When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
A couple weeks ago, four members of my writing group were sitting around a table in my backyard when a cloud of skunky, marijuana-scented smoke drifted in our direction.
I hoped that no one else noticed, but after two minutes, Leah turned to me and announced, “We’re all going to get high.”
I tried to laugh it off, but I was mortified. It was the first time in eight years that our writing group has met at my apartment, and now some neighbor’s state-sanctioned relaxation was making it harder for me to relax with friends.
In theory, I don’t mind the legalization of marijuana. Certainly, it has helped many people with a variety of ailments, and prosecution of low-level drug infractions weighs heavily and disproportionately on non-White citizens.
But in practice, I’m feeling more red than green.
I’ve never smoked pot or anything else – legal or not. As a teen, I had asthma, and cigarettes lose their appeal when you are afraid smoking one might send you to the ER for a corticosteroid injection in your posterior.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t been high. It happened exactly once and entirely by accident. While visiting a friend in college, I walked into her home as her roommates sat cross-legged on the floor in a circle passing around a water pipe. A cloud of steam hit me in the face, and the next thing I knew, my feet seemed twice as far away as usual. I felt like I’d taken a detour through Alice in Wonderland.
Not only that: I did not feel creative or pleasantly mellow as so many friends had told me to expect. I felt stupid.
Why does anyone want to feel stupid?
The desire to smoke pot for recreational purposes comes from the same two places as the desire to overconsume alcohol: 1) a longing for relaxation, and 2) a yearning for escape. Reading a novel or going for a run or listening to music all seem far more relaxing than inhaling something that smells like Pepé le Pew. And as for wanting to escape, I understand that life is full of tzuris, and sometimes it can be too much to handle on our own. But isn’t that what davening is for? And mental health professionals?
Pot-smokers should visit shrinks. But no, they all move to my block and smoke pot with their windows open.
The weather has been lovely, but I feel trapped in my apartment. The last thing I need is for my neighbors to introduce my children to their invisible friend, Mary Jane. As I shut my windows for the thirtieth time, I want to scream at them all, “Don’t you know that research shows marijuana has lasting effects on juvenile brains!?!”
But I don’t think they’ll be mekabel, so I don’t scream. Instead, I write humor columns about how much I hate smelling pot while doing pushups against my front steps at 7:45 in the morning.