I was worried. I’d had a damn good time being fifty years old. There’s no way fifty-one could top it, right?
Judging on the basis of a couple days, fifty-one has marvelous potential…
It’s Rose Festival season in Portland, the time of year when everyone’s work schedule goes cattywampus. I had no intention of asking for my birthday off, but when it was scheduled that way, along with the day after, who am I to second-guess the boss? I planned accordingly.
The love began rolling in before midnight. I had a nice chat with an old flame via social media. We compared notes and cheered each other on. The last time I saw her in person, she was on her way to a date and dropped by to say hello. Instead of being jealous, I was happy to see her happy and healthy. After the best of hugs, I slipped her a couple rubbers and gave her a swat on the ass. I didn’t see that reaction coming. I guess we’re growing up. (But not out. We’ve both lost a whole person in body weight. I had to look to find her ass…)
Both my girls were awake at midnight, and I received text messages soon after. Rain wanted to see me in the morning, and I’d better get up and come over. Meg was less insistent, more cryptic, but said I should stop by for a birthday hug. Oh tay!
When I showed up at Rain’s, her buzzer worked but there was no answer. I waited, texted. Shit. Half an hour went by. I texted, “No answer. You okay? Call me, I guess…” I hopped on a bus and moved toward plan two.
The cosmic portion of our journey.
A cannabis club has opened downtown. (That’s all you get for location. Sorry, but things this good don’t need advertising.) All one needs is photo ID and an Oregon Medical Card. (The green kind.) As I showed my ID I realized I’d lost my ATM card. Yikes! Great first impression, digging around in my wallet in a panic. I stepped outside and made phone calls. I’d left it in the ATM. I could pick it up before 6 PM. Phew.
Now, back to the matters at hand.
I was led through the cafe by the proprietor, shown the accoutrements, given a run-down of the rules. Things were free until the grand opening, after that there would be a one-time membership fee with a daily fee. What does one get in return?
I was introduced to the Budtender, a gentleman with a Fu Manchu and ponytail. Before him sat a bevy of babyfood jars containing strains of greenish bud. “What suits you today, friend, and how do you like to smoke it?”
A safe place to smoke downtown.
Free medicine, and no need to carry utensils or paraphernalia.
A low-key place similar to a cocktail lounge, where everyone smokes instead of drinks. Music, cable TV, munchies, coffee will soon be available.
No political BS. They are working within the boundaries set by law, and they don’t play. It is run by military vets from the Vietnam/Desert Wars era. They are nice but always look serious. Don’t start a fight…
I pondered, “Well, I smoke out of a little glass bong at home. I’d like something cosmic, but not too narcotic. I have a lot to do today, I just want to do it colorfully.”
“Purple kush!” He ambled over to the sink and chose a pyrex cosmic utensil. “Let me get some of the lumber out of here…” He opened a small jar, took out a sizable bud and gave it a couple finger-twists. “Hope you don’t have to think too hard…”
His toothy grin was warning enough.
* * *
I adjusted my sunglasses and hopped a train to the bank. The branch was across from Rain’s apartment building, and she called as I was exiting.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“Nearby. What happened to you? I’ve been calling…”
“Something must be wrong with my phone.”
“I’ll be there in two minutes,” I said while hanging up on her.
She opened her door, gave me a sheepish grin. “I think I may have fallen asleep…” I got a birthday hug, and a sweet card. An hour later I was on my way to Meg’s with a Cheshire grin.
I called Meg. “Hi, miss me?” I was fashionably late.
“I’m about to catch a ride somewhere, can you hurry up?” Meg was up to something.
“Yeah? I thought we were hanging out today. Oh well.”
I arrived, and she was dressed for the road. “I want you to know, in the ten years I’ve been seeing the Marshal, I’ve never given him a birthday card, or a present. I’ve never told him I loved him. I love you.” She handed me an envelope.
Inside was a lovely card, and a tiny baggie.
Meg had given me an earring.
With one exception, I have no piercings or tattoos. When I turned thirty I got my left ear pierced, mostly as a favor to Phineas who was studying to be a barber and had been experimenting with other adornments. I wore a gold stud for ten years, then a cute fake emerald for the next ten.
Apparently it was time for a new one.
“It’s 14-karat gold with a real emerald. Don’t lose it down the sink?”
“Yes, ma’am!” I didn’t tell her about the time I’d dropped my previous green one in the toilet.. (Relax, I soaked it in 91% isopropyl alcohol for a half-hour before reinserting it…)
I put it in, and showed her.
“Now that’s MY pimp-daddy!” she said.
The second day of my birthday weekend was similar. Went to Rain’s for a ‘breakfast muffin’ then took a trip to The Cafe. I consider myself a seasoned smoker, but after a few minutes with these guys I felt like a lightweight. One bong hit had me gassed, and I had to pick up my niece at school. Glad I have the Blu-blockers…
The work week is wonky, so I will be keeping strange hours with a variety of co-workers. I will resist the urge to become a cannabis cafe barfly; I don’t want to wear out my welcome, and I want to keep a low profile at work, as much as a long-haired hippie-type pinko can anyway.
Welcome to Area 51. Set the controls for the heart of the sun…