All Grown Up

July 1, 2015 at 4:20 am (Cosmic Encounters, Waxing Nostalgic)

My hippie outlaw lifestyle has become obsolete.

"Big hit..."

“Big hit…”

As of midnight, marijuana became legal in Oregon. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m glad that something so dear to me, that has helped me get through this thing called life, can be viewed without the stigma it had while I was growing up. I usually write something like this on or around December 10. That was my big day in history. Due to all the big things happening in our fair state and city, I’m jumping ahead.

Besides, this upcoming December 10 will be the 40th anniversary of the first time I smoked weed. I’m sure I’ll have something to say about all that when the time comes.

If I’m still smoking…

I learned early on that the best life has a bit of rebellion in it. Not rebellion for rebellion’s sake, but having the sand and grit to do something you’ve been told is wrong, even though it feels so right. (Within reason, of course. Child molesters should still be shot.) I was fascinated with the drug culture as a tween. It started simply. Cigarettes were still advertised on TV, and I loved how cool and happy everyone looked. Then I smoked a cigarette and thought, “Wow, this is fucking disgusting, but I’m dizzzy as fuck, and I look cool. Arright!” (I was twelve or so. I said “fuck” a lot.) Things were completely different when I smoked weed. The first few times I barely got high, but I felt a clarity and focus. Realized that a BB gun in my waistband was a poor idea if a cop walks into this mini-mart right now, stuff like that. When I heard the biblical comparison about “the tree of knowledge of good and bad”, it may have been the first thing to ever make sense coming out of the bible.

That and The Golden Rule. I was taught that if you do unto others as you wish to be done by, you will do well in life. I wasn’t hurting anyone by smoking weed. I could NOT say that, ever, about my alcohol consumption. I could never justify drinking, although I gave it a good twenty years effort. That ship has sailed. Buh-bye! The worst and first person I hurt is me when I drink.

The hook that got me interested in weed, oddly enough, came from The Watchtower and Awake! magazines we were force-fed as kids. One cover had pictures of pills, an eyedropper with hypodermic needle tip, a guy smoking a joint with a pin poked through it to use as a roach clip. (You can tell the Jehovah’s Witness drug expert called in for this cover spared no expense or fact-checking when approving these hilarious paraphernalia faux pas.) I tried the ‘pin through the joint’ thing once, about caught my dick on fire. The hypodermic eyedropper? Unless the guy was a prison junkie, who thinks of that? Insulin rigs cost $2 for a bag of ten at that time. I wasn’t a junkie and *I* knew that!

What caught my eye (and eventual brain waves) was talk of mind-expansion. I learned early on that the average human uses 10% of their available brain power during their lifetime. Seems like a lot to waste, and, as the commercial of the era said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” (Hat tip to the United Negro College Fund.) Mind expansion? Sign me up! When LSD was mentioned, and the guy talked about looking at his finger and seeing all the pores and layers and waves? I got in line for that ride immediately.

I was slow to warm to weed, which had benefits. They say you freeze emotionally at the age you were when you started smoking. I didn’t become a daily user until age seventeen. Sounds about right.

But lately, I’ve been feeling old. Not falling-apart old, but like I need to think about making room for the next wave, and doing so gracefully. For forty years I’ve been self-medicating. My hand is on the remote control. It didn’t seem like that before I partook. It gives me pause to wonder if I have corrected my mind, or if I stop smoking will I turn into a ridiculous Donald Trump/know-it-all possessive controlling white dude? I saw myself leaning that way as a teen. I have control issues, as in I WANT CONTROL OF ALL OF IT NOW. Weed gave me permission not to give a damn. I still give a damn; my damns are selectively issued when I’m pleasantly stoned. I become incredibly impatient with life when I’ve been off weed a while. I see things about to happen, know it’s gonna happen, it happens, and I’ve thought it through before it’s done happening.

I prefer the leisurely pace of “Oh, wow. Look what’s goin’ down over there…” I don’t have stress boil-over if I’ve had a puff in the last few hours, and I don’t get homicidal if people take ten minutes deciding they are going to buy the same candy bar they do every day.

So I’m curious. I haven’t set a date or anything, and I’m probably not going to announce it, but I’m thinking of stepping away from the weed for a spell, just to see what happens. Will it be another day at the office, or will I become a homicidal prick? And you know how weed creeps for an hour? Imagining how long it’s gonna take the creep to land once I stop smoking after forty years? The thought has me thrilled, and a bit skeered.

I used to have an incredible imagination. People would talk of their hallucinations, and I could imagine things ten times cooler than that. What kind of music would I like if I hadn’t started smoking weed? I shudder to think how badly it could have gone. (I was smart enough to hate Ted Nugent before I became a stoner, so give me a little credit.) I’m thinking there’d be lots of jazz piano and sax music, and Hatebreed for the sober “drinking days.” Music is your high when there’s nothing to get high on. I’d probably still have appreciation for Slayer, and Tool would be my favorite band. Tool sounds good no matter what condition my brain is in.

My one concern is relapsing on alcohol. The last time I truly ran out of weed, it was about half a day before I was off to the Kwik-E-Mart for Olde English 800. I won’t be running out of weed, even if I take a break. I know better than to “do it just this one time,” because that one time doesn’t end until the friends are pissed or gone, your job is calling you into the office on a daily basis, and your bank account is– wait, I don’t have a bank account any more?

Like Rain says, “Honey, you smoke all the weed you want. I don’t like you when you drink.”

Funny. I don’t like myself when I drink, either.

So that’s out.

So, at age 54, I have decided to grow up today. I am no longer seventeen. I am a grown-ass man with a job and a mortgage and a hot girlfriend with issues but I love anyway. I must start showing more responsibility, accept this role in which I have been cast.

But let’s not get carried away. It took me forty years to get to this point, right? It’s important to have goals.

In a couple hours I’m getting the last of my teeth pulled, and a new set of dentures put in. It’s tough to feel like a kid when Poli-Grip is in your future. But then, I’ve used Old Spice since I was a teenager, and am a Gold Bond fanatic. (I call it LeBronning: Go crazy! Get that powder all over the balls!) I used to drink coffee (or beer) with the morning newspaper. Now I get jacked up on coffee, weed and the internet. The world is delivered to my desktop. When I was a kid, I’d ride the bus to where I work now and read the newspapers from around the country. I was the only kid I knew in Oregon that read the Detroit Free Press on a regular basis. Village Voice was okay, too. Now I read Village Voice delivered via Facebook and Twitter. I’m glad to have capacity for newfangled things.

Speaking of newfangled things, new fangs await! I must shower up and get out the door, because it’s the responsible thing to do. But, because growth takes time, I still have a minute to be twelve:

Live long and prosper, fellow stoners! I intend to…

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