I was a freshman in high school. I had started hanging around with a “fast crowd”…the kind who listened to all the newest music, talked about forbidden things like sex, and had opinions that sounded like they really mattered. One day, the hippest kid in the school (the grandson of a famous radical political figure) asked me if I had been at a particular gathering in the park, and I had to say no. I felt like I had a chance to be accepted but maybe I had blown it.
So I started asking around about the other things these kids did, and one of them was smoking pot. I’ve always been someone to think ahead, so I bought a book all about it to see if I could find out the good, the bad, the culture…etc.
Unfortunately for the DARE and DEA, this particular book (“The Marijuana Papers”…how could I go wrong with a title like that?) was more of a celebration of weed than a “reefer madness” piece of propaganda. I was sold, even though I knew absolutely nobody who smoked. I carefully asked around and found a guy. It turned out he worked with me in the studENT-run school supplies store that ran during lunchtime.
So one day, I nodded to him that I had the money. He followed me into a dark corner and I tremblingly exchanged my $5 bill for a small manila envelope that was thick with promise and marijuana. I put it into my pocket and immediately went off to the bathroom where I could look at it and sniff it. Boy, I was cool!
That day on my way home, I suddenly realized I had no idea how to actually smoke the stuff. The book I was reading talked about joints, but I had no idea that you could buy cigarette papers anywhere, even if I could figure out how to roll one. Left to my own devices, I might have actually invENTed the blunt, but I wandered around a cigar shop and saw…a miniature pipe! Eureka!
I bought the pipe (it came pre-packaged with a starter pack of cherry-flavored tobacco) and took it home. Luckily my sister was off somewhere and my mother was working. I stuffed the pot into the bottom of the bowl, put the stem in my mouth, and lit a match.
I don’t mean “I didn’t get high”, I mean nothing happened. I tilted the pipe over so that the flame could go in, and the pot started pouring out. I quickly straightened it out, and tried tilting it at exactly the right angle, but it was no use. I couldn’t get the thing lit.
The next day, I asked my “connection” to show me how to light the pipe, He pityingly demonstrated the tricky part about inhaling while the flame is over the bowl. “Oh”, I said sheepishly.
But that afternoon I got blitzed. On my own. With my own weed. For the very first time. And life, and my wandering mind, would never be the same.
The year was 1967.
P.S. The guy who sold me my first bag of weed is now a psychiatrist who specializes in substance abuse. No shit.