Meandering – Part 3

We arrived into Amsterdam in the afternoon. The weather was raw, raining with an overcast of clouds. This particular trip was booked through a traveling company, so we were not alone. The whole group consisted of about forty people. Not only were there many people but a big portion of the group were girls. Everyone was American, hailing from California, Arizona, Texas, New York, Ohio, etc. I don’t mean to give the reader a prejudice about the group in which we traveled with, but this is necessary to understand about the group in order to understand the events that took place in the course of the two weeks we spent in Europe. Many of the girls on this trip were petty, typical and stereotypical Americans. It was actually embarrassing listening to their nightly exhibitions forgotten. All of their nights consisted of bar-hopping while their days consisted of shopping. I still remember this girl’s face as we walked down the Champs-Élysées, lit up with excitement and exuberance. It wasn’t because of the Arc de Triomphe, nor the enormous amount of history steeped into the avenue. Hell it wasn’t even for the fact that we were walking along the streets of Paris. A store which specialized in handbags was the source of her orgasm. I looked down to the floor.

“Sorry fellow Parisians for dragging her along with us.”

The first night in Amsterdam was an introductory night for us all, fellow travelers, the people who I would share the experience with for the next two weeks. This introductory night consisted of a walk through the streets of Amsterdam as well as a dinner at some bar on one of the many side streets of Amsterdam. To get into the bar where we had our introductory dinner and drinks we had to climb a flight of stairs. Once on the second floor you could walk a couple of paces towards the bar. There were groups of tables and a smoking room encased in a glass shield, separating the room from the rest of the bar. Looking back on it now I find it odd because there are many restaurants and bars in Amsterdam that allow smoking. Coming from America where the term, “smoking or nonsmoking” is nonexistent nowadays the concept of smoking in a bar is now a foreign luxury. It’s a shame that one must go abroad to experience what we had at one time. It’s a tragedy that one must go abroad to experience what we have at the present.

I made my way into the room with all the tables set up for our group. There were only a couple of tables, but they were almost as long as the room itself. I sat down with Layla to my right and some unknown people to my left. Listening to the group’s attempt at conversing to my left had me embarrassed, and I wasn’t even a part of the damn thing to begin with. A conversation honoring our time honored tradition of asking the same petty questions that one must start out with when meeting another person. The conversation was turning bland so I joined in and asked them, “What was the craziest thing you ever did? GO!”


“Well…” One of the girls proceeded to answer the question, but I blocked her out after several seconds. She seemed banal as she attempted to answer my question in a conventional manner that so many tedious people have the tendency of doing. After a couple of minutes of seeing her mouth moving I could really care less about her quote, unquote “crazy” experience.

“Who’s eating?”

I looked up and I saw the bar manager asking our table the question.

“Whoever isn’t eating must leave the table. We need the tables for other customers.”

I left without a grudge towards the manager for interrupting the delightful conversation.

“Excuse me, I’m not eating.” I climbed over all the people to my left in order to leave the table as I was stuck against the wall. I walked towards the bar with some of the other girls that weren’t eating. They told me that they were going to a coffee shop to buy some marijuana, asked if I wanted to join them on their outing.

“Perhaps I’ll meet up with you guys. I’m just going to stay here for a while.”

Layla and her friend Adele finished eating while I was having a smoke. They signaled towards me and we left with a couple of other people, making our way towards a coffee shop.

To talk about Layla’s friend Adele won’t take too long for me, considering the fact that we are only mere acquaintances. She befriended Layla at work and ever since then they’ve been good friends, both of them exhibiting a similar type of humor. Adele was the one who actually invited us to come along with her to Europe, so without her I probably wouldn’t be writing about this here turn of events unfolding before you.

Walking down the streets in Amsterdam we found this hipster coffee shop called The Grasshopper. Unlike many coffee shops The Grasshopper is a three story building. The basement sells the marijuana, the first and second floor sell drinks and have tables for leisurely chat, and the third floor is strictly for customers who want to eat. There’s a huge green neon sign on the Façade of the building that simply says Grasshopper, attracting everyone to the loud, thumping dance music and foggy atmosphere, brought about by marijuana smoke. When we walked into the Grasshopper I felt as if I was entering a club, not some coffee shop.

After purchasing marijuana we went upstairs to the second floor. The place was packed with people, making it almost impossible to find a place to sit. This group of people was leaving their table as we were walking around searching for one. We claimed it for ourselves and proceeded to sit down.

The group in which I was at the table with consisted of Layla, Adele, these two friends named Rem and Victoria, and this guy Jake from California. Rem was on the airplane with us during our flight to Amsterdam. She was meeting up with her friend Victoria, whom she went to college with. I sensed that Rem was looking at me continuously, but I didn’t think much of it. Layla later told me that during dinner in the bar previous to this Rem asked her whether we were going out or not. Layla responded reluctantly, “he’s my ex.” Rem looked at Victoria in a victorious way, claiming me for herself, thinking that she would be able to make it with me.

