A few years ago I was in a taxi with my cousin and he screwed up his nose and said, “Whew! This place smells of pot.”
“So that’s what pot smells like.”
“You’ve never smoked pot?”
“I don’t believe you.”
We are about the same age, but I was a “back to nature” hippy, not a “let’s get high” hippy. I lived in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s but never went to a party where people were smoking pot, and none of my friends mentioned it. My cousin couldn’t believe that either, though he lived east of 5th Avenue and I lived west of it. There was a difference.
Alcohol was the more common drug. At parties drunken men would leer at me, say and do sloppy things, and burst out laughing at jokes that were not funny. Being drunk meant being boring. I hadn’t been around pot smokers, but assumed that being high meant being just as boring.
The last time I got drunk was around 1969. I drank way too much at a seaside taverna in Greece with my boyfriend and an Australian pilot who was training Olympic Airways pilots to fly to Sydney. He was dull before flight time, but great company when he was drinking. One the way back to Athens he sailed through red lights and stop signs. I was terrified in the back seat, but the two men in the front seat whooped and laughed…and made fun of me. Alcohol-induced stupidity rates very low on the ways I would prefer to die.
The next morning I was gravely ill, or would have thought so if I hadn’t known why I was incapacitated. I thought to myself, “You jerk! You did this to yourself. If you were this sick without having drunk too much you’d be headed to the hospital.” There are enough miseries in life not to inflict them on oneself, so I stopped.
I enjoyed a beer or a glass of wine from time to time, but at 63, it was time to find out what the marijuana fuss was about. People were talking about legalization and surprised me by owning up to decades of nightly pot smoking. I didn’t even know the lingo of marijuana, except from some folk songs and the occasional inside joke over dinner. I started asking the friends who said they smoked regularly if they had any. Was pot different from alcohol? Would it really make me more creative, or funny, or happy? Let them show me how great it was.
My friend Susan said she’d be happy to share her stash with me but she and her brother had smoked it all last weekend. Lillian said she’d contact her supplier, but didn’t. I didn’t know how likely it was that I would end up in jail if I looked for a supplier myself, and, as I said, I don’t want to die (or be thrown in jail) from stupidity.
Then my now-husband Terry pulled open his desk drawer and produced a joint. The result was nothing, if you don’t count the horrible headache. I had flashbacks to the few years when I was a slave to tobacco; pulling smoke into my lungs felt repugnant. There was smoke in my nose and eyes. I kept trying, but no epiphanies occurred, and no pleasure.
As I said, I’m a “back to nature” girl. Falsely enhancing the colors of sunsets or the movements of the clouds doesn’t interest me. Listening to mediocre music and thinking it’s genius, telling a dull joke and thinking it’s hilarious, and leering at strangers thinking they lust for me is not my cup of tea. Besides, if I think I am already a fascinating, attractive genius, then I won’t try harder to become one.
Legalize everything; treat drugs as a public health problem. As for me, no thanks. It won’t make me a better writer, or better company at a party, or happier.