Friday, April 04, 2008


You go into a coffeehouse in Amsterdam and there's inevitably Bob Marley playing, or Mary J. Blige, or L'il Wayne. Unsurprisingly, everyone is chill, but they will still watch and point and laugh as you try to roll a fatty with unpracticed hands. There are pre-tipped cones for sale, which you can stuff yourself, or the $3 pipe with screen available at any knick-knackerie on any major avenue. You learn not to buy a pre-rolled fatty unless you want tobacky mixed in with yer wacky.

You select from the menu at the bar, you get a gram. Back home this would be the Bingo Bag Dame Fortuna rarely grants you. As a result, you and your pal are launched quickly to the Kuiper Belt. Your legs are about fifteen feet long, your cranium is pumice. It gets quiet, and everybody is staring at you. "Everyone is staring at us," you say, and your pal says "I know." "Do you think they heard us?" you ask. You get really quiet and think about the impossibility of ever standing up again. Then you decide to try and get to the head. Inevitably in a building in Amsterdam the head is up- or downstairs, and the stairs are twisting and steep and about two inches deep. These stairs would be challenging on any given day, but with fifteen-feet legs you best have your wits about you. Of course you have no wits about you at all. Going up or down you pass pasty-faced Yanks from Missouri or Idaho petrified with fear and clinging to a loose rail. Your feet are lower than your head and you imagine the implications of this based on Relativity--your head is older than your feet, and substantially so after all these years walking around upright. You decide to buy an inversion apparatus as soon as you get home so your feet can begin to catch up.

After a six month expedition you make it back to the table and your pal says "That was quick." You warn him about the steps as he takes his turn at finding the loo. For some reason you reload and relaunch. That was smart. Suddenly you think L'il Wayne is the greatest music ever. We're talking beyond any availalble superlatives. "When I get home I'm iTuning all the L'il Wayne I can find." You're nodding your head to the beat, but then you think "Was I nodding my head? Wait. Everyone is watching me nod my head. They think I look ridiculous. I'm such a tourist. I'd love to live here, but never could. I'd be here every day. I'd come here for my lunch break at work. I'd never be able to function well enough living here to work at all. Maybe I could work here, in this coffee shop." On the wall is a Green Tara, a Shiva, a mural of Bob Marley--all the Hindu deities. Buddhist, you mean. And Rasta. Oh, man you don't know what you mean. Holy fucking shit. Your eyes are dry. Your pal returns. "Why didn't you warn me about the steps?" he asks. Jesus. You both relaunch, and then decide to walk. Easier said then done. The door is at the end of a tunnel of smoking laughing flesh. It's like that scene in Roman Polanski's Repulsion when Catherine Deneuve is struggling down her apartment hall and hands are reaching from the walls. Finally the door, which you pull, push, pull, push, and then pull before it finally does what you wanted all along. Outside it is daytime, and there are children and dogs and cops and tourists and birds and old leaning houses and canals and bikes and cars and trams to navigate and you are baked. You want some pomme frites in a bad way. Lots of mayo.

You read in an in-flight mag once that Euro travel guru Rick Steves is a big stoner. You wonder why he barely mentions coffee shops in his PBS travel shows about the Netherlands. The article said he goes to India to get baked all the time. You walk to the park near the Rijksmuseum. Lovely. You can read its planners' intent like a text.


ellen cherry said...

mmm. coffee.

Swanksalot said...

yes, such good coffee. When I was in Amsterdam, my discretionary income was so miniscule that I survived 7 days mostly on a diet of falafel, beer and ummm, coffee. I'd love to go again.

fernie said...

TMI! I'm a very sad person.

Nyarlathotep said...

You'll need a larger discretionary income now. The Euro is quite high and the economy is buzzin'.

And I just used "high" and "buzzin'" as financial adjectives.

And Fernie--I was sad too, when I found out that Rick Steves was a stoner.

fernie said...

Doesn't mean you have to be what he is. Bet his mother wouldn't be proud.

Nyarlathotep said...

Yes, yes. It's terrible and horrible. The last two presidents of the United States smoked pot, and the one you voted for twice inhaled his weight in coke. The next president will also have done so.

Can't be a good citizen and do such things at all.