Our man [formally] of Amsterdam

Cigar smoking in Amsterdam
September 6, 2009, 18:27
Filed under: Uncategorized
A man wearing a panama and a very ‘loud’ fully buttoned up long-sleeve shirt sits next to his wife outside a cafe in the Jordaan. She wears a sensible wrap high around her neck. The grey dull day is still cool and a wind from somewhere east of the North Sea is heading south in a hurry. They are aged in their early sixties. He holds a cigar between his teeth, unlit, and raises one arm, like a student might in class, in search of service, but the service is slow coming so he gets up and enters the non-smoking area inside the cafe and picks up a chair and takes it outside. He places it opposite his wife allowing him to stretch his long legs and large frame right across the footpath. The chair’s armrests contain his girth.
Not the man in the story

Not the man in the story, but similar

He lights the cigar and leans back in the chair and takes in the passing parade along Prisengracht where parents push prams and Suriname immigrants carry shopping bags. He does not speak to his wife. She does not speak to him. He leans forward and speaks to the waitress. After that he sits back and puts his arms behind his head and puffs on the cigar.

Soon their coffees arrive and a slice of appeltaart, the size of an outstretched hand, with a pile of whipped cream rising off the plate like a snow-capped peak. He starts to devour the tart, fork in one hand, cigar in the other holding the plate as he stabs and scoops and cuts and chops the appeltaart.

The first attack ends and he places the fork down and returns the cigar to his mouth. They speak for the first time, momentarily, as she motions to a teenager struggling to free his bike from its lock. He hardly uses his hand to smoke. The lips and jaw part and tilt instead, the red-tipped stub moving up and down as occasional plumes of smoke get whisked away past the cafe patrons sitting windward of him.

He returns to the taart for another session. Rests, relights the cigar then goes again. After that he is done with the taart and soon so too the cigar; it only ever leaving his lips to let food through.

His hand shoots up again indicating a need for the rekening. His wife speaks to a woman of a similar age at the table next to her while he leans back in his chair, arms folded, then places his elbows forward on his knees as if to hear what his wife and the woman are talking about. He pays with cash and takes the change when it arrives but leaves the thin biscuit wafer that comes with the coffee.

1 Comment so far
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Hey Grant,

Very cool read so far. I stopped by today and enjoyed the short time it took. Love the pics too.

Keep up the good work.


Comment by Justin

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