The End of the Innocence

Source: thecomeup.com/bmx/
Source: thecomeup.com/bmx/

In my day…

In my day, smoking pot was safe.  The only real danger from it lurked in the calories that we gained from consuming Belgium waffles at the Elias Brother’s Big Boy.  That component, of course, came from the last stage of the pot smoking experience, the hallowed Munchies.  Most of the other aspects of it were all were fairly benign for me.  Our eyes would turn sort of glossy, mouths would become very dry, and the most half-witted wisecrack uttered was greeted with unruly laughter.  Our bon mots were ingenious or so we led ourselves to believe.

In my day, most authority figures had no idea that you were stoned.  If you otherwise masqueraded yourself as an upstanding young person, you avoided the kind of scrutiny given to others who were less inclined to fake their street cred.  Parents and other adults simply thought that you probably had an allergy of some kind.  Likewise, your overzealous desire to want to explain Emerson Lake and Palmer’s interpretation of Aaron Copland was looked upon as a youthful but perhaps unrefined cultural interest.  They assumed that all of this would pass when you finally took a decent humanities course in college.

In my day, you bought a dime bag of pot from a guy named Chuck who wore a winter parka even in warm weather.  It cost $10 and was supposed to weigh a gram.  In truth you never really knew how much it weighed or how much you were actually getting.  Unless you tended to roll one of those huge “Big Bambu” fat joints, the bag would last at least three weeks because four of your friends were also clients of Chuck.  A sense of socialism and community governed everyone’s desire to make their stashes last.  Greed and ambition were a couple of years away from developing.

In my day, pot was generally pretty weak.  Every now and then someone would come across an exotic Mexican variety, but generally whatever you managed to get provided a nice, even buzz.  It allowed you to witness absurdities, ironies, and life’s beauties all while maintaining most of your faculties.  Watching a local TV news anchor, with his faux-seriousness guise, could be as relentlessly entertaining as studying the elegance of French Impressionist paintings at a museum.  We indeed ventured to the museums, the libraries, the arbors, etc.  There was a reason they referred to it as “recreational” usage because that’s exactly what it was for us.  Our world was temporarily one big television.

Our activities were innocent at least for myself and those in my immediate peer group.  We obviously knew of others who had graduated to harder and more serious drugs, but thankfully that never became a reality for any of us back then.  In hindsight I now realize how fortunate we were.

Nighttime eventually came, though.  My proverbial day had ended.

Except for the occasional semi-humorous reference, I never really thought much about weed as I left my twenties.  For ten years when I worked at a large federal law enforcement agency, I never smoked anything remotely illegal.  In addition to a required drug test given at the start of my employment, I was told that random testing could be initiated on an employee at any time.  That never happened, but it was enough for me to stay away from smoking pot for the entire period.  I didn’t miss it.

Eventually I left that job and was no longer subject to workplace drug monitoring.   Now living in California and in my forties, it didn’t take long before opportunities to indulge presented themselves, and I eventually smoked a joint again.  My first impression after 10+ years of complete abstinence was how utterly strong pot had become since I last tried it.  I could not believe the intensity it now had.  Gone was that nice, slow-moving mellow feeling.  It was replaced by an immediate buzz that made me feel as if I was driving on the I-405 in Los Angeles with a tremendous semi truck coming up fast in my rear view mirror. I felt no joy or sense of calm, just a huge and rapid sensory overload.  Goodbye Jorma Kaukonen, hello Axl Rose.

Just like Maureen Dowd, I too had a moment where I took leave of my better senses and consumed a canabis-infused candy bar.  To say I regretted my actions would be an understatement.  I was freshly single after separating from my ex-wife, and it was offered to me in the spirit of frivolity.  “When in Rome” doesn’t even being to describe the faults in my judgment making.  As Ms. Dowd also experienced, when one or two bites didn’t provide any kind of high, I doubled-down and decided to eat more.  Lots more.  Within an hour I felt as if every part of my intestinal system was shutting down.  Sweating profusely, I came to the following two conclusions:  (1) I was either going to die from an overdose or (2) of embarrassment if I had to explain to an emergency room nurse what I had done.  I spent 30 minutes on the floor of my bathroom until the sensation finally eased and disappeared.  I got off lucky.

