On my old blog I had a feature called “Travel Thursday,” which sounds pretty obvious but I’ll describe anyway: an account of an old trip. By a curious coinkidink, today is Thursday, and I had someone ask me why I named this thing “A Ton of Redheads.” Other than the obvious “DUH!” there is a story behind it, and here it is. . .
Copenhagen, I decided, had a smell like no other city.
That was a strange thought for me, but it still managed to bubble into my consciousness. Maybe it surfaced because I was crossing a bridge over the river, or bay, or whatever it was called, on the way to the university. It was a very long bridge, and my fear of heights forced me to concentrate on not looking down or remembering where I was. Downtown I hadn’t gotten any smells at all, which was strange in itself, but here, with some marshland underneath, there was something in the air that didn’t lend itself to identification, which meant it was probably several somethings.
Once I finally reached dry land again, I stopped thinking about smells, and I was happy for more reasons than not having to worry about falling off.
I was halfway through a summer of bumming around Europe, and while most of it had been fun, I was starting to get a little lonely. I’d stayed with old friends for a weekend in Germany, but that was at the start of the trip, and I hadn’t seen anyone I knew since then. Phone calls and e-mails were just not the same, and I was in the mood where even talking to an old friend I’d never met before would relieve some of that tension.
Okay, I know that sounds weird, but it’s pretty easy to explain. For the past few years I’d had a pen pal here in Copenhagen, a girl my age named Nikky. This was old-ashioned pen and paper communication, not e-mails, so neither knew what the other looked like, which I thought would make this first meeting all the more fun. In fact, I remembered the last round of letters vividly, where I had told her I was heading for Europe and would drop in to see her. Even though we’d gotten pretty personal in some of the letters, it hadn’t occurred to me until then that I had no physical description for her. Jokingly I’d asked her if she was a redhead, and her reply, two days before I left on this trip, had stated that she was a blonde, as an alarming number of women were here, but that she had a lot of redhead friends in town that she would be glad to introduce me to, and who would look forward to meeting such a suave American.
I wasn’t sure those two last words had any business being associated, or why she applied them to me, but I wasn’t about to pass up such an opportunity, if it presented itself.
Of course, a month later, having met numerous women and particularly being deluged in Budapest–a town I plan to return to as soon and often as possible–I’d forgotten all about the redhead thing. I was going to meet my pen pal, finally, and that was the only thing on my mind.
I’d arrived in Copenhagen in the afternoon, having taken a train and then a ferry down from Stockholm–another place I planned to visit again as soon as possible. . . sorry, I digress. I had quickly found the place where I was staying, settled in, and called Nikky, catching her just as she was about to go to class. She sounded delighted to find I was already in town, and told me to be at her apartment at seven that evening. She gave me directions and promised me a night I’d never forget, then left for class. Mmm, apparently college girls were the same everywhere, as I had found out in Budapest and Stockholm.
Sorry, there I go again.
I’d spent a few hours taking in downtown, though not going into the local version of Disneyland, Tivoli Gardens. Perhaps she planned to take me there herself, so I wouldn’t spoil it. I’d also heard about the archaeology museum, which was just the thing I liked, the Little Mermaid statue, and that little place across the river where there were no laws and drugs were allowed–my interest strictly sociological, of course–but figured I’d just wait to see what her itinerary was for me before taking in anything more than the obvious historical buildings. I didn’t even take many photos, except one funny shot of a large thermometer that reminded me of just how far away I was from Los Angeles.
Having skirted the edges of a rally at city hall–anti-American, no doubt–I walked up the pedestrian street with the unpronounceable name and browsed through the shops, finding nothing of interest in the music store other than the fact it looked exactly like the ones in the States. The bookstore was a bit more interesting, with the erotica books mixed with everything else in the English section; that was definitely different from back home, I smirked to myself as I checked things carefully, eventually finding one full of vampires that was to come in handy in my next stop, Amsterdam.
Sorry, that’s not foreshadowing, that’s another story altogether. Just had to mention it.
It was about five-thirty when I stepped into the McDonald’s about halfway through the length of the pedestrian walkway. I already know what you’re thinking, but hear me out first. Sampling different cultures, to me, does not include sampling the food as well. I happen to be a very picky eater, and proud of it. I didn’t fly thousands of miles and spent thousands of dollars just to try out some new recipes. Besides, I’m from the fair city of Los Angeles, where you can find a Danish restaurant tucked in between all the rest of them, from every culture of the world, no doubt including some cultures that donn’t exist anymore. There were Chinese restaurants in Mississippi, for redheads’ sake!
