Thursday, October 9, 2008

Waiting to inhale

"When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it. I didn't inhale and never tried it again."

- Bill Clinton, who inhaled other things later in life

There are two things Amsterdam is infamous for, and I spent most of this afternoon trying to inhale one of them in my body. We sat on a bench by the canal and swore as the wind kept snuffing out the lighter. The sun was behind the cloud and it was getting cold. It wasn't what I'd envisaged. 

But when it finally got started, it took my breath away. Literally. I coughed about twenty seconds the first time. I coughed about thirty seconds the next. And when I tasted it in my phlegm, and I coughed even harder. I took a sip of Coke and walked over to the canal railing. 

There was a barge floating gently across the canal. Valiantly I tried again, trying to summon every ounce of bohemian chic within me. And this time, I coughed so much I had tears in my eyes and a wheeze that took a minute to get rid off. I think one of the passengers took a photo of me - or maybe I was just coughing so hard I was seeing sparks. 

Meanwhile, my friend's sitting on the bench, pissing herself laughing....

When I first heard that remark of Bill Clinton's, I didn't give it the credulity it deserved. There's probably a bit more too it than just a face-saving lie. If one has not inhaled, then one cannot have exhaled; and if one hasn't exhaled, can one really say one has participated? It's a bit like the sound of one hand clapping. Or the sound of a tree falling in the woods. Or an organised defensive corner by the Arsenal. It sounds real and looks good in theory, but it doesn't pass mustard in reality. Who'd have thunk it? 

I don't know. Going to go to Berlin in a few days. Maybe I'll mull it over on the train. 

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