Jake from California also joined us that evening. Jake went on the trip alone, planning to meet new friends while traveling with the tour group. He was at the table during the mediocre conversation previous to this, the one I instigated. I thought he was somewhat reserved, didn’t say too much, didn’t open himself up in a way that someone such as myself would, but there was something interesting about him. I learned after talking with him that he was a piano player, studying music at a college in Long Beach. I found I had much to discuss with him about music and other subjects. Later on down the beaten path of everyday I would end up seeing him again during the road trip to California. Of course during that night at The Grasshopper I had no idea what would pan out between myself and everybody else at the table. It was like being a freshman, befriending anybody for the sake of befriending them, growing further apart as the semesters fly by.

Rem rolled a joint while we were all talking, conversing about our first day in Amsterdam. Everything was still completely new to everyone at the table; a new country, a new group of people, a new atmosphere, a new time of our lives. It seemed that everything was where it was supposed to be, nothing was out of place at that moment.

The whole night thereafter was a blur. The music pulsating a constant beat, repeating motifs continuously until it transformed into a completely different melody, repeating that continuously as did the previous melody. I sat there in complete silence. When high I become an observer, I don’t participate much in the conversation nor do I succumb to my exuberant personality. Yes, I’m extroverted, as I usually am, but I climb down into my being, allowing my introverted self to come out so to speak. I have no desire to participate in the outside world; I only have the desire to watch it unfold in front of me. It is very exciting to watch the manifestation of humankind and the conversing of people from a different perspective. To me this is one of the many joys of being high.

The next morning I woke up lagging behind the steady tick of the clock. I can’t remember much after The Grasshopper other than walking up and down the streets of Amsterdam, the lights converging into one color. While gaining composure over myself I realized that it was New Year’s Eve. New Year’s in Amsterdam is something that one cannot fathom. “The Dutch go crazy” one local told me, and those words couldn’t be any truer.

That night Layla, Adele, and myself took a streetcar towards the city center, dam square. Before leaving Layla and I tried to find a store that sold alcohol near the hotel, but instead we found closed shops with guys shooting fireworks at passers-by.

We made it to dam square where everyone from the tour group was meeting. The leader of the group, our tour-guide (those words do sound dreadful), was this Dutchman named Gerhard, or as some people called him, Gerry. Gerhard was a quirky, tall man who knew a mélange of languages, extremely knowledgeable about the places which we visited and the customs, as well as culture, of different countries.

As the group gathered up we walked towards the museum square, in Dutch the Museumplein, where a huge celebration was commencing. The further we walked towards the Museumplein, the more and more bottles, fireworks, and drunkards we saw on the street. People were walking around with no discretion, drinking from bottles of wine or bottles of beer, leading their packs to some unknown destination. Fireworks were going off every minute, some louder than others, lighting up the sky juxtaposed with the streetlamps and lights from the buildings of those who were home that evening.

While approaching the Museumplein the sound of music became apparent, growing louder the closer we got. Once we reached the Museumplein the noise culminated into one big show encased in a fence with stands selling drinks and food, surrounding the center where everyone was gathered. The entrance was across from the Concertgebouw where people gathered around drinking what they had (no drinks were permitted into the allotted area) so that they could get beyond the gates.

On our way towards the entrance Adele managed to talk to one of the girls who was in our group. Her name was Maria, and joining her was her sister Brittany and Brittany’s boyfriend Dan. After Adele conversed with Maria she ran over to Layla and said that she had a new friend. We all started talking and drinking the remainder of wine that Brittany and Maria brought with them. Once we entered through the gates we joined in the mad party, celebrating the coming of a new year, 2010. There was a band on this monstrous stage playing popular American songs and popular Dutch songs. Everyone sang. I tried singing the Dutch songs, as there were subtitles on the mega-screen for each and every song, and even though the air was somewhat cold the atmosphere was burning due to the excitement of everyone. The insurmountable joy experienced every minute of that night was something I had never experienced in my life. New Years was spent alone in my home for many years, my parents watching television telling me that going out was dangerous because of all the drunkards driving on the road, cocooned. So this is how the Dutch spend their New Years?

I called my parents in the midst of the crowd. It was a short talk, as it usually is with my parents, merely wishing them a happy new year and telling them about the beauty of Amsterdam. After talking with them I received a call from Luke.

