Tag Archives: Marijuana

Marijuana, Bible Studies, and Bridge Construction

(Image courtesy of screen-wallpapers.com)

(Image courtesy of screen-wallpapers.com)

“Shit! I have to go.”

Everything was hazy and surreal in the smoke-filled room. It’s because four of us just burned a massive blunt. I was pretty high. There was nothing particularly weird about that. In college, I was often pretty high.

“Where do you have to go?” my friends asked.

“Bible study,” I said. “I forgot all about it.”

“Bible study!? You can’t go to bible study!” my roommate said. He didn’t say it because he, or anyone else in the room, had a problem with faith or bible studies. He said it because I looked and smelled and was acting exactly like someone who had just smoked a lot of marijuana, and he figured—perhaps correctly—that it wasn’t an appropriate time to study Scripture.

“Gotta do it, man,” I said. And then I ran off on my 10-minute trek to meet a guy whose name I can’t remember to discuss a chapter in the New Testament I can’t remember discussing.

You know, because in college, I was often pretty high.

Can’t Stay Hidden Forever

In January, an exceptional guy about my age died. Everything was fine. His wife was pregnant with their fourth child. He was in excellent physical condition. Then, the doctors told him he had cancer the day after Christmas. And he was gone a month later.

Just like that.

The story hit me hard. I had never met Paul Coakley. But I knew quite a few people who were close to him in college and stayed in touch into our adult years. The story was tragic and touching and I wrote about it.

A random Google search yesterday led one of Paul’s friends to that post. They shared it on social media and now several hundred people have read it, and many of them shared it some more.

Because that happened, more people I know in real life discovered this blog. The world closes in on me every time that happens. More people to judge the adult version of me. A version of me so different from the one they might remember when I was young, confident, always positive and optimistic, strong, brave, and afraid of little.

Now, they’ll find someone else.

A divorced single father who hasn’t lived up to his own expectations. A guy who failed to achieve professionally, socially and spiritually, the life I’d always envisioned.

I’ve been writing here for two years now. I’ve grown accustomed to many people reading the things I write.

But it feels so different when it’s someone you know. People you respect deeply and maybe wish didn’t know about all your skeletons. The skeletons on display here. I used to joke a lot about my mother and grandmother finding this place and freaking out. That will probably happen one day.

I use my first name and I show my face because I feel like a fraudulent coward if I don’t at least do that.

Someday, I’ll have to own all of it. It still scares me, even though I’m actively trying to care less.

You can’t stay hidden forever.

What I’m Doing Here

Relativism (the reality of things being relative to one another—not the philosophical doctrine) is a funny thing.

Some people have seen and done things many of us can barely fathom. Especially some kid from a quiet little Ohio town, like me. Those people read about me smoking pot and all the keg parties and my bouts with conscience regarding sexual desire as a young kid in church, and probably roll their eyes, because to them—Who cares!?

Others living purer, more disciplined lifestyles might be more offended by my casual references to sex or my somewhat cavalier use of bad words. And I still worry about what other people think of me. It’s a weakness. I’m working on it.

Except, here’s the thing: I KNOW everyone feels most of the same things I feel. Because I’ve been alive 36 years and that’s enough time to figure out a few things.

I wasn’t allowed to watch PG-13 movies when I was 13. I grew up in one of those houses.

So it makes total sense that I wanted to party when I got to college and lived on my own. It’s totally human to want to learn and experience things for oneself.

The sex stuff? Everyone who claims to not understand is a dirty liar. Most people just don’t talk about it.

Everyone has a different definition of good and bad.

Behaviorally, I’ve long been a I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints kind-of guy.

Philosophically, I’ve always wanted to be a good person.

The older I get, the less I understand what it means to be a good person.

I only know that’s what I want to be.

I don’t know if it’s possible to bridge the gap between the righteous and the fallen. Because most of us don’t even know for sure what either of those things mean. But if there is such a thing—a bridge?

That’s who and what I want to be.

I’m probably doing it wrong.

If This is Low, I’m Looking for High

Being stoned during bible study is a metaphor for my life ever since discovering there are emotional consequences to various life choices.

