My First Legal High: Amsterdam

19 Nov

I had been excited for Amsterdam since the plane took off at JFK.  I had no trouble finding weed back home but for whatever reason, having the blessing of The Man made the idea’s appeal indomitable.  After pretending to be nonchalant about this part of the trip through Ireland and Paris, our exhilaration broke forth with biblical force.

We wandered Amsterdam, giddy as three Japanese men in an Anime themed orgy.  As we turned a corner, we found ourselves in a grid of narrow streets with coffee shops and ‘smart’ shops of various creative names flanking us on each side.  It was paradise.  Initially, we wanted our first session to be in a coffee shop with some kind of significance.  Maybe we could find one with a name that somehow touched all three of us on some personal level.  Spirituality was high that morning, in anticipation of getting high, symbolism became a vital aspect of our days itinerary.  It wasn’t enough that something sounded ‘cool’.  Maybe that would be fine if we were sober, but we were not going to be sober, we needed something cosmic.

Alas, our pickiness began delaying the event we had so long anticipated.  Sometimes the most well-intentioned plans must be scrapped to prevent the dysphoria I feel while waiting patiently for things.  I led the movement to settle on the next coffee shop that we came across.

Finally, we settled on the 420 Café, for no other reason than impatience getting the better of us.  The 420 Café was, however, stoner heaven.  These shops that sell weed cannot serve alcohol, thus they are commonly coffee shops.  This particular shop specialized more in exotic fruit smoothies and juices (along with a catalog of all the weeds you imagine rap stars smoke in their limousines).  On a flatscreen tv above the bar, a BBC nature show played over and over, with a different variety each time; mammals for an hour then reptiles, then mountain dwellers, and so on, never repeating a show.  At the counter I ordered a mango juice, and looked through the catalog with Hodge and Joe.  There was White Widow, NYC Sour Diesel, Neville’s Kush and just about every kind of Haze, all for about ten dollars a gram.  After we picked out our first batch (Neville’s Kush because none of us had heard of it) we had a choice between a bong, rolling papers or a Volcano vaporizer for our smoking pleasure.  The bongs were all thoroughly cleaned after each use, and the Volcanoes came pre-set at the perfect temperature to vaporize the THC crystals while not reaching the plant matters combustible temperature.  We chose the bong and sat down in front of the flat screen.

A wetlands episode was playing and flocks of birds landed and took off again in what appeared to be extremely shallow water.  Down a couple stairs, in the back of the shop, approximately thirteen, blatantly underage knuckleheads, passed around several joints and looked foolish in their glee.  I resented them for giving honest, hardworking potheads like myself a bad name.  I had worked my ass off for a year to afford this display of reckless over-indulgence; they probably tagged along with Mom and Dad until they were too annoying to put up with anymore, finally being released to wander the streets alone like a pack of over-stimulated coyotes.  Hodge and Joe felt the same as I did, or they didn’t care enough to argue with me.

We packed up the glass-on-glass bowl to the brim, and packed it down tight.  Joe had bought the stuff, so he had the honors of the first Amsterdam High. Despite trying my damndest to seem apathetic ,  I was on the verge of smoking marijuana in public, during the day with no effort made to conceal my behavior and there was no shot at stifling my glee.     We each took our hit and by the second rotation, we were struggling to clear the pipe of the precious smoke.  Coughing and spitting and cursing and powering through each hit, reaching far out into the unknown for a high never before in sight, let alone within grasp.  No unfortunate circumstance could stop us from carrying on until we could no longer function: no cops were going to pull up behind our smoke-filled car, and no father was going to come home early to find his house acting as the American teenager’s equivalent to a Chinese opium den.  As hard as I tried to downplay Amsterdam, I could not get over the majesty of a high without paranoia.

We repeated the entire process with a different gram of marijuana, and another round of fruit smoothies.  Except now, a harsh desert landscape took over the television and flocks of birds were replaced by solitary snakes and lizards.  It has been theorized—by no one—that reptiles refuse to travel in any kind of group because reptiles, all think they know everything, thus making cooperation incredibly frustrating.  At this point it felt as if a balloon was being slowly inflated within my skull in an entirely pleasant way.  I stared up at the T.V., slack-jawed, dumb and happy as the day I was born.  The reptiles covered themselves in sand to escape the heat of the afternoon sun.  I pulled my hat’s brim over my face because I had lost control of my face.  Life was good in Amsterdam.

For another hour we sat in silence, passing the glass utensil around the table and glaring at the flat screen like it held the answers to our most deeply troubling questions, and in many ways we were finding the answers to those questions.  Not because of anything intentional on the part of the BBC, but because when our eyes saw a snake, the cannibinoid receptors in our noodles saw a metaphor for the constrictive policies of a society we never agreed to be a part of.  When a flock of a million birds streaked across the screen in perfect unison, we were reminded of the wonderful potential of socialism.  When bald eagles were shown agitating the flocks so as to knock the birds into one another rendering thousands unconscious, then picking off the lifeless bodies as they dropped, we realized that potential would never be realized in a world full of predators.  In other words, we were high enough to make an epiphany out of just about anything, and it felt fantastic.

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