Monday, November 19, 2007

Shooting Guns and Smoking Pot

Experimentation is generally considered a good idea. It's cured diseases, determined the age of the universe, and led to self cleaning litter boxes. At some point in your lives people will encourage you to try everything from eggplant to skydiving. Even if you hate them, you'll be told that just trying will make you a better, more well rounded person. This weekend I tried hunting and getting high. Taken together they should not only make me more well rounded but unelectable in every state in the union.

Luckily the hunting came first. If it were second I might have actually killed something. Personally, I'm not really much of a killer. When I find a roach I generally build an elaborate maze leading from where the roach is to the nearest door and spend about an hour trying to help it find its way outside where it inevitably crawls back into my walls and lays millions of eggs. This kind of thinking doesn't really wash in Texas where there's certain things you're just supposed to do when you're a man. Hunting, fishing, and drinking beer are among the top three, and I'm not into any of them. I'll take your fruitiest cocktail over a cold one any day, I hate fish, and when I was a kid I shot at a bird with my BB gun and then tried to nurse it back to health when I actually hit it. It died and that was the end of my hunting career. Until this weekend when I upgraded to a 16 gauge shotgun.

The frightening thing is how good it feels to fire a gun. If I owned one I would be tempted to just sit around blowing holes in my walls and ceilings. The effort (moving your finger a fraction of an inch) and the outcome (KABLAM!) are so disproportionate it's a little like being a superhero. A superhero who kills things and blows shit up. Unfortunately, hunting is not nearly as exciting as shooting holes in walls. There's a lot of walking, standing, and dead animals involved, none of which are among my favorite things. In our case, the experienced hunters killed birds quickly and then took to flushing them out for the rest of us. When they would get a bird to fly past us we went off like an anti aircraft battery, guns blazing as a wall of sound and lead filled the air. And then whatever we were shooting at would continue on its way as if nothing had happened. The closest I came to actually killing a quail was when one hit my car. If I could have just condensed all of my wild shooting into the air into about a half hour and gone back to watching football, I'd not only be on board, I'd probably do it every weekend. As is stands I will continue to get my meat at the store and my drinks with umbrellas in them.

Which brings us to marijuana. When I was in high school I joined the Young Republicans and my brother got busted with pot. At the time it seemed like his actions were the dangerous and irresponsible ones. Who knew how bad the Republicans would turn out.

In high school the most important thing in your life is being cool. It influences what you wear, listen to, talk about, and do. I was never remotely successful at it. When you're as hopeless as I was, you sometimes go the other way, meaning that before all the various groups can disown you, you disown them, tell them you don't want to be in their stupid gang anyway, and you start cutting your own hair and buying Cure albums. Being anti-drug was less a philosophical decision for me than an avaliable niche. It was sort of like I showed up late on the day they hand out high school personas and ended up with Young Republican. I'm sure if they'd have known I was going to hate hunting and beer they would have kicked me out as well.

That said, the following is my experience with pot. In high school I smoked oregano with a bunch of other people and then spent an hour debating whether or not it was oregano. This put me off for many many years. Another time a good friend felt that it was absurd that I had achieved nominal adulthood without ever smoking and took it upon herself to get me high. This was almost as successful as the oregano and resulted in a lot of yelling about how I wasn't doing it right. Which brings us to this weekend.

This time the marijuana was baked into brownies according to a highly complicated and not well followed recipe. I ate a brownie. Then another. And another. And then one more. I felt nothing. Others were laughing, grinning, thinking deeply about the nature of the universe, but not me. Again, there was a lot of yelling about how I wasn't doing it right, how I wasn't 'open' to the experience. Say what you will about my umbrella drinks, it doesn't really matter whether or not you're open to them, after four or so you will be willing to show everyone how well you can do the robot whether they want to see or not. An hour after my last brownie, we declared the experiment a failure and I went to bed, still unclear why this was such a big deal for so many people.

Then I woke up. I have no idea what time it was. I had a series of thoughts, five of them to be exact, the third of which was that I was incredibly thirsty, and the last of which was something about being in a field. And then I had that same series of thoughts, in that same order. Over, and over, and over. If I tried to think about something else, dogs, toilets, being a Young Republican, I could hold it for a second or two and then, WHAM, I was thirsty, I was in field, etc, etc, etc. Each time the cycle repeated itself I got more and more freaked out until your mother woke up to use the bathroom and I tried to explain my predicament with panicked talk about fields, dry mouth, and fear that my brain was stuck on repeat. Tried, is the operative word. It really just came out as paranoid incoherent babbling and she rolled over and started ignoring me about the fifth time I said, 'there it goes again, see, I'm thirsty, see, now I'm in a field'. When I woke up the next day I was incredibly thirsty, not in a field, and not wild about anything that moved or produced light. That's it. What can I say. Not really the kind of experience that would make you an addict. Every time I see other people doing it, it looks like a ton of fun, and I'd love to have that experience. I just don't think I'm cut out for it. For me it's more eggplant than skydiving.

Which I guess brings us to the obligatory parent/unborn child drug talk. Here's the thing. If pot is the stupidest thing you ever try then I'll count myself lucky. I know it's not in my top ten stupidest things this year, let alone this lifetime. As a source of recreation it hasn't really worked out for me, but the idea that it's something we lock people up over while Budweiser sponsors the Superbowl strikes this Young Republican as ridiculous. As a father it's hard to see how I'd ever be okay with the idea that you might drink, have sex, or do drugs. But you will. Everyone I know has, and I don't think any of their parents were cheering them on. If the promises of every school sponsored film or 'just say no commercial' that I saw as a child had been fulfilled, the doctors and lawyers I know today would dead or knocking over 7-11s for their next fix. But life isn't that simple. It can't be reduced to a slogan. If being a parent or being a child were as easy as feeling one way or another about dead birds and dime bags then this whole thing would be a piece of cake. It also wouldn't be very interesting. I'll be glad to tell you about all the way I think I went wrong and the few times I think I got it right, but there are some things you'll simply have to decide on for yourself, even if it takes three decades to do it.

Novel - Ch12
Dunking - Wk5
French - Pomme de terre.

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