I made some “Time Machine” this week. As in “That smell transports me, instantly, to that Hotel on the Herengracht, where Guilders went for 27 cents….that’s what they got for an AMSTERdam Heinekin, and their (wonderfully progressive) juke box played, something like, 7 songs for the same guilder. The place was narrow, like a dozen feet wide, but it went back a long way, I’d estimate near 100 feet, and was 5 stories tall. It had an old fireplace in the front room with smoking pipes on the mantle, along with a couple token beer steins. I remember being so gloriously ripped for my immediate, post check-in nap (after properly sampling the “fireball,”) that I was laughing as I gripped the sides of the bed-frame to hold on.
As I had walked into town from the train station, that July 4th, it was 8 am on Sunday morning and I’d been up for 2 hrs here, 7 on the plane, and (since the flight had left @ 4:30,) probably, at least, 8 n a half before that. What’s that, 17 n a half. Reasonable, but I needed to kill the time until 2 pm check-in.
As I walked down what I now reckon, (by reference to current satellite photos and memory of where I’d walked,) 2b Spuistraat; a smashed-bottle- detritus-strewn street of what had recently been a hearty party, I marveled @ the feeling of disorientation….and the street’s brightly lit by the sun, but totally deserted!
After hiking another block or 2 I c a person walking the other way, (towards the RR Stn.,) who stops me with eye-contact and a smile as we pass. “Just get here?” he asks, confident that we were that which we appeared 2B; American brats, like him, and would understand English.
“Here,” he laughed, “…Welcome to Amsterdam. I’m going back and can’t take this with me.” He then held out his hand, fingers curled and palm down. I, reflexively, extended my hand, palm up, to accept whatever his offering might have been….on the faith in the good will evidenced by his smiling eyes. That was proof sufficient to my trust.
A lump of rubbery, aromatic, Nepalese-looking Hashish lay in my hand. It was the size of an Atomic Fireball and my mouth hung open in astonished appreciation as he smiled over his shoulder at my gape-mouthed wonder, while he strode away toward the train.