Invading Holland is going to be taking a short break for a few weeks to relax and unwind. In the mean time I’ll be automagically posting so of the stories from Invading Holland past. Normal blogging service will return in a few week.
In the mean time please enjoy the first of the archive posts taking from August 2007 about the search for Charlie.
There are a lot of shady looking characters who hang around Amsterdam. I see them on an almost daily basis as they silently wait by street corners and alleyways. Anyone who has lived in the city long enough knows how it works. Sometimes they quietly wait to be approached, other times they advance with out warning. However, they always ask the same question in the same hushed whisper. It’s a question I have been asked many times myself. It is only a single word but we all understand what they are asking.
Since my name is not Charlie and I don’t know anyone by that name I am never able to give them the information they seek so I simply shake my head and carry on walking, leaving them to ask the next passer by (which by the sounds of it they do a lot).
I often wonder who this Charlie is. Why is he so popular? Why have so many people decided to dedicate so much time in to searching for him? Does he owe them money? Is he a lost friend or relative? Could he be their missing leader or a secret spy contact? Why is he so important to them?
Whoever he is he is a very allusive man.
What about the people who spend all their days trying to find him. There are a lot of them who appear to have been looking for him for a very long time. Are their efforts combined or are they all searching for him for their own individual gain? Do they wake up every morning truly believing that today will be the day they finally find Charlie? Do they later return home, feeling crushing despair after yet another day of fruitless searching? What keeps them going? How long will they be able to continue their search?
They have been unsuccessful in their quest for such a long time. It is finally time for us to aid them in their search for this mysterious man. It is obviously very important that he is found (otherwise they would have given up by now). This is why I am setting up the ‘Help Find Charlie’ appeal.
Do you know anything about this Charlie they seek? Maybe you have seen him, maybe you are friends with him or maybe you even are him. Any information you can provide, no matter how small, might help us find Charlie.
If you wish to show your support for the appeal you can print out the poster provided below and display it somewhere that Charlie might see (or at least someone with information about him).
At the moment we know absolutely nothing about Charlie or where he is but with a little hard work I am sure we can find him and end the search that has lasted for so long for so many shady looking people on the streets of Amsterdam.
Thank you for your support.
When approached by a drug dealer in the streets of Amsterdam there are certain services you expect him to offer, that being the service of a drug dealer who provides questionable substances such as cocaine, ecstasy and various other things on the police’s no-no list. So I was taken a little by surprise when a drug dealer approached me in the street and offered me Viagra.
There were three things that made this strange. (1) He was offering Viagra. (2) He was offering it while I was in the company of a male friend. (3) He was possibly suggesting that if we were so inclined we did not find each other attractive and needed some help in the bedroom.
The possible attack on my sexuality or my ability to ‘get it up’ aside I wondered what other marital aids he had on offer. “Some aspirin for when she has a headache, sir?” or maybe “How about some candles and some Barry White music to set the mood, sir?”
Did he offer birth control too? “I can see you are a sophisticated gentlemen sir so may I suggest ribbed? For her pleasure, sir.”
How far would his services go? Did he give relationship advice too? “The thing you have to remember sir, is never forget to say ‘I love you’, even for the smallest things.”
Maybe he even did street marital counseling sessions? “Debby, please tell Andrew why you are upset with him and then let’s discuss those feelings.”
Or maybe my imagination was just running away with itself again.
“No thank you,” I replied.
“Maybe later,” My friend said with a wink.
(For more stories about bizarre encounters with drug dealers check out: The Gentlemen Drug Dealer)
“It was a weed plantation.”
It was not the usual kind of text message I expected to receive from my girlfriend during an average working day but it certainly explained the small collection of police and security vans I had seen parked outside our apartment building that morning.
“They broke the door down early in the morning and found over 500 cannabis plants all set up with heat lamps.” She informed me upon my return home later, relaying information from a neighbor.
It also explained the loud banging that had woke me up at five in the morning. It had not been an insomniac handyman doing some early renovation. It had been the police forcefully entering one of the apartments in our building as they carried out a drug bust.
“No one was there though. They don’t even live there. They just use the place for growing weed.”
That ruined my metal image of a tall blond Dutchman dressed like Al Pacino in Scarface, standing in the middle of his two bedroom marble decorated apartment, screaming, “Zeg hallo tegen mijn kleine vriend,” before he opened fire upon the finest of the Dutch police force with a machine gun as they tried to take him down.
“All the plants were two weeks away from cultivation. The only reason they found it was because the watering system had started to leak through to the apartment below.”
That just proves that you should never short change a plumber.
When I had first seen all the activity outside in the morning there had also been a large white van reversing up to one of our apartment building’s exits (the one next to ours). At the time I had thought an eviction was being carried out and they were getting ready to throw some one’s furniture into the van, not 500 plants worth of ganja.
“They were carrying cannabis plants out of the building all morning so the fumes started to fill up the stairwell and apartments. Our neighbor said she has been feeling high all day.”
I imagined that a few of our other neighbors had probably experienced the same. I imagined the old couple from 212 having an attack of the munchies while calling each other dude, the normally hyperactive child from 204 being extremely calm as he discovered a much deeper level of philosophical meaning to Sponge Bob Square Paints, the old lady from 234 no longer complaining about her arthritis and the little puppy from 201 suddenly developing a taste for Bob Marley music and dreadlocks.
