A friend of mine was so baked once that he walked into a department store women’s restroom, surprising the hell out of a lady with his leather jacket, orange mohawk, and T-shirt featuring Ronald Reagan in a penis hat. All the guy did was turn a wrong corner, but the woman’s horror movie screams could be heard on every floor. We were laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe for three straight minutes. Watching this big, punk rock tough guy fly out of a ladies’ room like dobermans were on him was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Of course, we were stoned as well, but that was a long time ago and I’m still laughing.
Another time, a young schoolmate of mine created a pipe out of a piece of fruit, employing the sediment screen from a bathroom faucet to line the “bowl.” My dad had to replace so many of our family faucet screens after that, he still mentions it to this day.
Then there was that rumor circulating at the record store where I worked. A female colleague had gotten stoned for the first time ever, run out into the middle of traffic, and was promptly struck and killed. I was told this on my first day by my new manager, who fired up a joint and blew smoke into the air-conditioning vent to prevent our fallen co-worker from haunting us. This manager told me all employees who smoked were required to do likewise. (He turned out to be a cabbage-headed idiot and the story wasn’t true.)
The very last time I smoked pot, I was headed north to hang lights on a movie set with a crew-mate who handed me a fatty somewhere near Bakersfield. After three big lungfuls, my brain suddenly hit me with, DUDE. You borrowed all those CDs from Angelo and you never returned ’em. You are SUCH an asshole! For the next hundred miles, thoughts of this failure returned to the same piece of music. All those CDs…such an asshole…never gave ’em back. Now, from a great distance, I can laugh at this as well.
And smoking or not, I still enjoy the camaraderie of others’ shared marijuana experiences, be they friends younger than me or those with whom I otherwise have little in common.
Because who hasn’t heard a stupid-good pot story that was rich with takeaways? You either laugh or scoff at the near-miss folly (fortunately someone else’s) or you guilt trip the person at the center of your intervention: either way, there’s something for everyone. The world would be a little duller without ganja-themed storytelling.
But will hog-wild commercialization ruin the juju and familiarity of pot stories? I fear it will emphasize gratification rather than signify growth, in the same way the sex appeal of knowing one’s limitations in Vegas has been replaced with elastic pants.
So I find myself a bit melancholy over today’s so-called “golden age of marijuana,” and not because of the (ho-hum) passing of some generational torch. In fact, hurry up and give the thing to somebody else already; the flame’s gotten too big. My point is, it’s not really being passed –what we’re seeing here is a cultural shift from the personal to the demographic.
What do I mean? Well, when you find bits of bud in your keyboard, notice the blaze in someone’s eyes, or suspect your dog knows you’re baked, that’s personal. Pot doesn’t seem so personal anymore. It’s more like a stampede. With the decriminalization of marijuana in several states and corporate owned media going all-American with it, pot is being “personalized” more than it is personal. What was once naughty is beginning to look like NASCAR.
I find it disappointing that this also means we’re diluting the coming-of-age marijuana story as it has always thrived in the oral tradition.
No matter who you are or whether or not you’ve ever inhaled, the learned behavior of this gateway drug is a fact of Western life. And just this week, the New York Times called for a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana –with what feels like a campaign of editorial and related blog coverage– meaning a whopping 54% of Americans who favor marijuana legalization just got a corporate-media high-five. This doesn’t bode well for intimacy, and intimacy is where good stories come from.
Nevertheless, you’re probably wondering how I could suggest that pothead culture has somehow been struck a death blow now that smokers can practically wave it in cops’ faces. I mean, that’s a big touchdown, right?
Or maybe you’re thinking, Hey, wait. There are always gonna be two guys sitting on a bench, passing a joint and tripping on the unappreciated magnificence of a sanitation truck, which is true, not to mention funny.
But lately I hear less talk about the ups ‘n downs of getting stoned than I do of dispensaries; pricing; paperwork; seed-to-sale software; regional and jurisdictional complications; weed tourism; potency; and high-end accessories. The ones that really get me are anti-microbial bongs and pipes. As far as I’m concerned, palming the slobber off the top of a bong before taking a hit just comes with the THC territory.
And when did the biblical plague of “chronic pain” befall the earth? It seems like every time someone lights up these days, woven somewhere into the fabric of their enjoyment is a discussion about pain. Since when is smoking weed about pain? Painfully funny stories, yes, but back pain, eye pain, ear pain, follicular pain? I’m just saying…but we’re talkin’ oral tradition today, not excuses.
When I was 15, an LAPD Sergeant pulled a small bag of weed out of my pocket while frisking a group of us crazy-haired punkers. As he dropped it onto the ground he said, “I can’t let you keep that.” I was astonished. Before he let us all go with a warning that punk rock signified the decline of the American family, I almost questioned his leniency. Instead, I bragged about my good fortune for a week.
Nowadays, with marijuana so easily purchasable, what will the future generation of 15-year-old experimenters have to be proud of?
Then: “Dude – the cops pulled Tommy over and found his weed! The idiot hid it in his glove box!”
Today: Who cares? Cops move the weed aside and ask why you’re carrying old D-cell batteries.
Result: Good stories gone. Valuable stoner learning tool decommissioned. Weed taboo narrowed.
Then: “And does she ever bring her own? No.”
Today: Who cares? Your apartment is above the Ralter Weed Medical Center, so there’s plenty for everyone.
Result: Pot manners depreciate more than they already have. (Keyword: manners). “Bogart” becomes as obscure as “Hotsy-totsy.”
Today: I had to explain postage to the guy at Mail Boxes ‘n More
Result: We can’t all say, “Weed doesn’t affect me” while marveling over how ultimately baked we are, but we’re losing our comparison points for weed-induced stupidity. What will become of hierarchies of dysfunctionality among our heaviest users? And P.S., even potheads don’t want their orders blown.
Then: “Just say no.”
Today: Obama to ABC News: “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Result: America faces Darwinian crisis: now everyone takes two hours to go to the corner market.
Then: “Naw, not Steve’s place, man. All he ever has is shake, seeds, and stems. Let’s go chill at Marcos’s pad.”
Today: Marcos pays coke prices to get his weekly supply via MotaMessenger.com for $100 an 1/8th
Result: When everyone has mindblowing weed, how will we know how special your 30th birthday was?
As though lousy pot has been eradicated from the earth, these days all we hear about is how amazing everyone’s killer science-weed is.
I’m already bored by those stories.
Tags: bong, bud, chronic pain, decriminalization, dispensaries, federal ban, ganja, gateway drug, joint, LAPD, legalization, marijuana, NASCAR, New York Times, oral tradition, pipe, pot, pothead, punk rock, Reagan, stoner, storytelling, THC, Vegas, weed