Last Dance With Mary Jane
Day 4 of the 72 Day Writing Challenge
“Marijuana is not a drug….”
Thank you Dave Chapelle and the cast of How High for this incredibly misleading statement. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie and think it is hilarious, but this an adage that I fear is being taken way too seriously by American culture today. There was a time when I would have relished in the current state of marijuana affairs in the U.S. Now however, I must say that I am a little worried about where the future with take us. Pot is certainly a drug, be it a more benign one that some of the others that I have used. Just ask the guy sitting next to me in a meeting today who had just been released from a 37 day stay at John George Medical center, a county mental health holding facility, due to a diagnosis of Marijuana Induced Psychosis if there are very real consequences to bud.
I must be quite honest with the fact that much of my identity from the age of 17 to 27 revolved around pot. A girl I loved for a while was a big stoner and I really had no opinion on the stuff while we explored our young love. When she left, I felt a void and the stupid child in me felt that if I smoked pot it would somehow bring me close enough to her that we could rekindle what we had. We did get back together a few times, but that is s story for a different day. Today is about pot.
I remember the rough time, it was the beginning of summer after Junior year, the people, and the place of my first session. It felt great and gave me a sense of ease, something I still chase to this day. I have always had a fair amount of social anxiety and smoking helped calm some of this, or at least make it so that I didn’t care what others thought. That day began the summer of pot; a summer in which I spent most of time with three people. I look back on it now probably hung out with me because I had a car and cash as much as anything else. I haven’t talked to 2 of them in a few years, though we remain on good terms. The third is dead. HI understand he fell off a cliff during an acid trip.
School started up again and I said I would cut back on the smoking during water polo season. That lasted about 2 weeks. There was very little control from there. I smoked regardless of the consequences, which were not generally that bad in the first few years and was content with the fact that all my money and effort generally went into smoking or munchies in one form or another. I suppose on the bright side that it kept me from developing a taste for the liquid poison which has been useful now that I am a bartender who doesn’t drink and has never really had a taste for alcohol in the first place.
I used to take pride in my ability to outperform my sober peers while stoned out of my mind. There are two stories that I like to tell about this. The first was during my freshman year of college. I took Econ 101 in the fall semester and wagered two girls I knew in the class that I could outscore them on the final exam after smoking an eighth to the dome, or 3.5 grams of pot in one sitting to be specific.
You know that this is a challenge if you have ever tried. I rolled 4 blunts and gave myself 2 hours, but even this wasn’t enough time. I smoked most of the last one on the way to class riding my skateboard without concern that I was already on probation with both the school and local law enforcement for an earlier pot related infraction. I walked through the door of the lecture hall 15 minutes into the test with a bag of Teddy Grams and 42 oz. Pepsi in tow - Munchies of course. It was a big class, 200-300 people, and my friends had saved me a seat in the very middle of the room. I had to squirm by people already in progress, undoubtedly reeking of pot. I knew the material back and forth and finished the test in less than 15 minutes. I had to shimmy my way back out. I got a 97%
Another story on the same vein has Mensa to thank. I signed up for their entrance examination because I thought it would be an interesting challenge. It consisted of 2 IQ tests, and to pass, one had to score in the 98th percentile or above on at least one of them. The test was at 8 a.m. and half an hour away. I was hung over and smoked a couple bowls during the drive and in the parking lot. I passed both tests and sometimes joke with people that I would have been really off the charts if I hadn’t taken the tests hungover and stoned.
I would have been off the charts……
This notion of ‘would have,’ or perhaps more accurately, ‘could have’; is what haunts me today. I recognized that I have romanticized my use over the preceding paragraphs. I suppose this is the part of me that wants to look back with optimism, or rather in a way that does not leave me depressed. School, golf, work, and friendships could have been so much richer it I had pulled out the weed by its base when it had just take root; or not allowed it to sprout at all. That’s not even considering the effect that the drug had on my mental condition, but that is also a story for another time.
As I look at the wave of legalization that is sweeping the country, I fear that others may lose much of their brightness, or perhaps like me, most of their 20’s. Hard drugs killed pot for me, it just wasn’t as fun, but that doesn’t change the fact that my life was lived under the veil of a misty haze for so many years. If I could give you the reader one word of advice, it’s this. Ask yourself if you want to be known for what you do or what you do stoned? Trust me, the latter is not as romantic as I have erroneously made it sound.