“Hello?!” I screamed, trying to talk over the massive sound of people around me. Luke tried talking to me, but I could barely understand him. I had a more difficult time understanding him than my parents, although I talked with my parents for only a minute. I tried to express the emotions of being somewhere so far from home, but I stumbled on my words as Luke stumbled on his, or so I thought.

“Listen man, I’ll talk to you when I get home. Until then I’ll write to you.”

“Definitely, I look forward…” was all I could make out. I hung up the phone, resuming the madness that ensued in the Museumplein.

10…9…8…7…6 – everyone counting; the noise deafening – …5…4…3…2…1…

Fireworks appeared behind the stage and everywhere around the Museumplein. The air was consumed by the sound of explosions, either from the fireworks or the people. Everyone jumped up and down. I felt as though the ground was shaking by the sheer force of humankind. A rebuttal to bleakness and gray fog covering the whole, the fireworks lighting up a path, then realizing that the gray fog is from the fireworks, but they still helped to uncover a path from which to escape the abyss. I looked towards Layla, she looked towards me. I would’ve been kissing her. I should’ve been kissing her. Alas I gave her a hug, innocent and at the same time longing, longing for her gentle touch that couldn’t be explained in words, but perhaps music. Even when writing I feel constricted by the language of verbal communication opposed to the language of nonverbal communication. Not to say that a gesture couldn’t be explained in the utmost detail, but an album such as “A Love Supreme”, even when explained in the utmost detail, could never justify the sounds of which have been listened to an innumerable amount of times. Music was given to humankind to pick up from where verbal language could no longer function. That poignant look I shared with Layla could only be replicated through music or art, and by art I mean a painting of some sort.

I looked back towards the stage after looking at Layla. I couldn’t hurt her again. It was bad enough that I came along, giving her grief.

Soon “I Gotta Feeling” started to play, the so-called anthem of 2009, and I decided not to harp on the matter. Instead I jumped up and down with the rest of the crowd, looking forward to a new year; the year that I would graduate from college, the year that would change my life forever. Fireworks continued to light up the sky, the ground shaking from everybody jumping to the music. It feels good just to forget about the problems of everyday life, even those situational problems that beg for some kind of closure.

The stage emptied around one o’clock, forcing everyone to either find a new place to hang around or a home to sleep in. I made a mad dash towards a food stand on the side of the square, seeing if they still had beer that I could buy with the tokens that would render useless once I left the square. The tokens were a form of currency during the celebration in the Museumplein. One had to trade in money for tokens in order to buy alcohol, food, etc. I had some tokens leftover, which were fairly expensive, one token costing around three euros. The beer was gone which came as a disappointment to me, but for the stranger to my right it was news that struck him much deeper. He looked at the person operating the stand imploringly, a desperate look that I’ve seen on a seldom few in my short life. I looked down at his hands, which were grasping onto a myriad of tokens, more than I could count. The amount of money wasted on the tokens must have been more than what I spent during my sojourn in Amsterdam, only taking into account what I spent whilst exploring the city, which is difficult for me to conjure. I looked back at his face as he looked at me.

“I’m sorry.” I said, not knowing why I said it, just knowing that I felt bad for this stranger who had wasted a ton of money.

He just looked down to the ground, too disappointed to say anything. I looked back towards the operator of the food stand and I asked if there was any stand in which I could get something in exchange for my tokens. The operator looked at me and said that I could possibly redeem them at one of the stands selling snacks on the other side of the square. I made a mad dash towards the other side, hoping in earnest to get rid of these tokens, seeing as they would be wasted space in my pocket. I found a food stand that seemed to have some food out, even though the operators there were in the process of packing up. I asked if I could buy anything with the tokens I had left. One of the operators approached me and said that I could buy a bag of popcorn, that being the only food they had available. I took it, trading in my tokens for a delicious treat to fill my stomach, somewhat, as Layla, Adele, Brittany, Dan, Maria, and I made our way outside of the square where the celebration seemed to have become mobile.

People; mad, jumping, stumbling, mumbling, staggering, throwing-up, throwing-down, running to and fro, walking in a wayward motion, all on the streets at the same time. The mélange of people that we were alongside with were rowdy with no censor. As we made our way to the bus stop where we would be picked up by a bus I watched a group of people on the street singing to a couple on the balcony of the building across the street from the bus stop. It was enough to become a magical moment in my eyes. We all talked as I curled up from the cold and the snow that started falling once New Year’s hit, turning into a full-fledged snow fall once we left the square.

I found Gerhard next to me as we waited for the bus to pick us all up.

“I enjoyed that immensely.” I told him.

“Ja, ja, it was a good time.”

“Now we have to wait for this bus, huh? How much longer do you think we have to wait?”

“Not too much longer I hope.”

