This will come as a surprise to none of you, but I was a stoner when I was in high school. And college. And for a good part of graduate school. I am fine with revealing this, because, while I am not a lawyer, I am pretty certain that the statute of limitations has long since run out on my youthful indiscretions. Although . . . . Okay, I checked and I’m good. Turns out being old is good for something.
As I say, if you know me, you probably don’t find this surprising. I have spoken and written about my love of the Grateful Dead, my experiences shivering outside on cold nights, in the dark of Providence, Rhode Island winters, waiting at the Providence Civic Center for Dead tickets to go on sale. People don’t do that unless they have already done damage to their prefrontal cortex. I could tell additional stories. It is possible that I (and select others) was (were) high during at least one musical performance that we gave while in college. I might remember playing Cat Stevens’s hit “Wild World” and literally watching my digital dexterity degrade over the course of the song.
I did other, stupider things while high as well. I don’t feel any great need to share them with you. I have been, for many years now, a respected figure in the realm of fantasy literature. I see no need to undermine that standing by telling you about the summer when I was a counselor at a sleep-away camp, and how a colleague and I, soaring (figuratively) at about 30,000 feet, were found by the camp’s owner raiding the main kitchen at about 10:00 at night. My friend, too high to engage with Mike, the aforementioned owner, went about making his sandwich, leaving it to me to try and keep us from getting fired. Mike asked what we had been up to that night. (We were both off duty for the night — in all seriousness, we would NEVER have been high while responsible for the well-being of our campers. We were young and stupid and careless, but not THAT stupid and definitely not THAT careless.) Before I could answer, I realized that Mike had turned his attention to my friend. I did the same. My friend was now trying to put mustard on his sandwich, but had forgotten to open the spout at the top. And he was squeezing the bottle really hard. Until the top literally blew off the bottle, skittered across the table, and fell onto the floor, leaving a deluge of yellow mustard pooling on what had been, I’m sure, a sandwich with great potential. I turned back to Mike, and managed to say with a straight face, “Not much. Just hanging out.”
It wasn’t all fun and silliness. Nearly forty years ago, I was cited for possession by a California state trooper. I won’t go into the details except to say the following: 1) I was with my brother, Jim, who was never a user; 2) I was completely unable to lie to the cop — my cheek started twitching at the mere thought of it, proving once and for all that I had no future in politics — and so I just admitted I was carrying. I also made sure the trooper knew that Jim didn’t smoke and had no idea I had any weed with me; 3) under California law, possession for personal use was equivalent to a traffic ticket. I paid a fine and that was it. Things would have been much worse for me in pretty much any other state; and 4) I got a great story out of it.
I mentioned up front that I smoked pot through only part of grad school. I stopped not long after I started dating Nancy, because she wasn’t really into it. That said, the last time I got high I did so with her, at a Dead concert she and I went to with friends who gave us the tickets as a wedding present. That was in June 1991.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Well, it is possible, in theory, that I might have recently started getting high again. If this were the case, it would be something I was doing VERY infrequently. But it would also, in theory, be something I was enjoying, sort of like visiting an old haunt for the first time in years. If any of this were true, I might be able to tell you that today’s pot is NOTHING like the stuff I allegedly smoked as a youngster. It is WAY stronger. I mean wow! (Hypothetically speaking.) A person who had in fact started smoking again (just a very, very little bit) would know this from personal experience, from the hazed memories of what once was and from theoretical knowledge of what might now hypothetically be. Got that?
In any case, all of this might or might not be something I’ve been musing about recently. I hope you have a great week.