In last week’s episode, Sandy and I went over to Tommy’s to get high. Tommy took the hugest bong rip ever and made weird noises with his face. Then he passed the bong to Sandy.
I needed to watch her do it and survive, then maybe I could do it.
Sandy took a hit, stuck out her little tongue – which she always did when she smoked – and then immediately coughed all the smoke out like a total spaz.
I felt better.
Tommy passed the bong to me.
“Try to keep it in your lungs as long as you can. The longer you hold it in, the better the high.”
OK. Wow. I was about to do drugs. I would’ve felt cool if my knees weren’t shaking so hard.
And if I wasn’t wearing yesterday’s underwear.
Tommy put his arms around me.
“I’ll light it, you put your finger on the little hole here and let go right before you feel like your gonna cough.”
He lit the bowl. I sucked. The little green bud turned red. So did my face. What felt like a fire started to grow in my lungs.
I took my finger off the little hole. A Cumulonimbus cloud of smoke went rushing into my already burning lungs and I immediately coughed like I was dying of TB.
After about the run time of Dazed and Confused from Song Remains the Same – my God seriously Jimmy Page give it a rest – I stopped coughing and it was my turn again.
I hit it again, this time a tad more cautiously since I now knew all the smoke in the chamber was going to shoot directly into my lungs once I took my finger off that evil little hole.
The bong went around a few more times and next thing I knew Sandy was gone and I was on the moon looking down at earth.
And Tommy and I were kissing.
“When did we get on the moon?”
“You’re high as a billy goat!” Tommy was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
“Maybe yes I am but that still doesn’t explain how we got to the moon and how will we get back and my mom’s gonna be so mad.”
This was the beginning of my obsession with my mom being mad at me when I was high. She lived in my high psyche. It was unfortunate.
It was fun and scary and thrilling all at the same time. I knew I was in Tommy’s room, but I also knew that Tommy’s room was on the moon, so it must’ve been a spaceship.
Then there was a knock at the door, which made absolutely no sense to me.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” Tommy repeated over and over again as he gathered and hid his paraphernalia.
“You have to get out of here. It’s my mom.”
Uh-oh. I knew moms were bad. Even in my oblivion, I knew that much. They were the Jabba the Hut of my Moonage nightmare.
My adrenaline kicked in and increased my fear by a trillion. In Tommy’s room I was in a spaceship; out there I would be just floating in outer space. I was afraid.
Good thing I had my spacesuit on.
I exited the cabin and fell into some sort of alien shrubbery. But then I started floating, so I was cool. The whole antigravity thing was neat, but discombobulating. It was hard to know which way was up and which was down.
It was blackness for a long time. Thankfully I never hit a black hole. After floating in space for what felt like days – although time is relative in space, you know – a white metallic something appeared in the distance.
Was it a spaceship? Would I be rescued? After all, I was probably about to run out of oxygen in my spacesuit.
I floated toward the ship, but not fast enough.
Why not swim?
Brilliant idea. I did the breaststroke and got to the spaceship much quicker than just floating around. I was figuring this shit out right quick for someone without NASA training.
It was a spaceship! I was saved!
I swam to the driver’s side. There was a huge mirror object. It had a smaller mirror inside of it that made my reflection go all wall-eyed. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Why would a spaceship have a mirror? Let alone two?
This was my last memory of the evening.
The next day I experienced what would be the first of many retold stories of what I did the night before. Ends up Sandy found me making swimming motions with my arms and staring in the driver’s side mirror of their RV parked in the driveway. The only words she could make out of my babble were spaceship and mom.
So we went over to Tommy’s that night and got high again.
This is part 1 of a 2 part series about the first time I smoked pot. I highly suggest listening to Pink Floyd while you read it for maximum pleasure.
Sandy and I were kickin’ it watching Days and chain-smoking when an amazing idea popped into her head.
“Let’s go over to Tommy’s and get stoned tonight!”
She did this a lot. Sandy was the kind of girl who would have to share her inner thoughts the moment an idea popped into her head or I think she may have actually exploded. Like Scanners, but not just her head. And I’m not kidding, spontaneous combustion is a very real phenomena, so it was a bad idea to silence people like Sandy… or it could’ve gotten messy real fast.
“Sure,” was my normal reply to Sandy’s ideas. There was rarely a reason to say no to one of her sudden ideas. They generally ended in hi-jinx, hilarity and sometimes handcuffs.
OK, only that one time…
“Have you done it before?” I was only drinking and smoking thus far. I was nervous at the prospect of adding drugs to my milieu.
“Yeah, Tommy got me high once, but it didn’t really do anything. He says I need to try again.”
Oh, just think of the accomplishments we would’ve made if we put our determination into, say, school.
Tommy’s eyes were always red and half-closed. It seemed like he was stoned all the time. And I’d only ever experienced one-word conversations with him.
Until this night.
