Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dutch-Style Milkshakes

We make relatively regular trips up to Toronto. It’s a nice change of scenery about once a year. We normally make a three-day weekend out of it, at some point in the spring. It wasn’t until this past trip that we realized that the drug laws in Canada are a little more relaxed than they are in the United States. Apparently, weed is illegal there, but a small amount for personal use is generally ignored as long as you’re not selling. So prior to our most recent trip, my wife did a little research. She found a café that doesn’t sell weed, but, for a small fee, will allow you access to their members’ area up on their patio, where you may smoke anything you wish to. Given that we don’t have any contacts in Toronto, this left us without access to anything to smoke, even though we had a decent place for it. We made the trip, and hit the café, hoping that we would befriend somebody who could help us out while on the premises. It didn’t seem like a stretch of the imagination that we’d be able to score something in a den of pot smokers. We bought the pass to the members’ area and inquired about etiquette. Would it be okay to try to buy from somebody there? In short, the answer was “no.” For legal reasons, the owners and management of the café couldn’t allow or condone that sort of activity. The man working the counter clarified that they could, however, sell us each a “Dutch-Style Milkshake” once we were upstairs. He assured us that they were worth their $13 price tags. Nudge nudge, wink wink. My wife and I each bought one and sat on the patio while we consumed them. They were good, and had that telltale grassy taste that betrays the presence of the special ingredient. At this point it’s important to note that hitherto, our experience with drugs had been contained to weed and alcohol. Given that the man preparing our milkshakes had to be cautiously vague about their contents, we simply assumed that meant that there was weed in it, and nothing else. Also important to note is the fact that when you eat something, it takes a little longer for it to hit your system than if you smoke it. However, once it hits you, it stays with you longer. It’s a trade-off of sorts. Once our milkshakes were completely drained, we went downstairs to leave. I stopped over at the bar to thank the man who had helped us out and tell him we were going to go get dinner and return later, perhaps for dessert. He looked at me a little crookedly, smiled, and said, “Give that thing about an hour to kick in.” I smiled back and said, “Cool.” It was 8:30pm, and our new friend clarified that they’d be open until about 2am. We walked out feeling nothing at all.

There’s an excellent restaurant in Toronto named “C’est What?” We’ve eaten there before. Their beer selection is expansive and they don’t stock crap. The food is awesome. The ambiance is cool. It’s a great place to eat if you’re a beer snob. As we ordered our first beers and then our food, the milkshakes had not yet begun to affect us. Almost at the same time as our food arrived, that familiar little head-rush began to wash over me. It was subtle, pleasant, and went well with the meal. I told my wife, and inquired about her state. She was still fine, and not feeling anything at all yet. We ate. It was good. I killed my first beer (a 6%abv oatmeal stout) and ordered another (a 9%abv imperial stout). It was heavenly. I began to feel slightly better, which might have been the beers. I’m not sure. Generally those two beers wouldn’t do anything noticeable to me, though given the circumstances I’m not sure what their effect may have been. After I was just about done eating, and beginning to think about dessert, I looked up at my wife. She had just asked me if the lights flickered. They hadn’t. She started laughing really hard, and she stared at me like I was growing horns. I asked her if she was okay. She said she was, and tried to subdue her uncontrollable laughter. Her eyes glassed over. Tears streamed down her cheeks. Her pita, hummus, and Falafel sat on her plate. She struggled to compose herself, and decided to hit the ladies room. Upon her return she looked better, though it was short lived. It took about 30 seconds before the next laughing/crying fit befell her. I was still relatively straight, and I felt pretty good. It seemed like an eternity since we had seen our waiter. I assisted my wife in finishing her meal, and we decided that we needed dessert. In retrospect this seems counter-productive to our desire to exit the situation. We really wanted to get out of there, because we felt we were making a scene. The allure of dessert was too strong, however, and I felt like I still had the situation under control. It seemed like the waiter was leaving us alone. He may have seen my wife crying and given us distance to be considerate. He may have seen us both acting strangely and left us alone out of avoidance. He may have simply been busy. It’s also possible that our sense of time was beginning to distort. Later in the evening, we both had incredible trouble with time distorting. Our waiter finally returned and we ordered dessert. It arrived pretty quickly, and it was delicious. I felt my mental state changing, though I kept myself sufficiently together that I was able to pay the check, leave an appropriate tip, and guide us both out of the restaurant without difficulty. It’s important to note my atrocious navigational skills at this point. I cannot find my way around strange cities. When we go on trips my wife always prints out a map from the Internet and navigating becomes her responsibility. I impressed upon her that I had no fucking idea how to get us back to the hotel, which was clearly our only intelligent option. She assured me that she was feeling better. She was in control of her faculties again, and would be able to get us back. I believed her, because I was without options. We began to walk towards the subway station. She honestly seemed pretty straight. My gentle high was becoming less gentle. It was no longer a familiar weed high, but an incredible full-body sensation. My skin was becoming hypersensitive. Generally I’ve got a pretty good cold tolerance, but in this case I could feel the wind on my abdomen though my coat and shirt. The cold seemed to run like an ice cube all over my body. The chill was relentless. I couldn’t block it. I began to shiver. I felt like I kept falling asleep as I was walking. My wife guided me along by my elbow. Once at the subway terminal, we waited for our train and boarded it when it arrived. We also had to take a second connecting train to get back to our hotel. I was having serious doubts about my ability to complete the journey. Had it not been for the now-intolerable cold, I would have been content to simply sit on a bench and wait for the experience to end. I can’t remember the rest of our return trip. I just remember ending up on the bed.

