of Ambiguity
|F25G: Female, 25, German
F25D1: Female, 25, Dutch 1 (etc.)
F25DGP1: Female, 25, Dutch Grade 1 Peepers
M28DG: Male, 28, Dutch Grower
M33DJG: Male, 33, Dutch with Japanese Girlfriend
M33DME: Male, 33, Dutch Mildly Erratic
One Thursday evening late in January M28DG came round, my friend and sometime business partner, and we decided to go out on the town. M28DG was a certain kind of Dutchman, well-built, tall and blond with rugged good looks and the unsophisticated nature of someone from the provinces of Holland. By the time our business had been finished and the decision made to go out it was around 2am. We were in the workshop when M28DG suggested it. “Do you want to go hunting?” I asked in response to his suggestion. “If we go with the intention then we’re bound to fail” he replied. I just shrugged my shoulders at this.
He climbed onto his mountain bike and I onto my functional one to head for BIGBAR5, on the outer ring of central Amsterdam. Two bars were there almost side by side with music and a dance floor and we thought that at least one would still be open. By the time we arrived however, to our disappointment, we found both in the process of closing and refusing to admit any more people, so we hung around for a couple of minutes wondering what to do. We decided to search out a late night bar on the Warmoesstraat we had heard about. This was back in the centre, so we set off again with it as our destination. If M28DG’s bike had been fitted with a carrier over the back wheel for conveying a passenger, as I had on mine, I could have asked two likely-looking girls who arrived to be similarly disappointed if they would like to come with us, but we could only have carried one even if they had agreed.
On the way M28DG punctured his back tyre but he elected to continue, making up for the increased friction with brute force. We found the bar, locked our bikes to each other and went in. BAR6 was part of a hotel and the door had to be unlocked from inside to allow us entry. It was to be an education in what happens when the gloves are off in Amsterdam’s sexual-political scene, although possibly the gloves weren’t completely off, just the punches a little less restrained. Some sexual graffiti was discovered in the lavatories which was something of a novelty.
The events which subsequently took place are likely to be instructive in that they provide a number of undisguised examples of certain phenomena, which may make the account enlightening. They comprise textbook examples of socio-sexual behaviour.
As we walked in the main signaller was immediately apparent. We’d had to wait a while before gaining entrance to the innocent-looking lobby and then we turned a corner into the busy bar. She was tall and well-built and standing by the double doors with another female and a male, provocatively dressed in tight, bum-hugging trousers and her full, voluptuous breasts only just restrained beneath a coloured and decorated bodice. It was her figure which drew my attention and it was difficult to see how attractive she was in the dim light of the bar. M28DG and I retreated to the still darker area at the rear to appraise the situation and get our bearings.
Now my attitude, and one that had been developing for some time, was that if sex landed in my lap and was available for not too much effort then I would rise to the bait and take it. I had been let down too many times, had too many games played on me and seen a promising situation change at the last moment too often to invest any serious effort into the affair. F25G had returned to Germany and all the sweet young things would be tucked up safely in bed by now, this being about the only category of female I felt worthy of the considerable effort which seemed to be demanded. In other words, I would take sex if it was handed me on a plate but otherwise I wasn’t particularly interested, because in reality it wasn’t just sex I wanted. M28DG however was to show no such restraint, displaying a Dutch (for he was very Dutch) absence of self-consciousness, possibly amplified by my newly-acquired absence of neurosis and frankness in these matters when talking to him.1 M28DG had a girlfriend; he wasn’t frustrated, to him it was just sport and entertainment. Soon we moved further into the fray, sitting at a table nearer the bar. Although I stayed mostly static M28DG was soon to swing into action. Not so much a case, I thought, of him being a bull in a china shop, more a bull in a cattle market.
There must have been about a hundred people in the bar that night. The nomenclature is approximate in this section, being intended mainly as identifiers; the provocatively dressed girl by the door is designated F25D1 and her friend, F25D2. The bar had several pool tables at one end, the entrance was midway along its length with the bar itself at the other end. I sat quietly at a table keeping a watchful eye on F25D1. Those generous breasts looked very inviting and could have graced Page 3 of any British tabloid, and I seriously considered making an approach, even though it looked like I was late and someone had beaten me to her. The closest I came was when the male left the two alone for a while, but my inaction turned out to be fitting because he returned a short time later with three drinks.
