“Devil Weed”

devils-harvest
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

DEVIL WEED

Bob started spending a bit of time in Ann Arbor with several booking agents preparing the lineup for his opening weeks. He had also “hung-around” a few of the Ann Arbor “band-houses” which had started springing up as musicians pooled their resources and initiated communal housekeeping. Actually,  house “destroying” was closer to the truth than  “keeping”, unless the band happened to be blessed with young ladies who would do anything to be associated with the group. Responsibilities would include washing, waxing, ironing, cleaning and dusting duties, along with important carnal responsibilities. Competition was particularly sharp in this last, highly-valued area of sexual expertise. All the better bands had “groupie” servants and, in fact, the caliber of “house staffing” was often indicative of professional popularity. The greater the hits, the bigger the tits.

It was near the end of March that I finished my air-shift and met Bob on a Friday night at Contos. “Somebody To Love” by a new San Francisco group named Jefferson Airplane was blasting on my car radio dialed to WTAC as I pulled into the parking lot.  Since Saturday was a day-off for both of us, it seemed appropriate to get really hammered. This had become more routine than rare.

After closing at 2:30, we decided to stop by Walli’s Supper Club on South Center Road for a bite of breakfast and a final opportunity to see and be seen. You just never knew who might be asked to participate in a PULSE Ratings interview. It was solely for this reason, we had often counseled our respective spouses, that it was imperative that we remain connected with the listening public. We joined the general population in fun and frolic purely for promotional purposes. Of course, we chaperoned each other.

Rather than taking separate cars, we decided to head for the restaurant in Bob’s new ’67 Riviera. The vehicle had come equipped with an actual “stereo radio” which brought in two separate channels on the dumb Flint FM station, WGMZ. They only played bullshit “Beautiful Music”, which no one we knew ever listened to anyway. The radio had come with the vehicle. It was a curiosity, not a concern. Everybody knew Rock ‘n Roll was only for AM stations.

We had just left Contos when Bob reached into his glove compartment and pulled out a white letter-size envelope. Handing it to me, he whispered in hushed, conspiratorial tones.

“Here. Open this. Don’t spill any.”

Don’t “spill any”? Obviously, the envelope’s contents couldn’t possibly be liquid in nature. “Spill any”? It made no sense. “Spill any”?

It was best to ask before taking further action. It might be uranium particles or something from the way he was acting. Were the contents glowing? What was he doing with uranium?

“What’s in the envelope, Bob?”

“Marijuana!”

“Marijuana? No Shit?  Holy Shit!!  Marijuana?”

We all had certainly “heard” about marijuana. It was understood that a few  people and some musicians were even smoking it. Hearing and having were daringly different things.

At Cathedral School, we had been shown an instructive film called “The Price of Poison”. It primarily was concerned about “the evils of drinking”, but had also included a few minutes dedicated to instructing all on the deadly dangers of a drug called “marijuana”.

There were several segments which seemed very strange at the time. People were taking deep drags off an oddly shaped cigarette and then laughing hysterically. Another scene showed a young couple frantically rolling-up their car windows to “not let any smoke get away” before lighting-up. Years later, I realized that “The Price of Poison” contained footage from a 1930’s melodrama later re-issued as a unintended comedy cult-classic called “Reefer Madness”. Nevertheless, it was in Catholic school that I had first even  heard the word “marijuana”.

And there we were.

Two intoxicated Holy Roman Catholic husbands in our late-twenties from Syracuse were weaving about the dark, sin-filled streets of Flint. We were listening to “The Singing Strings” offering wimpish performance of “The Theme From a Summer Place” in stereo on a car radio. Wicked hours of weekend wandering had now led us to openly discussing and possessing MARIJUANA!  Destiny could not be denied. We had gone wild! How incredibly “hip!!” There was no doubt in my mind. We were doing everything right. Except. What about the envelope?

“Bob, maybe we should pull-over or something.”

“What for?”

“Well, if this is fuckin’ MARIJUANA in the envelope and you don’t want me to SPILL ANY or anything, maybe we should stop the car. What am I supposed to do with it, anyway?”

This was an excellent question and one which Bob had not seriously considered. He had focused upon dramatically introducing his surprising revelation, rather than contemplating any subsequent logistics which might be required. Heavy imbibing had already taken its toll on our otherwise flawless capabilities to reason with lightning rapidity. It was mutually determined, after several minutes of excited discussion, that we must find a way to light up the marijuana and smoke it.

Bob had obtained a small amount of the evil herb a few days prior when he had visited a group ironically called the Rationals. They lived right near the main campus at the University of Michigan. Not wanting to fiddle around with it at home under the ever-vigilant eyes, ears and nose of wife Joannie had given Bob pause. He had decided, in a burst of impromptu inspiration only moments before, that a weekend night made a perfect time to fire-up the secret stash in the company of a comrade. We were initiating a spontaneous act.

It was decided that our homes were off-limits for the experiment. Who knew? We might go nuts. Not “crazy” nuts; just sort of “screwed-up” nuts. And only for a while.

