The other night, a dear friend treated me to a concert.
With two small children, I get out of the house after dark approximately once per quarter. I even donned a skirt and earrings before heading out into the night (okay, it was 5:45 PM) to pick up my friend. We enjoyed a sushi dinner, then hustled down Portland’s Congress Street in the windy, arctic air to get to the venue.
As we listened to the opening band, an entertaining frenzy of fiddles and guitars, I caught a familiar whiff. I turned to my friend, shaking my head. I told her about one of the last times I went out, which was to a literary event. One of the authors passed a large Ziploc full of earthy green weed to the audience. It was quickly lit, and the thick, pungent odor spread through the audience, which included a couple of children and at least one pregnant woman. (Why were there children out so late? Don’t know. I’m not here to judge those parents. Unless they were the ones who lit up the weed, in which case I could find myself getting quite judgy.)
I’d been grouchy about it. Some of my favorite people in the world are in recovery for alcohol and drugs, and I felt indignant about the inconsiderate smoking on their behalf.
“I don’t care if people smoke,” I said to my friend at the concert. “But should I have to, too? You can’t smoke cigarettes inside anymore—“
“Yeah, why should that be different?” she pondered.
I feel the need to assert that neither of us are prudes. In fact, that’s one of the reason I get agitated when people smoke pot in enclosed, but public environments. I smoked my fair share in my 20s. But I’m almost 40, now. I can’t afford to lose any more brain cells! And I have small children, so I’m already sleepy, lacking focus and I watch too many cartoons. I can eat compulsively without the aid of pot. I already drive freakishly slow and my memory is already like a dark, hazy cavern.
I shook my head, frustrated. We sat in the dark audience, starting to sway a bit in our seats as the sound of strings filled the room. Every once in awhile, a puff of smoke would intrude. It smelled strong and close. I attempted to shield my face by pulling my sweater up over my mouth and nose, but I felt a bit self-conscious, and it didn’t really seem to work.
The band we’d come to see, the Avett Brothers, came on stage. As the intermittent drifts of smoke continued to wind our way, I noticed my mouth had set into a lazy smile. I looked at my friend, swaying next to me, and she too was smiling. It felt like the music was enveloping us, moving through and around us, and I thought I should go to concerts all the time.
I also thought about my music-loving son, and had a little daydream about how in a few years, I could bring him to concerts like this and that made my smile rise even higher. My daydream was, however, dampened by the possibility that I’d have to worry about you, public pot smokers, getting my little guy high.
At one point, the band members invited the audience to sing along. “La la la la la la la,” the singer crooned, then pointed the mic towards the crowd. From behind us, a loud, burly, “LaLaLaLaLaLa,” burst forth. My friend and I giggled. “Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo,” from the stage. “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo!” from behind us.
I laughed harder and squeezed into a slight squat to prevent myself from peeing my skirt. “Sorry,” the burly voice apologized to us. He stood directly behind us, a plastic cup sloshing with beer in his left hand. “It’s okay,” my friend and I both said—and it was.
My eyes drifted from open to closed, from the band to a couple in the row ahead of us. They were in their early 20s, clearly in love. He looked a bit like the actor from Rushmore, and she was curvy with long, smooth blonde hair teasing toward her waist. They kept turning to each other, mouthing the words to the song as if they’d practiced this routine many times. It seemed like there was some invisible magnet hovering in the small space between them. I felt a little burst of love for them, and imagined them warm and curled together in a small bed in a small apartment at the night’s end.
The dark-haired boys on the stage played on, and on and on, and despite enjoying ourselves, my friend and I decided to leave at 10:30, knowing our kids would be waking us up with the first hint of sunlight the next morning.
I drove us home, very, very slowly. I found the remainder of a bag of popcorn on the kitchen counter and inhaled it before slipping into a foggy, contented sleep.
I will admit it—the contact high was fun.
But I would’ve had fun, anyway. Just leaving the house after dark these days is fun! Missing my children’s bedtime is fun.
Smoking pot is a personal choice, and in some cases, a medical choice. It’s something that I decided, for many reasons, to leave behind in the blur of my 20’s. When it becomes more personal is when you take my choice to refrain away from me.
So I respectfully request that you do like most smokers do and get high before the concert. Or bring little chocolaty brownies that you can discreetly slip into the hands of your friends who want to partake. But don’t just light up in crowded public places. (I will again mention the children in the audience. The pregnant women. The people who have worked hard to get sober and really don’t need your wafting weed.)
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives
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