One day, I got a call from my father. I hadn't heard from him in about six months. In subtance, the call went something like this:
"Hi Jonah, it's your dad. I'm going to Amsterdam this summer, and I wondered if you wanted to come along?"
What else can you say when your semi-estranged father pops up out of the blue and offers a trip to the world's stoner mecca? I suppose no would have been the sensible thing; the more you think about it, the worse an idea it sounds like, but I'm a sucker for interesting bad ideas.
When I met my father at the airport in Amsterdam, he seemed about how I remembered him, maybe a little balder and a little seedier. We stayed at an old hotel along the Amstel - the first few days he more or less left me to my own devices.
I spent a lot of time walking around in the Centrum, which is a strange, strange part of town. Imagine a college town, only in five-hundred year old buildings, and with canals, and you've sort of got it. I also spent a lot of my time holed up in my hotel room, smoking Nederweed and listening to my discman. I hoped that my father had just chosen to have me a long as some kind of weird totem of his own mis-spent youth.
No such luck. One night, after he ate dinner in the chichi restaurant downstairs, he came to my room. "Hey, whaddaya say we go hit up the coffeeshops?"
I gave him the once over. Houndstooth dinner jacket, which appeared to be made out of burlap, or possibly some kind of heavy industrial-use felt. Clashing tie. Loafers. This was going to be interesting.
When we hit the streets, he pointed us towards the Red Light District. There were places much, much closer to our hotel, but dad would have none of it. All the famous places were in the District, I guess. Finally, a stroke of inspiration. "Dad, do you have any papers or anything?" He didn't. "I've got a pipe back in the hotel. Why don't you head back there, I'll pick us up a bag, and we'll smoke up in the hotel?"
Success. He seemed a bit hurt that he wasn't hep enough to be seen on the streets with, but that wasn't really the issue. I just wanted to put this off for as long as possible. He headed for the hotel, I doubled back for Waterloopein. On the way back, a man tapped me on the shoulder.
"Hey man. Wanna pick up something to party with? Coke, E, maybe some meth?"
As if. I shook my head and kept walking. Even if the guy wasn't Politei, that was all I needed. I went to the Greenhouse, picked up a sack of something terribly strong, and headed back.
"Hey guess what? You thought I wasn't dressed for the coffeeshop, but on the way back, this guy tried to sell some coke. Your old man's still got it!" Parents these days.
We started smoking. No words. Nobody suggested stopping. After the third bowl, I stopped inhaling. This was going to be a contest, then? After the sixth, dad gave in. "This stuff they have these days, it's pretty strong, I guess."
I couldn't see straight. I couldn't think. I could barely remember my name. Now was the time for a father-to-son chat.
"So, like, if you could, like go back in time, seventeen years, and, like, have me as your father again, or choose a random one, like, from the pool, which one would you choose?"
"I guess I'd choose you, man, you can be pretty cool."
"Okay, okay, bad question! There's one thing you've wanted to say to me, all this time, one thing. Now's the time! We're both stoned, it doesn't matter! What is it?"
"I think I need to go to bed."
We never did drugs together again, after that. Probably, the decision was mutual. I'm not sure whether I should feel bad or not. Most likely I should. But I don't.