Amsterdam. Yeah, that’s right. You heard me. The city where weed, bikes, and prostitutes live in harmony. And the next stop on my trip after London.
I arrive on June 18, 2016 and meet up with Olivia and Elisa - my old coworkers from Chicago who flew in from America that same day. Amsterdam is the first of 6 cities we are going to be together, along with another coworker, Shannon, who we meet up with later.
After an hour train ride into the city, we arrive in the center of Amsterdam just as it starts raining. Luckily, I took a screen shot of our route on Google maps so I knew how to get to our hostel on foot. Attempting to take in the city without getting too drenched, we make our way through narrow bricked streets with dozens of french fry shops, walk over scenic tree-lined canals into massive city plazas covered in pigeons, cross intersections with a bike path, car path, and city tram path while maneuvering through Dutch citizens wearing black peacoats, grey joggers, and white Adidas, and finally make it to our hostel after about 30 minutes. Our hole-in-the-wall hostel has steep staircases leading to random mezzanine-like floors, tiny hallways plastered with posters of events around the city, tiny bathrooms along the hallways as big as an arms width, and large bedrooms packed with bunk beds - ours had 6 so it slept 12 people total.
We each get settled into our new beds, change clothes, meet up with Shannon who is at the same hostel, and head out together into Amsterdam. Our first stop was...you guessed it - a smoke shop. We found a great one by recommendation of our hostel’s receptionist. There, we buy an 8th of quality weed from a menu, go downstairs to the designated smoking room basement, get into a booth, and light up our bowl. And get this… the whole basement is themed “underwater - space”… so just imagine how intense our high journey was - literally Saturn’s rings coming out of a damn coral reef with octopus tentacles squirming out of random holes in the coral. It was clearly a room made to take you somewhere else.
On our way out of the smoke shop, high out of our minds, we magically stumble upon a real life Ben’n’Jerry’s ice cream store. We each order to satisfy our munchies (mine was a Double Fudge Brownie sundae made with cookie dough ice cream - fucked me right up) and head back toward our hostel. We run into a couple people handing out flyers for a 6-stop pub crawl for 20€. The girl we talk to even offers us free shots at the first bar if we say her name which was like Amanda or Sarah or something. Sounds good to us.
To kill some time before the pub crawl, we pick up a bottle of vodka and a bottle of orange soda (because apparently it’s freshman year of college - not my choice) and pregame back at our hostel. After building a nice tipsy level, we head over to the first bar, say our girl’s name at the entrance, and make our way into the crowd to find her in the middle pouring some type of vodka mixture right out of the bottle into people's’ mouth. We lock eyes, she screams in excitement, and runs over to us, waving the bottle in our faces. We all hug then she demands each of us to squat down as she funnels a shots worth of the vodka mixture into our mouths. Then another, and another. She leaves into the crowd only to come back maybe 15 minutes later for another round of 3 shots each - love Amanda or Sarah or something.
The second bar I honestly don't even remember. All I have from that bar is 2 pictures of Elisa and I outside the bar soaking wet because it ended up raining that night, hugging this random dude with soggy Ramen Noodle hair like Justin Timberlake circa 1990s N’Sync.
Fast forward to the next bar, however, and shit. gets. real. So at the beginning of the night, all three of the girls made a running bet that I would be the first to find a guy and go home with him. This was alluding to me just generally being a slut which, whatever, I’m not denying it. And for almost the whole night, Elisa has her eye on some Irish man she noticed in the crowd. Irish men are her favorite type, and she somehow always manages to find them. So at this third bar, they actually start talking over drinks with me awkwardly standing next to them acting like I am even a little relevant to the conversation. At this point, I’m in the drunken “all I want to do is dance” mood. I remember seeing Olivia and Shannon with us when we entered the bar, but now notice they’re gone so I excuse myself from Elisa and Irish man’s very important conversation that I am clearly involved in and go looking for them. My trajectory through the club, including thought process, is as follows: I walk straight back through a deep red-hued dance floor passing between sweaty dancing bodies, make it to the back wall of the bar, see Olivia backing her ass up onto a big burly man, see Shannon next to her making out with some guy, I walk in front of both of them, make a U-turn, go straight back through the dance floor to Elisa, still deep in conversation with cute Irish boy, realize that “Shit, Michael… everyone has a man except you,” get kind of sad about it because I actually did want to go home with someone tonight, laugh because their theory about me being the first slut is the exact opposite of what is happening, and ghost out of the bar alone on a mission to find a gayer club to fulfill my slutty needs.