Sandy and I waited until dark and sneaked into Tommy’s room. Of course, I was wearing a skirt – with a closure – so getting in the window without showing Tommy my underwear was a bit of a challenge… and then… a failure.
And I was wearing my Thursday undies on Friday.
But Tommy didn’t seem to mind – he actually smiled. It was the first time I ever saw him smile full-on, besides his permanent stoner half-smile.
Once I awkwardly gathered myself, I noticed that I was glowing. And that I had a shit-ton of lint on my navy shirt.
And Tommy’s smile was, well, green.
Sandy ate shit getting through the window, as she was about as clumsy as a puppy who hadn’t grown into her feet yet. She grinned a big yellow grin and I could count the cat hair on her leggings.
I dared not ask what was wrong with the lighting in his room, as I was quite sure it was intentional, but I now was even more scared to do drugs because I already felt like I was in an altered state.
I wish Sandy would’ve warned me that Tommy’s room was possibly the raddest place on the planet. I would’ve definitely chilled over there a helluva lot more had I known. Maybe she was scared she’d lose me to his room.
But I doubt he would’ve watched Days with me and his parents didn’t let him smoke in the house so that was a fat chance anyway.
And he never talked, but Sandy talked all the time, so those two cancelled each other out.
The walls were covered with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Metallica posters. But the coolest part was that I felt like I was in Hawkeye and Trapper John’s “swamp” on a glow-in-the-dark M.A.S.H. set. He had that army green netty stuff everywhere.
I was immediately bummed I never even thought of doing that to my room.
He just had a twin mattress on the floor, but his room was so cool that it didn’t even need a waterbed with a mirrored headboard. The funny light was at the head of the bed emanating a bluish-purple beam. The bed had netting all around it and I wondered if he was scared his room was going to be suddenly invaded by big ass bumble bees or may flies.
It was now Out of Africa meets M.A.S.H.
I must admit I did feel protected from any impending infestations of overly large insects.
He put on Dark Side of the Moon. The three of us sat on his bed as he packed his large glass bong with weed. Thankfully he knew it was my first time so I didn’t have to pretend to know how to smoke out of that thing. I’m sure I would’ve found a way to burn my face off and, even worse, embarrass myself.
“This is a bong. It’s the only way to smoke. Gets you super high and it’s a really clean high.”
Shwew. I definitely wanted a clean high, whatever the hell that meant.
“I’ll take a hit to show you how it’s done.”
This was the most I’d heard Tommy speak. Ever. By like a zillion. He was really in his element. Then he ripped that bong like a true pro. I was impressed.
But it got weird real fast. He held the smoke in his lungs with fierce determination. His eyes started to water. His face got red and started to contort. And I wasn’t even high yet. This was a bad sign. What the hell had I signed up for? It was too late to back out.
Then a noise came out of his face. A noise that frightened me. A noise I would never allow to come out of my face the next, oh, 8,000 times I got high.
It sounded like he was about to sneeze and fought it, but sneezed anyway without opening his mouth ever. Or kind of like the sound Felix Unger made when he was cleaning out his sinuses.
He started to tremble. My fear intensified. I was scared he might have a seizure or something. How would I explain this sordid situation to my mom? Jesus man, exhale already!
After about the run time of all nine parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Tommy finally exhaled enough smoke to fill the room, coughing all the way.
Tune in next week to find out if I inhaled! Hint: I did… I just realized that was a rhetorical question. I also am very happy that rhetorical was on my 10th grade vocabulary test because I use it quite a bit. Vermilion? Not as much.
The next Friday night something was off. Neither of us would admit it, but there was just something in the air, something foreboding. But when you’re an addict, the carrot is too bright and shiny to pay attention to portent. After all, we wanted what we wanted when we wanted it. We had a vision.
All went fine at the Sev. Mathematics worked out. No banana. All was well. It was time to race home.
We normally walked on the Park Lane Mall side of the street, but on this night we were on the Shopper’s Square side. I noticed a black Trans Am replete with a large eagle decal on the hood up ahead. These cars, along with El Camino’s, were pretty common in Reno, (and still are in Sparks), but the passenger side door was open. And there was a man inside.
Walk fast. Look down. Stay focused on candy.
The eagle decal grew larger and larger and we got closer and closer. Then, there it was. Up close full-on eagle.
“Hi girls,” a calm male voice said, who I will now refer to as GP, (Grody Pedophile).
Thank God I was now a porn-cinefile, so I immediately recognized male masturbation.
Debbie immediately jaywalked across all six lanes of the street to the other side. She didn’t even look.
“You want to help me out?” GP actually said. Grody.
I booked it. Fast. Unfortunately, so did GP. He hopped in his bitchin’ not-a-Camero-but-so-very-close-to-one, revved up all eight of his horses, and proceeded to CHASE US.
Debbie decided to run down a dark backstreet, for what reason I will never know. Places with people are safe. Places with light are safe. Dark backstreets where no one would hear our prepubescent screams were most definitely not safe.
But Debbie had the candy. And she was going down that dark street. 1 + 1 = I was not going to let my candy go that easily.
