NEVER TAKE DIRECTIONS FROM A WOMAN-CHAPTER 16
PROLOGUE: Back in the mid 70's I was a bona fide rock star playing bass in a very famous English band. So this is all true stuff here. For my friends that know me well, will make the connection. If others are interested, you must do some investigation. I hope you enjoy this ridiculous road story.
The standard operating procedure when we landed in Holland was to make our way to Amsterdam. The band always played there first and then blossomed all over Europe.
I love Amsterdam. Well, I did then. Back in the early/mid 70's, it was a haven for junkies of all nationalities.
Now mind you, I was, and am not, a junkie. And neither were my traveling companions, but we did enjoy the ganja. Funny thing....Europe was not really well suited to grow pot. Most pot came from North Africa which made it more expensive than hashish. Hash was much cheaper in Europe than it was in the States.
In the States, getting your hands on really good, fresh hash was damn near impossible. So when it was found, it was a treat and cause for a party.
We traveled to Holland via the English Channel on a big boat...because we had 18 wheelers full of musical gear, lighting equipment, sound equipment, etc. The English Channel is one of the roughest waters to transverse in the world. I left my vomit in that sea of water going both directions every time we traveled that way.
As a tourist, you must stand in line with your passport on the ship while it is being buffeted by huge waves, dearly holding on to something so you don't slide down the ship, end to end, and wait to go through customs.
Now if you're a rock star, you give your passport to the band's trusty road manager, with the shiny brief case, and he takes care of it.
Going from Dover to the Hook of Holland is usually an overnight trip. Rocking back and forth in your bunk, usually drunk, so that you think of it as a Disney ride. And then drift off to sleep in your own vomit.
You wake up refreshed, go to your tiny bathroom and vomit, shower (if your are American. If you are European, Saturday is reserved for bathing), dress, pack and get on with it.
We were driven to the Paradiso Club in the evening. That's when all the fun starts. The Paradiso Club is a Dutch Government run hashish club that cost, at the time, 5 Guilders to join. Once inside, it was the grown up version of the Chocolate Factory. Several floors with something different going on at each floor. The basement was reserved for a small bar and a man who would sit in a very large overstuffed chair directly in front of a large chalk board that acted as a menu for today's sale of hashish.
We would usually buy a little of this and little of that. And sometimes we bought an ounce of pot....we would pester the road manager for that money. What a fight he put up but we always won.
And so the story goes....
On one of those many trips, we fucked up big time. The drummer and I, who I shall call SC, got some directions from a woman friend of the band that had the key to the kingdom...the best hash in all of Amsterdam. It was given to us, not in map form, but “turn right at Glockenshpieldngelhamflocken Street and then turn left at Gonigenplatzastrausedildo Plaza, etc.
SC and I ventured out into the wilderness along the waterways of Amsterdam where thousands of house boats sat. And thousands of very old brick houses surrounded the water ways.
After about 30 minutes, we were fucked. We knew we were walking too far to find each turn so we found a public telephone and called our woman friend, in London, who told us that she just kind of remembered where the place was and she did the best she could.
Slam! The receiver went down. Fuck me!!
The only thing in our favor was that we had the address.
If you ever visited Amsterdam in the 1960's or 70's, you know that every other house boat had marijuana growing on the roof for sale. It was a sea of munchies. French Fry stands did a huge business. So having the address began to feel futile with so much temptation constantly in front of us.
SC and I jumped on board a moored houseboat and went down the steps to the cabin. We knocked.
We heard a woman's voice say, “Come in,” in a very sexy way. We opened the door and stepped down three steps. In front of us, was this large room was a man, in his 50's, sitting on a real honest to God royal throne. He wore silky garments and a large crown. He motioned for us to come forward. But we had to step over the half naked 12 year old boys that were sitting on the floor surrounding their King and benefactor.
“May I help you,” as he swung his arm in a royal gesture.
SC and I both stuttered and stammered. We looked around the room and could see dozens of photographs of young boys. Not nude. But they all had their shirts off...as did the boys in the room.
I managed to ask about the address. The King (who said he was from Brooklyn) responded with simple directions and we bowed and ran up the steps to the dock. SC and I stood there for a moment staring at each other. Our eyes were very wide open. And then we began to laugh and then scream as we got the hell out of there.
We finally knocked on the right door of the right houseboat. An American answered the door and he looked pretty ragged. In his early 30's, stringy long hair, really skinny, wearing bell bottom jeans and a tank top. He motioned us in with a smile. We told him who we were and what we had come for and used our woman friend as a reference.
While we were telling him this story, he opened a drawer in a desk, that he was sitting at, and brought out a slab of hashish the size of a dinner plate. I know my eyes bulged. He broke off a small piece and stuck it in a pipe. He lit the pipe and inhaled deeply making the piece of hash cherry red. And then he passed it to me. And then I passed it to SC. And then he passed it...well, you get the idea.
By the time, we had finished with smoking the most kick ass hash we had ever smoked, we had forgotten why we were there. So we laughed a lot.
The skinny guy reminded us of where we were and what we wanted. We remembered to tell him the name of the band we were in hoping for standard rock star discount. We got it.
We handed over money. He handed back a large clear baggie with a lot of hash.
We asked how would we get back to our hotel. We were really lost. He told us it was no problem. They had a dinghy attached to the houseboat and he'd give us a lift to the hotel.
Life was good.
When we were on the bow of the boat, we saw the dinghy. (Did you see the movie “Splash?” Remember the scene where Tom Hanks is being taken by dinghy to find the mermaid and the guy runs out of gas and jumps in the water to swim back to land to get more gas? Our dinghy was smaller.)
He told us to jump in which wasn't easy due to how fucking small the boat was. I was sitting when SC made the attempt and all of a sudden we heard a scream. It was the real owner of the boat coming back from somewhere and discovering that a mere acquaintance seemed to be on his boat without permission and now stealing his dinghy. The two men argued on the bow of the boat. Meanwhile, SC had one foot on the bow and one foot on the dinghy and it was floating away. I grabbed an oar for him to grab and he jumped in.
At this moment, we discussed how we would strangle our woman friend with the great suggestion.
Their argument was resolved and the skinny guy was allowed to take us to our hotel. We thanked the owner and he seemed impressed with who we were so it was a pleasure for him to get us home.
The skinny guy rowed with all his might. A dachshund with two broken legs moved faster than this boat. And then we found ourselves in the great marina heading towards the hotel on the far side. It was a long way and big boats that were transversing it caused big waves for our tiny boat. SC and I started screaming while the skinny guy told us to stop being pussies.
That little boat rocked up and down like a ride at a cheap carnival. Water was sloshing into the boat and we were cupping our hands to get it out. 30 minutes later, the skinny guy actually got us to our destination. We thanked him and walked like drunken sailors towards the hotel.