The Armpits Of The World

[ Read this in Dutch ]

There are places in the world where no one comes. Ever.

I’m not thinking of remote areas of Antarctica or unclimbed summits in the Cordilleras de los Andes. Nor do I believe there are bits of jungle in deep, dark Ruanda that will never be seen by human eyes.

No, I’m thinking of the armpits of the world.

Most everyone passes them almost daily, those desolate wedges of land, nestled in the Y of a forking freeway or railroad. I suspect that the majority of passers-by doesn’t spare them a look or thought. But to me these remotes, generally unused, almost unreachable wedges carry a deep, melancholy romanticism.

armpits There is a confused tangle of freeway and railroad junctions just south of Amsterdam. That logistical labyrinth sports some of the most beautiful armpits. One of them is used by the City for storing dozens of huge empty wooden cable reels. They’ve even gone to the trouble of erecting a fence, as if anyone would ever want to come there, and if they did, be interested in a pathetic collection of sun-bleached, warped reels.

Another armpit has only a field of yellow dying grass. Every so often, a sad old horse, reminiscent of Eeyore, grazes there listlessly.

But most armpits are barren and empty; sad, unattractive places where no sensible person wants to come. Too noisy and polluted for picknicks; too remote for vandalism; too small for storage or development. As if the armpits themselves recognize their anatomical metaphor, the grass there is often longer and kinkier there than anywhere else.

But for some reason, these sad places of the world exert a wholly romantic pull on me. I think I’ll take a tour next year of the world’s armpits.

I’ll have to remember to pack my ladyshave.