The next morning Frenemy arose first and made breakfast for us all. B had booked us all in for a tour of Amsterdam by bike for the second day. We were to meet Mike of Mike's Bikes at the park by the Rijksmuseum. First, I pulled out the surprise I'd bought everyone: a pink T-shirt that had escaped mums printed on it. We all wore them to show our solidarity.
Mike appeared at the ordained time. His co-worker, a Nordic god, also showed up to take another group. DAMN! Mike was a nice, shortish, fattish, baldish American. So NOT a Nordic god. We all walked back to the warehouse where the bikes were. Along the way I chatted to Mike, who told me his mother and her friends also go off on girlie weekends all the time. My ego deflated like a worn inner tube. I slunk to the back of the group.
At the warehouse the rest of our group were waiting: a South African Stag party not exactly dressed for bike riding, an American lesbian couple, and another American woman on her own while her husband was at a business conference.
Mike sized us all up and chose bikes to fit our frames. A, B, C, D, and I couldn't help but chuckle when we saw the bike he chose for Frenemy. With a very low seat and very high handlebars, it looked like the chopper bike I got for Christmas when I was 8 years old. And Frenemy looked about 8 when she got on it.
We all set off. Frenemy hadn't been on a bike since she was about 8 and forgot how to change gears. Consequently, in one of the flattest cities on earth, she had to get off and walk up any slight incline. This meant everyone behind her had to get off and walk too. Finally, in frustration, I passed her. Then she managed to pass me. We spent much of the day passing each other.
Mike had told us to use hand signals to indicate if we were turning left or right. Frenemy couldn't remember them, and would just shout out in her Scottish burr, "I'm turning left." Even if it was right.
For lunch, Mike had arranged a ride on a canal boat. We locked the bikes to a pole and boarded the boat. The only beverage available was Heineken beer-- lukewarm Heineken beer. After we'd finished our sandwiches, some of the South African guys went to the back of the boat. They were joined by the lesbian couple and C, and they all shared a joint or two. I took a toke, but didn't really want to get high when I had to ride a bike again. C continued smoking after the other three had returned to their seats. Then she went and sat by herself. She was shaking uncontrollably and didn't look too happy. I went over to check on her.
"Are you OK?" I asked.
"I can't get off the boat," she said. "You'll have to go on without me."
"No, C, you can't stay on the boat. We all have to get off the boat. I'll help you off the boat," I said.
It took a lot of cajoling and pushing and pulling, but I got C off the boat. She immediately hugged a lamppost for support once ashore. Frenemy burst into raucous laughter.
"That'll learn ya," she declared before reboarding the boat to use the lavatory.
While trying to extricate C from the lamppost, I heard shouting. Frenemy hadn't reappeared from the lavatory and the boat was about to leave. D stood on shore shouting to the boat captain to rescue Frenemy. Somehow she'd locked herself in. Once she'd regained her composure, she found her camera and started snapping photos of C as incriminating evidence.
I helped C to where the bikes were, freed her bike from the lock and helped her get on it. I got on my bike and started to ride. She didn't move.
"C'mon, C," I said, "just pedal, just put one foot down, then the other."
"I can't do it," she said. "You go on without me."
The others, including Frenemy, had all pedaled off.
"I can't leave you here," I said. "We'll just have to walk."
B circled round and asked if something was wrong.
"Tell Mike we have to walk the rest of the way," I said.
Mike came back. I told him C had overindulged and we would walk back. He gave me directions back to the warehouse, and I told C to follow me. When we got back, there was the Nordic god again. He reminded me of a surfer named John I'd had a massive crush on when I was 13: tall, long, blonde hair, handlebar mustache. I amused myself with what I'd do to him while waiting for the others to reappear.
When they did, Frenemy and D were ready to party. And they wanted me to go with them. Mike had pointed out a few coffee houses along the way that he declared were good value. And some that were good for magic mushrooms. Frenemy's eyes lit up.
"Mushrooms? Should we try those?"
Mike looked at me and shook his head.
"We'll try those some other time," I said.
We walked a block or so till we found a coffee shop. D and Frenemy pushed me to the front. We went to the counter and purchased about half a dozen cakes.
"Be careful," the woman selling them to us said. "They are very strong."
We found a table, and D and Frenemy sat next to each other with me facing them. We divided one cake into thirds. Once I'd had my third, I went looking for the restroom. When I returned, D and Frenemy looked like squirrels saving up for winter. They'd each had another half a cake and stuffed it into their mouths before I came back.
"You know, the woman said to be careful because these are strong," I warned them. They scoffed at me.
A and B had taken C for a cup of tea in the meantime. She was starting to return to normality. We found them on our way back, thankfully, so we didn't get too lost. Once we were back at the canal house, I decided I'd better shower and get ready to go out before the cake took effect. I was just about finished when I started to feel it, so I hurried as quickly as I could. I managed to get jeans and makeup on before developing an intense fascination with the pores on my skin. Frenemy was a vision in turquoise as she wafted through our room down the stairs to the kitchen. I somehow got myself down there eventually. What a sight awaited me. Frenemy was speechless for the first time in her life. C took full advantage of this, getting back at Frenemy for all the things she'd said while C was similarly indisposed. Frenemy would try to respond, open her mouth, but nothing would come out. Eventually, she decided to lie down. C helped her up the stairs to the sitting room and got a duvet to cover her with. I also felt like I wanted some time with just myself and made my way back to my bed. D was already in her bed.
A and B were at a loss as to what to do with us. A insisted D get up and go out with them for something to eat. D is diabetic, and A was worried she'd go into diabetic shock if she didn't eat properly. I told A I'd stay behind and look after Frenemy (as if!). What I really wanted was to listen to music. I love that feeling of music echoing in my head when I'm stoned. There was no music, so I imagined it. I also had some deep, philosophical internal conversations that I sort of recall.
By the time they'd returned from their meal, Frenemy had recovered the power of speech. She regaled us with the story of the "trip" she'd had while stoned. She said she felt like she was the lady of the house and we were the servants downstairs. Well, of course that would be Frenemy's "trip." I never told her that people smoking or ingesting marijuana don't usually have "trips." It was her fantasy, and I let her have it. Oddly, I wasn't hungry so didn't eat the Chinese food A and B had thoughtfully brought back for us.
The cracks in the friendship had started to appear on this day. Frenemy and D had paired up and were talking savagely about everyone else. While in the coffee shop, they'd tried to get me to join them. Frenemy had a bee in her bonnet about B, who has a phobia about birds. Because of this we didn't stop at any outdoor cafes, which annoyed Frenemy enormously. I was uncomfortable with this. B is A's best friend from back when they were 13. She is a lovely, kind person who never has a bad word to say about anyone. I also thought Frenemy's treatment of C while she was stoned was unfair and unkind. Could the whole friendship fall apart?
Tomorrow: the Flood