Late on the night before Thanksgiving, I found myself having a drink--just as any good young, patriotic American would be expected to do on one of the busiest party nights of the year.
Difference between me and everyone else: I tipped mine back on an airliner bound for Amsterdam.
For my first trip to Europe, I flew to the Netherlands to spend a week at the Black Soil International Film Festival trying to hustle this little movie I made. With the fest opening the day after Thanksgiving, I squished my favorite t-shirts and this indestructible laptop into a couple of bags, grabbed my passport and set out for the Old World--on Nov. 21.
On Nov. 22 (Happy birthday to Cyd!), I drug the wheels of my bag across some Dutch cobblestone and wobbled into the Flying Pig.
It's a hostel. Which means that there were all manner of fellow travelers lying about, having a sit and doing what wanderers do. All day and all night. Though no one stays on the premesis for very long. Hell, they are wanderers. And wanderers tend not to sit still.
Anyway, I checked in and saw three icons of the road:
1) A sign with a picture of a mushroom wearing a giant X and text reading: "You can smoke your weed or your hash here, but please do not bring any other drugs into this hostel."
2) The luggage room. Otherwise known as the repository of backpacks small and large. Filled with God knows what. From God may not even know where. 'Cause there simply isn't space for everyone to house their things in a hallway lined with 16 bunk beds.
3) A balding English fellow wearing a towel around his waist and a shiny coat of body hair that would make a German Shepherd blush with envy.
I chuckled at the first. Shook an amazed head at the second. And tried to gouge my eyes out from the third. Then I grabbed a nap. Linked up with D+E, the homies from NYC, and Dennis, the Netherlands' Finest, to tour the city. Tried to take it easy the first night. But it was Amsterdam, so easy is constructed a little differently than it is elsewhere.
For the record, I found that the people most likely to be excited about the legality of weed were the young American kids making their predictable pilgrimages. The Europeans and older folks I ran into were nonplussed about the fact that you could blaze a fatty in virtually every corner cafe in the city. The Dutch were completely ambivalent about it. Apathetic even. Same goes for the attitudes about the sex workers. Who, BTW, have forever changed the way I will hear that song, "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" Lesson learned: if you legalize vice, then you diminish its power to tantalize and therefore decrease the threat of it destroying your society. Oh, and you also get to regulate and tax it if you like. That argument is a horse that met Ike Turner, for certain. But it does bear mentioning. Again.
Almost forgot...during the course of the day, I cobbled together some worthy holiday fare. Cereal and raisin toast for breakfast. Later, a delicious caramel milkshake. And then some Chinese food. Which is pretty close to the standard American feast enjoyed on the third Thursday in November. Right?