After about ten minutes the bus appeared down the street. As the bus pulled up to the bus stop I saw the massive amount of people cramped on the bus. I also looked to my right and my left, noticing the amount of people waiting for this particular bus, the amount being as much as the amount of people already on the bus.

“Alright, just push yourself onto the bus.” Gerhard said to me and the other people in our tour group. Layla and Adele panicked getting on. I tried to squeeze myself onto the bus, but I realized that I was blocking the door from closing so I jumped back onto the street. Layla, Adele, and I ran to another part of the bus. There was absolutely no room on the bus to fit onto. The bus then proceeded to close the doors, pulling away from the bus stop and the unfortunates left to fend for themselves while waiting for another hour for the next bus to arrive. As the bus pulled away Gerhard looked at us with this smirk on his face, waving goodbye. I shook my head in disbelief. Even though I was somewhat distraught that I had to wait another hour in the raw cold, envying the rest of the group for getting onto the bus and feeling an ever-growing disdain towards Gerhard for getting on and waving at us, as if to say, “sucks for you!”, I found the situation comical.

I laughed. Brittany, Dan, and Maria were stuck outside of the bus stop along with Layla, Adele, and me. We looked around, the bus out of sight and the sound of people all around us, dissipating into the night, white light mirrored by the snow accumulating onto the ground, snow falling everywhere around us. We decided not to wait for the bus at that particular station, but instead decided to find another station closer to the bus station so that we could get onto the bus indefinitely. We walked towards dam square through streets consumed by fireworks and bottles of alcohol, mainly wine, with the river banks littered just as heavily as the streets. Once we entered dam square we saw people all over the place. A couple of people actually climbed their way up onto the statue that lies in the center of dam square, screaming and riling up the crowd. While the area near the Museumplein was emptying out, dam square was filing up with more and more people. We couldn’t celebrate though because we had to catch a bus. If we failed to miss this bus we would have had to walk back towards the hotel, the trek being close to four miles, in the wintery, brisk air, snow growing heavier every ten minutes.

After walking around for what felt like hours we found a bus stop where the bus would pass through. We eventually made it onto the bus, thanking whoever or whatever guided us through the rough terrain of Amsterdam during New Years. And as if the party outside could have been avoided inside the only means of transportation, other than taxis charging 50 to 100 euros for a ride, I was sadly mistaken.

There were guys my age in the back, loud and obnoxious, screaming about nonsense that I couldn’t understand. I stood at the middle of the bus, the part connecting one part to the other. OK, just imagine two buses connected together, the connecting section experiencing all the turns the bus made magnified due to its turning radius. That’s where I stood. Layla stood next to me, staring at the floor, occasionally looking over at the ruckus coming from the back of the bus. As the guys screamed, this Dutch lady turned back towards them, telling them to shut up, quit the bickering and enjoy the New Year. They mocked her while she aired out her frustrations, apparently shared by a couple of the people sitting around that wild group. They must have been saying some raunchy stuff to have gotten her riled up.

One of the guys, a loner, told her to calm down, said that they wouldn’t make as much noise and trouble as they were making. She turned her back on them as they lit up cigarettes with the no smoking sign juxtaposed to the inhalation of smoke that so many Dutch people seem to inhale. The Dutch are a smoking lot. I guess it’s apparent when they have various bars in and around Amsterdam infamously called brown cafés, bars that are known for a brown interior accumulated from years of exposure to cigarette smoke, that and their ambiance. But what would that ambiance be without the smoking? How would it exist?

Smoke started to fill the bus. I looked over to the front, watching the bus driver, seeing if he would react to the smell of cigarette smoke on the bus. Much to my surprise he did nothing about it. However I shouldn’t have been surprised considering it was New Year’s. It’s a get out of jail pass, given to the many people in Amsterdam because of a necessary day to bring in the next day which would in turn bring in the next, coincidentally bringing in a New Year.

Considering the time we arrived at the hotel and the jet lag we all experienced, notwithstanding the fact that everything, except restaurants and coffee shops, was closed on New Year’s Day, Adele, Layla, and I slept for most of the day, not waking up until two in the afternoon.

After waking up and showering, we caught a streetcar heading into dam square where we would find a bite to eat. My feelings for Layla were tearing me apart at this point. I couldn’t imagine myself in the course of this sojourn in Europe not making it with her, or even embracing her being as I was used to in the past. My friends told me that I would, told me that I would end up having sex with Layla. I denied this to them, knowing in the back of my head that something was bound to happen during our stay in Europe.

