April 20. The birth of marijuana. Here’s a story about the first time I got high.
I had my first marijuana in the Summer of 2005. I was working as a waiter between semesters while on break from college in Atlanta. Waitstaff are notorious for doing drugs, for drinking too much, for generally doing bad shit.
We’d go out on Thursdays, following our shift, leaving work after midnight to quite literally steal drinks at the bar across the street. I was underage but everyone made sure that I was taken care of in the realm of fuckedupness.
Sometimes we went to a house or an apartment, someone’s strange waiterly home. It was never nice but it was a place where we could be ourselves. People could do drugs openly. People could make out openly. You could do whatever you wanted, openly.
Sarah Lowe was a waiter. She was long and light, straight brown hair that went to her thighs, the type of girl who I would urge to audition for America’s Next Top Model. She always demurred. She loved marijuana more than any modeling aspiration.
It was a Thursday. We were at some waiter’s apartment, after the bar had closed. She pulled out a blunt from her modest breast situation. People gathered around her, a sort of weed sprite only seen so openly at this time of night, if drinks were being drunk in a home.
“I’ve never had weed before,” I told her. She was a bit of an older sister although I tried repeatedly to convince myself that I was attracted to her.
“We are going to get you high,” she told me. Another blunt appeared from modest breasts. It looked like the diet version of a cigar, a slim brown strip imitative of a cigarette. A cigarillo, I would learn. “This one is for us.”
We went into a darker corner of the already darkened apartment. There seemed to be carpeting everywhere and small, glowing lights, inadequate novelty lamps that made it impossible to see what we were doing.
“How do you do it?”
She sparked a lighter and drew the flame to the brown, inhaling orange-red twists at the end, dense smoke crawling up and over me, the stank of a burnt skunk causing me to cough.
“Just inhale,” she said, breathless, sucking in. She held the blunt to me. It was still breathing.
I took it and sucked and sucked, unsure if I was doing it correctly.
“Keep inhaling,” she said. I kept going until she lightly plucked the blunt from my hand and placed it back in her mouth. “Hold it,” she said with a finger on my chin.
My mouth, my nose, my throat were incensed, a strip of sandpaper dragged across my facial interior. I had smoked cigarettes before but this sensation was wholly different. I coughed. The thick, dirty smoke giggled out, hiding Sarah Lowe behind a screen.
She laughed. “That’s close enough!”
We passed the blunt back and forth. Others joined in. It eventually left, traveling around the room before making its way to a tin, pressed into black and white dust.
“What happens now?”
“You enjoy it.”
“It smells better now,” I whispered to her. “It tastes good too.” My hands were tingling. “It smells like – ” I took a whiff, looking around, looking at her. ” – like broccoli and cheddar.”
She laughed. “I guess,” she shook her head, grabbing a beer. “You could say that.”
I mumbled this to myself – broccoli and cheddar – walking around the room, unrolling that cigarillo in my mind to reveal neon green tiny trees, pan fried broccoli from the Chinese place at the food court by the restaurant, Kraft singles popped atop, a soup or biscuits or quiche tossing these two together, perhaps one of those frozen microwave dinners. Who actually ever puts broccoli on their cheddar? What a strange combination. What a good combination.
“Sarah Lowe Home Depot,” I called. My hands still tingled but I started to like the sensation better. I sat down on the couch next to her. I was sinking into it, continuing down and down and down and down until I could feel the bones of the couch reach between the cheeks of my ass to tell me that I had reached its bottom. “Sarah Lowe Home Depot,” I tugged on her shirt, the dirty white oxford uniform we wore, hers unbuttoned to just below the bra. “I am high, I think.”
She handed me a soda. I drank the soda. I could feel every bubble pop on my tongue, up my nose, down my throat. It was the funniest feeling I had ever had in my life.
“Broccoli and cheddar, right?”
A fit of giggles.
“You are high.”
“I am high.”
I giggled on that couch for hours. The night felt like a blanket placed on me, tucked into the feeling that I could stay this way forever, pooled in cheese, my head rested on treelike vegetables.