I smoked a handful of times after the candy episode, but the idea of it being anything remotely nostalgic was no longer there for me.  That ship had sailed.

While states are now legalizing pot and in some places it’s becoming mainstream, acceptable, licensed, and perhaps safer (within limits), I have decided that it is nonetheless no longer a part of my life.  I can recreate in other ways.

Recently Gorgeous and I were listening to an NPR story about synthetic marijuana.   We quickly learned that we have become the exact same caricatures of cluelessness exhibited by our parents.  We had absolutely no idea that such a thing existed.   People are dying from ingesting this false substance with ignorance leading the way as the prime reason for fatalities.  Similar to my own dangerous candy eating moment, there are those who tragically believe it to be completely safe.  Some perhaps might even think it to be genuine marijuana instead of this dangerous substitute.  Would you know the difference from looking at it?  I know I sure wouldn’t.

"Spice" synthetic cannabinoid.  Sourced: DEA.gov
“Spice” synthetic cannabinoid. Source: DEA.gov

My old dealer Chuck has morphed into someone incredibly scary.

With absolutely no fanfare, my pot smoking days are now behind me. They actually ended a handful of years ago, but I’ve only now just realized it.  For those who still partake and believe they know the safe source of their herb, I cast no judgment.  Be safe, bros.

I’m glad I survived my days.

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7 thoughts on “The End of the Innocence

  1. Nicely put – similar to my experience then vs. now except i did have half a cracker (1/2 dose) that was mellow and nice. But it is easy today to end up with something very strong and overbearing. ELP still sounds great however 🙂

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  2. My own pot phase lasted about 2o years – less periods of flushing out the system due to changing jobs and the required testing aka p in the b.

    My dealer wasn’t named Chuck – he was a Mario – but in my day we didn’t drive to the source – we walked to the source. Because he’d be at his usually place milling about, waiting for his regulars.I also had nothing to drive. As a Manhattanite, a car wasn’t a necessity – especially it it had been stolen a number of times.

    My weed laced chocolate bar wasn’t a chocolate bar -it was home made brownies. That happened in Chicago, and that weekend was the funniest weekend of my entire life..

    One day, drawing the smoke into my lungs, I felt a burning. As if a tiny, tiny corner of my left lung was aglow. It was at that specific instant that I quit. No more pot smoking and no more cigarette smoking. I threw out my roach clips, my Bambu papers, and whatever was left of the oz I had bought. Stopped in a heart-beat and fortunately I’ve not had even a single relapse. My friends were of course still welcomed at my place, but any smoking had to be done both downstairs as well as out of the building..

    I don’t miss it, and am glad I stopped. But hearing another person relate the same story – knowing that like it was for me, it was the same for nearly everyone else.

    Thanks for the good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fascinating just how similar so many of our stories are, Mike. My first “baked good” was actually a brownie also. It was in college, and that experience actually went well. It was one of the reasons why I acted so fearless with the candy bar. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. As a kid, perhaps around 10 or 11, my brother and I had the bright idea to see what all the hoopla was about over smoking cigarettes. Back then cigarette candy was ‘in’ and considered harmless fun and not an activity that could lead to becoming a smoker in real life. So we hid behind our house, rolled up some grass in a piece of newspaper, lit it, and sucked on the other end.

    Well the coughing, gagging, smoke-filled eyes, and every other terrible thing that we experienced was enough to make me not even want to try anything close to smoking ever again! Later on I also discovered I’m allergic to the smell of smoke, so that solidified my inclination to abstain from smoking in all forms and stay away from those who did since the smell lingered on clothing, breath, hair etc

    Fast forward 10 yrs later to when I dated a guy a few yrs older that I, who was a smoker but I never knew because he hid it from me. Imagine the shock when I discovered his little secret! But I mostly surprised that he was so skilled at hiding all evidence of his habit for the 2 yrs we were together. Made me wonder what else he was hiding — turned out to be a lot! Next!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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