When I got in the car today after work, the digital thermometer read 110° F. That’s just too hot. The air conditioning doesn’t even really work when it’s that hot. I don’t exactly trust the Ford’s thermometer to be nuts-on accurate, but I think anything in the greater-than 100° range is hot enough to ignore the tolerance.

I didn’t write yesterday because I need a break. For a long time now, I’ve felt like I don’t have much to write. If nothing happens during the day, I have nothing in the way of material. Sometimes it’s like that, you get stuck in this “report out” mode of writing as opposed to a more “topical” approach. Being that my days at work are so busy of late, I often find myself sitting at home in the evenings thinking, yet again, about work. With so much focus on one thing, I don’t really have it in me to write about something that isn’t as fresh as the day’s happenings. That… and the fact that I’m keeping secrets from sounds familiar. It’s hard to write around things. But I think to myself, even when the kimono is open – what will I write? What will I write about today? You know, it’s actually a slightly guilty feeling. I look at the clock and it’s nearly 9pm and I’ve got nothing to say, nothing to write. I actually feel a little bad. Mostly because I love it, I love writing… and I can’t bring myself to put down something interesting, and I feel like I’ve said it all before. What a shame.

When I was in the 7th grade, I had my own little cocoon event. I wrapped myself up in the music and culture of three generations past. I cast off the idea of contemporary cool (mostly, I think, because I wasn’t doing so hot attempting to emulate it). I withdrew from the middle school culture of Gucci fannypacks and homemade MC Hammer puffpaint tees into a world of Ginger Baker drum solos at the Fillmore and bright Peter Max concert flats. A year later, and my transformation was complete. I had emerged a new creature, a butterfly clad not in bright colors but dreary occultist Led Zeppelin shirts and jeans. I loved it. I let my hair grow, stopped trying to keep up with the Top 40, and decided I needed to try marijuana. After meeting Kyle in 8th grade, and finding him a sympathizer to my anti-popularity cause – things only got better. Weekends spent watching rented copies of Woodstock, The Song Remains the Same, Vanishing Point, Blues Brothers, etc. There was so much to learn, and for a good portion of it he was my mentor. Together, the desire to try the weed grew. Until ninth grade, when we finally scored some.

It came from a buddy, just a little baggie… we’d seen nothing like it before, so we had no idea how to judge how much it was. We took it into our favorite place in the woods, a small clearing well behind Kyle’s uncle’s house where we’d often camp overnight. Secluded, perfect, the kinda place you felt safe hiding pellet guns under rocks in black plastic attaché cases, the kinda place you were supposed to smoke weed in. With no rolling papers, we resorted to the hard-up method of crunching a soda can in on one side. You kinda work it into a depression, with raised sides, then you stab it a few times with a pocketknife. Drop a bud or two on top and apply flame while inhaling through the drink-hole, and you’ve got a crude – but functional – pipe. I held the lighter to the can, feeling like a crack addict, and took a deep breath. That taste… unmistakable. A dry sweetness, tastes almost as scratchy as it does smooth, unmistakable. I passed the can, careful not to spill the glowing nugs. There were three of us, and I don’t remember when Kyle got the can… but on his first inhale he coughed hard – right into the can. The wonderful functionality of the pipe immediately performed perfectly – in reverse; blowing smoke out the pocketknife holes, and scattering our entire stash to the wind. I didn’t “get high” that day, and started thinking maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

I don’t know how much time, or how many other attempts, passed between then and the first time the drug actually worked. But I remember that time. I tried again, with no results. I inhaled deeper, held it in longer, smoked more, I tried it all. Nothing. After we were all pros, we used to tell unsuccessful newbies that their mind just hadn’t allowed them to “open that door” yet. I remember the night my “door” opened. I was driving, so it was the later half of my freshman year. I don’t remember where we got the stuff. I drove the little Nissan Sentra into the woods, over some sandy access roads to a clearing in the middle of nowhere. A place where the only reason you could get there was because there was a retention pond or firebreak that need truck access for maintenance. There were four of us that night, four of us who had tried before with no luck but were willing to give it another go. This time we rolled joints. This time it worked. At first, I was ready to write the night off as another loss. Then it happened. At the time, I remember describing it to those who had not yet arrived as “like hitting a brick wall.” One minute I was fine, the next minute I was stoned beyond all belief. That awesome kind of stoned where your face feels detached and your sense of time is all screwed.

That night we all got stoned, destroyed. We laughed at things we imagined seeing in the woods, remarked at the smoothness of our teeth, and had one of the grandest time four teenagers finding weed can have. I drove us back, weed not fully out of my system. Down the sandy roads, onto the street, to wherever we were going. At first, I was deathly afraid. After that first time, I didn’t want to smoke again until I got my next report card. We’d all heard the facts: weed makes you dumb, burns up your brain cells. We’d all seen burnouts on Cops, even at school – and I just knew that weed was gonna lead me down that path – make me a drooling fool. Maybe twice more before grades I indulged, but that was it. Then it happened… I got straight As. For the first time in my life I received nary a B. And it was like God showing Moses the burning bush to convince him things would be OK, it was my “permission.” From then on, the marijuana and I were close friends. For the better part of two years, we’d meet up for weekend rendezvous, with the rare-but-not-never weeknight encounter if the stars aligned. Oh, and the As, they stuck around too – just my ongoing reassurance that not only was I not getting dumber – apparently the dope was actually turning me into a genius.

The story ends with me giving up the smoke for a girl. How endearing. I did, however, get said girl. Still with her to this day, so I think it was worth the weed.

Unrelated short bits: Again, the bleat makes me embarrassed to call this a blog. I wish I could dredge that kind of realism up now and again. And Dave, here’s that link I was talking about. I swear they once had more explicit instructions on actually getting into the old lines, but either I’m remembering wrong or they changed it to less inviting text like “Doors from it, if opened, would give a good view of the platform.” Hmmmm…


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