The streets of Amsterdam meshed into one Façade and one sidewalk as we rode down the street. I remember the book I wrote in the midst of my chaotic summer, consumed by carousing and leading myself into a hole of unimaginative desolation. Society was ravaging itself, and I was a part of it. I was the comedian, taking life and the people of everyday as a joke. I was the depressed poet, thoughts of suicide and abandonment of the mediocrity of modern life, the needless meandering of people, as I found myself doing years later, although not useless but beneficial. I was the follower laughing alongside classmates I longed to be friends with, not understanding the humor or the punch line. I was the leader, leading myself into habitual nights stuck in front of my computer lost in an alley way of digitization, lost and unaware of what to do with my life. I was the crowd following the claps and encores around me to acts that I look at now with disdain. I was the loner who wanted to be left alone to think about the shortcomings of my life at every moment that I thought possible, embracing the minutes of freedom I experienced, rummaging through photos of myself when I felt a part of something special; society. I was a lot of different personalities growing up. I am still a lot of different personalities. Growing older doesn’t mean holding the same view you held the previous day. Morals and values come and go, but we are still left standing. It seems that our generation is just that, which I find especially prevalent on Long Island, a land full of gaudy passers-by, impatient due to the urbanized wasteland consumed by lackadaisical lower, middle, and upper-class citizens, where the laws governing The Island are forged four hours outside of it in Albany. Long Island used to be an island where one escaped to get away from the busy life of New York City. Now it’s an island where one can’t escape, stuck surrounded by an embodiment of water and coarse individuals making up the whole of the Long Island Sound, eerie and dissonant, clashing together to form a block of land that encompasses detachment from the whole, the decadence of bourgeois society leading the masses into extinction of mind and matter. What has happened to our humanity, our morals and values? Where do they come from now if not the television trained in censorship?

The next stop was dam square. I rose as the stop approached, exiting the streetcar and following Adele and Layla.

After eating dinner we went to a bar, meeting up with the whole group that we were traveling with. The bar was small and the crowd was immense, even before the whole of our group arrived. After an hour of hanging around the bar, half of the group went to watch a live sex show across the river bank in the red light district. Not wanting to spend the 35 euros to watch an hour of various fucking, the group from the previous night, Layla, Adele, Brittany, Dan, Maria, and I, walked through the red light district to search for another bar. If anyone knows anything about Amsterdam they will know that the red light district, although perverse (who’s to say sex is facing the wrong way?), is extremely safe, entertaining, and borderline gaudy in a touristic way. It’s those who look at the red light district as debauchery that one must look at with suspect, for they may know nothing about something and something about nothing.

After looking high and low for a bar with a crowd, albeit modest in size, we found one across the river from a huge coffee shop with a neon pink elephant covering a big portion of the Façade. We found an empty table, ordered drinks, and consumed ourselves in conversation. During the two hours of getting to know one another I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Dan, Brittany, and Maria weren’t tasteless as the rest of the group was.

As I mentioned earlier, Maria and Brittany were sisters while Dan was Brittany’s boyfriend. Maria was 26 as Brittany and Dan were 20, growing up in San Antonio, Texas. Maria, being the oldest of us (and the group we traveled with as well), had a certain air of maturity that was apparent when being around her. She was tall with curly black hair and when she smiled she revealed a full set of braces, unusual for someone who is older. There was a man waiting for her back at home, as there was for most of the ladies on this particular trip, but unlike the other ladies Maria wasn’t looking to find a lay in every city.

To me Brittany was like a small reincarnation of Maria, as far as looks go. Other than that they were very different from one another. One example of this had to do with the control that Brittany liked to extract from situations, feeling more comfortable about the turn of events when she was in control of what was happening next.

Dan, Brittany’s boyfriend, was an easy-going guy, not apathetic, yet not apprehensive. He was the passive one in the relationship, as Brittany was the exuberant, outgoing one. At times during our trip Brittany and I clashed. She was very much like me, so much so that it caused unnecessary arguments and confrontations. This however did not deter me from getting to know Brittany. It would have been futile regardless, considering the fact that the three amigos from Texas were with the three amigos from New York for most of the trip.

I sat there, surrounded by everyone, attempting to make a good impression. It was difficult because Layla was to my left, evidence of my negligence towards others as I had hurt her terribly. It was rather difficult introducing myself alongside with Layla in general, as we were no longer together. The people within the group were either happy that I was single or confused as to why I would travel through Europe with my ex-girlfriend. Naturally we touched upon the subject at the table that night. Surprised looks came from all three of the Texan’s faces. Questions accompanied those surprised looks as well. Questions that made Layla smile a fake smile, hiding the pain she felt as a result of my negligent profligacy. Of course no one else, except for maybe Adele, knew she was putting on a pseudo-smile.

