Friday, October 26, 2012

Some things are just mysteries.

 I like to know things. Nothing serious, I just like to know what it is I'm dealing with. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of scenarios I prefer to remain in total ignorance about - my co-workers' love lives, for instance - but for the most part when I'm confronted with an unfamiliar concept, I remain uneasy until the mystery is cleared away.

 Of course, life doesn't always make it easy. We exist in a chaotic world and the strange attractors pull us in weird and inexplicable directions. I've found the weirdest and most inexplicable strokes come from interactions with my fellow celestial human beings. One can elucidate oneself on Kantian ethics or the Higgs boson or the political maneuvering surrounding the siege of Tenochtitlan, but one can never truly grok the inner workings of another.

Here's the story. Back in August 2001, I spent several days in the very cool town of Amsterdam. For what it's worth, I highly recommend a visit should you find yourself with means and time. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay, digging on the friendly people and the deep history and fantastic art and, of course, the legal (and killer) weed. I won't lie to you.

 After the first day, really, I didn't spend a whole lot of time exploring the town with my brother and his fiancée. They wanted some alone time in the grand burg, of course, and to be quite honest I prefer to amble on my own. I like keeping my own time and itinerary, and most people fail to groove with me. Frankly, I'm selfish enough to where I'd rather be alone than have to compromise. I can adapt, naturally, and generally go with the flow when in a group. Regardless, in Amsterdam, I was left to my own devices.

 One day, after I'd figured out the transit system but before I'd realized that every street had a bike and a pedestrian path, I found myself in amongst a crowd of young folk on bicycles. Upon some signal I missed, they took off, as one man, heading for parts unknown. I hope they were off to have a good time. I took them to be natives, but I really have no way of knowing. Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city

 Unfortunately, my presence caused some problems for a few of the bikers. There was some awkwardness but no injuries. Indeed, the bikers treated me with the same sort of bemused affection one might give a particularly dim but nevertheless lovable puppy. I like to think I caused more smiles in Amsterdam than headaches and I took pains to not be another obnoxious stoner abusing their town. I work in a town that tourists regular vomit upon, so I think I know where they're coming from and empathize.

 Anyhow, the gaggle road away and, as they left, many said "Excuse me, Rocky" or some variation thereof. They also, for the most part, sported amused grins that seemed to say, "Gosh, American tourist, at least you're amusing while being clueless and bumbling". I don't mind, really. I was clueless and bumbling all through Europe and, for the most part, people were pretty nice about it. I think it helped that I made no bones about having n idea what I was doing the whole time.

  But I never have figured out the "Rocky" thing. Surely it's not a catch-all for tourists from the States. I can only think of two "Rockys" that have permeated pop culture to any great extent, and I really doubt I favor either a flying squirrel wearing flight goggles or a punch-drunk boxer from Philadelphia. There's an underground comic from Sweden called "Rocky", featuring the drug- and sex-fueled adventures of the titular anthropomorphic dog and his slacker friends. I doubt that it's, either, as I don't favor the character nor do I really look like a guy that regularly has drug- and sex-fueled adventures. Of course, there could be a connection there and I am not in possession of all the facts.

 So, it's a mystery and maybe one I'll never solve. My usual venues of illumination have failed to give the goods. It may've been merely a private joke amongst that crowd of young people. Who knows. We don't always get the answers we seek.