Saturday, September 25, 2010

Um, Youthful Indiscretion Or Something

When I was an impressionable teenager back in the early 1980's, I fell victim to pro-marijuana propaganda. Given the upheaval in my life at the time, coupled with my psychiatrists' inability to speak to me on my level, the relaxing escape that the (hard h) "herbs" offered proved irresistible. What followed was a twenty-something-year-long haze that found me more or less wasting my life. This included my educational failure, which began almost immediately. I still debate whether that was a result of the drug abuse or a symptom of the same malaise that impelled me to take up drugs in the first place.

The summer after sixth grade was pivotal in laying the groundwork for the woes to come soon after. Part of it was great; my brother and I went to Camp Barrett for a week, courtesy of the BPOE. It was there that I first heard Cheap Trick's most popular song; it was there that I first noticed that my body was developing. Upon our return home, my parents informed us that we would all be attending public schools that fall, because they could no longer afford the tuition at the parochial schools we had been attending.

That upset me greatly; I had been on the honor roll every quarter in sixth grade, including twice with straight A's (once with two A+'s). My siblings were all good students; it made no sense to me that the Church would not do all it could to help us stay in its school system. It struck me as a betrayal of the lowest sort; the Church expected my charity, but it was nowhere to be found when my family desperately needed it. So I made a clean break from the Church.

Soon after that I had an experience that finished ripping the structure of my life from its foundations. I was cleaning out the hall closet when I came across a letter my father had sent to some lady, that had been returned to him. The envelope had been opened; I took the letter out and read it. The opening sentence said something about "...visitation of our daughter..." I recognized her name; she was a girl my mother had "babysat" seven years earlier. I could have died right there.

Visions flashed through my mind. One was of this girl being under foot while my mother was trying to make lunch one day. I remembered my mother screaming at the poor little girl, "Why are you following me?!?" Another was of that girl's mother babysitting me and a sibling or two or three, driving the VW bug barefooted and generally not being very nice. Because I was more or less terrified of my father, I put the letter back and never told anyone about it.

The fact that my father had done that to my mother put the lie to the reasons they had given me for why I was born. The love, the vows and God's instruction to "be fruitful and multiply" lost all import and any meaning they otherwise might have had. [Star Trek aside: The Vulcan (Jew's?) rip on that phrase was "Live long and prosper," in case you didn't know.] I made up my mind that I may as well be a bastard. I took the illegitimacy thing to its extreme; my parents had lost all legitimate authority in my eyes. My heart was broken for the first time; I did not know what to do nor how to deal with it; maybe I overreacted.

Seventh grade found me cutting class routinely, running with a crowd that wasn't the worst element at Randolph Junior High but was trouble nonetheless, and trying marijuana for the first time. A friend who was in all seven classes with me had much the same notion that I did; he wanted to get high. We had tried banana peels, but the buzz from that was either a myth or not nearly enough for our complicated minds. We each put in $2.50 on a nickel bag, which I scored from one of the Village potheads I looked up to at the time. I borrowed a pipe from my older sister's friend, then went to my friend's house.

We went to the tool shed in his back yard, cleaned seeds and stems from some of the weed, packed it in the bowl and fired it up. I remember (if you can believe it) the screen being almost totally clogged, we had to strain just to get a taste of smoke. On my way home I decided that I never wanted to be without weed again.

The buzz from the marijuana was perfect; it helped me hold together the pieces of my mind that had so recently snapped. The propaganda I mentioned (vilified?) above came some months (a year or so?) later; it served both to validate (in my mind) the benefits the herb provided and to let me know that I was not alone...


furiousBall said...

no shame in that at all. in my humble opinion, alcohol is a much more damaging drug to the human body and i don't fault anyone for partaking.

Mike Golch said...

In the late 60's early 70's I was know to take a toke or two myself.

Peter said...

Thanks furiousBall. I had to let it go in order to be the most responsible father I could be--something about no clean piss, no good job. How about those autoworkers in the news lately???