It just occurred to me, I mean really occurred to me, that pot is illegal. For the first time since I was sixteen, when EVERYTHING was illegal, I smoked two puffs (“hits,” they called them in 1982, or “tokes,” I think) and it helped me get to sleep. This is a good thing. I stopped smoking pot at sixteen because it made me paranoid. I’m still paranoid. But at least now I can trace the source of my paranoia to THE MAN and fight back. With THE MAN outta my head, the pot actually mellows me out and helps me sleep.
I have a particular problem, though. I was born with a rare blood disease called Diamond Blackfan Anemia, of which there are about 500 known “cases” in the world, most of whom die at around age thirty-one. So far, I’ve been able to beat the curve with Prednisone, which destroys your bones, gives you diabetes and other maladies, and makes you crazier than a shit-house rat. Also, I’ve been tanking up with about half a dozen transfusions a year. Thing is, the Prednisone isn’t working as well as it used to. After that’s done–a year, two years, maybe three–I have to do “transfusion therapy,” which you can only do for a year or so because iron accumulates and messes up your heart, and finally the end of the road: Bone Marrow Transplant. Twenty-five-percent mortality rate. When I had my hip replaced at age thirty-two because of complications caused by Prednisone, the mortality rate for that was less than one-percent. A failed Bone Marrow Transplant entails a rather yucky, painful death. Murderous leukocytes run wild. Savage anti-bodies loot lymph nodes, smash platelets and generally fight off the bio-matter of your donor as if it were a virus. The operation itself seems awfully unpleasant, complete with chemo-therapy to kill what’s inside of you. I have a friend who went through chemo. They prescribed him narcotics, which really spaced him out, but did nothing for the horrible nausea except make it worse. So he had to go out and hustle pot so he wouldn’t puke or get so spaced out he couldn’t work. Hmm.
This rediscovery of pot after twenty-two years is a good thing because I’m on a very large dosage of Prednisone, which makes you feel like you’ve just mixed bourbon and amphetamines, mean and sleepless, and traditional valium-like sedatives don’t work for me. Tranquilizers mess me up bad all next day. So I’ve been taking two or three shots of alcohol to help me sleep. This is not a good thing. Alcohol is the worst drug possible for someone suffering from any kind of anemia. Bad for the bone marrow, among other things. We’ll, thought I, I’ll just do what some of my doctors have been telling me to do and switch to pot. But wait a minute, thought I again. This is illegal. I can’t just go down to the corner store and buy a joint, which is all I’d need for the week. I have to find some kind of “connection.” Someone to set me up with a “supply.”
This turned out to be easy enough–was I the only person in America NOT smoking pot?–albeit costly and inconvenient.
Now, in my twenty years of adult life I’ve been prescribed tranquilizers, sedatives, amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics and of course steroids by honest, legitimate doctors, the same doctors who encouraged me to smoke pot, but could not prescribe it, because it’s illegal. A plant. That grows in the ground. Or in one of those incubator things people keep in their closets or backyards. Sure, I can easily go out and buy a bottle of bourbon which will damage me physically, and combined with the steroids turn me into a truculent, possibly dangerous person. But I can’t take a hit of pot to help me sleep.
Look, Boobus Americanus (mind if I call you Boob, for short? You seem overly enamored with those things anyway, though any sex therapist, or woman, will tell you you’d be more of a “man” with your woman if you paid more attention to her clitoris), do you think I’m some kind of moron? Do you think I’m gonna take addictive sedatives/tranquilizers whatever, which happen to be expensive and artificially manufactured by Big Pharma, or kill myself with alcohol, when all I have to do is take a few hits off a more or less “unprocessed” weed? C’mon, Boob. We’ve been mortal enemies for some time, now. I thought you gave me more credit than that.
If your employer, THE MAN, thinks I’m gonna risk a bone-marrow transplant before my time because of his outrageous, irrational, useless–except for putting young black men in prison–“law,” he’s as dumb as YOU are. And surely HE’S not that dumb.
Something else occurred to me, after talking to a friend from Canada, where pot and gay marriages seem to on the way toward becoming legal.
In addition to participating in “proper” sex (you know: genital intercourse which may result in the procreation of life THE MAN can use as labor or cannon fodder), I’ve also indulged in cunnilingus and fellatio with willing (often quite willing) women over age eighteen, and occasionally even anal sex with women (again, quite willing) over the age of eighteen. Some of these practices are supposedly illegal in various parts of YOUR America, but really, that was always just a joke to me.
But it’s not a joke to my gay friends and relatives. In fact, for doing with a member of their own sex the same things I’ve done with members of the opposite sex, they can find themselves in grave trouble indeed. I haven’t really been all that politically active on this issue. Maybe it was a “well, I’m not gay (although one never knows, does one?), why worry?” type thing. And anyway, if you don’t want hassles, just clam up and lock the bedroom door.
Well it goes somewhat beyond that. Besides the fact that “free speech” (hah!) should entail being able to demonstrate public affection for any person you feel affection for, “privacy” (double-triple hah!) means you don’t have to lock the door if you don’t want to (unless there’s kids or pets in the house) cause you’re not afraid of anyone barging in (figuratively or literally).
Anyway, suppose I fell in love with a male over the age of 18 and allowed him to perform fellatio on me and I performed anal sex on him. Maybe I wasn’t “really” in love. I was all “high” on pot, it was dark, he wore a dress, I thought he was a woman etc. That kinda thing. It’s not my mind-set in the morning that counts, but that I used my genitals against the will of THE MAN.
Now I’m open to all sorts of trouble: job discrimination, gay-bashing, snide remarks in conversation and on the airwaves courtesy imbecile talk-radio hosts.
And what if I did fall in love with this member of my own sex? What if we moved in together and had a long happy relationship? Can’t share Family Plan health insurance. Can’t go out in public like a real couple unless we’re in Greenwich Village or San Francisco or similar environs. Can’t do a lotta stuff. Why? Because we used our own dicks as if they belonged to us and not THE MAN.
Now everybody knows that alcohol makes many people violent, crazy, and physically ill, and cigarettes, sooner or later, make many people sick or dead. But I never heard of anyone smoking a joint, then beating up or even killing a friend or family member in a violent rage. Nor have I ever heard of many people–except Nelson Rockefeller–being harmed by safe sex among consenting adults. What not everybody knows–or what many pretend not to know–is that, though it couldn’t be more obvious, THE MAN doesn’t care if you develop cancer, or blow out your liver, or get drunk and rob a convenience store–he’s got a whole prison industrial complex just waiting to serve you. What really bothers THE MAN is that YOU–this goes for YOU as well as me, Boob–might harbor illusions that you own your lungs, brain, genitals or any other part of your soul or person, when really it all belongs to HIM.
Well, forget about that. I reserve the right, the “freedom,” to smoke pot every night before bed and to follow my Johnson wherever it’s welcome. Well, maybe not everywhere. Though HE came on to me awfully strong before the “war” with Iraq, THE MAN stopped returning my calls weeks ago. As I said, I’m for freedom among consenting adults. I don’t have time for that “playing hard to get” shit.
Though I will say one thing. Ossama Bin Laden (whoever he really is and whatever he really did) and Saddam Hussein (whoever he really was and whatever he really did) sent chills down many an American spine, but they got theirs. They sure won’t be taking away our cherished freedoms now. THE MAN did that for us years ago.
The movie’s getting weirder. Jump-cut from “The Graduate” to “American Beauty.” Nevertheless, ADAM ENGEL remains in the theater, where he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org