Using the loose definition of these words, I want to be bad and I want to be good. I can’t look you in the eye and honestly say that I don’t occasionally want to do things I loosely define as “bad.”

I don’t know what it means to be a good person, but a good, loose definition might be someone who follows their conscience. Someone who has principles and sticks to them.

I’m certainly guilty of not always doing that.

I got high a lot back in college because I liked having fun with my friends.

I went to bible study because I liked the idea of pursuing a higher path (no pun intended).

And I’m always trying to offset some of the bad with some good. Like maybe if I do a bunch of good things, I can erase some of the bad things, even though I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like that.

Like I’m trying in vain to scrub away some dirt in a foolish attempt to convince people I’m better than I am.

But I’m not better. I’m just whatever I am.

And if I ever did get to the top, I’m not sure I’d know what to do with myself.

I’m sure the view is nice.

But, in truth?

I dig the climb.

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Almost Murdered in Peoria

Like this. Only totally sinister.

Like this. Only totally sinister.

It started the same as every horror movie you’ve ever seen, minus the part where I got to have sex with a beautiful girl.

Five teenage boys road-tripping together.

It was my junior year of high school—1996—the only year of my childhood where I wasn’t going to school and living with my mom in a small Ohio town. I was 500 miles west in western Illinois, living with my father for the first time since I was 4.

Because my dad didn’t get to see me as much as he would have preferred my entire life, he was really protective of me. As a younger child, he never wanted me to go spend the night at friends’ houses when I would visit during my school breaks. He felt those same protective instincts when I was 17, but was not unreasonable.

When he was 17, he was training to drop bombs on submarines in the U.S. Navy. So, he signed off on a road trip 90 miles away to Peoria, Ill. for a couple nights to watch our high school basketball team play in the state semi finals.

I was the youngest guy in the group. I was with three seniors—Eddie, Brian and Dan, and a guy who had graduated the year before—Charlie, but a lot of people called him Chuck.

Even though the eldest of us—Charlie—was only 19, we still had a bunch of beer.

We were sitting around our Peoria hotel room, being guys, drinking underage and smoking cigarettes, when Charlie said: “Does anyone have any weed?”

We all shook our heads.

“Damn. I wish we did,” he said.

Everyone shrugged, except me.

“That would be awesome,” I said.

Then, there was a knock on the hotel room door. Eddie answered. It was the pizza man delivering dinner.

The guy looked remarkably similar to the nerdy guy with straight hair and glasses in Dazed and Confused who wanted to hook up with the freshman girl.

Charlie, fueled by beer and natural awesomeness, said: “Hey man. Do you know how to get some weed around here?”

Pizza Guy, who was in his early 20s, studied us for a minute.

“I have some,” Pizza Guy said.

“Dude. That’s awesome. Can we buy some from you?” Charlie said.

“No man. Sorry. I don’t sell it. But if you want, I can come back after my shift and hook you guys up,” he said.

Charlie and I thanked him, and he left, promising to come back later.

Rad. We’re going to get high, I thought.

‘Want to Play a Game?’

Pizza Guy showed up just after midnight.

“Alright! Who’s coming?” he said.

Just Charlie and me. The other three thought we were morons, and told us so.

It was early 1996. If we got into a jam, my pager wasn’t going to help us.

But Charlie was the size of me and Pizza Guy combined, so I figured if we got into a jam, Charlie would do whatever big guys do when trouble strikes.

Sometimes, when you’re buzzed, getting ANOTHER buzz sounds like the world’s greatest idea, and you’ll do silly things to achieve it.

Like get in the back of a shitty light blue 1986ish Ford Escort. The smell was the perfect combination of disgusting and amazing, which makes total sense since he’s a guy who delivers pizzas AND will randomly pick up teenage guys from hotels, drive them around, and let them smoke his marijuana for free.

Pizza Guy drove with purpose—months of pizza delivery in his hometown making him a master navigator of the quiet late-night/early morning Peoria streets.

“I know the perfect spot,” Pizza Guy said, as we found ourselves heading deeper into a darker, scarier part of this strange city among old industrial buildings and warehouses.

Charlie turned around from the front passenger seat to give me the wide-eyed What-the-hell-is-happening-right-now? face.