We gave up on the notion of going back out into the city to drink almost immediately. All of my things were still with me and intact. My wallet, money, credit cards, camera, wedding ring, watch and coat had all made it back with me. I cannot adequately stress how amazed I was at that fact. I got up from the bed to confirm that it was true numerous times by taking inventory of all of the above-listed items. Each time I checked, I laid back down and couldn’t determine if I had actually just checked or simply dreamed that I had. My vision never distorted, though occasionally I was just a little uncertain of what I was seeing, kind of like a waking dream. My sense of hearing became painfully acute. The subtlest pipe rattling in the wall or wind rustling against the building sounded like a rock concert. In the course of the evening I had quite a few conversations with my wife that I’m not completely sure really happened. I kept falling into and out of a sort of dream state. Time periodically slowed down immensely and later seemed to disappear in chunks. My dreams and my wakefulness were intermingling progressively more. The whole experience was frightening, because I didn’t know what I had actually done and what I hadn’t. It’s also noteworthy that I occasionally suffer from night terrors. The first time that I successfully fell asleep, I had a night terror almost immediately. I awoke standing beside the bed, yelling, with my wife calming me down from her side of the bed. Incredibly thirsty, I got a drink and went back to bed and back to sleep. Around 3:30am I had another night terror, this one even more intense than the first had been. This time I leapt up from the bed, ran around it, fell, and scurried on my hands and knees for a few feet before awakening, again yelling. I had incredible carpet burns on my left knee and all over my left foot. After that, I was able to fall back asleep and remain that way until morning.

Our best guess, given the description of our experiences and a little Internet research, is that the milkshakes had hash in them, not weed. Embarrassment prevented us from returning to the café to seek definitive answers. In retrospect, I don’t think the experience would have been bad if we had had any idea what the strength of it would be, if we wouldn’t have had to cross the entirety of the city at night via subway in that state, and perhaps if only one of us had done it at a time, with the other acting as babysitter. Perhaps most alarming is the fact that while we were on the patio drinking our milkshakes, we observed another table of people in their early 20s who also seemed to be new to the place. There were four of them, two couples. Each of them had consumed one milkshake and were working on their second when we were leaving. I can only speculate how their night went.

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