I start drunkenly walking around Amsterdam in the pouring rain, no idea where I was going or where I even ended up. At one point I make a series of deeply depressing SnapChats detailing the events of the night which I end up watching the next day and frantically deleting them. I think I also actually made it to a gay bar because I remember paying $7 to get into something… but eventually I just head back to the hostel. I do make one quick last attempt to end the night on a good note and stop by the apple store at around 3AM to access their free wifi and download Grindr, a gay dating app. Also, quick travel tip: if you need wifi in a pinch late at night or just generally anytime, find the nearest Apple store or even Starbucks and just stand outside - signal is still strong even when the store is closed. So in an attempt to salvage whatever sad lonely night this became, I start messaging random guys on Grindr in order to desperately find a hookup. I land a cutie named Daniel - sexy chiseled face, short blonde hair, slim body, stylishly hipster wayfarer glasses, 2 - toned, he’ll do for the night. I get an Uber to his place which is in Eastern Amsterdam… an unknown territory to me.
I pull up in an Uber to a town house with large floor-to-ceiling windows and a simple green metal door. I hop out, hoping this is even the right place. I walk up to the green metal door and see a hand pull back a bit of sheer curtain exposing half a face peering through the window to check who it is… fucking creepy. He casually opens the door, we exchange hellos with an awkward stiff hug, and I walk inside his ground-level studio apartment.
“Do you want some coke?” he says, pointing to the coffee table which has 2 white powdery lines on a magazine.
“Nooo…. Maybe some wine?” I reply, pointing to the bottle next to the coke.
“Yeah, sure.” He pours me a sizable glass of white wine, chardonnay I think.
We sit on his cold, tan leather couch, and he does a line of cocaine. We talk about each other’s day for a couple of minutes and I lean in to kiss his lips while he’s in mid-sentence. We make out, slowly standing up, and stumble to his bed. We have sex… he bottoms, in case you’re wanting a little more juicy detail. If you don’t know what bottoming means in gay then look it up. We’re not going that far in this episode.
The next morning, we wake up around 11am and cuddle a bit. We have have sex again, different positions this time. As were cleaning up, I ask him some questions about himself.
“I work on the Eastern Docks in the city,” he tells me.
I look at him wide-eyed. “So you’re like… a fisherman?” I ask, secretly hoping that I can now check “fisherman” off of my Hookup List.
“No, no. I work in a chicken shack.” I stare at him blankly, clearly confused. He continues, “I am the manager of a Chicken shack. Like, it’s a restaurant on the docks and we sell whole Chickens and stuff.”
“Oh okay… that’s… cool,” I say trying to act like I’ve ever heard of a Chicken Shack being on any sort of dock or even existing. “So the bathroom is… here?” I say, pointing to another door in the room trying to get away from the conversation. He nods.
I take a shower as he asks me more about my Europe trip, both of us shouting a little over the sound of the running water. I get out, dry off, and go back into the large room naked as he passes by me to take a shower himself. I put on my clothes, and start quietly walking around his studio observing to gain more information on him besides “chicken shack manager.” I notice the birch wood IKEA bed we fucked on, a lot of records on the wall, a large bookcase with a very nice speaker system on one of the shelves next to his bed. I move past the bathroom door and into the living room area: TV to my left on an entertainment table, and the coffee table in front of the leather couch to my right. I notice the other line of coke still on the magazine next to my half full glass of maybe Chardonnay now room temperature. Picking it up to take a sip, I notice something black wedged in between the corner sofa cushions of the couch. I bend down and pull it out.
It’s a gun. A very heavy, very black, very pistol-like gun. I stare at it for a minute, deciding on if I should be terrified, confused, or unphased. I wedge it back in between the sofa cushions. Attempting to forget what I saw, I calmly turn around and come face to face with a large machete just chillin below his 46” TV. OKAY.
“Hey Daniel, I think I should go.” I politely shout to him. I pull out my phone to start looking for an Uber and it’s a fucking 2.3x surcharge and It’s literally 1pm. SHIT.
“Oh, are you leaving?” He asks, as I hear him get out of the shower and grab a towel.
I frantically refresh my Uber page trying to get the surcharge lower because apparently I’m a cheap fuck who can’t spend whatever amount of money it takes to possibly SAVE HIS OWN LIFE.
Daniel opens the bathroom door. “Well, text me what’s going on later! I’d like to see you again.” He says with a sly, cheeky grin.
I act casual. “Yeah, yeah, definitely.” I say. “K well my Uber is here, so bye!” It’s not, but I give him a quick side hug, and dip out of there and hide around the corner of his building to keep using his wifi. I accept the damn surcharged Uber, and a couple of minutes later a jet black 2016 Jaguar convertible rolls up in front of me and stops. The driver rolls down the passenger window and says, “Uber for Michael?”
“Um… sure.” I say in a shoddy confidence. I get in the Jaguar, and we speed off. The driver rolls down the windows and I lean my head over into the incoming wind as I watch the canal houses pass by and take in the life I make worth living.
About the author...
Michael LaVallee is a Chicago native singer/songwriter and actor. A lover of music and marketing, he is teaching himself to produce his own music to share in the near future. He lives his life embracing every moment and learning from all his surroundings in hopes to inspire living life to the fullest.