Check it out – a building that looks just like my love life. A giant, sinking ship (sigh). Yes, yes, the dating game’s a drag at times, but rather than sit around swiping dejectedly through the cesspool of humanity that is Tinder, I thought it was high time to ‘meet people in the real world!’
NEMO seemed like a good enough place to start on a free, sunny day in Amsterdam. It could still become the ship of dreams, right? Perhaps in a science museum I’d meet an ambitious inventor? A researcher? A sexy geek or a rich, single father with millions to spend? Here’s hoping.
Trouble with bubbles
First up, I hadn’t been in the building five minutes before I was accosted by a 3-year-old child waving a giant stick-shaped object at me. I looked around for the rich, single father with millions to spend, but he seemed to have been replaced by a rotund American man wearing a fanny-pack and anorak. His child popped a bubble the size and diameter of a small spaceship all over my dress. Then she ran away laughing.
Outcome: I failed to meet an eligible man at the bubble-making stand, but I learned a lot about the viscosity of bubbles and the soap gave my dress a special rainbow-sheen, which was nice.
Kiss ‘n’ tell
The obvious next step was to stick my hand into a giant tongue; an exhibit to help us feel what it’s like to give someone a French Kiss.
Outcome: I can’t say I really felt any similarities, (wrong body parts and all) but a gentleman of 60+ watched me in amusement and I’m pretty sure I made his day.
Adult play time
The Emotion Grabber at NEMO grabbed me next – a treat to teach us how facial expressions can be analyzed and converted into a computer game. I found myself pulling faces next to the old man again, which was OK until I met him once more in a special room full of little wooden people having sex. I’m still unsure why this was all in a science museum, but if anything it made me realize how unimaginative I really was with Barbie and Ken back in the day.
Outcome: Just the 60+ year old man, and some weird looks.
Next up, I spent a few minutes at the Innovation Gallery, which is home to all kinds of redundant objects that once rocked our world – a bit like my little black book of men, really. I was pondering the point of a giant battery that lit just one lamp in the 18th-century when a sexy 30-something guy sidled up to me, with no children in sight (hurrah!) He smelled like musky cologne as we looked at an old iPod at the same time, and I wondered what it would be like to share some white headphones with him on a bus. He obviously didn’t because he said ‘cool huh?’ and left.
Outcome: I kind of met a man at the Innovation Gallery but I think we were both more interested in Apple products. Story of my life.
The brick trick
Next I played around with some small bricks in the name of discovering, well… how to build things, I assume (NEMO has a knack for teaching essential singleton skills). This involved taking a seat at a table next to a sandy-haired man in his late-30s, who looked to be some sort of pro. I watched him slotting colored pieces of plastic together with the kind of concentration one might equate with building a nuclear power plant, then I asked him, ‘How much time do you spend here building?’
Outcome: He didn’t know how to respond in English, but a kid squeezed in between us and built a better house than both of us in about 5 minutes. Then they both dashed off, presumably to blow giant bubbles. I did not meet my soul mate at the brick-slotting exhibition. I did learn how crap I am at building stuff compared to children.
It was a bright, blue-sky day in Amsterdam, so I took myself to NEMO’s roof terrace to take in the views of all the hot men sitting around in the sunshine. Most weren’t sitting down though. Most were running around after unruly children, still sticky with popped bubbles – but one very handsome young man did offer to take my photo by the fountain when he saw me trying to take a selfie. We then checked out the Energetica exhibition together. This giant set of silver sculptures teaches you all about the elements and shows you how energy can be captured from wind, water and the sun.
Outcome: We chatted about wind, which ended with an awkward silence. Then he had to go search for someone who had apparently been playing with magnets inside for about two hours, so that was the end of that. I did see some lovely city views though.
OK, so NEMO failed to produce my one true love, but you never know until you go, right? I learned a lot about science, building stuff and the importance of avoiding small people with big bubbles – and that is one thing Tinder will never teach me.