“Norm!”

October 14, 2012 at 11:11 am (Cosmic Encounters)

More like “NORML.”

I finally found a lounge I could hang out in. One that even appreciates oxymoronic sentences like the previous one. Nobody gets drunk, you can sit at the bar and smoke joints, and fights are usually over manners, (“You first.” “No, you. I insist.” Etc…) Voices are rarely raised, unless it’s accentuating the punchline of a joke.

Yes, the Cannabis Cafe has been a home away from home.

I don’t spend much time lounging on workdays. I don’t have enough time, and need the brain power. Weekends have been another story, with a handy place to drop in for a fast puff before my next adventure. It hasn’t put the girlfriends out of business. I still spend most of my free time with them.

You must have, show, and carry at all times your OMMP card and valid ID. You sign in and show ID every day you visit. Having gotten to know me by sight, they often let me fill in the sign-in sheet. Occasionally, the volunteer will take my paperwork and do the writing. “Hey, I thought your name was Norm?”

“No, That’s that goofy biker’s idea of a joke…” I pointed at the pirate, who was smiling and flipping me off in a friendly way.

Having a steady source for medibles has been heavenly, although consistency has been an issue. Love this, hate that, this is overpriced. I was the quality-control agent for a while. (“Give him two doses and see what he says tomorrow…”) I found things I liked, as well as things that were counter-productive to my mental health. In all, I’m in the best health since pre-teenhood. Especially the mental health.

The folks running the lounge were about my age, some a bit older. The patients were from all walks of life, with a diversity deeper than Portland is given credit for. One fellow, a young father of two recalled how I treated him nicely several years ago, when he was homeless. He went out of his way to be sure I was taken care of. If the lounge was closing before I could get a break from work to supply my weekend medibles, he would be sure something got dropped off on his way home.

A favorite memory of the lounge: The morning (2 PM) I showed up and everyone was moving slow. Nothing was put out, folks were brewing coffee and prepping for the day. I entered, and the pirate yelled, “Norm!” like they do on Cheers. I had never been to a legitimate job where the whole crew sits around and gets wacky during their morning meeting, and this was a treat to behold. I sat with a pirate/biker, a couple traditional hippies, a couple Native American dudes and a gorgeous six-foot tall ebony princess who happens to be a stand-up comedian. I rolled joints while pipefuls of this and that were circulating. Soon everyone was animated, smiling if not laughing, and ready to take over the world.

In a few minutes, after this head rush subsides.

I have looked at the Cannabis Cafe as a short-term blessing. The way the laws are written, it’s a matter of time before some entity comes along to shut them down. If they don’t implode from within. Over the course of the last week, all my favorite people have moved on. The crowd that was once my ilk, my brothers and sisters of the cosmos, have found other pastures within which to harvest and medicate.

In other words, the Cafe has cleaned house, and all new people are there.

Shit.

I suppose I’ll get to know them, maybe it’ll be the same eventually, but I doubt it. I’m now the Old Guy from up the street, and the patrons are of the early-20s douchebag-hat wearing variety. They don’t understand that when I come in and sit alone in the corner it’s because I want to sit alone in the corner. The quality of the medicine is subpar by comparison, and I have yet to feel the camaraderie. I mostly feel “Get off my lawn.”

A good bar is hard to find. A good bar for an alcoholic who wants to stay sober is near-impossible. I thought I’d found mine. Alas, it was a grand four months.

I’ll still pop in, depending upon circumstance. But it won’t be the same. And when they introduce themselves?

“You can call me Norm.”

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