To my right, Stan flipped through a book we’d just bought called the Mellow Pages: A Smoker’s Guide to Holland and began charting our day’s odyssey. I think his goal was to forget he had a family, at least for a few days.
To my right, a twelve-year-old girl sat rolling joint after joint. She was good. I couldn’t roll that well and I was once a Birkenstock wearing, tie-dye clad, dirty hippie following the Dead and chanting “Jerrrrry!”
But we were in a different world, now and those days were far behind me.
When she finished a big enough pile, the bartender came over, took the joints and put them in a mason jar, then paid her.
She immediately turned around and sat down at one of the video slot machines by the front door. She played turn after turn, pulling the lever to a barrage of canned electronic noise until her money was all gone.
Then she came back to the bar, sat down and started rolling again. This cycle repeated itself for a few hours, and most likely continued the rest of the day.
Just before we left, an old man entered the bar, followed by about 10 teenagers. He bought a 100 grams of hash, individually bagged, and divided them up amongst the teens before they dispersed into the city to sell their goods.
Our plan was to visit as many shops as humanly possible, drinking and smoking ourselves into a family-free holiday stupor at every stop.
When we left we cut down a street that was the official beginning of the Red Light District. Stan and I window shopped for a while, haggling occasionally with a prostitute staring at us from behind glass. We had no intentions of spending any time or money in the Red Light District, but Stan enjoyed haggling—over everything. This was a chance for him to see just how good he was.
When Stan would get a girl to agree on a price, he’d pause and think for a moment, the prostitute ready to unlock the door to her little sterile room consisting of a bed a chair and a sink to let us in. Then he would pause and say,
“I’m just going to go check and see how much that red head is down the road.”
We always walked away to the sound of muffled cursing in dutch and a one-finger salute.
It was fun, but that’s not why we were there.
There’s something for everyone in Amsterdam, providing you enjoy sex, drugs and alcohol. I think the Ann Frank house is there, too, but they didn’t sell pot in the gift shop, so we walked right past, towards the next stop in our little guide book.
On our way to Sunny Corner, the next coffee house on the list, we stopped at a head shop to buy a little half-foot, purple plastic bong which we affectionately named Soul Sister. As we sat in the coffee house smoking and playing backgammon, a boy, no more than 15, walked over and timidly asked if he could borrow the bong in broken English. I handed him Soul Sister and thought to myself,
“How cute. They want to smoke like the grown-ups.”