By this time M28DG was in his stride and had engaged a woman, F28D, in conversation; a message was relayed back from her, via M28DG, that she thought me “very handsome.” Naturally I found this gratifying and felt myself enhanced, and M28DG continued in conversation with her. I just sat at my table, trying not to pay too much attention to F25D1 but vaguely directing my attention towards the pool tables or the activities of M28DG.
At one point, to relieve a degree of boredom, I moved to the back, beyond the pool tables, for a change and a new vantage point by the cigarette machine which, coincidentally, was close to a door leading to some lavatories. I fell into friendly conversation with a couple of people who bought cigarettes from the machine. A male smiled and said something in Dutch as he passed by, heading for the lavatories. I smiled in response, it being simpler that way, rather than making him translate an insignificant comment (it was some jibe about the rest of the people in the bar) which might not bear translation into English in any case. As he emerged from the lavatories however he drew me more firmly into conversation, and this time I told him I was English and that my Dutch wasn’t so good. His second comment, in English, was a proposition for sex; my location by the entrance to the lavatory had been construed as a signal. Politely, and smiling, I declined. Then a temptation was felt to move, lest my presence by the cigarette machine, and particularly the entrance to the lavatories, continue to be interpreted as a signal but I rejected it. A few minutes later, from the same vantage point, I saw some intimacy develop between F25D1 and her suitor; I saw her, rather clumsily, for she was taller than he and it required her to bend her knees, nestle her head on his shoulder. The game was over, or it was almost so, because even as far as F25D1 was concerned there was yet more to come.
A little while later I returned to a position closer to M28DG and the bar. I may have given F25D1 the occasional glance but was otherwise sitting, with my feet upon another chair, staring blankly into space. I wasn’t paying any attention to the activities of M28DG, except when he came back to talk briefly, sometimes reporting incidents that had taken place.
During one of these forays back he told me that while talking to F28D (and probably groping her to some degree) she had challenged him to surprise her, whereupon M28DG had slid his hand down the back of her trousers and stuck a finger up her bum. We laughed about this. I had no reason to doubt M28DG’s word, he having proved his trustworthiness and honesty to me over the several years I had known him. Having relayed this information he resumed his adventures and I returned to my repose.
Soon afterwards F25D1 struck the final chord in an action which stayed in my mind for a considerable time afterwards, even several weeks later. I know from my own experiences and from talking frankly to other males that seemingly insignificant sexual incidents and signals can stick in a male’s memory for years, if not decades. These scenes could probably be replicated in any Amsterdam discotheque but I had never yet been to one of those, not in all the years I had been in Amsterdam. I also felt a preference for a degree of understatement in these accounts but these encounters, involving for example the influence of F25D1, were to significantly alter subsequent behaviour. It became clear that these events were sufficiently didactic to justify their inclusion in this study.
LOUD VERBAL UTTERANCE SIGNAL. F25D1 was the most distant member of her group, being about two metres away, leaning against a door frame. By this time the area had thinned somewhat, time having moved past its peak and a clock, if one had been in view, would have shown somewhere between 3:30 and 4am. The final incident involving F25D1 was this: I heard a single word, loudly, spoken strongly but not shouted, in my direction: “Lelystad.” It came from F25D1. Lelystad is a new town 50km from Amsterdam and the pronounced utterance of this single word, in the absence of any other and ostensibly for my benefit, was to cause me confusion for the following two days. It took that length of time to find an explanation for the incident because, of course, a rational explanation always exists even if one is not immediately apparent. The incident was sufficiently intriguing that before the solution was reached I mentioned it to M33DJG in an attempt to discover the rational explanation I knew existed.
This is the solution, although there will be several variations of detail. The most likely was that “Lelystad” was the response by F25D1 to a question from her suitor of ‘Where do you live’ as a preliminary to escorting her home. F25D1, seeing my interest in her, but unwilling to perturb the situation that had developed, had wished to leave some opportunity of a future encounter between myself and her. Presumably the way was open for me to scour the night-spots of Lelystad in search of her.2
Finding her in these circumstances seemed most unlikely and it also seemed presumptuous to assume that the utterance was made for my benefit, except that it was made exceptionally loudly (I hadn’t even heard a background mumble of any former conversation) and in my direction. I had been giving signals to her and, not in my own words, was considered “very handsome.” Some minutes later F25D1 and her suitor left together, leaving F25D2 to enthral me with another signal, sitting with her legs wide apart facing two males with whom she was engaged in conversation.
