But not like Papa who was a Rolling Stone. It was some day in September, but not the third.
The Flying Pig (Downtown)’s famous breakfast area
It was a day I will always remember because that was the day...
Of course, by now, all that’s happening as you’re reading this is that tune playing in your head and naturally I oblige to please. Even if only to show those clothes they wore in those days.
And, because you can’t resist the trumpet in it.
The Flying Pig in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is one of the world’s most famous backpacker hostels and that not merely because it
is was also a smokers hostel, ran by a couple with more than 20 years of backpacking themselves.
It ranks somewhere up there with the Pink Palace in Corfu. Which is totally unrelated to the tailor of the Temptations, or at least so I think. But back to Amsterdam.
It was some day in September. That day I will always remember ‘cuz that was the day that I was at the Flying Pig with my then girl friend. Or maybe she was a “summer friend”. I don’t really remember anymore but it was one of both.
It was a lovely late summer day. We should actually have done something productive, something smart like going to the Vondel Park and enjoy baking an afternoon in the sun. Not entirely sure anymore why we decided to visit friends who worked at the Flying Pig. She had spend her first days in Amsterdam there, I later met her in a club which will probably be mentioned here in other stories.
Yeah, maybe she was the summer friend, not girlfriend, now I think about it. It doesn’t really matter, it’s been
more than two decades almost two decades since already.
Of course, there also was something in about visiting the Flying Pig. It even didn’t matter if yo belonged to the in-crowd of Amsterdam, the Flying Pig was one of the hardest places to get in for locals(*).
We occasionally went to visit friends at the Flying Pig because the hostel had a special vibe. It wasn’t just a hostel, the whole vibe was differently. A mix of backpacking addicts who loved to smoke and mostly American backpackers sponsored by daddy’s credit card. An eclectic mix and a great one at that.
Canals in Amsterdam, via Unsplash
Additionally, until then the Flying Pig had its famous “stage” where people would lounge in a pile of pillows. Lounge and smoke. It wasn’t more uncommon to find bongs on it as it was common to have people sleep on it. Which could be noticed from the shopping street Damrak by pedestrians strolling to the next shop or going home after work. The Flying Pig was only few meters from Central Station in Amsterdam. Sadly enough, the podest wouldn’t survive long anymore. At least not as lounge and smoking corner because the year after both smoking and sleeping on the stage were prohibited.
The First Time Shroomer
After enjoying few spliffs and some beers at the bar, as well as some games of pool, we got to know an American girl in her mid-twenties. She was for the first time in Amsterdam and had never smoked in her life before.
A virgin who would continue backpacking as long as daddy’s credit card was available. She had been in Amsterdam for some days already and now wanted to try mushrooms before she would continue her trip, with Interrail to Prague.
She wasn’t just curious about them, she truly wanted to try them. Because it was her first time, we good souls decided to stay and hang with her. There’s worse things to do in life.
Little did we know that soon she would indeed end up almost like Johnny Depp.
She’s a lady...
Amsterdam being Amsterdam, we only had to walk some minutes to arrive at a shop with solid quality and we were back at the Flying Pig within the shortest time. Both of us had topped up on some nice organic stuff from K2, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwall, and our American friend had gotten some Peyote.
Sure enough, little after the shrooms started kicking in... she started panicking. Everyone who’s been there knows that from thereon things can only get worse. Exactly why we had decided to hang with her and be there for her first trip on psychedelics. Few glasses of sugar water she was back on Earth and recovering from her not too awesome trip.
Shrooms... they were not for her. There was no way she would do them again.
More so, she felt totally guilty about having “ruined” our time. Despite having stayed with her, of course we had continued to enjoy our time and were pretty high ourselves. It was rather difficult to stay serious and not laugh too hard at her guilty feeling. Thing’s happen, don’t they.
When I Became a Killer
To make up things she offered us the rest of the shrooms, which was pretty much the whole pack because she had taken only very little. We didn’t need be told twice and also accepted her request to have them at the hostel so she could stay with us for if something happened and any of us had a bad trip.
First timers, lol.
That wasn’t too big a deal for us. Soon we had ordered a 32” pizza from a nearby Italian and gotten a bunch of beers from “Apie Heijn” and made the stage ours. Or at least a large corner of it. Told you there’s worse ways to spend a day in life.
By now it was way past 9PM already and most of the mushrooms had been eaten. The corner we hung in had seen a procession of Flying Pig visitors and crew members. Pizza attracts, right.
Do you see them - photo via Unsplash
“Killer!”, she shouted at me just as I was about to have another bite of pizza.
Everyone around us stopped doing what they were doing - mostly nothing, at least nothing else than being stoned - and looked at her.
She was staring and pointing at me, her face in a weird mix of anger and helplessness.
“No! Don’t! Don’t eat those people!!!” she shouted jsut as I wanted to finally bite in my slice after previous interruption. I looked at her in anguish. And lost. Wasn’t I allowed to eat any pizza anymore? I wasn’t going to kill anybody doing so, it was just a pizza.
I’m not a cannibal.
Apparently that wasn’t what she was seeing. Personally I was having a rather mellow buzz, not sure if the shrooms had kicked that hard or whether I had smoked that much already that day that it leveled out the psychedelic effect but the shrooms had definitely hit hard on her.
“There’s people on that piece of pizza. They’re watching a movie”, she explained.
I looked at her. Everyone around looked at her. One could hear how most were trying not to laugh, trying to contain themselves but the snorts were all too present and loud.
“There’s people on it” I thought ROFLing mentally.
“Yes, there is! Look here! And here”, she started pointing at the piece of pizza I was holding. Obviously, I was on a different planet than her and couldn’t see them. Of course, I was hungry and wanted to eat pizza so I asked her if she saw more people on the pizza.
“No, no just on that piece. You’re eating them. Last bite you had you ate 5 or 6”, she uttered. I couldn’t control myself anymore and burst out in laughing. Followed by pretty much anyone else around us.
As we started laughing it seemed to dawn on her that she was high as a kite and that maybe only she saw those “people at the movie theater”. Little later her buzz would slowly but surely lower and she would come down.
I have no idea anymore how the evening continued. I do remember that the American girl couldn't grasp how amidst everything we stayed relaxed and didn't panic. I do remember that the pizza got finished except for one specific slice which we left untouched after everything.
Almost two decades later now this story still makes me laugh. Our American friend? She left some days later for Prague and we never heard of her anymore. We occasionally continued doing shrooms, at least as long as the we stayed together. Which wasn’t very long anymore after that glorious day in September.
(*) Hotel licenses in Amsterdam are very stringent and operators can receive severe penalties when not guests are allowed inside. As severe as losing their alcohol license.