In an effort to sidestep politics for a minute or two, I have written something better presented in more than one episode. Here is the first of two installments, designed to give some background info, on the debacle about to be unfolded upon an unsuspecting audience-tomorrow.
I have indulged in cannabis on the Demilitarized Zone dividing North Korea from South Korea; I have stood inside the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, gazing down at the verdant vegetation and throngs of people at the cafe and bar, and smoked a bowl of Acapulco Gold; I have partaken of cannabis at The LA Forum, The Long Beach Arena, Candlestick Park, AT&T Park, The Greek Theater in Berkeley, The San Jose Center for Performing Arts, The Cow Palace in San Francisco and countless other venues ranging far and wide in my travels.I ain’t proud, but I’ve never been scared, either.
However, all that being said, one cannot have indulged in the gentle giant of herbs for close to fifty years, without having stirred matters up a time or two, and I am no exception. In more or less chronological order, the following incidents have a neatly placed check-mark next to them, in my black book of close encounters:
*** There were those two nice West Covina policemen, who pulled me over back in 1970, just as I was easing my ’64 Nova away from the curb outside a boisterous party that was being rousted. There were five of us in the car, I was barefoot, I had unquestionably been imbibing tall Olympia beers and I was behind the wheel of a brilliantly polished red car, that had oversized tires and a jacked-up rear end.
After ordering us out of the car and lining us up, Officer the First told me he was going to look through my car, and that no one had better give him any crap about illegal search and seizure rules, because he didn’t give a damn. I gave a damn, though, because as soon as those red lights had lit up the sky, I had opened the front cover of a Chilton’s Manual on Chevys that was on the front seat, and slipped a small baggy of Mexican cannabis inside.
Visions of tomorrow’s headlines flashed through my brain.
As the five of us stood paralyzed with fear, Officer the Second peppered us with questions and editorial comments as his partner rifled through the contents of the car. Returning an eternity later, seemingly empty-handed, he asked me if I knew why he had pulled me over.
“Negatory, your Honor,” I replied.
He shook a finger at Steve, the only one of the five of us wearing shoes, and dressed presentably with his button down dress shirt and slacks, having come straight from his job at a grocery store. “That man is dirty,” he declared. “He was making furtive movements in the back of your car.”
In mock horror, knees weak with delirious joy at my appearing to have dodged a Sherman Tank, I glared at Steve and tried not to chortle.
*** Next in my Hall of Fame of Ineptitude was that awkward moment when ten of us were sprawled around the hootch one frigid winter’s night in Ascom, Korea, blazing up with religious fervor. In strolled the commanding officer of the 199th Personnel Service Company, who demanded to know exactly what in the sam hell was going on.
Snapping to attention, but forbearing the salute because I was dressed in civvies, I responded, “Nothing, SIR! Just confabulating the latest Eighth Army regulatory measures for our mutual edification, and committing them to memory, SIR!”
Whatever he was expecting to hear, it was not that. It gave him time, however, to contemplate the universe. Maybe he was thinking of the paperwork involved in busting us, or possibly how efficient his office would run, if he sent ten of his redeployment experts to the brig.
In the time it would have taken to blink, he had assessed the situation, reevaluated his opening demand, and determined that all was under control.
“Carry on!” he responded and without another word, about-faced and was gone, leaving us dazed, confused and doubly in need of that which was being circulated.
*** Proving that there can be smoke without fire, there was that one Friday morning when two classmates of mine and I had paused for the cause, just before the start of our 7:30 Spanish class. We chose the cozy confines inside Kevin's sky-blue VW Bug, parked on the fourth floor of the San Jose State parking garage, where we blazed up some sinsemilla, in the early days of my long association with this king of cannabis.
As was the custom on Fridays in our small conversational class, those present were seated in no particular order around a large round table, so that we could habla the espanol. Being sultans of cool, my buddies and I nonchalantly approached the table and inconspicuously took our seats.
