I was sitting in a hostel in Amsterdam, the only place that had a bar of Wi-Fi, when a girl identical to my primary-school library teacher sat down next me and started eating her sandwich with her mouth open. I had just sucked down a giant doobie with my girlfriend, but as she had passed out, I was alone in an awkward situation of wanting to tell the girl to close her mouth but being too stoned to even know how. I was disgusted and incredibly tempted to admonish her for interrupting my valuable internet time, but swallowed my feelings and struck up a chinwag, determined to find out her deal. That’s when I discovered her innocence.
Hermione had never done drugs, never even been drunk, was Jewish, vegetarian and too sweet for her own good. So it’s true: there really are uncorrupted Australians in Europe who go to learn about the history of each country. Who knew? As part of her cultural tour of the Netherlands, Hermione told me how she wanted to try all of Amsterdam’s specialties. I was suddenly inspired (not influenced) by the Jamaican joint I’d just had, and came up with what seemed like the greatest idea.
“Why don’t you take magic mushies with us tonight Hermione?”
Hermione jumped at the idea – no, literally… she jumped up, put her shoes and prescription glasses on, and was ready to see me sell my soul to the devil.
While purchasing over-the-counter mushrooms, what would normally have been a low-key convo somehow expanded into a discussion about the science behind growing hallucinates. I was struck by a realisation: maybe Hermione was actually Emma Watson, and Emma Watson was never actually acting in Harry Potter – she was just playing herself! Then I realised how badly I was wigging out from the weed (massive Scooby Doo moment). We grabbed a beer (Hermione got a lemonade), and we talked about her deep, two-month relationship and how it was going to survive her Eurotrip.
The more we got to know Hermione, the more sceptical we became about supervising her drug use. So when it came to eating the mushrooms, we advised her to only eat a third of the packet.
It was raining outside, and the red-light district was deserted, so we decided to just kick it and chill in the hostel bar. It had been an hour since we had taken the mushies, and Hermione had probably asked us 15 times ,“When’s it going to kick in? Omg – did we get duds?”
Just you wait young grasshopper.
We started playing cards to pass time, but it wasn’t long until we became incapable of doing so. Things were getting louder, brighter, bigger – namely Hermione’s eyes and voice. I somehow convinced her to order a beer (definitely going to hell).
We soon acquired two large-breasted, overly-friendly German girls at our table, and a hopeful guy soon followed. He accidentally spilt some of his drink on Hermione’s leg, and rubbed it off, apologising.
“I’m sorry – I’m not trying to be seedy…” he said.
She just looked at him, and exclaimed, “Oh I know. Because you’re gay.”
This poor guy’s face just froze, one eyebrow lifted, and we all sort of looked at each other as if she just told us she had killed someone. Hermione telepathically read our thoughts and tried to explain.
“Your voice and the way you’re sitting… you’re gay right?!” She began to dig herself deeper and deeper, with no shame whatsoever: she totally thought she was right and that it was socially acceptable to bluntly tell a stranger their sexuality. Instead of abandoning her, I started thinking about all the dumb shit everyone says when they’re high, so sort of pretended her accusation never happened and continued the night. The guy however, mortally humiliated, tried to reassure us of his sexuality by continuing to stare at the German girls’ boobies.
Hermione’s voice turned into this Alvin and The Chipmunk’s super edited cartoon squeak. I’m positive that it actually sounded like this and wasn’t my imagination (read: hallucination). I could hear her talking about Jerusalem and how her parents practice Kashrut. At the time, listening to her felt intense, in all the wrong ways. We kind of abandoned her but kept a keen eye on where she was. If I was going to kidnap a foreigner it’d be her (is that wrong?).
Later, I found Hermione at the bar flirting in all the wrong ways with a 10/10 bartender and getting ready to neck a pint of beer. My maternal instincts kicked in. I flew over there and prevented her from drinking the beer by telling a porky about water enhancing the high (knowing she’d naively believe any bullshit I spun). I’m not sure if I was trying to save her or to save myself from having a corrupted/drunken/cooked librarian on my karma list.
“Why were you about to skull a pint of beer – you don’t even like beer!”
She replied with a huge grin: ‘I decided to eat the entire bag of mushrooms and I feel great!’
Everything was quite blurry after that – not just for Hermoine. I remember giggling on the floor over nothing and running away from pimps for harassing ladies in the windows.
Much later, when we were in the common area throwing cards around, eating deep-fried food and generally being high, ignorant travellers, Hermione got up to put herself to bed. As she closed the door, she quickly popped her head back out and excitedly cried “Oh my God! I can’t believe I just did drugs!’
When she closed the door, my friend and I shook our heads in guilt. We looked at each other and mouthed, “What the fuck have we done?”
To this day, Hermione’s curly red hair, freckled face and glasses continue to haunt my already-fucked karma. What happened to her? Did she return to Australia and go back to university? Did she continue with her two-month relationship? Did she leave Amsterdam with the same morals but slightly more culturally aware? Hermione, if you’re reading this, whatever you’re doing, I sure hope you’re okay.
Cover by Raquel Baranow