The subject was soon averted, going on to other subjects that mainly consisted of life in the state in which we grew up in and family. One by one, in the midst of talking, we would run upstairs to the bathroom, as there was none on the first floor in this particular bar. The stairs leading to the second floor were steep, forcing one to exercise caution while walking on them. The second floor looked similar to the first floor, except there were pool tables, LCD lights, and a variety of posters ranging from crazy artwork to concert posters. The bar itself wasn’t chauvinistic, but simple, saying what needed to be said in one sentence opposed to two paragraphs of pedantic meandering and verbose nonsense.

We left after another hour of talking, digging the red light district and the people walking to and fro. As we were walking alongside the canal, consumed with bottles and fireworks from the previous night, I spotted a couple of French guys. They were hanging outside this hooker’s door, staring at the woman framed by red lights. One of the French guys was struggling to decide whether he should go in or not. He looked at the prostitute as she looked at him, pulling him in with her pointer finger and large tits. He looked back towards his friends, looked towards her once more, then turned back to his friends yet again. After seeing this I approached him in a nonchalant manner, telling him, “man, just go for it.”

“I don’t have enough money.” he told me. Just as he said this, his friend pulled out the fifty euros needed for the fuck, imploring him to take it so that he could enjoy himself. He took it with a grin on his face that gave off the radiance of a huge smile, although he didn’t want to show it. He entered the room encased in red lights as all of us cheered, congratulating him on his potential ten minute get together with the hooker.

I suppose one could sum up the red light district as shopping on the go, seeing as the clientele walk through the streets with products on display for their viewing pleasure. It’s the capitalization of Sex.

As we continued down the street Maria spotted a black patron entering a door encased in red lights a block from the French guys, inquiring about the goods. The curtains closed, thus commencing a session. Due to curiosity Brittany timed the man from the minute the curtains closed. People passed by as we stood there, looking at Brittany’s clock every now and then. After fifteen minutes we were astounded, seeing as the average time was about eight minutes per session. We eventually left, forever unknowing the duration of that particular session. It’s funny too because I would occasionally see people waiting outside doors with closed curtains, looking down at their watch from time to time.

All different languages littered the air around us; German, Italian, Spanish, and of course Dutch. We heard no English as we walked down the street, but out of nowhere these two guys approached us and said, “Holy shit, English speakers! I didn’t think we’d ever find any!” This is when our night took an unexpected turn.

These two guys from Chicago, Ray and Brett, were walking down the street doing as we were doing, except they just returned from the live sex show that half of our group went to. Ray and Brett were both drinking a bottle of beer they took from the live sex show, claiming that there were unlimited free drinks for the price of admission. Upon hearing this little tidbit we all looked at one another in dismay, wishing that we knew about that fact before completely turning away from the sex show. What could be better than watching people fucking and drinking at the same time, growing aroused and horny by the end of the show, searching for a hooker to fornicate with, releasing the semen that needs to be let out as the milk from a cow, the difference being millions of individuals swimming to an unknown location with hopes of finding the egg, sometimes cumming into a wall, sometimes onto a face, sometimes into the designated area with a missing egg?

Ray was shorter than Brett, although Ray wasn’t short; Brett was just a tall guy. Brett seemed to be the sidekick as Ray kept talking on and on about his studying abroad in London with Brett. His stories kept meshing into one conglomerate sentence that made sense in a hysterical sort of way. We stood around talking for a while, watching men enter and exit doors lit with neon red lights, groups of people walking passed, observing their surroundings realizing that they’ve stumbled upon a system that so many cultures deem as perverse and pornographic.

After digging the scene we walked onward in search for another bar along the strip. We stopped at one bar that was fairly empty. We all ordered a drink, used the restrooms, and then left for another bar. As we were walking towards an unknown destination we ended up in front of an exclusive bar, for the sheer fact that it cost 45 euros to enter.

“Why so much?” Ray asked the bouncer imploringly.

“You can drink for free during your first hour.”

“That’s not worth 45 euros.”

“Yeah!” We all chime in.

“Have you ever had a shot from a ladies vagina?”

We were speechless at this point, not believing what the bouncer just said. I succumbed to hysterics as Ray tried cutting the price of admission from 45 euros to 30.

“45 euros. No less!” The bouncer stood his ground, not budging from the price set to attract patrons willing to pay a steep price for a drinking experience few have ever known.

We walked away from that bar, searching high and low for another one. After reaching the end of the strip, where you could continue further into the city or turn around and walk along the other side of the red light district, we decided to continue further into town. Almost immediately Ray and Brett spotted a coffee shop that resembled a laboratory more so than a marijuana distributor. Ray and Brett entered, we followed.

They approached the counter as a kid approaches an ice cream truck, or a candy shop, in awe of the sheer number of strands of marijuana they sold.

“We’ll take some of that. And that!”

“What’s that?”


“Yeah that?”

“That’s OG Kush, excellent stuff, will get you high as a fuckin’ kite.”

