One Toke Over The Louisiana Line Sweet Jesus

Posted on June 6, 2013

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“I never had a problem with drugs, I had a problem with cops”. – Keith Richards

Drugs are bad, they will ruin you, they almost ruined me. More than once. I’ve never stuck a needle in my body but if it could be smoked, snorted, inhaled, huffed, puffed or shotgunned, odds are I’ve done it. I’ve seen drugs take my family and friends down some awful roads, you know the story, in fact, I’m sure you’ve got a few of your own.

I’ve even got a few friends now residing on the other side of the ground because of drugs, even more who ruined their lives with the various concoctions a significant percentage of Americans ingest every year for recreational purposes.

And I’m talking concoctions, when I was much, much younger, I huffed freon, I’m talking the real stuff they used to sell at Auto Shack. Yeah, I said Auto Shack, before lawyers from Radio Shack made ’em change their name to Auto Zone, they were known as Auto Shack and one could go there and pick up a six-pack of pure-grade freon back in the 80’s.

I never got into any other inhalants, like Scotch Guard or gasoline, me and my pals were far too good for that crap, no sir, for us it was real freon or nothing!

It’s sad to be a middle aged man with knowledge of drugs like that, I imagine myself, yelling at the kids to get off my drug lawn; ‘Why, when I was your age, you whipper snapper with your whippets, we did real freon, not that crap you babies call refrigerant today. Also, we didn’t soak tampons in booze then shove ’em up our butts, I mean really, what the hell is that?’

I’m being glib but I understand the dangers of drugs, I really do. Once, a million and one years ago (2005) I spent 40 days and 40 nights in a state-run rehab, but that is a story for another day. 

Here I have to confess though – the first time I smoked a joint, it was mighty fine. Well, actually it wasn’t a joint, it was a pipe.

The year was 1985, I was 15 and working at my very first real job, an after school gig in a fine china and sterling silver warehouse where my dad was a manager. Yes, I was quite literally, a teen bull in a china shop.

I’d finally escaped Mamaw Kat’s Bible School you see. I made my breakout when mom, dad, my younger brothers and I relocated 285 miles west of Ouachita parish, to Dallas, TX. 

Free at last, free at last, thank Gawd almighty, you know the rest. Out from under the watchful eye of my maternal grandmother I began a metamorphosis. The Church of Christ kid I was, or at least pretended to be, was excised in the Dallas Fort Worth metro-plex and I embraced the amoral, hedonistic sinner I was born to be.

Mom and Dad were busy with my two younger brothers, Joshua and Jeremy, who were constantly setting things on fire or stealing cigarettes or destroying my family’s meager-to-begin-with possessions. This is when they weren’t fighting each other to the point of death or dismemberment.

The Destructive Duo I dubbed them. Well not really, I made that up just now, but it certainly would have fit if applied to my younger siblings. My mother said her car could drive itself to the nearest ER, sometimes we’d meet ourselves coming back from the hospital, local emergency room staff put us on their Christmas card list.

So while those two kept the parental units distracted I was free to pursue my pleasures, to explore the big wide world and eat from the tree of knowledge just like Eve, that naught mommy of us all. And eat I did, like Jabba the Hutt at an all-you-can-eat buffet I gorged on cigarettes and alcohol and on this particular day, for the first time- marijuana, that wackiest of back-eez. 

My pops had to leave the china shop early and before departing, he arranged for our coworker Greg to give me a ride home. Greg was my idol, he was only four years older than me but it was a vital four years. Greg was 19, drove a dark green Chevy Monza, not the wimpy hatchback but the coupe version. It had chrome rims and a loud Pioneer stereo, huge speakers in wooden boxes in the back window, more speakers on the doors, tweeters and woofers and such.

Greg had a magnificent mullet, smoked Marlboro Reds, knew every word to every single song on Dire Straits ‘Brothers In Arms’ album and was generally the coolest non-celebrity human who ever lived. He even had a tattoo, and bear in mind this was 1985, unlike today, when your dental assistant has a rosary over her butt crack and your kid’s Sunday School teacher has a Klingon poem on his forearm, tattoos were illegal in the lower 48 back then, except for paroled felons and certain actors of course.

We didn’t call them man-crushes back then but that’s what I had for Greg, he was really cool. So when, on the ride home that afternoon, Greg asked me if I smoked, I said, ‘Sure, heck yeah man, I’m cool bro’. I figured he was talking about marijuana, which I’d never actually seen outside a Cheech and Chong movie.

Sure enough, my new best friend pulled a bag of the reefer from the Monza’s console and proceeded to pack a small pipe while navigating his small 70’s sports car with one knee.

With a flick of a Bic the cabin soon filled with smoke and a strange aroma as we passed the pipe back and forth. Desperate not to blow it in front of Cool Greg, I sucked on that pipe like Santa Clause with his corncob pipe and was stunned when I didn’t immediately start to see pink elephants and kaleidoscopes and stuff.

But it did relax me, not as much as alcohol, but better than a cigarette.

Greg dropped me off and walking into the house I came to realize I was high as a space shuttle. My legs worked fine but they felt very light and colors suddenly seemed to explode, everything just blazed with the brightest hue, sounds were so sharp – not unpleasant mind you, just more substantial somehow, like how you’d imagine a dog hears things.

I gaped at everything, our crappy little yard was an eye popping green, like a golf course, the sky above so blue it almost hurt. It wasn’t just sunshine, it was reefer-shine! Greg’s ganga had cast a sheen, an invisible gloss over the whole world.

Inside, the kitchen counters gleamed, the overhead light cast a glow you could have wrapped yourself in, even the ceiling fan had an unearthly grace, carving perpetual circles in the air. 

This heavenly smell rode the air currents, my mother was cooking cheeseburgers. I floated into the living room where Pops and the destruct o-twins were watching TV. I’ve no memory of the show, but I remembered laughing like a hyena on nitrous at whatever it was.

Then we ate the cheeseburgers. I’d been raised in church, still went in Big D, mom smoked and could curse a blue streak when she was mad, but she was a grown up Church of Christ kid, so we still went to church, though rarely on Wednesdays.

In spite of that religious background, I’m here to tell you my friends, eating those cheeseburgers was the first Holy experience of my life. I ate 4 of them. And a huge pile of home fries too, washed down with a Coca Cola that tasted like it’d been sweetened by an angel.

Like I said, drugs are bad and I’ve got some great examples of what not to do. 

But some of my bad choices make entertaining stories.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this one.

And don’t do drugs.

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