When I first moved here, I lived in a rambling old house over by Georgia Tech. It was connected to a garage apartment by a catwalk.
Pretty frequently, the gentleman who lived in that apartment would come knocking on the back door. His name was Kevin, and he had blond messy hair. He was tall and lanky and he read a lot of Vonnegut, as did I.
Kevin liked cake.
I know he did because he was always asking if we had any, and I was always saying, “Well, no, Kevin.” He would ask if I’d make one, and I, sucker that I am, would say sure I would, and he’d sit down in the striped beach chair in our pink kitchen and wait. Which is how I knew what he liked to read, because I’d hop up on the counter and we’d pass the time talking about books and movies and music.
This went on for eight or nine months, I guess, until one afternoon I got off the bus at the corner and there were sawhorses and police cars and a SWAT team blocking my street and the streets around it. There were helicopters hovering overhead.
I, in my flowered Laura Ashley and my tiny wingtips, my hair bobbed, picked my way around it (like I do) and walked the block home, only to be stopped by officers as I was unlocking the front door.
They started asking me questions: Did I know the person in the back apartment? Did I know his whereabouts? Where did he work? Who were his friends? What sort of hours did he keep?
Having never been questioned in such a fashion, I felt a bit affronted, but I answered them. I told them his name was Kevin and I didn’t know his last name, but he read a lot of Vonnegut and liked more or less the same music I did – Tears for Fears, the Stones, Roy Orbison, like that. Oh, and he liked cake. A lot.
They took me around back to his apartment and it was a wreck. I was horrified at the mess and asked if he’d been killed, because Kevin was never, ever messy. The futon cushion was slashed open, the bed was torn apart and the mattress was slashed open. Containers were opened and emptied out all over the place.
The officers looked at me like I had just fallen off the turnip truck and escorted me back around to my house, telling me they’d let me know if they had further questions.
Robert and Scarlet and Chris and I were watching the news that night and suddenly Robert said, “That’s our house!” And sure enough, there it was. And there I was, walking back with the officers. And the reporter was talking over the scene. It turns out it had all been part of a huge sting operation, and Kevin was at the center of it all, and I had no idea.
Curiously, they never called me back for more questions.
Now, during that same eight or nine month period, I went to many concerts at the Omni (may it rest in eternal peace).
One of them was with my friend David Dowd, and it was U2 (Joshua Tree). This was a huge, huge deal. It was extremely exciting.
We were sitting there in our seats waiting for the show to start and I remarked to David that “the Omni always has the most peculiar smell.”
He looked at me for several beats and said in his very calm David way, “What do you think that smell is Susan?”
I am from a small town, but I read. I knew about the ways of big buildings. So I said, “It’s the incinerator in the basement, burning all the trash.”
And David took me by the hand and pulled me up and gestured to the people down front and asked me what those people were doing. I told him they were smoking cigarettes, of course. His eyes got big and he said, “Susan. They’re smoking pot. That Omni smell is pot.”
Absolutely breathless, I said, “No, David, it is not marijuana. Marijuana is illegal, and all those people would not be smoking marijuana in public in front of security people.”
Sweet, sweet David put his arms around me and said, “Oh, Susan. Of course it’s not pot. It’s the incinerator.” And then the lights went down and up again and the show started.
Flash forward several years and some friends and I went to San Francisco for a week and stayed in a houseboat in the bay. We needed firewood in the worst way, so one of us (who shall remain unnamed at this time) went boat to boat down the pier, knocking on doors asking where to find such an item. We made friends with some people in another boat, and they came over to play poker with us.
Some pot smoking ensued, and I figured what the hell? I’m 2000 miles from home and it’s a misdemeanor here. I gave it a shot and ended up losing the Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids to a man named Jeremy, but it still all seemed pretty pointless.
Many, many years later, I was suffering one of my horrific migraines and a joint as big as my thumb made its way into my possession. I tucked it away until the next time I had one and got it out, but I couldn’t keep the damn thing lit.
I tried and tried and tried, but no cigar. I even called a devoted pot smoker I know and asked, and he said it wasn’t that hard, stoned people manage to do it all day long.
It ended up wrapped it in foil, in a paper towel, in a ziploc bag, in a Tupperware container, labeled “Marijuana” with the date on it, in the freezer, like it was a frozen chicken breast or something.
I no longer have it. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Earlier this summer, my brother and I were sitting on my front steps and the gentleman across the street came outside and sat on his front steps. Steven remarked, “Dude sure does smoke a lot of pot.” I asked what made him think that and he said, “Hell, he’s doing it now. See? He’s sitting there lighting it between his knees.”
I said, “Oh, no, he always lights his cigarettes like that.”
Steven helpfully pointed out that you have to draw on cigarettes to light them. Turns out that guys smokes a lot of pot after all.
After dinner one evening I was sitting in the parlor at my grandparent’s house. I think it was Spring Break of ’92. Stanley was still eating and Leona was feeding the dog his pork chop. From the kitchen she asks, “Do you still smoke marijuana?” I just kept on watching the TV. She asked 2 more times in between my non-verbal, hand gestures to knock it off. Finally, I had to break down and have the discussion that I only did on weekends. The whole 2nd-degree was because she wanted some. She’d been on chemo for 2 months and couldn’t stand to eat anything because of the nausea.
She received a great little Easter card the next week after I returned to school. We never did discuss it. But, my uncle did ask her if she needed to borrow a cigarette because he saw her smoking hand-rolled smokes a couple times.
People are so funny, and of course you never discussed it again. That wouldn’t be appropriate.
This is the same grandma who walked in on my father and his brother (same uncle above) doing coke back in the ’70’s and she ended up doing lines with them. I had such an odd upbringing.