And a very influential author.
Let’s face it: It’s a square world. America, a country built on rugged individualism, still puts a high premium on “fitting in.” Growing up, I was told that there were rules that had to be followed and that I must always obey my parents, teachers, and future employers—all adults, really. That’s what they had been taught, and now they were carrying the freight. But there was a palpable sense that my parents, and everyone of their generation—at least the ones who seemed to be in charge—were completely full of shit.
I remember lining up for gas during the so-called Energy Crisis in 1973. You could only buy gasoline on certain days, depending on your license plate number. Later, of course, I found out that it was all bullshit, there was no real oil shortage—it was just some giant reindeer game being played by a bunch of dudes who looked like they should have been the heels on Florida Championship Wrestling. Perhaps indicative of nothing, 1973 was also the year the designated hitter was introduced in baseball—a signal shift of nuance to power in the national pastime.
The films we watched in health class were classics of the scare genre: Smoking weed led to heroin addiction and death, usually swinging at the end of a rope in a jail cell. Marijuana turned you into a homosexual, a murderer, or at the very least a terminally unemployed waste product bound for a desolate existence on Skid Row, wherever that was. Women who smoked pot were of loose moral character and to be shunned. Men who smoked pot grew breasts.
Mom asked, “I hear there is money in marijuana. Is there a marijuana stock I should invest in?”
When I was 15 and got caught smoking weed, my mother’s reaction was, “I should send you away.” Seriously. Her words. I should send you away. Who says that? My father, on the other hand, generally solved these sorts of problems by ignoring them. Not caring made everything so much easier. All of that being said, I would be lying to you if I said I wouldn’t be pretty freaking upset if I caught my teenager getting high. Then again, I wouldn’t be shipping them off to reform school if I did. My instinct would be to tell them the truth.
Of course, times have changed. A couple of months ago, I was driving in the car with my mom and Brother No. 1, the Wall Street macher, and Mom asked him, “I hear there is money in marijuana. Is there a marijuana stock I should invest in?”
Naturally, mellow hippie that I am, I blew my top. “You are really going to ask Goldman Sachs over here how you can make money on the marijuana market? Really?? Am I the only one here who sees the irony in this? Do I really have to point out just what kind of hypocrite this makes you? You were going to ‘send me away,’ and now—just because all of a sudden you think there is some money in it—you think it is okay to basically become a pot dealer????”
As you can imagine, this line of patter got me exactly nowhere. “Shut up, Michael. I don’t want to hear your shit,” she told me, not really twigging to the irony after all, and that was that for the moment. I understand she asked him about the pot stocks again later, before deciding to hang on to her Exxon and Monsanto preferred.
© Mike Edison 2016, Adapted from You Are a Complete Disappointment: A Triumphant Memoir of Failed Expectations (Sterling), a warped suburban odyssey that pulls no punches when it comes to the adversity and adventures of growing up in the 1970s and ‘80s, “the tail end of an age of bewildered enlightenment.”
Repurposed from Kindland with thanks.