Then F25D3 and F25D4 arrived as part of a group of three females. I knew both slightly and independently from previous encounters; F25D3 was the slim, long-haired blonde with freckles with whom I had once tried to exchange smiles in a supermarket during Experiment 1 and whose eyes, swivelling around using peripheral vision, had provoked a feeling of disgust. I had since spoken with her on better terms, when we had met at a market where she was working. Then she had dropped a hint about meeting afterwards which I, as usual, had not picked up. F25D3 was wearing light blue denim jeans and jacket and had a large soft toy, about 25-30cm tall, hanging by a cord around her neck. I told her that it was my first time in BAR6. She claimed that she and F25D4 were sisters but I could see no resemblance between them.
I had met F25D4 formerly in the fashionable BAR4, tucked away a little deeper inside the Red Light District. She had been translating for a French porn-star who had posed outside the tiny bar for a photographer. In fact I had arranged for a pair of strangely-dressed Germans to pose in the background and gone around the assembled collection of weird characters inside BAR4 collecting props to use without. The porn-queen had bared her breasts and posed suggestively on an Amsterdammertje, to the delight of passers-by on their way into the Red Light District.
F25D3 was the one girl in the place this evening with whom I could seriously contemplate having a relationship and I briefly spoke to her a couple of times. However my attempts at an extended conversation were always interrupted by her flitting off to join another person or group; she was enjoying the general attention she was receiving too much, I supposed, to stick solely to me.
MALE PRIORITY. Of course, another immediately obvious explanation for F25D3’s flitting off while I was still in mid-sentence exists. It is that my conversation was unbearably boring and F25D3 had withdrawn to escape the tedium, or there may have been some other defect in my presentation. By way of response I state explicitly here that:
I offered F25D3 a lift home on the back of my bike, making a joke about a free taxi service, but the offer was declined. Perhaps in a different setting (or without the influence of F25D1) I would have asked her for a later meeting, or a telephone number, but in the end I made an arrangement to meet F25D4 the following Sunday in BAR4, for her to show me the photographs which had been taken the night we had met there. A little later F25D3 and F25D4 emerged together from the lavatories looking in my direction and showing all the signs of having engaged in D&R.3 Shortly after that I watched their trio leave.
Meanwhile M28DG had been talking to a slim but not very attractive F35D and came back to report “I’ve scored.” F28D had moved in close to me and was asking for a lift home on the back of my bike, having established that this was a possibility. Some consultation had taken place between M28DG and I about the logistics of going our separate ways, since despite his puncture our bicycles were locked together and he had in mind leaving separately with F35D. (Later M28DG told me that some playful jousting had taken place between him and F35D, and that at one point she had pushed him away, whereupon M28DG had said “Push me away now if you like but do it now and not later,” a comment I thought rather astute. It was her acceptance of this remark that had led to his belief that he’d succeeded.) I turned around at one point to glance at him, saw him all over her and couldn’t bear to watch; it was a mystery to me why the females tolerated such mauling. I had seen such behaviour even in BIGBAR3, the feminist-friendly squat bar from which I was now banned, notably with F25DG1P, and could only surmise that the use of the male as a trophy outweighed any discomfort or embarrassment felt by the female at being treated in public in such a way.4
F28D was seated opposite repeating her request for a lift home, it being by now around 5am and time for the evening’s entertainment to draw to its close. The terms of the request were rich in sexual innuendo, “Will you give me a ride” and the like, and I looked at her quizzically in an effort to establish the balance of probabilities. The request must have been repeated four or five times until eventually I agreed. We had to wait some time for M28DG and F35D, which made our group practically the last to leave the bar, and then we made our way to the bikes.
Within just a few short moments outside on the Warmoesstraat M28DG was unceremoniously ditched by F35D, so then we were three. We walked across the Damrak, cutting through one of the alleys leading to the Nieuwendijk before we parted, since M28DG was going south and F28D and I, west. During the short walk, prompted by a pause in the banter between M28DG and F28D, I proposed to F28D that she take us both but she declined. ‘Now that would have been interesting’ I thought. After our walk we split up, although M28DG had a final grapple with her, lasting some minutes, in a shop doorway. M28DG asked her what was to happen with me; the reply, which was in English and so obviously for my ears, was “He’ll get what he wants.” Then F28D climbed onto the back of my bike and I set off to take her home.
The journey westward was uneventful, and would have been unworthy of comment save for one peculiarity which stirred my brain, made stolid by alcohol and the effort of propelling my not exactly lightweight passenger through the almost deserted streets of Amsterdam, into attention. It was by this time approaching 6am on Friday morning and a light drizzle was falling. Having committed myself to give the lift I felt honour-bound to complete the exercise; it seemed that the most I could manage at this late hour was avoiding the puddles, since this bike had no rear mudguard and going through one would spray water onto my passenger.