Great. My emergency plan is terrified, too.

Pizza Guy pulled into a large, predominantly empty parking lot which belonged to an office building with about a third of its lights on.

He broke out his bowl (a pot-smoking apparatus, for those of who use your time more wisely), and packed it.

Then the three of us passed it around.

The entire thing was awkward.

Pizza Guy’s story could only be one of, or a combination of, three things:

  1. He was really lonely and desperate for friends.
  2. He was really weird.
  3. He was going to murder us.

We were only there for the weed. In Denis Leary’s No Cure for Cancer stand-up comedy special, Leary joked about this very thing:

“That was the worst part about the coke, man, was being in that bathroom with that stranger at the end of the night, wasn’t it? Huh? Talking about shit like solving the world’s problems. And the only reason you’re in there is because he has the coke. That should have been a fucking sign, don’t you think? I mean, if Hitler had coke, there’d be Jews in the bathroom. *snort* ‘I know you didn’t do it!’ *snort* ‘I like your mustache!’ *snort* ‘Fucking Himmler!’”

When you smoke pot, it takes about 15 minutes for the buzz’s maximum force to hit you.

We were just about to that point when Pizza Guy said: “Want to play a game?”

“Umm. What kind of game?” Charlie asked from the front seat, turning around to give me the look again.

Pizza Guy used to have a girlfriend, he said.

And what they used to do for fun was drive around and get high.

And then, they would randomly wander into office buildings throughout Peoria. They would walk down the hall, find a stairwell or elevator, go to the second floor, walk through that floor, find another stairwell or elevator, and go to the next floor, snaking their way up to the roof if they could make it.

The game was to always see whether they could make it onto the roof without getting thrown out by a security guard or someone who worked there.

If they got to the roof, they would have sex there, he said.

“You want to try it?” Pizza Guy said, without mentioning whether he wanted to have sex with us if we made it to the roof.

“No, thank you. We kind of have to get up early tomorrow. Maybe we can go back and hang out at the hotel?” I said, hopefully.

“C’mon! It’ll be fun,” Pizza Guy said, opening his car door and beckoning us to follow him.

He was about 10 paces away from the car heading toward the building when Charlie turned around, wide-eyed.

“What the fuck is happening right now? We are not going into that building.”

I just nodded in agreement. The marijuana was really starting to work.

And by work, I mean, make a really bizarre situation infinitely more bizarre.

Pizza Guy slumped, disappointed, and walked back to his Escort upon realizing we weren’t going to follow him.

Sometimes when you smoke pot, you feel a false sense of paranoia. You start making up frightening scenarios in your head.

That started happening.

Tomorrow’s headline in the Peoria Journal Star:

“Two Teens Found Dead in Parking Lot.”

Or.

“Two Teens Found Dead on Rooftop,” with the subhead “Police: Butt sex was definitely involved.”

Or.

“Killer Pizza Man Strikes Again.”

Or.

“Double Cheese. Double Pepperoni. Double Murder.”

Knowing Charlie—who could barely fit in the car because he was so tall—was freaking out made me freak out.

In my head, I was rocking in the fetal position, pleading: “PLEASE!!! Please just take us back to our hotel room!!! We don’t want to die!!!”

But because I’m good at pretending, I appeared calm as I sat in the backseat smoking Marlboro Lights and taking mental inventory of everything I might use as a weapon.

Before I completed my drunk-and-high assessment, Pizza Guy agreed to take us back.

Both Charlie and I were on high (pun!) alert.

Anticlimactically, Pizza Guy dropped us off outside our room. We thanked him probably, but I honestly don’t remember much at this point.

We got back in the room. Eddie, Brian and Dan chastised us repeatedly for doing something so stupid, but were curious to hear about our Adventure with Pizza Guy.

And as it turns out, it’s one of those stories that’s really interesting when you’re drinking and smoking in the back of an ’86 Escort, and not so interesting when you’re reading it on the Internet.

Almost murdered?

Almost involuntarily butt-sexed?

Probably not.

But it’s a prime example of how easy it was to get me to make bad decisions half a life ago.

I probably wouldn’t be that stupid today.

But one can never be certain.

Because I feel like pizza tonight.

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