“The Dutch are dicks,” I kept hearing before I left to study abroad in Amsterdam. The Netherlands embraces a culture of bluntness that could be described to an American as “You, but after three drinks with your least-favorite co-worker” -- that sort of plainspoken bordering on harsh criticism that, in the moment, feels like a favor to the person on the receiving end. Or at the very least, a joke too good to pass up. For the Dutch, this is the default setting.
It took a few days in Amsterdam before this filterless phenomenon struck me, via the Tinder scene. My date mentioned something about the app’s true purpose: facilitating hookups. Perceiving an opportunity to segue into playful meta-analysis, I leaned in.
“Yeah, are we going to do it or what?” I asked, twirling my straw around the glass.
“I don’t know,” he responded with a blank face, followed by something like: “Of course I want to have sex and you seem pretty nice but, women sometimes get very involved, and I don’t know what your expectations are. What are they?” This moment was, for lack of a better pun, straw-dropping.
Literal interpretations of my flirtatious and light-hearted banter prevailed throughout my six months on the lowlands dating scene. A Dutchman I was seeing regularly once thanked me for buying our meal, to which I responded, “I owe you, don’t I?”
He nodded humorlessly. “Yeah. I paid for drinks last time, and the time before, you forgot your card.”