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(24 Stories)

Prompted By Marijuana

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I learned to drive and learned to drink at the same time. As soon as I had my driver’s license, my friends and I would find someone to buy us some hard liquor–a different kind each weekend–and drive out to the unpatrolled outskirts. As soon as we parked, we would slam either whiskey or rum or vodka or something else nasty-tasting. We never thought to use a mixer. We just wanted to be drunk for the dance.

Whatever high-pitched motor was driving me faded to a kind of thrum--something like my heartbeat. 

I hated being drunk. But it was an important part of social success. And somehow, we were always larger than life when we were drunk. We had the stories to prove it. We had the hangovers too. I continued drinking until my senior year of high school, 1967.

Someone came up with a joint of marijuana and we skipped the liquor store and headed for the outskirts. I drove a lot slower back to town. But what I remember most was how relaxed I was. For the first time in my life, I relaxed. Whatever high-pitched motor was driving me faded to a kind of thrum–something like my heartbeat.

I was raised in a nice home with food on the table and decent clothing. But I was the oldest male child in a post war, post depression, land of opportunity. I was the anointed heir to all America had to offer. My parents set about to maximize my potential for me. As a result, I didn’t know if I was doing well until my parents critiqued me. I developed nervous twitches and compulsive behavior, like counting or lining up parallels. These tics irritated my parents, who pressured me to stop.

The liquor and the marijuana were rebellious acts. But I think the marijuana saved my sanity. I don’t think I could have held up long enough to get away to college without it. I developed a habit that took twenty years to stop.

I started smoking again in 2002, but I consider it a treat now. I go months without smoking, then fire up a blunt a couple of times in a week. I rarely smoke with anyone else, I like to savor the easy relaxing slow down. And I don’t drive.

Profile photo of richard c rutherford richard c rutherford

Characterizations: been there, well written


  1. John Zussman says:

    Great story, Rick. I marked it “been there” because I’m your counterexample. I wish I had said yes in high school when a friend offered to turn me on. I needed to relax and lighten up the way you did.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Nice juxtapositions between the hang-over high from drinking and the mellow high from weed. Also interesting take on the pressure you felt from your parents and what you describe as near OCD behavior as a result, which grass seemed to mellow for you, but once you got away, you were able to also put away. Now you just use it recreationally. You treated us to a gentle buzz as well. Thank you for sharing.

  3. rosie says:

    Geez, I loved the crisp and direct way you told the story and brought back memories of my own growth at that time. I was a much later starter than you. Thanks for sharing in your own unique way.

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