When our kids found out that we would be going to Amsterdam on our next trip, they badgered us not to miss the chance to smoke dope when we had the opportunity to do it legally. We were called wimps for voicing doubt. We were reminded that we probably would not return to Amsterdam again, old as we are. They pleaded with us not to be pussies.
A coffee house in Amsterdam is the place where you can buy and smoke marijuana, but not a cigarette. That would be illegal. Oddly, they do not have coffee there. On our first day there, we had an Indonesian Rijsttafel near a coffee house. We passed it and it looked to be a pretty rough place. There was an imposing bouncer-type dude outside wearing black leather and chains. We took him as representative of the clientele, and kept walking. There was no way we could walk inside that place.
We passed another coffee house the next day that had almost as alarming-looking characters outside it. (I never knew people could pierce the backs of their necks and their breasts!) We left that place for people with a more powerful mission to smoke dope.
Two days later, we were in a very respectable part of town where there was a coffee shop. Victor looked at me and asked what I thought.
“Uh, I don’t know,” I waffled.
Victor said that if we didn’t do it in this upscale neighborhood, we never would. We didn’t want to disappoint the kids, right?
Victor walked inside and I followed.
It was located kitty-corner across the street from Rembrandt’s house. It was as classy a coffee shop as we had seen.
The man at the bar gave us a drug menu. We bought a marijuana cigarette and asked for matches. The joint was very narrow and conically shaped. A third of it consisted of a filter of some sort. It was unimpressive. Victor lit it and we each took a puff and coughed violently. We were out of practice. I told Victor I didn’t think I could smoke it. He said that it was now or never. I didn’t want to disappoint the kids, did I?
We each took another puff and coughed like consumptives again. We sat for a while and looked at the joint in the ashtray. The matchbox was made in Sweden! I thought that was amazing!
Victor suggested that we try a really little puff and see if we didn’t cough so much. So we took one or two wee puffs more. About ten minutes passed. I told Victor that I’d had enough. He blinked at me. He said he’d go get us cokes.
We sat over our joint. Half of it was still untouched. We drank some soda. We looked at the joint. We drank some more soda. We looked at the ashtray. I wondered where it was made.
Victor suggested he drop the partially smoked joint in the soda can. Then we could leave and walk home. It seemed like a good idea to hide the fact we couldn’t finish it. I guess we were embarrassed that we turned out to be minor league dope smokers.
I asked Victor if he could find his way home to the hotel. I couldn’t have found my way in the best of circumstances. It was my good fortune to have married a map-reading whiz.
My mind was meandering. I feared I might wander away from Victor to follow my thoughts, so I asked him to keep checking that I was nearby. He said I could count on him.
We were about two miles or more from the hotel as the crow flies, but the way the streets were mapped out, (do you remember the map I had you draw in an earlier piece?) it was about 100 miles.
I marched behind Victor carefully. In most places it was impossible to walk next to each other because of the crowds and the swarms of speeding bicycles. After we had walked a block, Victor stopped and appeared puzzled. He studied the map and then he turned around in a circle and, without speaking, started walking fast. I tried to catch up, but first I had to explain to my knees that they had to lock with each step, or I would fall down. If we had kept walking, it would have been all right, but when we stopped, my knees simply discontinued standard operation. Victor was totally involved in the whole map-reading experience and I didn’t want to interrupt him to ask if his knees were functioning normally. I was anxious to get back to the hotel.
After a few minutes of walking, I stopped and yanked on Victor’s sleeve.
“We are in a hotel lobby!” I shouted.
He looked at me.
“Huh. Well, it was a hotel lobby, but now it has turned back into a street again,” I said.
Victor patted me on the back.
While we walked, Victor peppered his map reading with mumbled responses to questions that I hadn’t asked.
“Yellow, I think.”
“I don’t think so.”
Victor continued to stop, looking puzzled, at most corners to scrutinize the map. He invariably turned around 360 ° and then took off again suddenly. I really needed to hold on to part of him. It was quite congested and there were a surprising number of policemen staring at us, who subsequently morphed into tourists who were not actually looking at us. I tucked a finger in his waistband and trailed him closely.
“Victor, things are not what they seem,” I said.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“What we see is not necessarily there,” I said.
Victor blinked at me.
When I asked Victor if he remembered that I were with him, he did not look surprised to see me. I took that as a good sign.
I was seriously thirsty, but I did not want to mention it, because I had no intention of stopping until we got back into our hotel.
In actual time, it took an hour and a half to walk back to the hotel. Victor got us back without a single mistake. When we got to the steps of the hotel, I asked Victor if he thought my knees would be able to understand what a staircase entailed. He didn’t hear me, but I needn’t have worried, because my knees were able to figure out just how to act when faced with both climbing and descending a staircase.
When we got to our room, I filled the hotel glass with water several times and drank each glass quickly. It was good water!
“My mouth is dry,” Victor said.
I poured a glass of water for him and brought it over. He took a couple of sips, and handed it back to me.
“My mouth is dry, but I’m not thirsty,” he said.
“Huh! I always thought they were the same thing!” I said.
I didn’t like how my lungs felt. It was as though they were still filled up with smoke. I wanted to know if Victor felt the same way, but it was way too much trouble to ask.
I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes.Victor said that it was 5:00 and we could leave for dinner at 6:30, if that was all right with me.
“We’ll see,” I said.
“Aren’t you hungry?” he asked.
“Nope. I just want to lie down and watch where my mind is going,” I said.
Victor got out his computer. I went into the bathroom and noticed that the tiles were blooming with tiny blue flowers. I had not noticed that they had tiny blue flowers on them before. It appeared that being stoned made possible for me to see how pretty things were.
When I got back to the bed, Victor looked at me and popped up on his elbow.
“What are you eating?” he asked.
“I’m not eating,” I said.
“Then what do you have in your mouth?” he asked.
“My mouth guard,” I answered.
“Why are you wearing your mouth guard?” he asked.
“My teeth are grinding. Using my mouth guard is only sensible,” I said.
He went back to the computer on his chest. He was reading his email.
I lay down on the bed and after a while I took out my mouth guard and poked Victor.
“Don’t. Sell. The Farm,” I said.
“All right,” he said.
“I mean it,” I said.
“Okay,” he said.
I was impressed that he was doing his email. Victor has terrific powers of concentration.
I poked him again.
“Don’t make any big decisions,” I said.
“I won’t,” he said.
“This is not the time for making big decisions,” I said.
“I understand,” he said.
After a while, I began to say something to Victor but stopped.
“What?” he said.
I started to laugh.
“I just realized what I was going to say doesn’t make sense,” I said.
“What were you going to say?” he asked.
“I was going to say that I was happy that there were no bicycles riding around our bed,” I said.
We laughed a lot about how hard it would be for me to get to the bathroom at night if there were bicycles speeding around the bed all night long.
Victor was also laughing about something he was reading on the Internet.He tried to read it to me, but he was laughing too much for me to understand anything he was saying.
Victor remained obsessed with eating. He asked me every few minutes if I was ready to leave for dinner. I finally gave in and we walked to a restaurant. Victor took great pleasure his meal. My meal was good, but I could have skipped food and just stayed in the room to think some more.
Later that night I was truly disappointed to see that the tiles in the room were just plain brown. They were far prettier covered with tiny blue flowers.