Father and son stuff – teach him properly
A couple of hours after he arrived here, I took my son for his first stroll around Amsterdam. He was overwhelmed. A rush of new sights and sounds engulfed him. The sensory overload was obvious - his eyes shone like those of a kid in the proverbial candy store It’s not his first trip overseas but it is the first time he’s had an adult’s freedom in a European city. Not just any European city, either. This was Amsterdam! He’d seen several coffee shops when we’d taken the tram to my flat from Central Station but we didn’t see one for at least 5 minutes once we started our stroll.
‘Where’re the coffee shops?’ he asked.
I pointed out the first one we passed. ‘Let’s go in,’ he said.
‘No, not yet, there’re lots of them around. Later.’
At that stage, I was still pondering the quandary of whether having a joint with him was cool or not. He was definitely going to have one at some stage, probably sooner rather than later. Perhaps I’d go in with him and have a drink while he had his first legal puff? Or we’d just go in, have a look then walk out again?
As we got closer and closer to Walletjes (the red light district), we saw more and more of them. If anything, delaying the moment when we finally entered one, was definitely uncool. I saw one that also served alcohol. In we went.
Looking at their dope menu, he was amazed. ‘Hey Dad, they’ve got Northern Lights!’ Seconds later, ‘They’ve also got Purple Haze! I can’t wait to tell my friends!’ This kid may not have spent much time out of South Africa, but he sure knew a lot more about cannabis types than I did.
We sat down with a ready-rolled joint, a coke for him and a beer for me.
A group of fat Spanish girls sat in one corner and a couple in their late thirties sat in another. No one else was in the room but the sounds of hysterical laughter could be heard from a room beyond where a pool table was barely visible through the clouds of smoke.
‘Pass me your lighter, Dad.’
I watched in bemusement as he inhaled. He exhaled almost immediately. Another drag was followed by another quick expulsion. In, out, in out, shallow drags each time. A bout of much coughing and spluttering. More inhaling and exhaling. More spluttering. Why doesn’t he take deeper drags? Can’t he keep it in for longer? The way he was inhaling annoyed me. It frustrated me even more.
‘Give me that,’ I said, almost snatching the joint out of his hand. I inhaled. Long and deeply. The tip glowed and expanded like a supernova. I kept the smoke in my lungs as long as I could, dimly aware of J motioning to me. He wanted it back. I ignored him. A trickle of smoke eventually emerged from my lips.
Again I inhaled.
By the time I’d expelled the second load of smoke, I was completely zonked. I passed it back to him and leant back. My head had opened. Wide open, the room rushed in, flooding my senses. I’d had more than enough. J finished the rest between lots more coughing and spluttering.
‘Hey, Dad, let’s get another, I forgot to get you to take pics.’
After studying the menu with great intensity, he bought another. He lit it. He smoked it. I took pics. It wasn’t easy - I could barely manage holding the camera steady. He smoked more in between trying to blow smoke rings before being overcome by spluttering.
‘Get a pic of a smoke ring,’ he instructed.
I took more pics then put the camera down. Taking pics was proving too much of a burden. I felt like lying down like the person who was lying on the bench next to the Spanish girls. The woman in the corner was convulsed with giggles. Or was she crying? Maybe she was crying from laughter? I couldn’t tell.
‘Why is that person lying next to those girls?’
‘Dad, that’s not a person, it’s a heap of coats’’
It took me an hour before I felt ready to emerge on the street and resume our stroll. Over the next few hours, we visited three more coffee shops. I had one more drag at the second one then stuck to beer and juice. After each joint, J insisted that he couldn’t ‘feel it’. Rolled joints were easy but more expensive so we bought loose weed at the last place. J’s rolling attempts were hopeless. So much for not feeling anything! I wasn’t as zonked as before but my fingers still felt like lumpen pieces of putty. Nevertheless, I managed to produce a joint that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Bob Marley’s fingers. J was impressed.
By the end of the night, besides cruising the coffee shops, we’d walked past the women posing in their ‘red rooms’ countless times. ‘Just once more, Dad.’ It hadn’t taken him long to work out which alleys had the prettiest women. ‘Let’s go down this one again.’ He looked disbelieving when I said that I hadn’t visited any of the live sex shows. I really do need to tell him I’m gay.
When we got back to the flat, I gave him his first lesson on how to roll a joint properly.