“Yeah we’ll take some of that.”

After ten minutes of them selecting a different variety of marijuana (they ended up purchasing about a hundred euros worth) we walked down the street, finding a huge bar/club where they could roll a couple of joints. The group, being Maria, Brittany, Dan, Adele, Layla, and myself, pooled in cash and purchased a couple of beers for Ray and Brett for the marijuana they were going to share with us. Because we couldn’t smoke marijuana in the bar we went outside and smoked the joints. Layla, Ray, and I went outside first. All three of us were talking as we were puffing in the sweet tea of Amsterdam. I confessed to Ray that Layla and I were once lovers after he inquired about us, seeing as we were acting as a couple, hanging around one another in that manner. I could tell that Ray felt sympathetic towards us being in such a situation, but at the same time we were forgetting the problems of everyday know-how that lay across the Atlantic.

We returned to the table once we finished the joint. Brett, Adele, and Maria were next to go outside. Originally Maria told Adele, Layla, and me that she wasn’t going to smoke because her younger sister was there. Brittany and Dan weren’t going to smoke, as they never had before, and even though Maria wanted to she was afraid Brittany would say something to their parents about it. I told Maria in an upfront manner that Brittany wouldn’t because she didn’t seem like an immature person that would inform her parents about something so miniscule.

“Yeah, but there have been times when she blabbed about things I did, and I ended up getting in trouble because of her.”

“Yeah, how long ago was that though?”

“When she was like sixteen.”

“See, that was a while ago. She’s twenty now. She understands that you’re in Amsterdam, and when you’re in Amsterdam do as the locals do. I mean, do you really think she’s going to have a problem with you smoking?”

“I don’t know. I feel like she would have a problem with it.”

This conversation continued until she decided to join Brett and Adele outside. They returned after about ten minutes, and by that time the effects of that joint started to seep into my being.

As we were sitting the night began to grow denser. I became reserved and I observed the lights and sounds all around me, which meshed into one big mass of energy. I looked over to Layla, who had a similar stoned look from the one that I had. We both looked at Brittany and Dan who weren’t high, but watched us and tried to communicate with us. I could no longer communicate a thought properly. Then I proceeded to look over towards Ray who was staring at the table, “I’m really fucking high.” he said. “That was strong weed.”

“Yeah” Brett said in a stony way, adding on to Ray’s statement.

“There was this statue in a church that we stumbled upon in London. A church!” Ray started exclaiming out of nowhere. “This statue was on the right side of the altar, and it was this statue of a lion. This had to be one of the most fucked up statues I’ve ever seen. This lion, this poor lion, had a crab pinching its balls. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this bird is pecking on its head. I still don’t know why this statue was in the church. It has nothing to do with anything!”

“That is a fucked up statue.” I exclaimed, laughing hysterically.

“Right? The only thing I could think about when looking at this statue was the shitty day this fucking lion was having.”

“Wait, I think I have a photo of it on me.” Brett said. He showed us and it was exactly how Ray described it. The lion was surely having a terrible day.

What followed was an hour, or perhaps longer, conversation about anything with intervals of exclamations concerning the strength of the marijuana and how high we were. As for me, I was watching everyone, sparsely talking or commenting on what was said or what was going to be said or what had to be said.

We left the bar with Ray and Brett so that we could catch the bus back to our hotel. As we made a right upon exiting the duo from Chicago made a left, disappearing into the wilderness of Amsterdam, a city steeped in nostalgia and modernization, sorry not modernization, innovation, breaking down walls and looking towards the future. To deem something as modern is redundant. Beethoven was once modern and although some people consider his Grosse Fuge to remain a modern piece of music it doesn’t constitute as a modern piece because it was written more than a century ago. Even in technicality Schoenberg is not modern. He was writing music at the beginning of the 20th century. Modern is today’s innovations, not yesteryear’s that are still seen today. What happens when the 22nd century arrives? What will they call our modern age? I hope our innovations outshine our mediocrity, but it seems as though history forgets its blunders.

Febo: a fast food joint where the food is served behind a counter, but is also sold readymade behind a myriad of small hatches, can be found tucked into the grandiosity of Amsterdam’s streets. The hatches, covering most of the wall, are a part of this grand machine resembling curbside newspaper distributors. The restaurants are all of a modest size, catering to those in special need of cheap, edible food to satisfy a drunken and/or high state. At the time I didn’t realize we were in a Febo until I saw Layla with a box of fries.

“Aren’t we gonna miss the bus?” I asked Layla.

“No, we have time.”

