Wednesday, June 9, 2010

People I meet in bars #16: Wade, Dustin, and their friend Mary Jane

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Don't do drugs, kids.


"I've thought about this before," Wade says between coughs. He exhales and a cloud of smoke escapes his lips. This attic smells like pot and the noisy vinyl plastic that your grandma keeps on her couches. Wade's bong is royal blue and, to my incredibly amateur eye, not professionally-made. I assume a high school ceramics class is to blame for his smoky monstrosity, this strange clay tumor that looks more like a deformed internal organ than it does anything you'd want to put your mouth on.

"Thought about what?" asks Dustin, Wade's roommate and co-conspirator, taking the bong from Wade's extended hand. A fist is formed and subsequently released, revealing a yellow Bic lighter in his right hand. He brings it to the bong, lights the small shrub protruding from the side, and puts his lips to the exact same place Wade just put his.

"How it's almost like you guys just kissed?" I say. They lift their eyes. They look confused. I point to Wade. "You put your mouth on it, and then he put his mouth on it. It's like you guys just kissed."

I figured people smoking pot would be an easier audience for stupid jokes, but these two are proving me wrong. To be fair, my exposure to people smoking weed is limited primarily to Cheech and Chong movies and Grateful Dead albums. But if unexpected travel suggestions are indeed dancing lessons from God, random invitations to downtown attics are some form of cha-cha.

"Wait, what were you saying?" Dustin says. "Before he said the thing about us kissing. Which I don't really understand because I'm so high right now."

"I was saying that I've figured out, like, the ultimate super power." Wade stuffs a handful of ranch Pringles in his mouth and begins to chew, but this doesn't stop him from continuing. "Like, the ultimate super power."

"Being high all the time?" Dustin asks, following up his joke (is it a joke? he sounds serious) with a series of giggles that sound like they're coming from a leprechaun.

"No, dude," Wade says, taking the bong from Dustin and setting it aflame again. "You ready for me to tell you?"

"I'm ready," Dustin says.

"Me too." I sip quietly from my diet Dr. Pepper.

"Okay, here goes:" Wade stops, sucks in the swirling cloud, squints, holds it in for about six seconds, and then breathes out with what sounds like relief. "The power to be any fictional character."

"What?" I ask, my ears immediately perking up at something even remotely story-related.

"Yeah, like, you can be any character."

"Dude, I'm so high, I have no idea what you're talking about," Dustin says, scratching his nose with the bottom of the lighter.

"So, like, you can, like, be any character from a story. You wanna be Luke Skywalker? You use your super power, you become Luke Skywalker, in the story. You're flying an X-Wing, you blow up the Death Star, your sister kisses you, your buddy gets frozen, you train with Yoda and shit, and then bam, you fight Darth Vader, win, and then jump back out and you've, like, had those experiences. You were him, dude. You, like, had the Force and stuff. You can fight with a lightsaber and everything."

"But do you have a lightsaber?" I ask.


"I mean, do you come back with a lightsaber? Is it like going to Narnia? You come back and you bring a lightsaber with you?"

"No, you just, like, have your consciousness go into the story."

"Wait," Dustin says, cheekbones raised and eyes confused. "So you think the best power is, like, daydreaming."

"No no no," Wade says, "you, like, lived those. So if you, like, learned kung fu, you come back knowing kung fu."

"So your superpower is just to have any superpower ever? You just have to live through the training first?" Dustin asks.

"No, it' guys are so high you don't even understand, man." Wade's confused by the criticism of his suggestion.

"I'm not smoking," I say, "and I opened the window so I wouldn't smell like a Phish concert."

"Yeah, but, like, dude...listen," Wade says. "Say you're Batman and you train to be all ninja and shit. Then you fight the Joker and win. You come back, and you've been Batman."

"If the Joker punched you during the fight, do you come back having been punched? Like, with the bruise that the Batman you were pretending to be would have if you stayed as that Batman?" I ask.

"No, your body, like, comes back normal."

"So you can't get stronger or physically different, just mentally different," I say, hoping for some clarification.

"No, you come back stronger if you get buff. Only, like, the good stuff that you want to come back with."

"Sounds like you just kind of have the power to have whatever powers you want," Dustin says, half a 7-11 hot dog concealing his words to mush.

"No, you guys don't get it," Wade protests.

"We get it, Wade," I say, "it's just stupid." Dustin nods in agreement.

"Whatever. You guys just aren't thinking about it."

"I know what the best superpower is," Dustin says.

