The widening gap began back in the sixties.
I was living in the fleabag Chateau Marmont Hotel – then, a hundred-and-fifty dollars a month, now, three hundred-and-sixty-three dollars a night – when my boss Lorne Michaels (who lived there too but in a suite), knocked on my door.
“We’re going out to the desert to do mushrooms. You wanna come with us?”
“No, thanks. I’d rather stay here and do nothing.”
With that deliberate break, my countercultural “Drug Ship” had inexorably sailed. (Followed shortly thereafter by a parting with Lorne.) I sampled “pot” a handful of times just to be sociable, stopping once in a bustling thoroughfare to ponder the universe.
It just wasn’t for me. Though an addictive personality, I am hooked solely on worry and blog writing.
I was told the offered hallucinogenics would certifiably alter my mind. The thing is, I liked my mind exactly the way it was. If expanding my mind meant expanding my brain, I’d have to go out and purchase new hats. Visit a cranial tailor, ordering my skull to be “let out.”
“It’s so tight it is pushing the hair right off of my head!”
Nobody wants that.
Ergo, my lifelong tepid enthusiasm towards drugs.
Our story goes downhill from there, shaped by a view riddled with muddying imbalance. (I like to get my biases out in the open. “For Optimum Results: Consider the Prejudice.”)
As you may know, marijuana is now legal in California. First, it was “Only medicinal.” Then, it was “Casual usage.” Now, it seems, like beleaguered parents, the government has frustratingly thrown up its hands.
“Just do it.”
(Read with helpless resignation.)
The following tale charts our initiation into a world the “pot” store manager’s t-shirt announced with the silk-screened “Welcome to the New Normal.” Yeah, like a man in a t-shirt gets to define “The New Normal.” (“Screaming Self-Interest”, anyone?)
Here’s how this tale of depravity got started.
We were having dinner with good friends our age. Chronic pain had made them frequent visitors to MedMen, the debuting “pot” dispensary in our area.
They went, “Would you like to come with us and check it out?”
We went, “Sure.”
(Lacking the enthusiasm “Sure” normally implies.)
We drive over to MedMen. There is a parking spot directly in front, as if, “Let’s make it easy for new people.” I get out of the car and I head for the entrance. Reaching the door, I hear a menacing,
“There’s a line!”
A burly “Security Guard” reminiscent of “Mr. T” – are you factoring in “prejudice”? – directs me behind two men I thought he was casually chatting with but it turned out they were actually “The line.”
I did not understand, “There’s a line.” (Hence, my innocent “jumping the queue.”) Why couldn’t you simply go in? Were they “regulating the flow”, like a traveling archaeological exhibit, monitoring “crowd size”, for better enjoyment of the mummies?
Turns out, it was not about “crowd size.” The “Guard” was snapping customer I.D.’s with his cellphone. Nobody seemed to know why. Someone suggested they were screening for minors.
“Screening out minors”?
Look at us!
The invasion of privacy felt janglingly unnerving. Who needed to know we were “pot” buyers? Though not “making our connection” in a clandestine alley, the operation felt creepily unpleasant.
And we weren’t even inside!
We entered a brightly lit emporium, similar to an elegant perfume store, if such things currently exist. Maybe in France. La Parfumerie. Here, perfume is sold from areas in department stores deployed close to the entrance, where wide-receiver moves are required to deftly sidestep the shpritzers.
The available products in MadMen come in various “delivery systems”, among them, plant, pill and the popular “Gummies.” I was tempted to buy some… just ‘cause they’re “Gummies!”
The “in-house” arrangement was insidiously suspect. (Remember the prejudice.)
There were enormous “mark-ups” on everything.
You could pay only in cash. (Like with drug deals?)
There was an on-site ATM machine like in a casino, feeding hungry addictions.
“Good! There’s more money!”
To be totally prejudiced and paranoid, the operation felt like a street gang with a marijuana store.
The clientele varied in age. This was no “Thrill Palace” for potheads, gigglingly eager to “get high.” Well, maybe that’s some people. More often, you had arthritic Seniors struggling to twist caps off of Tylenol bottles.
We bought two products for $118 cash, making our exit as quickly as possible. (Despite the falling temperature, which in L.A. means it had dropped precipitously below sixty.)
Bottom Line: No future marijuana store visits for me. And you can take that to the bank. I hate the literal existence of that place. And I am definitely not going back.
There is only one problem.
The stuff works, dammit!
Embarrassing Postscript: For the past three nights, I have massaged purplish gel onto the barking base of my throbbing right thumb, only to learn I had actually been applying shampoo.
Did someone say, “The Placebo Effect”?