My mind sprang back to life however. After a number of interjections from behind I realized that, with quite astonishing precision, the hints as to whether I was going to obtain sex at the end of our journey were getting progressively weaker as we neared our destination, which was the Kinkerstraat. It was just like a meter with a scale of 0 to 10; at the beginning the needle had been at maximum deflection, pointing to 10 with “He’ll get what he wants,” but it diminished to zero as we reached the stage in our journey at which my passenger could comfortably contemplate walking the remainder of the distance. On the way the hints and sexual innuendo became progressively more subtle in quite exact graduations, until the point at which just a short walk remained, when something was said which strongly implied that I was not to going to be invited inside at all. The meter had read something like 10, then 8, 6, 4, 2 and finally 0. At the end I said “As you please.”
The thought of just dumping her there and turning back towards home briefly occurred to me but I rejected it. I believe I was directed to carry her some distance beyond her home; whether this was the case or not she undoubtedly went to some lengths to conceal its location, even though the likelihood of me trying to track her down at a later date was absolute zero. At the end, after asking her if she was going to invite me inside and receiving the reply “Some other time” I bid her goodnight and rode off, now on a considerably lighter and faster bike, without looking back. The feeling arose, as I left, that I had been used to weave some intricate web of romantic fantasy. I had to struggle with myself not to fall into the Dutch way of thinking and begrudge her the lift home, for which I had received no reward and barely any thanks. It would have been no struggle at all had the lift not been calculatedly procured with the aid of finely measured sexual hints and innuendo.
SECOND EVENING. The following Sunday I went again to BAR4. I had dubbed it the Bar of Almost Guaranteed Squat Craziness because all sorts of strange things could happen there; it seemed that every time I went it had changed. It was in this place that I had once been facing and talking to a well-dressed Moroccan and he had been picking my pocket during the conversation. Nowadays the Russian squatters only opened the bar on Sundays at midnight. I was hoping to meet F25D4 and maybe even F25D3 as well, but I was not surprised when neither appeared. I stayed at the bar two or three hours; it was remarkable how quickly time could pass in these places.
Finally M33DME invited me to accompany him to the bar I had been in only three days before, BAR6. At first I declined, saying truthfully that there was a lot of work I wanted to get done the following day, so M33DME went off with someone else and without me. I stayed in BAR4 a few more minutes then left. As I was walking through the narrow street towards Centraal Station Oscar Wilde rose from the grave, metaphorically speaking, and whispered in my ear ‘I can resist everything except temptation.’ I decided to follow M33DME to BAR6, just, I thought, for one more beer before going home to bed.
I noticed F25D5 as soon as I entered. She was leaning over a pool table about to take a shot and had a dream-lust figure, big tits and small bum. She occupied my attention for only a few moments before seeing M33DME close by and I settled at his table. I was undecided about whether to stay and had only enough guilders left for one beer in any case, so I was in no rush to get another.
M33DME was exceptionally tall and lank; he cut a distinctive figure with his long blond hair and short whiskers. His manner was mildly erratic. When he spoke English there was a hint of a Texan drawl; he told me he’d had a new tooth fitted for free by a dentist practising the new technique of replacing a missing tooth with titanium, before doing it for real with paying patients. He said it ached when he was run-down.
I had hardly finished a gentle interrogation of M33DME about his attitude to the opposite sex (“I’ve given up trying and feel much better for it. If it happens it happens”) when F25D5 hovered into range and automatically drew my attention. “Did you win?” I asked her. “I always win” she said. The conversation developed and she sat down. Soon she settled more deliberately, placing a full glass of beer on the table. Halfway through the conversation she stopped and looked at the glass for a few moments, savouring it; then she picked it up and drank the contents, a standard 250ml, in one. At her suggestion we pooled resources for a large bottle of beer between us. She downed two glasses in this way to one of mine, mine being consumed rather more slowly. Her teeth were bad and she had a flat, over-large nose but I liked her in some way, and particularly for her extrovertness. She talked of having spent ƒ 250,– during a day-long binge of entertainment and drink.
SPITE AND JEALOUSY. She asked me what I did and I had to think what I had been doing that week. By this time I was slightly dulled, having consumed two bottles of beer in BAR4; this girl could certainly drink me under the table. I told her that I designed computer circuits and she seemed to be taken aback by this. Then she said “You’re lying,” first in Dutch and when asked to repeat, in English. “It’s true” I said, and then with a laugh, “I’m a writer too.” It seemed amusing describing myself as an electronics designer and a writer, and in two such distinct subjects.