"What?" I ask.

"Like, being able to fly. Because I could eat, like, five more Twinkies, and I don't wanna walk downstairs." I wait for a follow-up laugh, but he's serious as a taxman.

"Do you want me to go get you a Twinkie?" I ask.

"Yeah," he says. "And you can grab something, if you're hungry."

"Thanks." I rise to my feet and find my face in a fog of smoke hanging like a canopy over the attic rainforest. I get woozy from the shock and shoot an arm to a wall, finding stability in poorly-painted drywall. I head down the stairs, grateful for air.

Say this for potheads: they keep their pantries well-stocked. I'm seeing five varieties of potato chip, two or three types of Chex Mix, and enough cookies to fuel a Pinewood Derby. There's a quantity of soda that could make Noah fear drowning and boxes of crackers stacked like Jenga blocks.

Behind the two boxes of Ritz and the unopened Double Stuf Oreos, I find a spare Twinkie. I grab it, head toward the staircase, and snag a Red Delicious apple on the way. I take a chunk out of it as I round the top floor, tossing Dustin his Twinkie.

"Thanks," he says. "I wish I had the super power to, like, forget shit."

"Like what?" I ask.

"Feelings and shit, I guess." He unwraps his Hostess and takes half of it back with him. "Holy shit, this is the best-tasting thing I've ever eaten, like, ever. This is, like, the perfect Twinkie."

"What feelings do you want to want to forget?" I ask, trying to steer him back to something sort of interesting.

"I was gonna say something about this girl I was, like, in love with, you know? But now--" he takes another, smaller bite-- "now I just want to eat Twinkies forever. Like, what if people, instead of fighting or yelling, just ate a Twinkie? Think of how quiet the world would be."

"That'd be a lot of Twinkies, dude," Wade says, his eyes glazed like a Krispy Kreme. "Should probably, like, buy some Hostess stock because that shit'd go through the roof."

They laugh in tandem.

"Yeah, but what if you didn't have Twinkies?" I ask. "What happened with that girl? Something that Twinkies couldn't cover up?"

"Well, like, she cheated on me and stuff and I just went back for more, you know? I guess I, just, I don't know, thought she was in a rough patch or whatever so I just waited it out, but this Twinkie never makes me wait shit out, man. I just keep going with the Twinkie." He takes his final nibble. "There's seriously no way I'd sacrifice a Twinkie for some girl that cheated on me. Twinkies are, like, perfect."

"What was her name?" I ask, taking a second bite of my apple, the crisp crunch echoing against the attic's angled arches.

"Dude," Dustin says, pointing a finger a few inches closer to my face than I think he's aware of. "We were gonna use that apple as a bong."

High people aren't as fun as drunk people. High people have no stories. High people arrive places.

But drunk people come from somewhere.


hosander said...

I like these so much. Drunk or high, you make them very entertaining.

Sarah said...

I dunno if I'm supposed to be laughing as much as I am, but holy crap, that was funny.

bleh_mighty said...

Hey, I like your writing. I understand the truth behind many pothead stereotypes, but it sounds like your perspective on the purple could benefit from knowing some of the many potheads who lead proactive, intelligently-directed lives. I feel like giving you my phone number, but then I'd technically be hitting on you. Plus, this is the internet, a tacky/stupid place to hit on people and hand out phone numbers. Just had to pull out my soap box. I think my personal investment in the subject is heavily implied. Thanks for the prose; I'll be back to read.

Andy said...

bleh_mighty, you raise valid points. Some of my best friends (jeez, I hate that phrase) are potheads, and these two in question are certainly their own people and not necessarily reflective of the herbal community, as it were.

Your comments are important to note. But, to paraphrase Dave Attell, nobody wants to read a book by a pothead because nobody wants to read a thousand pages on how, if you put sunglasses on a dog, he looks like he could probably drive a truck.

Buuuuut then there's Hunter S. Thompson, so I'll just concede that you are correct and that individual mileage may (and will) vary.

Thanks for reading. Feedback's much appreciated.

Andy said...


Rob said...

"serious as a taxman" really made me laugh. That's an old fashioned kind of line. Old fashioned like Mad Men is old fashioned.

Ms. Kelly Cannon said...

You should read Robert Nozick's "The Experience Machine." It's this super-short philosophical essay that practically talks about the exact thing your 'buddy' was trying to describe. At least, that's the first place my mind went.

Brandy Nicholson said...

These are all brilliant.
I don't want to stop reading them.

Thank You.