Chapter One: Home Honey, I'm High…

In my teens I had a dozen friends who bought and sold "the dope" as grandma liked to call it. When they weren't working either side of the black market, they smoked their product with customers. Because I was convinced the green bud would only deaden my already somnambulant reaction to the green flag, I never joined them. BMX racing was more important to me than getting loaded behind the dumpsters at Lake Worth High.

It wasn't until my late 30's that the opportunity to smoke pot—hash, actually—presented itself, and even then I did so with crippling consternation. You see, I wasn't raised to fear drugs—I was raised to fear their illegality. Mom's cautionary tales were plucked from the dark annals of Sunshine State jurisprudence, and left no room for doubt:

"If you get caught smoking pot, you WILL be prosecuted and they WILL rape you in prison."

Until my fateful second visit to Holland, that piece of maternal advice keep me off the devil's lawn for four decades.

Amsterdam's red light district is a sexual and narcotic cesspool of Bacchanalian proportions. At least that's what my friend Sully and I told each other during the 20-hour train trip from southern France to the Dutch capital. We'd just witnessed three stages of the '02 Tour De France including Lance's spirited ascent on l'Alpe D'Huez, so we were feeling nearly as froggy as Mellow Johnny himself. Taking the edge off seemed like the right thing to do, and a legal hash bar in a foreign country seemed like the right place to do it.

The damp Dutch air was heavy with the smell of piss from the public urinals that dot most intersections of the city's canals, so we felt especially lucky to find an air-conditioned double room just minutes from the train station. After checking in we dumped our gear and hit the town. Sully and I had been to Europe before, but neither of us had visited one of Amsterdam's famed hash bars. On the matter of how to pick the best one my friend and I agreed: look for the place where no one speaks English and go there. Kismet guided the Lone Star native and me to a dive called The Texan off one of Amsterdam's dingier dark alleys. On the walk from our hotel a discrete sign hanging over a glowing red window emblazoned with the letters "S&M" caught my eye…


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