Then she went into a stream of invective, I was looking at her with a smile still on my face. I cannot recall the beginning but the end was something very like “...you’re small, you’re little, you’re nothing, you’re nothing...” My smile started to fade and I looked at her more seriously as I grasped the meaning of the words. She stopped speaking, then said “I’m just talking to you as a friend you understand, as a friend” and I relaxed. But then the diatribe resumed with “You’re nothing, you’re small, you’re nothing...” before I finally got her off the track with “What do you do?” Something was said about her working out of town. At one point during the conversation she had said “I want you” and told me, separately, that she had to wait until 8am for her train and had nowhere to stay until then. This was about three hours hence and I said something like “I’m sure something could be arranged.” My beer was finished or nearly finished and I visited the lavatory during a pause. F25D5 left while I was away.
Everyone was drifting outside so I left also. Emerging onto the street I saw F25D5 a short sprint’s distance away down the Warmoesstraat and caught up. I asked her what she planned to do and she replied “I don’t know.” Then she pulled a pair of keys from her pocket and said “I don’t know what these are for.” She was drifting around a little on the road as she walked along, both before I caught up and as we walked side by side. Then she spun around, heading towards the Dam, and I spun in my tracks to follow her. I said she could stay at my place if she wanted and she asked where it was; I pointed and said it was just beyond the Palace. She stopped walking, paused and thought a moment: “No” she said. “Listen” I said “You can stay at my place, on the floor or what you like, I don’t mind so long as you don’t cause any trouble.” I’d had a vision of a drunk girl casting herself about the small kitchen, in emulation of Princess Di throwing herself at a cocktail cabinet, or shouting at the top of her voice in the early hours of the morning. She paused again and considered, then said “No, I want to cause trouble.” With this she spun around again, walking diagonally a few metres to my rear and took out the same keys. I was still acting on the presumption that the keys were for somewhere in a remoter part of Amsterdam or out of town.
She walked to a door and stood in front of it, then inserted a key and opened it. A ‘Hotel’ sign hung in the window beside it. The door was opened a couple of inches before being closed again. “Aren’t you the clever girl” I said. By this time I was leaning against a wall at the side, to watch this play being acted out. M33DME passed by and we exchanged greetings. F25D5 spun around again, smiling, and veered across the street to knock at a door on the opposite side. After a short pause it opened and music could be heard emanating from within. She exchanged a few words and then, without looking back, disappeared inside. Thoughtfully I made my way the short distance home.
EPILOGUE. Now it will befit the reader that an item by item analysis of the transactions which took place during the two nights at this late night bar should be unnecessary by now. There was the most impressively skilful manipulation by these females of males, even after, in some cases, a considerable amount of alcohol. The role of F25D1 in modifying the behaviour of other people in the bar and the inhibitions released by alcohol which resulted in an unbridled expression of spite and jealousy by F25D5 however are considered especially worthy of note.
1. A partial explanation for the displays of Dutch male unctuousness may have been that, knowing everyone was watching, the male forces unselfconsciousness and so the behaviour, being forced, is exaggerated. Other potential explanations are lack of self-esteem, due to females making males work so hard, and rank immaturity. Then there is EBIAR; the exaggerated behaviour by males was because the maintenance of relationships, and perhaps also making Relational Initiatives, is properly a female activity.
These displays seemed to be a temporary phenomenon; their frequency appeared to diminish subsequently. The dynamic of male-female interaction is almost certainly cyclic and it is proposed that this is one of many phenomena detailed here which document the ‘male/female pendulum’ at the very limit of its swing.
2. The present analysis was confirmed by a second occurrence of this rare signal. I was walking along the curving Raadhuisstraat, under the glass canopy which sheltered the shopfronts and pavement there. Close in front was a long-haired girl flanked by two males. Overtaking the group I changed path to cross the road in front of them. As I waited for a gap in the traffic, well out of earshot of any normal conversation, I heard a very loud and distinctive “Yes” from the girl, presumably as she responded to a question from one of the males. This was a familiar situation: she would never have had the confidence, nor probably the inclination, to signal me had she not already had two males with her. The utterance had not been emitted as part of an involuntary laugh, and made accidentally loud; in characteristic fashion she had been signalling a third male to join the competition.
3. Divulgence and Referral, a practice routinely followed by females (e.g. telling all to an older female and asking her opinion).
4. It was the public weakening of Consolidation Markers.