Nathaniel Feldmann

Holiday Hookup · Episode One

A sweaty, sauna-based holiday encounter takes a man’s mind off his maybe-maybe not boyfriend.

The ferry sliced through the Wadden Sea. Sander and I sat on the deck above, counting the seagulls that followed our trail, diving into the foaming waters at the stern. His curly locks flew every which way. The sun shone in my eyes as we waved goodbye to the continent, traveling to a car free weekend on Vlieland, a holiday island where dreams come true, or so my friend insisted. I was just your typical ignorant American, so I had to trust him; he’s a Dutchman after all.

A heat wave was in the foreseeable forecast. Sander convinced me to leave dreary Amsterdam for a short trip to his parents’ summer home. He promised to drive and all I had to do was bring a case of wine. A fair enough trade. I was more than happy to take a short break from the mindless monotony of postgraduate research, a mostly rainy summer wasted in the library. All I needed was that playing hard to get getaway from my sort-of kind-of-boyfriend, Joost. Push him away just enough so he comes running. I wanted us to be more than just late night hookups, more intimacy than how it all began.

Kriterion. One of those student-run cinemas. It was a spontaneous rave late in the night where any pill or nose spray was a ticket to dancing off Zoom call university stress. The music blared. Everything reeked of smoke, all kinds. Joost stood in the projection booth, his laptop connected to this giant machine, wires everywhere. He mixed music and video (a “hybrid DJ/VJ”). I complimented him on his mix of American fast food commercials and H-bomb tests that brought me home. The beat drilled into my ears. My head pounding, but still I smiled, thinking that I liked this guy, a kind of chubby boy that still looks like he makes an effort with some kind of physical activity, but not quite the gym, more of a skater. Let’s just say he was a big guy who disarmed through his calm alto voice.

Whatever I took at the start of the party had made me extra fresh. The only thing on my mind was getting him out of those ripped jeans, the worn dad sneakers, and into bed.

He told me his name wasn’t pronounced like ‘juice’ a way that so many Americans thought, but like ‘toast’, except with a Dutch J. Yoast. Okay. I just wanted to run my hands through his self-styled sandy blond mop.

“My name is Joel,” I said with a handshake, wanting him to just like pull me into a bear hug, his arms not overtly large and overpowering, just like covered in this blond hair that made me want to rip off his plaid shirt and see how much fur was on his chest.

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