I spent the better part of 1976 travelling through Europe, and much of it was spent in Amsterdam. I stayed at The Cok Hotel on Jan Luijkenstraat, which was not only insanely cheap, but had the coolest bar in its basement. I spent many an afternoon, sitting in the bar, talking with bartender Julian, and drinking lager & lime, and talking to the tourists who stayed there, and the many locals who frequented the hotel’s bar.
In the mornings, I often attended the Amstel Brewery tour, or frequented many of the local museums and art galleries. The Van Gough museum was nice, but I much preferred the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijkmuseum. At night, I headed out to the Melkweg, stayed for hours, and could never really remember how I got back to the hotel.
The Cok Hotel was designed as a student hotel, a kind of hostel for back packed foreign travellers. It was here that I met 2 American soldiers, Carlos, a Cuban American, and Willie, a boy from somewhere in the hills of Arkansas. They were stationed in Germany, and were on leave in Amsterdam.
One afternoon, Carlos and Willie were going on one of those cruises up the canals of the city. I declined to go, feeling tired and worn from the previous night’s events. and retired to my room. I jumped in the shower, and had planned on going to sleep for a few hours before heading down to the bar, to discuss the latest release from Bad Company, which Julian insisted on playing non stop, every day. I came out of the shower, towel in hand, to find this insanely beautiful woman cleaning my room. “Sorry”, I said, trying to cover up with the towel I was holding in my hand.
“Don’t worry”, she replied, “it’s not the first one I’ve seen”. Man, how I loved that accent. I couldn’t stop staring at her.
“I didn’t know you’d be in here.”, I said in my defence. Watching her bend to make the bed, had created a problem for me. I was afraid to move, lest she noticed.
“Well, it seems that now you are happy I am here”, she said, gazing at the towel that no longer hid my excitement. “Let me get you a fresh towel”, she added, “that one must be very wet”. She smiled as she pulled a towel off the cart she wheeled from room to room, and brought it to me. “Let me help you”, she said, pulling the damp towel away from me. She dropped to her knees in front of me, and well, I swear I heard angels singing!
During the next 2 weeks, I made sure that I was in the room when she was cleaning my floor. I found out her name was Tessa, and, according to Julian, she was married. I saw her many times during the 2 weeks, and she continued to bring me a dry towel, fresh linen, and when she left the room, there was a smile on both of our faces. We could never be seen together, and Carlos & Willie insisted that I had made the whole story up. I left the Cok Hotel, and continued my European adventure, without even saying goodbye to her. Several months later, I returned to Amsterdam, and headed straight to the hotel. Julian was still pouring lager & lime, but Tessa no longer worked there. It seems, that she had been fired after an argument with a hotel guest over money owed for services rendered.
Thank you, Tessa.