As we were already there I decided to buy something to subside the hunger that I was experiencing. Looking through the variety of food I decided to buy a dodgy looking Dutch egg roll, or something that resembled that. I put my change into the machine and as the allotted amount was paid for I opened the mini hatch to my little Dutch egg roll and shut it. Once the mini hatch shut, it opened again. A hand popped out with a guy behind the wall. I looked through many of the hatches, the man’s outline apparent, then at the hatch where the hand was resting. Noticing an extra egg roll on his hand I realized that he was giving it to me, so I took it from him. He started telling me that I owed him more money for the other egg roll. I pulled out more change, handing it over to the hand that was lying in the hatch. He asked for more, said it wasn’t sufficient enough.

“That’s it man, that’s all I have.”

“Thirty more cents!” he responded.

I pulled out a tissue I used to blow my nose on earlier in the day. I handed it over to him.

“That’s everything. No more.”

“Alright!” he said, closing the mini hatch.

I left Febo with two of these Dutch egg rolls in my hand, eating them on the way to the bus station. Even with the time we killed in Febo we caught the bus a couple of minutes before departing, purchasing a ticket then sitting on that still bus and eating our food.

Once the bus left it seemed like it was going to be a normal bus ride, but it turned out to be a hectic one. The city flashed by manically, the driver making turns at the same speed at which he drove on straightaways. At first I believed that the bus ride was mad due to my own imagination, but Layla and Adele looked at me with fear, wondering why the bus was in such a hurry. How was I to know at such an hour, in such a state?

The passing of building windows clicked in a fast, steady tempo, just as a metronome. The passing of these windows somehow reminded me of the passing windows of buildings when riding the train into Manhattan from Ronkonkoma, the middle of Long Island. It’s a reversal of escapism for me. The city dwellers in Manhattan usually escape to Long Island to get away from city life as I escape to Manhattan to get away from the congested, suburban life of the second Island west of the first.

Long Island’s congestion is something to behold. Seven and a half million people consume the island, rendering constant traffic, i.e. people in a hurry trying to get from place to place as quickly as possible. Overworked locals paying too much for necessities as well as junk that show off an empty status among neighbors and individuals. The amenities observed by most of the Long Islanders are disgraceful and chauvinistic. My claustrophobia grew as a result of being squeezed into this Island, the L.I.E. (Long Island Expressway) remaining the same size as the automobiles and people increase daily.

Surrounded by water the beauty of Long Island is truly magnificent. For me however natural beauty is just not enough. A healthy social atmosphere is very important to me, which doesn’t include the necessity for small talk, meandering on about nothing, but a required respect for one another and ourselves. Watching the locals one can quickly make out the low self-esteem attributed to the individuals who live on The Island. Look at the way in which individuals dress. A banal belief in uniqueness has given people the self-deserved right to walk outside of the house looking like trash.

And have you ever noticed the people who claim uniqueness amongst the masses of passers-by? They radiate at such a dim level that they couldn’t catch the eye of an individual succumbed to mediocrity and sheepish tendencies. Communism preaches and practices a single mass philosophy brought about by conformity, as democracy preaches an individualistic philosophy while practicing a single mass philosophy brought about by conformity. Everything is so wonderful when it’s written on paper, could be why I’m writing this novel. But once something is practiced the written word renders useless. One must find sense in the written word that can carry over into reality. It could be why the written word attracts so many individuals while speech attracts the masses.

Often I’ve wondered why my thoughts carry me to the places that they’ve been carrying me to. The vulgarity of my speech, complete with no censor, is one aspect of my personality that makes it difficult for people to relate with me. I’m not one to lie for personal gain. I could never go into politics because of it, even if I did want to make a difference, which I do, but I choose to do so with my art. Art isn’t meant to promote politics, that’s why propaganda was conceived. Art isn’t meant to appease the average person, that’s why entertainment was conceived. I’ve always had this personal vendetta against our generation. The 21st century, an age of widespread knowledge that’s easier to access than ever before. Yes, this is a positive characteristic, but the human condition seems to reject useful information, thus rendering a negative characteristic. No one has the right to be ignorant if they’re born privileged, opportunities surrounding them, giving them a chance to take a leap of faith into the abyss.

Emptiness frightens people more than tainted fulfillment. Risk is an aspect of life that’s looked upon in an unfavorable way by most people at every corner with death, heartache, or regret occasionally accompanying. The congestion on Long Island breeds a higher degree of risk when leaving the house at any moment, but most people don’t see it that way.

“We’re all stuck here!” I heard.

“We’re all stuck here!” That should be Long Island’s slogan.

“We’re all stuck here!” I heard again. I turned around and saw Layla staring at me as she had repeated herself, trying to get a response out of me. Amsterdam was flying by as it had been flying by for the last fifteen minutes. I lost myself for a while, the whole ride blurring into one image of madness.

“No we’re not.” I said to Layla. “Our stop should be next.”

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