You might wonder what a picky eater is doing going into a McDonald’s, but I just happen to love the fries. . . as well as a certain type of female known as the “Burger Girl,” one of many reasons why I loved Budapest and Stockholm so much. . . Budapest more, though, for the simple reason that a large order of fries there had been about seventy American cents, whereas in both Stockholm and here it was more like five dollars. Still, it was cheaper than most other things in town.
And the view at the counter more than made up for it. Though I had no doubt thought it many times before, I meant it every time, just like I did right now as I stared at what had to be the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Now, usually I woulda said woman, and not for the sake of being politically correct, but this blonde beauty couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, and she had such an innocent and fresh countenance that I couldn’t help but think of her as being younger than her years. Her name tag informed me she was known as Janne, which I had already learned was pronounced more like Yanna than the pedestrian American version of Jan. I quickly came to the conclusion that women–hell, girls–I woulda found beautiful in most places would be pretty ordinary here.
Luckily there wasn’t much of a line at the moment, as well as four servers, so I was able to talk with her a bit, though not flirt. Despite most women accusing me of flirting, I think I’m just being myself, and any flirting is strictly a coincidence. . . well, it’s not like it matters.
She waited just long enough for the current batch of fries to run out, grinning at me to make sure I saw her plan. As someone refilled the frier, we managed to talk some more.
“I an studying English in college,” she informed me with a smile, which I visually echoed. very happy to find out she was more than likely over eighteen. “Why don’t we get together tonight after I finish work so you can help me with my homework?”
I hoped my genuine regret showed on my face. “Sorry, I’m busy tonight.”
She didn’t seem too put out by that. “Perhaps tomorrow then.” Seeing the fries were ready, she went over and filled the cups and brought them to me in what seemed like a bit of a hurry. “Next customer, please.”
I mentally shrugged as I made my way up the stairs to the second floor, where all the seating was located. If she’d really meant that, wouldn’t she have at least asked my name or where I was staying, or given me her number? Oh well. . .
I was halfway through my dinner of two large orders of fries–which I’d found was enough to sustain me for the whole day, give or take a few snacks–when Janne found me. She looked relieved. “I wasn’t sure if you’d left,” she explained as she sat across from me, then gasped as she looked over my shoulder.
I had unconsciously sat with my back to the windows overlooking the pedestrian street, so I hadn’t seen what had obviously interested the other people around me. I turned and noticed that night had fallen, rather early I thought, then caught sight of what had interested Janne so much.
On the second floor of the department store across the street, in plain view of everyone in the McDonald’s but obviously thinking she was alone, a young lady of about eighteen was undressing. That seemed strange to me, considering the store was for the most part darkened and
had every indication of being closed for the day. There was a light in the area where the girl was, luckily for me and everyone else around me, but that was it. The mystery was explained as she reached into a box on a counter beside her and put on the wedding dress, then posed in front of a mirror; I was so entranced by the sight that I forgot to reach for my camera. There was something primal and exciting about this voyeurism, though I couldn’t figure out just what it was. It certainly had nothing in common with peeking in on a couple having sex, or even masturbating–I’m guessing, of course, never having done such a thing; I prefer participation to spectatorship. Anyway, the accidental model quickly ran out of inspiration in her white gown and changed into something more normal, though no doubt very expensive, considering the care she took with it, as well as the renewed gasp from Janne. Strangely enough, the innocent-looking blonde sitting across from me didn’t seem as impressed when the unknowing lady tried on a leather outfit that instantly made me think of the book I just bought, or the numerous lingerie combinations that kept her busy for the next ten minutes.
Finally some primitive sense of self-protection led her to glance across the street and see all the grinning faces. Even from this distance we could see her blush, which was not confined to just her face–she’d been in the process of changing yet again. She made a small pretense of covering her naughty bits, but must have realized we’d seen all there was to see by now. Still a bit flustered, but also sensing the humor she had unwittingly participated in, she took a bow and, gathering up all the clothes, made a dash for the darkness.
“Now that’s class,” Janne laughed.
She assured me that if I wanted to get to the university by seven–walking–I’d better leave now, so I gave her my phone number–the hotel’s, rather–and she said she’d call me tomorrow morning before she went to class. She didn’t seem jealous, even if the tryst was just in her imagination.
After showing me which way to go, we said goodbye and I walked away munching on my last fries; she’d offered to get me another order, but enough was enough. For the first time I wondered if Nikky was preparing dinner. That’d be a bummer; I was too full to eat another fry, let alone a whole meal.
So I walked on into the situation I now found myself in, having survived the bridge crossing and seeing a whole mess of lights in the near distance that had to be the local U. In less than ten minutes I was on the outskirts of what looked to be just another boring college. Following instructions, I skirted the campus on the north and found Nikky’s street, which was the eastern border of the school. The third building proved to be the one I was searching, so I was actually a few minutes early as I pressed the button on 4D to let her know I’d arrived.
