She's rolling a couple of meters in front of me in the bike lane up Lincoln Avenue. It's somewhere around the first third of my daily commute home from work in the Loop. Could be Armitage. The first thing I notice is her bike: a Dutch Oma 3speed; chainguard and everything, more rust than metal. But man, oh man, the rear rim is true. Probably does it herself.
As usually happens, she has to swerve left to miss a cager blocking half the bike lane. Helmetless, she elegantly stretches out her left arm, hand pointing toward the spot where she'll enter the traffic. The cager alongside me doesn't notice or perhaps doesn't care.
Looking slightly left over her shoulder, she points again to where she's going. But this time slight ever so slightly waggles her finger. An old teacher scolding a troublesome student. Without having to, the cager slams on the breaks and as I roll past I catch a sheepish look.
I spend the rest of the commute trying to catch up to her. Is she Dutch? The finger waggle was classic Amsterdam biker. She breaks cheats every stop sign and rolls, though slowly, through the red lights. Though she does stops for cagers crossing in front of her. At one point, one stops even though they've got the light. She stops too. I stop behind her. Who is going to be more polite? The cager doesn't move. She takes the favor but before rolling gives an old school What are you? An Idiot? shrug. Yep, she's definitely Dutch.
What am I going to say when I catch up to her ... or if I catch up to her? (I pretty much mostly obey the stop signs and traffic lights) We cross Fullerton then Belmont still just a few meters apart, me still behind but closing fast. I don't know if she notices me as other bikers pass left around us. So what am I going to say?
I definitely don't want ask in English, Are you Dutch? On the one hand, she might not be. On the other hand, if she is ... I've got about six seconds to impress her with my worldliness. Problem is ... I don't know enough Dutch to ask. I'm gonna' have to fall back on German, learned mostly in bed with an old girlfriend: Sind Sie Holländer?
Unfortunately, my weinig Nederlands meisje (little Holland girl) turns right onto Hermitage, heading north. OK, Plan B. I speed up, armed with the only Dutch I know, learned mostly in an Amsterdam bed with another old girlfriend (It's a long, long story). I yell as loud as I can, Doei!!! You say dewey, clipping it at the end like a farmer saying yep. It translates pretty much as "See'ya!!!
She hears me; slows down, looks around, sees me. Again, that elegant, old world, finger. It waggles, now up at the sky. She smiles big and shouts a perfectly clipped Doei!!!
Yep, Zij is Nederlands: she's Dutch.