That was the goal, anyway. What actually happened was that we descended on the unsuspecting group like a trio of middle schoolers, breathing just a tad too hard from our breakneck pace, after having clambered down four sets of stairs, and raced for the student union.
Red-faced, self-conscious and giggling, we three had circled the table seeking out chairs, a faint trail of that inevitable fragrance emanating forth from our clothes.
Sniffing delicately, our professor, a dignified man who was born in Spain and actually functioned for a couple of decades as a Roman Catholic priest, raised quizzical eyebrows and inquired, delicately, “Someone has been smoking marijuana?”
The giggling became guffawing, as the entire class was enjoying our discomfort, the diversion coming so early in the Friday program.
Seated, fumbling with backpack and other paraphernalia, the best I could manage was a mock-serious expression and the soulful response, “Yo quiero! [I wish!]”
Mercifully, we moved on.
And who could forget that helicopter and the six rent-a-goons who invaded my home in 1985, robbed me of $900.00 and left a land-seizure notification on the obliterated front gate, which had not been locked?
Buddha knows what a hassle that was, even though I was never charged with any offense, and had to pony up $17,500 to get my house and twenty acres back from the federal government. All for 33 plants, cleverly concealed in the manzanita. Well, maybe not so cleverly.
Having written extensively about it, I will leave it go at that, and move on.
Finally, there was that time more recently, up in Eureka, when my surreptitious indulging behind our motel, had created a most unexpected response from the proprietor, who gave us the shoe-shine. No matter that there were no windows from which patrons might have viewed me, or that I encountered no one in the pre-dawn light.I now realize he must have watched me with a surveillance camera, because he had the facts at his fingertips. I posted two pieces of writing on the entire, sordid fiasco, which took place in July of 2015.
http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2015/07/smile-for-camera-mark-well-it-happened.html ……. http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2015/07/red-red-wine.html
And even after my having been given the boot from the above-mentioned motel, I got rousted on a little side street, opposite the big establishment behind the Marie Calendar’s, only a few months later.
Minding my own business, again early before it was light, I was moseying down to the end of the block trying to get my priorities in order with some lemon ogre, when I was accosted by an apparently ‘roid-raged iron pumper, who had emerged from the workout facility located within sight of the motel parking lot.
Evidently he had seen me sauntering along, indulging in my prescription meds, with no one else in the vicinity, and decided I was a threat to his existence.
“Hey! Where the f**k do you think you’re going?” The man did not need a megaphone.
Was he seriously talking to me? What had I done to rattle his cage?
“Are you talking to me?”
Even from a hundred feet I could hear his intake of breath and could only imagine the flaring of nostrils.
“Who the f**k do you THINK I am talking to?” he raged.
“Well, you’d know better than I…I hope,” was all I could come up with.
“We don’t need your kind creeping around our neighborhood!” he bellowed, thereby answering his own question. He thought he was talking to someone who “creeped” around decent people’s neighborhoods.
“Not sure what kind you DO need creeping around your ‘hood, but I am staying at the motel right there, and am simply out for a smoke, so don’t get your trunks in a bunch.” I hoped that was it.
He gave no indication he had heard one word I said.
“You people think you can come into my neighborhood, and I won’t call the cops, you’re f**king nuts!”
“Froth at the mouth, why don’t you?” I suggested good-naturedly, but only because I had now maneuvered my way past him and was sailing towards the refuge of my motel room.
“F**k you!” he added for further clarification purposes as I hung the left and passed out of his sight.
So yeah, I’ve been busted, I’ve been hassled, I’ve been yelled at and I have been suspected of dastardly deeds that I had no intention of performing. But the experience that felt the worst, was the time I tripped over my third leg once too often, and went down with a thud.
Unfortunately my actions threatened to shut down a small, intimate gathering of 275-plus-people, those who were attending my middle son’s wedding.
Tomorrow: Wedding Day Blues