I was in a taxi the other day and my driver was cursing under his breath in a foreign language. I could definitely tell what words he was using. He was cursing at cars who were cutting him off, cursing at pedestrians who were taking daredevil crosses from one side of the street to the other. He was justified in his cursing, I’m telling you.
“People are crazy!” he said to me, throwing up his hands. “They don’t look! They don’t care if they die!”
I shook my head and said, “It’s true, man” though I think most people do not want to die; I’m very sure most people don’t want to die by Uber.
But then I remembered what time it was: early May. People are insane. They are. It’s because they are emerging or have emerged from the icy chrysalis they’ve been in since October. Spring fever is a real thing. People are giddy for the smallest reasons: no coat needed to go outside, a green thing in a tree, a pretty girl walking by in a skirt and sandals.
“You know what?” I said to the driver. “I actually think it’s the spring. Like, springtime. People are wild and crazy because they’re happy. It’s really dangerous, but they’re just happy, I think.”
The driver thought about this for a moment and he actually scratched his chin. “I think that you are right,” he said. “Crazy.”
Correction: Many people, not including me, are smoking pot!
I’ve been running errands all over town and I can’t make it two blocks without walking into, out of, or through a cloud of weed smoke.** It’s not because marijuana has been legalized in Illinois; I’m pretty sure we all would’ve heard if that had happened. No, all these people are out in flagrante because it is achingly beautiful outside: the Chicago winter was truly horrific and no social contract, K-9 unit, or stroke of blue lightening is gonna stop a grass smoker on a gorgeous May day in the city from takin’ it outside.
I couldn’t care less, you understand. I kinda like the smell of pot. That funky, piney, skunky smell, it’s kinda great. And around Chicago, where folks make a living trafficking in such things, you smell some pretty dank weed, too, real hydroponic stuff. To me, weed smells like contraband, like kids, like a party, like the woods. Those things are all right.
As for smoking it, no way. Oh, I’ve tried. But I hate it. Just hate it! Isn’t that something?
When various friends offer me grass or I find myself at a social gathering where people are smoking, I pass every time. This is because marijuana makes me sleepy, desirous of high quantities of food (any food), and swiftly renders any feeble powers of cognition I possess utterly useless. Twenty minutes into the whole thing, and I’m curled up on a chair (any chair), eating Nutella from the jar, going on incessantly (either in my head or aloud, always hard to say) about how I’m embarrassed I am that I can’t remember what I just said, or if I said it, or if how I said it came off right and do you have any almonds? orange juice? marshmallows? leftover broccoli? chips — oooh, chips??
I just get super lame. It’s almost like I have an allergy. Perhaps I’ll try that the next time I’m offered weed:
“Oh, no thanks. I can’t smoke. I’m allergic.”
“Really? Woah. What happens? You get hives or something?”
“No, I get completely lame.”
Smoke away, my smokey friends. Let the Mary Jane muses of spring call out to you, let the long holiday weekend follow a loopy, endless trail of purple haze; let your picnics be filled with really really really good fried chicken and sangria, and let your connection be in town and answering his phone. May you feel soft earth under your bare feet after our hard and punishing winter and may you have a lover to squeeze nearby (and may that lover finally not be wearing five layers and a puffer coat so you can get to more of him/her.)
I beg you all, above all, to be safe: don’t drive cars if you’re stoned or drunk. I like you too much, you and all your dopey, lopsided smiles.
**I like to think Weedsmoke is a little-known, low-rent version of Gunsmoke.