Bob testified that he had “tried” some with The Rationals. He admitted that it was just a “little” and it “relaxed” him, but that was about all. However, Bob reported the group said they did it “all the time”.  It was reasonable to therefore conclude that the stuff wasn’t permanently injurious. It could even prove mighty fine.

We turned away from the restaurant, which we were quickly approaching, and headed for WTAC. Bob had master keys. The General Manager’s office, (once the cave of the Mighty Milner) would be perfect. Charlie lived there now. Super vibes! It was also on the far side of the building, safely removed from the operational studios which represented the only occupied area at station in that early hour of the morning.

Safely within the walls of the WTAC’s organizational heart, we approached the task with the precision of neurosurgeons. Since we had no pipe or “papers”, the first order of business was carefully emptying- out the tobacco filling from several filter-tipped Marlboros, painfully practicing until we finally had a perfectly empty, untorn, unripped, would-be container. We then slowly and methodically attempted to pour the contents of the envelope into the ex-Marlboro.  After a dozen or so false starts, we succeeded in getting most of the marijuana into most of the empty paper tube, which we then sealed on both ends with what would soon become a practiced roll.

Were we ready to Rock????

With Bob’s only cautionary instruction being that you were “supposed to hold the smoke in as long as possible”, he bravely placed the newly formed,  honest-to-Jesus joint between his teeth. Striking a match on Charlie’s desk with Milner-like flourish, he fired-up and sucked-down deep. He inhaled! And held his breath. He extended the doobie in my direction.

I inhaled. And held my breath.

He inhaled. And held his breath.

I inhaled.

He inhaled.

So far, nothing.

I inhaled.

He inhaled.

Not going crazy, that’s for sure.

I.

He.

He. He.

He. He. He.

He. He. He. He. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ho. Ho. Ho.

I felt a rush of unbelievable lightness and levity. I felt really goooooood. Really relaaaaaaxed. Really haaaaaaaaapppppppy. So this was being stoned!
I could see whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy they came up with that wooooooord.

Bob used some scissors from a drawer in Charlie’s/Gene’s desk as a “clip”, although we didn’t then know what the word for such a thing was, and we finished off the joint. Neither of us had spoken a word since the smoking had commenced.

“Oh, Wow!”

“Good Shit!”

“Jesus Christ!”

“Oh, Fuck!”

“Cool!”

“Really cool!”

“Fuck!”

“Shit!”

“Shit!”

“Fuck!”

After fifteen minutes of such inspired dialogue, we started finding our bearings.

We made certain that no evidence of our office-borrowing was left behind and got back in Bob’s car which, after thoughtful review, we remembered was right outside the building.

We decided that we were quite hungry and should resume our trip to Walli’s. It was three miles away. After what seemed like several weeks on the road, we arrived.

By then it was four in the morning, but a large crowd of diners remained.
Eveybody went out to breakfast at Walli’s when the bars in Flint closed their doors and many “got lucky” on the way or after. “Would you like to go to breakfast?” was much more convivial, cultured and refined than “Fuck me?” Both expressions were often synonymous.

“Fucking” was the last thing on our minds. We were trying to remember what city we were in. Several times Bob asked me if we were on “Salina Street” and once I stated that I thought we were. He wasn’t kidding. I wasn’t either. “Salina Street” went through the heart of downtown Syracuse.

“Jesus, what are all those lights up there?”

“Stars.”

By the time we got to Walli’s, after more serious discussion, we were certain that we were in Flint and at Walli’s. We kept this in mind for most of the time we were there.

“I’d like, let’s see. How about three cheeseburgers and double-fries and apple-pie with ice-cream on top and a chocolate-shake and some mashed-potatoes on the side with gravy and a dill-pickle.”

“I’d like the same thing, except I’d like some French-fried onion rings, too.”

“Yeah, also onion rings with mine. Please.”

Of course, everything was terribly amusing. Funny. Hysterically so.

When Bob had concluded his order with the polite word “please”, I just had to say something as soon as the waitress left.

“Pleeeeeese. Sheeeeeeee’s a sleeeeeeeaze”

Bob picked right up on it.

“A sleeeeeeeeeeaze in the breeeeeeze.”

“Up in the treeeeeeeeees. Hangin’ from her kneeeeees!”

“Maybe She’ll freeeeeeeeeze and catch fleeeeeeeeeas!!”

“Or drop your keeeeeeeeeys and eat peeeeeeeeeeas!!”

So that’s how The Beatles came up with all that shit!

A century later,  Bob dropped me back off at my car in the Contos parking lot and fifty-eight light-years after that I pulled into the apartment complex in Flushing. My sleeping wife and two daughters were resting comfortably in the arms of Morpheus, oblivious to their husband’s/father’s delightful dance with the devil weed.

It’s interesting recalling the first time I got stoned with equal clarity to memories of the first time I got laid, except the former had far fewer subsequent complications and certainly involved significantly less personal commitment, particularly during the time of occurrence.

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