Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it is good for you, and just because something is illegal doesn’t mean it’s the worst; it doesn’t even mean the illegality is right or sensible. It wasn’t that long ago we forbid women to vote, forced people to use different bathrooms just because of the color of their skin, and denied others the right to marry the person they love most. (Oh wait, some people are still denied that human right.) Not all laws serve the common good. I mean, remember when America tried to prohibit all things alcohol? Ridiculous. Though sometimes I think that makes a lot more sense than this whole war on marijuana. As a former bartender and professional drinker, I’ve seen a lot of angry drunks. Have you ever seen an angry pothead?
The first time I got high, I downed a bag of microwave popcorn, baked twelve muffins and ate six of them, cooked a frozen pizza, burned the roof of my mouth with over half of it, and shoveled ice cream into my mouth using my hand because I couldn’t be bothered to find a spoon. I was 18. For the sake of my thighs, I knew that sort of behavior couldn’t continue, but since then, you could say that I’ve dabbled in the mind-altering world a bit, mostly just out of sheer curiosity, but sometimes simply because the shoe fit. For the most part, when it comes to drugs, especially marijuana, I’m of the same opinion as Ben Harper: before you knock it, try it first. Except for meth – Breaking Bad was enough of a try for me, sheesh. I don’t own any drug paraphernalia and I’ve never personally exchanged money for drugs. That is, until Amsterdam. Like most things in life, moderation is key and there is a time and a place for everything. (I mean, how on earth do you think I survived Ibiza?) And I had reached that time and definitely that place.
You might want to stop reading now, mom, though I fear I’ve already said too much. Please remember, YOU HAVE TO LOVE ME. YOU ARE MY MOTHER AND I AM THE ONLY MIDDLE DAUGHTER YOU GOT.
Now, back to pot and prostitutes.
On a tip from a friend, I visited a small establishment in the less touristy part of Jordaan and ordered a space cake and a cup of coffee. My friend knew I was a little nervous about being stoned and alone in a strange city, so he just suggested I bring a book and sit there until I was comfortable moving about. I brought my computer. Ever since I left America, it’s served as my security blanket and I always feel better when I have it with me, even if I just stare at it. Full disclosure – I was under the space cake influence when I wrote my last post.
As the space cake kicked in, not unlike the way Sméagol covets his beloved ring in Frodo’s hands, I remember gazing down at the rest of the space cake thinking I had enough drugs in my possession to last me a lifetime. I was so lucky! And then I hit the inevitable edible dilemma. You know, where you feel fine because you aren’t as absurd as you were 40 minutes ago, but you are still nowhere near normal, only you can’t really tell reality from space cake world anymore, so you think it’s safe to continue? It’s not safe. It’s never safe. A few hours and the rest of the space cake later, I was waiting for my friend Nenad to meet me at my hostel (who agreed to accompany me to the Red Light District so I could check it out without feeling like a total pervert), and the cake decided to take control.
The only four things you need to know about my space cake experience (the rest is juuust for me):
1. You know how you can type entire websites into Google Translate and translate text into whatever language you need? My super power while space-caked is the ability to translate all other languages, no matter what the language, as the words come out of someone’s mouth. I’m like the translating feature in Google. It’s possible people are actually speaking English with an accent from whatever country they are from, but not probable.
2. If I thought navigating the streets of Amsterdam was intense before, space-caked walking became a life-sized game of Frogger. The buses and cars were the lazy logs floating down the river, the trams were the semi-trucks, the wayward bicycles and people were the alligators who occasionally disappear, just to pop right back up. And it just so happens, I am amazing at Frogger.
3. Shortly after I got my motorcycle license, I went down to the Triumph dealership to sit on what I thought was my dream motorcycle. Almost immediately after walking in, all confidence from passing my test dissolved. I remember heavy doubt as I swung my legs over the bike, knowing I was nowhere near ready enough for a machine of that power. As Nenad and I walked into a bicycle rental place that night, I felt the same doubt I felt years ago walking into the Triumph dealership, times a million. I straddled the little manual-powered city cruiser, looked at the wobbly handle bars and awkward wide seat, and knew there was no way I could logically control that beast. My face clearly agreed.
Nenad: Are you sure you want to do this? You don’t look like you want to do this.
Me: Oh yeah. Totally. I mean, I’ll be fiiine, riiiight?
Instead I sat on the back rack of Nenad’s bike, equally as terrifying, as he weaved through Amsterdam toward the Red Light District.
4. I thoroughly enjoyed my entire space cake experience.
I don’t know if this is me or the space cake, but I found the Red Light District a little disappointing for all the hype. As we walked down the streets of the red backlit window boxes filled with woman wearing clear plastic heels and lingerie, I couldn’t help but think how much more risqué it must have been years ago. Today, sex is everywhere. It’s hardly even shocking to see most of what the streets had to offer. As we walked by the large windows, many women were casually talking on their phones or texting away or perhaps playing a particularly intense game of Candy Crush, not bothering to hide the boredom on their faces. I felt like we were walking through a bunch of pet shops with puppies on display, only none of the puppies actually wanted a home.
Even the peep show places are losing popularity, and I can totally see why. If you’ve never been, it’s just a bunch of tiny rooms in a circle with a stripper in the middle. For €1, you can make the smoky screen fade away and check out the stripper, as well as the other awkward faces peering up at the stripper across from you. To be fair, I only paid for two minutes, but I found it more enjoyable to watch the reactions of the other perverts than to watch the stripper, who wasn’t even really stripping.
Which is how we landed at Casa Rossa Erotic Theatre. You can read the description above to get a good idea what that was all about. It was entertaining, but nothing I would be compelled to see again. The “top-quality cast” were more like gymnasts doing a well-practiced routine to music. Each time they switched positions, it reminded me of someone landing a tumbling series or a difficult jump ice skating. I wanted to clap.
After all that excitement, it was time to go home and dream away the rest of the space cake. My last day in the city, I slept until noon and rented one of those badass bicycles I was so afraid of the night before, and explored Amsterdam-Noord.
So Amsterdam, cheers to you, but that’s enough weed and hookers for me.
Berlin is waiting.