Summer 2008 – Southern England;
Jake looked to be in his later 20’s with long dreadlocks and a scruffy beard. His girlfriend, Sophie, appeared every bit an upper class Brit with long beautify blonde hair. Jake showed up at the campus pub where I had been spending time. We spoke now and then while I learned the intrinsic rules of cricket from the pub regulars.
Jake got the word from a mutual friend that I was considering using marijuana after a 35 year hiatus. Let’s see…at 58…
– Survived the excesses of the 60’s – barely
– Drop back into to college
– 2 children (now both in college)
– Add in 35 years of hard work and you get…
About 5 years to retirement and the beginning of the last phase of life.
“Jake, it’s been 35 years since I used marijuana.” Jake’s verbal response was to the point and qualified by Jake’s curious tone of face, “35 years…Why?”
Jake wondered onto a southern UK university as a Tibetan Buddhist monk ready to train students in the art of meditation. The Jake I met was a transformation of a monk into the Rasta campus weed supplier.
With seeming immunity to legal consequences, Jake, along with Sophie, took me up to his campus housing dorm room where he showed me the fruits of his labors; Mac laptop, flat screen TV, a dorm manager playing bouncer, etc. Jake will also come out of his monkish transformation with a degree in political science.
Jake put on some Grateful Dead and, with the most pleasant smile on his face, presented me a wooden box. Opening the box immediately filled the room with that distinct odor of marijuana. I left the prep work up to Jake knowing that my rolling skills had collected 35 years of dust, so he graciously roll me a tobacco free spliff.
SPLIFF – The Euro-Joint
A spliff is a marijuana ‘joint’ that tapers at the end that goes into your lips, along with a tightly rolled piece of card paper, called a tip, that replaces a filter so as not to be left with a finger burning roach. Excellent spliff rolling turns out to be one of the best indictors that you’re watching a non-American at work. The advanced techniques of any kind of marijuana rolling turns into a performing art for fellow stoners, especially after one or two have gone the rounds (two puffs at a time don’t make a Bogart in the UK – at least with the crews I smoked with).
The odor was strong and memorable. Sophie looked at me as Jake took great pleasure in busting my 35 year old cherry. This was the start of my cannabis rebirth.
“Ah! I remember now,” came out of my mouth as I noticed Cheshire grins that filled Jake and Sophie’s faces. Although my words where referring to the high experience itself, I realized what a fucking rush it must be for Jake and Sophie to re-stone and old sold-out 60’s hippie. As if on cue, the sound of the Greatful Dead rose from the still of the space surrounding us. As I looked into Jakes eyes looking back into mine I suddenly realized I was one of those “back in the day’er,” – at least here in the UK.
Reaching a measure of accomplishment by retirement age, as important as it is, now seemed to be what I had done to fill in the time between the beginning and ending phases of my life. Although my career successes showed what I could manage to pull off if I worked really-really hard, suddenly the ‘real’ interesting stories became, well, ‘back in the day’ stoner stories.
Tobacco & Cannabis
The Brits, as well of the rest of Europe as far as I know, mix their marijuana with tobacco. Like America, they are busy passing laws forbidding smoking tobacco in pubs and restaurants. Oil and tobacco, the world’s greatest lung pollutants, costs Brits dearly so public transportation and rolling your own cigarette is taken for granted here. I guess adding a little herbal condiment to one’s tobacco goes unnoticed since everyone’s rolling and smoking away. Great cover, as one Brit said.
“Once, back in the day, we would…” Another puff, laughter, two pair of proper Brit eyes smiling upon my musings. “On the way to the 1970 Wisconsin Poynette festival one of the dudes we saw by the side of the road with car problems was Pigpen of the Greatful Dead. We gave him a ride to the festival, got in free and drove right up to the stage in a Hurst. Ya, a Hurst! You see we painted an old Hurst psychedelic colors…and Jerry Garcia had just cut off his beard,” and on it went, “…because Chicago’s Kinetic Playground (aka The Electric Circus) was headlining the Vanilla Fudge along with two new UK groups – Jethro Tull and Led Zepplin. No, I’m not kidding!”
As the typical sense of my life slowly returned to me – as being something more than merely a 35 year interruption between the last two highs of my life – I walked back to my room with a Cheshire smile stuck in the middle of my head. It testified to a most enjoyable night when that cherry I had re-grown was finally broke again.