We were about halfway down the block, still a block-and-a-half from Debbie’s house, when the street was illuminated by the lights of GP’s grody car. He was heading straight for us.
I had to think fast. It came to me. Tacos. So obvious.
There was a Taco Hut one block away. I was so scared I’d never run so fast in my life. Debbie wasn’t as fast, but her leg-span was about three of mine, so we were running at about the same child-running-from-grody-pedophile clip.
“Taco! Hut!” I yelled, interspersed with panting.
“No! Home is closer!” She argued.
“There are people at Taco Hut! HE CAN’T RAPE US WITH PEOPLE WATCHING!” I screamed with all my might.
“You’re wrong!” She lamely disagreed.
I made the executive decision right then and there. It was better to let Debbie get raped and the candy get stolen than for both of us to succumb to the same horrible fate.
“I’M GOING TO THE TACO HUT!” I hollered as I ran toward the neon taco shining like freedom.
I ran into the Taco Hut full of patrons, panting and generally freaking the fuck out, and now looking like a complete weirdo. Which I am, but I don’t like other people thinking so without my approval. I pictured Jolly Ranchers, naked Debbie, Tootsie Rolls, and GP bodily fluid all over some dark scary lawn. I had no idea where she was and what was happening to her, or our candy.
I had not a cent to my name as it had all been spent on sugar crack, so my awkward moment became even more awkward when the guy at the counter asked me for my order. How long could I hide out here until they kicked me out? Where was GP? Was he lurking somewhere in the enchilada sauce?
Come on by on Thursday to get answers to all these questions and more when the conclusion to White Lines is unveiled.
There was a bed with an ugly flowered comforter, the kind sewn with fishing line instead of thread, facing a dresser with a huge mirror on it. We sat on the bed and I noticed that we were staring at ourselves, which led immediately to bouncing. We bounced for about ten minutes, making funny faces in the mirror all the while. What a cool idea to have a mirror in front of your bed! Why hadn’t I ever thought of that before?
Panting, we collapsed onto the bed. Perfect time to smoke! Eve pulled a Kool out of what looked like a wallet made especially just for cigarettes with a special pocket just for the lighter and then handed it to me. I decided if I ever take up smoking full-time I was going to get me one of those. We lit up. She put a big gold ashtray with a heavily patterned beanbag on the bottom of it for stability between us. We smoked and panted for a bit.
Then, as if a treasure trove, Eve showed me an entire wall of VHS tapes.
“Do you want to pick or me?” She was grinning like a mysterious motherfucker.
“You pick,” I said, not realizing that it didn’t really matter which of these fine films we watched, because they were all ended exactly the same.
She slid the black tape into the black VCR, turned the TV to Channel three, and then bounced back on the bed, spraying ashes and butts everywhere. She was really excited to share.
The movie opened in a diner, where some truck drivers started telling the owner a mysterious story about a door. Uh, okay. Lame. How can a movie about a door be exciting? Then it flashed back to this pretty woman with brown hair being put on a stage and then being kissed and touched by a whole bunch of other women. Ummmm girls didn’t do that to each other on The Love Boat! I was intrigued and embarrassed, but Eve seemed like this was totally normal, so I pretended like it was something I watched all the time.
The girls had huge hair pies. Even far-too-young-to-be-watching-porn-me was fully aware that a razor or ten would be in order. Then the music got all crazy, kind of like the Schoolhouse Rock! music, only funkier, when this black guy came in. He took off his clothes and OH MY GOD! Conjunction junction, so that’s your function!
So there it was, in-and-out, upside down and all around – we were watching porn. And not just porn, the best porn ever made. Eve and I smoked Kools and watched Deep Throat, Debbie Does Dallas, and The Devil in Miss Jones, to name a few. They were fascinating. I loved the stories and the sex scenes. I was fully aware I was doing something wrong, which made me want to do it even more.
When Eve’s mom and mom’s boyfriend worked swing shift, I went home after school with her. On the non-Eve days, I went to Marie’s house with similar intention. I saw little difference between watching Duran Duran and porn, after all they made me feel the same downstairs.
The only difference was I didn’t get to smoke at Marie’s house.
. . .
I made a Spotify playlist for Schoolhouse Porn! I can’t stop listening to it! Come over and have a listen.
I didn’t smoke a cigarette at 9-years-old hoping that by 14 I’d be screwing a drug dealer for cocaine on his waterbed with my best friend watching. This was not a place I went to with rationale or intention. Just like moving to Reno.
Reno started out as a quick fix and ended up in permanent residency. It was like a pile of dog crap I accidentally stepped in that got stuck in all the intricate treads of my new hiking boots. Scrub with a toothbrush as I may, the specs of brown were never coming out.
This was not my master plan.
I know I should’ve listened to Nancy Reagan and “just said no,” but this series of essays should prove that after your parents move you to Reno, you’re left with very slender options.
Reno is a gateway drug.