“Come on up,” came the giggling, obviously blonde voice from the grille. “I’ll leave the door a little open.” Then came the buzz letting me into the building, followed by a hike up
four flights of old rickety stairs, there being no elevator in sight. As Nikky’d promised, the door was a bit open, but I wasn’t expecting the overwhelming darkness as I swung it fully open. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the gloom, and then I could see a long hallway, with a few doors on each side, and then a light at the end of the tunnel. My instincts perked up, since this was not at all what I’d expected. On the other hand, Nikky had always been a joker in her letters, and I knew I wasn’t going to back out, so I grinned and closed the door behind me, waiting a few seconds to see if anyone showed up. No one did, so I started walking down the hallway, slowly, expecting one of the doors on the sides to pop open any second.
Didn’t happen. The further I walked, the more I could see of the end room, where the light was. I was about halfway down the corridor when I noticed a woman sitting on a couch, grinning at me, apparently able to see me just fine in the gloom. Wow, I couldn’t help but think. She looked to be in her early twenties, a tall girl, if I could judge from her sitting position. Her lovely red hair was tied back in a…
Huh? Red hair? Then it couldn’t be Nikky, could it? What was going on?
I didn’t realize I’d stopped, but instinct made me want to see more of her, so I kept going, and it wasn’t long before I realized there was another woman, another redhead, at the other side of the opening room. She was sitting on a chair, legs crossed, wearing a green dress, like all redheads should, and she looked tall too. These were possibly the two most beautiful redheads I’d seen in my life, and I was a connoisseur.
This time I kept going, not daring to dream while remembering what Nikky had written. There musta been a big smile on my face as I entered the living room, just the way they were all looking at me. I didn’t bother to count as I looked left, but there were a lot more beautiful redheads per square mile than I could have ever imagined. A look to the right doubled my pleasure, as well as allowed me to see a small room at the end which was probably a kitchen containing one very smirkful blonde.
“Hello, Nikky,” was the only thing I could think of saying, smiling like an idiot, which I’m told I’m really good at.
The blonde came forward and kissed me on the cheek. “I wanted to make sure you would always remember your first trip to Denmark.”
“What made you think this would do the trick?” I replied, still stunned, then realized it was true what they said about my mouth being too smart for my own good.
I don’t remember the exact calculations, but I counted the redheads in the room, multiplied by their approximate weight–always giving them the benefit of the doubt, of course–and reckoned there was over a ton of redheads in the room. The realization almost made me swoon, and two of the hirsutorufous (red-haired) gals caught me and brought me down to the sofa and were instantly solicitous. I only hoped they didn’t think I did it on purpose.
Nikky later told me that a few of the redheads were married, two others were lesbians, and one was celibate–luckily a short one–but there would still be plenty for me to do while I was in town. I didn’t know that at the time, though, busy as I was trying to memorize all the names and faces and figures.
As it turned out, I hardly ever saw either Nikky or Janne, the redheads keeping my attention for my four days there. The eligible ones had a drawing to see who would take me where in town; I had no idea the screaming celebration was from the one who won the casino trip, just like I had no idea I’d be paying, but what the hell. Luckily I got a thin, smallish looking doll to take me to the Little Mermaid statue, whom I managed to shoot in the same pose, and boy was I surprised when she took off her blouse to make things as perfect as possible, though she had no scales on her legs.
The surprise of this became even more evident a few days later when one of the many hirsutorufous ladies took me down to the Nyhavn, a sunny little canal region reminiscent of Amsterdam, with the best hot chocolate I’d ever tasted. We were crossing one of the many bridges when we came a cross a fashion shoot, a typically gorgeous blonde posing with the high-masted ships in the background. Just as my analytical mind wondered where the model went to change her clothes, the lady in question waltzed over to a big box on the side and disrobed right then and there, changing into the next outfit for shooting.
“I love this town!” I told whatever redhead was next to me at the time. And I really did. I saw the same tourists at a number of places, and no doubt they were startled, if not outright jealous, to see me with a different babe each time. Luckily I got a giggly one at Tivoli. Others took me to the Castle, the arch museum, the royal palace, the national museum, the fine arts museum, the round tower, and so forth. The nights were fun too, with so many nightclubs in town we often went to three or four in one night, though I don’t know why one of the reds took me to a strip club, unless she wanted me to see where she worked.
I would not have imagined it before I got here, but now it seemed like I would be going to Amsterdam to rest! Let’s see how long it takes me to come back here. . . maybe only two or three days!