By Tenzin McGrupp © 2002
Amsterdam, August 1996
Señor stopped in the middle of the crowded Amsterdam street and pointed up at the sign. PIZZA, it read in blinking neon lights.
"Let’s eat here."
I followed him in, behind Señor’s younger brother Javier and bringing up the rear as he had been all weekend, was Maji, a short Japanese fellow from Nagano who was Javier’s flatmate in London. They were both studying at Kings College and randomly bumped into each other in the lobby of our hostel. Although we never actually invited Maji to tag along with us, he always seemed to be around for instant comic relief. Today we decided to eat mushrooms, and Maji wearing his favorite lime green windbreaker was there to take pictures of us with his shiny new camera.
I look over at the counter with the different types of pizza, and most of them looked like high quality supermarket frozen pizzas. But for the Dutch, it’s the best they got. I point to a slice with ham on it and watch the pizza guy tossing it in the oven. I’m as stoned as I’ll be all day, after a heavy session at the Free Adam Hash Bar three blocks down, and I marvel how the Dutch are trying so hard to model the American pizza joint, with limited success at that.
Señor and Maji found a seat in the back, next to a group of four youthful tourists and Javier is still up front at the counter making fun of all the different types of pizza.
"Who puts carrots on pizza, McGrupp? That’s unacceptable in my mind."
I laugh aloud at Javier, and he keeps on going, "And what’s up that green stuff? Is it spinach or broccoli or seaweed? What the fuck?"
"I think they like that stuff," I offer up.
"Fucking disgusting, McGrupp."
We pay for our slices and join Señor and Maji. Señor whips out his stash of mushrooms that he had bought earlier in the day at one of the hash bars.
"Maji, are you in?" asks Señor.
Maji nods his head no.
"Maji, come on…" as Señor’s wide smile grows sinister.
Maji still keeps nodding his head.
"Look, Señor, if he doesn’t want to," I say shrugging my shoulders, "we just can’t make him eat it… or could we?"
Javier laughs, and encourages his flatmate.
"Come on Maji, it’s one in the afternoon, the perfect time to trip with a bunch of people you don’t know."
Maji nods his head.
"Come on, how about two?" as Señor puts two mushrooms on his slice.
Maji continues to nod, then stops and looks up at all of us. He slowly puts up his index finger. We all cheer wildly, acting like a group of obnoxious and rowdy Americans.
"OK, Maji’s in for one! I’ll have his other shroom," as I pick up the magic mushroom and toss it on my slice, which I am realizing is not topped with ham, but SPAM! Fucking SPAM! What the fuck! I’m pissed, so I start to pick off the chunks of SPAM, maliciously throwing them on the floor, cursing as I pick them off my slice, disgusted that I can’t think of what the plural of SPAM would be. And it’s still SPAM, a piece of SPAM or a can of SPAM, it’s just fucking SPAM.
With shroomies on our slices, we start eating forgetting about the group of teen-age German chicks gawking and gossiping about us. I know they were German because the slender girl with brown hair and a jade necklace dangling from her gaunt neck innocently saw me begin to eat my slice then shouted, "Die schnapsidee!", which means "crazy idea!".
Yeah, the Uber girls were covertly watching us the entire time, in the middle of a busy Pizza shop, dividing up drugs and putting them on our slices for everyone to see. But we didn’t care. We’re gonna get shitty, and get completely rocked no matter who’s around and wander around this city the way we are meant to see it: with psychedelic enhancements and a aimless Japanese kid to take pictures and document our misadventures.
After finishing our slices, the gang gets up to leave and the German girls are still talking about us, and I turn around and whisper, "Der abschied die Miezekatzes!"
They all laugh and simultaneously blow me kisses good-bye.
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.