A Non-User Sandwiched Between
I had it re-silvered, and gave it to my sister, Sheila. It was a strange experience, getting new silver plating: The silversmith I found in the phone directory, wouldn’t let me come to his shop, for fear of robbery. I had to meet him in an isolated, rural location. I only saw him twice: The first time, I left him the jigger and the cash, something like $40. He called when the work was complete. I met him at the same place, he handed me the jigger in a sealed, transparent zip-lock bag. It was glowing with a brightness I had never seen. I sent it by mail to Sheila. I never heard anything else about it. When I tried to find out about it from her kids, they said the house was razed after her death, because she was an ultra-severe hoarder, but no one had seen it.
My Dad was 21 when the Depression hit. He was 25 when Prohibition was repealed. I believe he was a subscriber to the glamor culture of a forbidden substance, rather similar to the current marijuana culture. Jack had a bar. The jigger was an heirloom from those days.
When World War II was getting ready to break out, Jack was a liquor clerk at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago. He told his boss that he should stock up on scotch because of the war; his suggestion was accepted and the move saved a lot of money for the hotel.
Jack later showed signs of problem drinking. We would see him in a mildly intoxicated state, sipping his high-ball, muttering-yelling at the television. At such times, he was drinking alone.
Later, when he drowned cleaning a swimming pool after having a heart attack, we had sad questions about whether or not he had been intoxicated at the time of his death.
The last time I consumed marijuana was in the late 1970s, in the same back-back pool yard, lined with 6 foot high grape stake fence, where my father had died. I smoked it in an ordinary tobacco pipe, a cheap plastic one I had bought at a Thrifty Drug Store. After that time, through the grace of Christ’s Sacraments, I began to overcome what was an addiction for me.
I had nightmares of getting “high”. No matter how long I remained “clean”, I couldn’t shake the fear of relapsing back into marijuana use. Finally came the day in the early 1990s, nearly fifteen years after I had last “used”, that I knew I was liberated.
I was at the house of Snake Man, a tall, slim, muscular, handsome young twenty-something, with long, blonde hair, down to the middle of his back, one of the most truly jovial personalities I have ever known. He was a bassist in a Christian band, self-described as a “Carnal Christian”. (He pointed out to me that Igor Stravinski’s Rite of Spring is diabolical; I had never suspected it and have never heard it from anyone else.)
Snake Man had a python in a 6 foot high, heated and humidity controlled cabinet. We worked together at the then-world’s largest industrial bakers. He invited me to his house.
I had been there a few minutes, when another one of our colleagues, a guy who had hair like Phineas of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, came in and threw down a 4×6 inch flat, aluminum foil package onto the rough, wooden living room table.
“Whelp, I’ll be seeing you.”
“Wait a minute, where are you going. Why don’t you stay and have some of this?”
“No thanks, I’ll be seeing you.”
I walked out. It was then I knew that I was free.
It had been a long journey. It had begun on the last day of the 1960s, December 31, 1969. My parents were out at a New Year’s Eve party. I was a psychologically shaky fifteen-year old, attracted by the drug culture of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (L.S.D.). Although no one had to force it on me, I was legally and psychologically incapable of informed consent.
I was given marijuana stronger even that now used by the people around me. Cambodian, opiated cannabis indica, had the reputation of knocking out a grown man on a single “hit”. After four hits, I felt the drug coming over my body from the feet up. In a moment I was lying on my back in the middle of my parents’ living room floor, “dancing” on my back to the Beatles’ White Album.
My attraction to weed eventually contributed to my becoming homeless. Numerous attestations of the disadvantages of marijuana use can be found on this website. Let those who refuse to believe that there’s any cost to introducing a “natural” substance into one’s body, take their chances.
For myself, it is my desire to live apart from this scourge. I now have to walk into rooms with a thick haze of marijuana smoke. I have been so overexposed, I smell it in my blood when I am away from home.
Please, Lord, get me away from this.