From the August, 1980 issue of High Times comes Molly Bigonet’s whimsical story about getting high for the first time at age 63.
How is it that you’ve never tried pot? Here you are at age 63, a retired teacher, somebody’s grandmother, considered to be avant-garde by many of your generation of friends, yet you are as unaware as the most innocent elementary-school kid.
But comes a day when you are offered a pot brownie and there goes your virginity, and are you ever glad! You and your husband are spending the afternoon with a friend who is a neighbor of your daughter, and you stop by to say hello to her. She is just taking a batch of brownies out of the oven and you decide that this is an opportunity.
Your daughter warns that this brownie may seem harmless but that it is best to be careful. She says that she would advise a little milk but no alcohol of any kind, not even a sip of beer.
You know that you are spending the afternoon with your nice safe husband and his very gentlemanly bachelor friend, both age 73, so you will be in good company, and no matter what happens you’ll have someone to take care of you; so you decide to have a beer along with the menfolk.
It occurs to you that it would be such a good joke if you could act in a normal fashion, have a beer as usual and then spring it on your husband that you have indeed indulged in pot. Won’t he be surprised? Ha ha.
Everything is so pleasant. The California sun is so benign, and these two companions are so courtly. Listening to their conversation is like listening to a Bach fugue or a Mozart concerto.
Whoops! Better move into the shade, because something very peculiar is happening to your focus. Besides, you are beginning to realize who you really are.
All these years you’ve been the type that could sit down in good company with a peanut-butter sandwich and a cup of tea, or a snack and a glass of wine, and be “turned on” and the life of the party. You’ve always enjoyed the beauties of nature without the help of any special awareness. You’ve always enjoyed the conversation of friends.
Now, all of a sudden you’re a wise guy, full of wisecracks and what seems to you to be very clever repartee. It’s obvious that you’d better keep your remarks to yourself, because these snappy comebacks to every remark made by your companions are pretty much on the smart-ass side and could hurt someone’s feelings.
How you wish that you could write down every quip that comes to mind! It seems to you that you are extremely witty and that none of your thoughts should be lost to posterity.
Your daughter joins the group and you suddenly notice that she talks too much. Hmmm, so you’re becoming critical, too! Who are you to criticize? She probably developed the habit at her mother’s knee.
Better move further into the shade. But do you dare move? Your perceptive husband may guess your secret, because you are not at all sure whether you will move sideways, backward or maybe straight up.
You finally decide to chance it, and just as you start to move your chair your daughter leans forward and makes a remark beginning, “And in the first place…” Your immediate reaction is to say, “Where was I in the first place?” because you have a compulsive feeling that you should have moved back to where you were in the first place. You have no idea where that was. This is a most peculiar feeling.
Now you know what the potheads mean when they say “far out.” This is an apt description, and you wonder what the group would say if you did just this, like moving far out to the back garden.
It’s fun to manipulate such phrases. They would be so great in your drama. How about a line like “Put it in the nick of time,” or “You’ll find him in the main.” You could say, “Hide it in the lurch. No one will ever find it there.”
It’s probably just as well not to come out with these thoughts.
Time to go, and since you’re stopping at the supermarket on the way home you wonder when would be a good time to break the news to your husband. Will he be mad at you for eating that whole brownie, or will he be interested in the effects as the hours go by? You are feeling so wonderful, and while you appreciate him for all his good qualities you are also aware of his complete lack of humor in new situations.
So, about the time he drives across heavy traffic and heads into the parking lot, you break the news. You start by coyly asking him if he noticed anything different about you this afternoon, and he, poor innocent, says no, he just thought you were the same as usual, happy and enjoying life, but maybe a little more so.
He’s absolutely flabbergasted! He thinks he should take you straight home before you go wild and do something to disgrace him for life.
He sits in the parking lot and breathes heavily for a while and then tells you what a damn fool you are. He’s sure you can’t be trusted, but you remind him that after all you kept it from him all afternoon, so that proves you can behave. Somehow, these remarks are not very comforting.
Finally he gets his strength back, and you proceed to pick up your grocery cart, and he establishes the ground rules. He seems to think that you are a four-year-old who must be instructed to hold onto the cart and not say a word or leave go or wander off or make a decision.
An old song lyric pops into your head: “Daisies won’t tell.” Might as well be a daisy, because that way you won’t tell. So you are a daisy, very sweet and not telling, until you get to the checkout line.
There, you go into another phase, which could be called “Poor you, lucky me,” or “I like myself better than anybody.”
You know perfectly well that, seen in your jeans from behind, you look exactly like a big strong Percheron. However, you find yourself very conveniently forgetting this fact. You look pityingly at the woman in front of you and think beautiful catty thoughts, like: “If someone removed those well-tailored slacks and that girdle, she wouldn’t look so trim and slim.” You think how here you are wearing nice roomy baggy jeans, so much more comfortable and free. Why, if someone stripped her down, she’d be scrawny and her muscles would be completely atrophied by all that girdle wearing!
Pot is the ultimate, for sure. It has erased your big behind. You know you’ve been called Moose Ass and Bison Butt (behind your back, of course). But you can ignore it and enjoy your little fantasy and like yourself better than you have for years. Now that’s pure fun.
On the way home redundancy sets in. You mention the “sunset going down” and describe a situation as happening “on the twice.” “Twice” would really be enough, as you realize, but you can’t seem to stop.
When you start dinner you realize that your husband has chosen all the things that call for concentration in cooking. Hah! He thinks that concentration will settle you down. How can anyone be such a spoilsport. Why settle down?
Ah, well, you are seeing your relationship very clearly. It’s all a matter of playing a part in a game, and you will play his game if it will make him happy.
Later on in the evening your sons drop by. Immediately the old sibling rivalry starts up. It’s making your husband miserable, but you launch into the humor bit. “Sweet Violets” and all the limericks you used to make up to that tune come to mind. Of course, this type of humor is greatly frowned upon by the younger generation. They call it “’30s humor” and they spit on it.
It seems to you that making up a limerick might ease the pain, so you sit there singing to yourself inside your head:
Remember that they areyour childrenWhen they’re 30 or moreit’s a dragBut mother would druthernot sufferThink positive, singand don’t nag.
They probably alwayswill hassleBut mother is damned ifshe’ll flipThey’re playing their game,but she’s pottedAnd not even giving a rip.
So this is how to be a hotshot parent in one easy lesson! You feel so on top of things that you call the trouble starter a little snot (how awful) and use your best psychology to say, “Somebody has to be big enough to shut up!” The one with the short fuse shuts up, and the trouble starter and needier leave. Peace descends.
And so to bed….
In the morning you feel fine. No hangover but rather an analytical mood. You know that everyone is different, but for you pot is so much better than alcohol because you remember you felt silly but you weren’t stupid. You have no regrets. You had a feeling of wellbeing from the outset, and since you kept your big mouth shut you didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
How beamish everything was! You must admit that things seemed to be slipping sideways and sort of out of focus, but you weren’t driving and you were with your good dependable husband and among friends. That way it was a good trip. Now there’s another very apt description. It was a trip for sure. Another expression you now understand is “high.” You were. Remember “Sweet Violets”?
There is one thing that worries you a little and that’s the self-revelation you experienced. You wish you didn’t know how very satirical and sarcastic you can be. It isn’t really funny to think of all those puns and wise remarks in response to the conversation of your friends and loved ones.
But then, you did find that you could keep it hidden and enjoy hugging it to yourself You could take it out and put it away and you could enjoy yourself mightily. Walter Mitty isn’t the only one with a “Secret Life.”