An Impromptu Game of Chicken


I turn around after clearly not ignoring Liz for the last minute or two. I’m not met with a scowl, or anger, or frustration. It’s a look of expectant terror. Thinking how weird it is that she’s walking in the grass, I pan to my right to see two very Dutch women barreling down the sidewalk at me.

Neither woman intended to stop, especially not for a stupid American thinking he’s entitled to the whole side walk. Startled, I mentally switch into defensive mode, ready for anything. In reality, I bend my knees slightly and get nervous. I think about gracefully darting around the two bikers, impressing them with my lithe acrobatics. Instead, I bob back and forth a bit, start sweating, and blankly stare ahead.

Blonde lady #1 comes first. She moves slightly to the right. I do to. She reacts quickly and goes left. I follow suit. This is going poorly. Her tire grazes my leg. Phew, she got lucky. I pity anyone facing my full wrath. My +5 to crying and guilt-tripping was almost released in full fury.

Blonde lady #2 is close behind. This clever minx moves to the left first. I counter with a similarly quick dash to the left. She holds course, moving further left. Being the keen strategist I am, I hold my course too. Her front tire wobbles and she nearly stalls out. I breathe a sigh of relief as her foot reaches for the ground. The day is mine. Egad, that’s not a stabilizing foot move. There’s no weakness. She darts past me and both women look back with a smoldering look of disdain and a crippling ring of their fietsbels (Dutch for “victory call” or “bicycle bell” depending on your translation). I’ve been bested.

The real enemies.

However, Liz was clearly impressed by my guile, happy her boyfriend was so spry and brave. She claimed the ladies rang their fietsbels to prevent battle. I questioned this, but did wonder how Liz was so aware of oncoming danger. I learned several things this day: the Dutch are formidable foes in impromptu games of chicken; heavy cavalry still holds the advantage; the imaginary ringing bells in my head are likely real in Amsterdam; and don’t ignore your girlfriend’s words.


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