Now that everything is over there is a big anti-drug sign displaying a cannabis leaf with a red line through it stuck to the window of the former weed growing apartment, declaring that a drug bust recently took place there. It looks slightly like a ‘For Sale’ sign from a somewhat questionable real estate agency of college kids. It’s very nice of the police to put it there but it does not really help us with our plans to sell our apartment if potential buyers see it (unless they are interested in starting their own ‘greenhouse’).
“Legally you’re allowed to have five plants…”
Maybe the ex-owner of the apartment had miss placed a decimal point somewhere but somehow I doubted it.
“…so we were joking that it was a shame we could not have taken five plants each,” she finished.
Joking? Or spotting a hole in the market now that the local marihuana plantation has been taken down?
Today’s lesson: How to deal with tourists in Amsterdam who have asked you for directions to a coffee shop with the intention of purchasing and inhaling marijuana.
Step 1) Pretend to be in deep thought for a moment.
You don’t actually need to think about the question you have been asked, you only need to appear as if you are. To aid you achieving the correct look you may wish to use this opportunity to think about what you would like to eat for dinner or what kind of gift you should buy for a loved one.
Step 2) Choose a random direction.
Any direction will do fine but it must be random. You may wish to use a randomizing technique such as ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe’. If you decide to do so you must insure that you do not say it out loud. It is important that your tourist does not hear the selection process or know that it is random.
Step 3) Point in the random direction you have chosen.
The arm should be raised and the finger extended to indicate the direction.
Step 4) Repeat the following:
“Yeah. There is a really good coffee shop just a short walk that way. You can’t miss it, mate.”
Be sure to say this clearly and with confidence so that it is believable. Why not practice saying it now in the mirror.
Step 5) Bid fair well to your tourist and wish him a pleasant stay in the Netherlands.
Congratulations. You have just dealt with your tourist. You can now go about your day confident in the fact that they will soon find the coffee shop they desire. After all, you are in Amsterdam and there is always a coffee shop within two minutes walk of any direction. Just because you don’t know it is there does not mean it is not there.
Join us again next week when we learn the advanced technique of giving them directions to Starbucks just for fun.
Angela’s recent story about her run in with a friendly drug dealer on her blog Amsterdamned reminded me of my own encounter with a rather strange drug dealer a few years ago:
I was once approached by a drug dealer who tried to offer me drugs (as his job title would imply). Being a little unnerved by this I decided the best approach was to ignore the man, fearing that any response on my part would trigger a conversation which he would use to reel me in. This did not go down to well with the drug dealer who asked again, this time slightly more annoyed, “I asked you; would you like any drugs?”
Again, I took the silent approach, hoping to avoid the whole situation but this only made the drug dealer more annoyed. “All you have to do is say ‘no thank you’ if you don’t want anything,” he grumbled.
I suddenly felt a little ashamed of my actions and sheepishly responded with, “No thank you.”
“See. Good manners don’t cost anything,” he said and walked off leaving me a little confused about what had just happened. Being lectured about manners by a drug dealer is not the kind of thing you usually expect to happen during a normal day but somehow this drug dealer had just gained the moral high ground over me.
I quickly decided that he must have been a gentleman drug dealer, a man of high standards and moral character. I imagined him returning home at the end of the day and retiring to the study with a glass of 1842 chardonnay, wearing a smoking jacket and sitting by the fire in his favorite antique leather arm chair, surrounded by high shelves containing his many volumes of valuable books (some of them rare first editions). He sits there and he thinks in silence for a time.
A short while later his wife enters the room to give him the evening news paper. She crosses the large room with grace.
“What is wrong Jerald?” She asks him, noticing the frown upon his face as she gives the paper to him. Her voice is soft and loving with a hint of an Irish accent.
“Ah, Barbra,” he replies, his words heavy with the weight of his troubles as he places the newspaper neatly upon his lap. “Sometimes I despair at the apparent moral decay of our society. Sometimes I wonder; when did politeness become such a rear commodity. Are we now living in an age where indifference and apathy are common place?”
“What is it my dear? Did another customer ignore you today?” She asks in her calming but concerned tone of voice, taking the seat next to him and lightly resting her hands on his arm.
He breaks his gaze away from the fire to look upon the face of his beautiful wife. “Indeed they did my dear. I know I should not let it vex me so. After all, I do not mind if they do not desire my services but to be ignored… well… that is simply rude and uncalled for.”
“It is terrible indeed. Good manners cost nothing as your father always used to say but sadly not everyone has be raised to understand this the way you and I have. You should try to rise above it and not let it trouble your mind.” She caresses his cheek to sooth his thoughts.
“You are wise in deed my dear. I will try to do so.” He smiles to her.
“Good” She also smiles.
“I wonder, is little Timmy in bed?” he asks, changing the subject after a short pause.
“Indeed he is.” She replies.
“And did he finish his algebra homework.” He asks.
“Indeed he did. He also cleaned his room, helped the maid with the laundry and recited me a poem, all before tucking himself into bed.” She says with a smile, proud of their young son.
“He is a good boy isn’t he? We have raised him well haven’t we?” He asks, his mind already wondering back to the previous conversation.
“Indeed he is and we have raised him well. I have no doubt in my mind that he will grow up to be a hard working, honest, god fearing drug dealer just like his father.” She responds with conviction.
He smiles proudly. “Indeed.”
(For more stories about bizarre encounters with drug dealers check out: The Relationship Advice Drug Dealer)