People who love weed and people who hate weed have one thing in common: smoking weed.
This isn’t supposed to be some kind of glib little non-comment; I mean that if you talk to people who smoke weed regularly, you’ll find that most of them like it, but a lot of them don’t really like it. I happen to be one of the latter.
I don’t smoke every day — I’m not one of those compulsives who downs a liter of vodka in the closet in the morning and then wrings their hands about it — but I do partake when it’s offered, which, if you’re a long-haired layabout with an ironic crustache, is fairly often. And I hate it about 90% of the time.
But my fear of being thought uncool is far greater than my fear of spending the next three hours staring at myself in a mirror and muttering, “What the hell are you DOING with your life?” So I always smoke the weed that’s offered, and I always hate it.
So it was strange, being at the 420 Festival at the RFK Festival Grounds where weed — and weed smokers — were everywhere. I was with my friend Anthony, who loves weed, and within 10 minutes of us walking in, he’d seen someone he knew, who offered us their dab pen.
I took what I hoped was a small hit, but soon I was thinking about the inevitability of death, how my refusal to schedule six-month checkups at the dentist was a symptom of a profound lack of self-respect, and how everyone was looking at me.
But maybe I was just high?
“Hey,” I said to Anthony. “Are all these people staring at us?”
He looked around. “I think so, yeah.”
“Oh, God. Are you sure?”
“Yeah, they’re definitely staring,” he said. But he didn’t seem bothered.
This is sort of what I meant about how people who love weed and hate weed both smoke weed.
I used to think that I was having a different experience when I smoked weed than the people who loved it. But a little questioning revealed that, no, we were both experiencing roughly the same thing. It’s just that they didn’t seem to care, and I cared too much.
As we walked around the festival, I was struck by how many educational booths we passed. There were a lot of booths about how weed was actually good for you, like kale or flossing, which made me like weed even less.
A clean-cut young man was talking about how he microdosed a small amount of THC edibles throughout the day, to increase his productivity at work. Consuming weed to be better at your desk job? Not even the most deranged, paranoid pothead in the seventies had ever envisioned this future.
There were even booths about how weed legalization was good for the economy because it created jobs. Jobs? That’s like selling vodka to an alcoholic by telling them it’ll give them cirrhosis. I’m trying to live in a world with fewer jobs, not more.
There were also several community service booths, but unfortunately I was too high to appreciate them.
When I saw the table for the free HIV test, I immediately became sure I had HIV, and then when I saw the table about some kind of community bail project for people in jail, I became utterly sure that I’d committed some crime for which I would be sent to jail. I just couldn’t remember what. I looked around for cops, but what I saw instead was the DC Slices booth.
A few minutes later we were sitting down with slices of pizza, mango lemonades and funnel cakes. We were bent over our plates, staring at passersby as they stared at us, eating as fast as we could. This, I thought, is exactly what eating is like in jail. I made a mental note to Google, “how to make a shiv out of a toothbrush handle” when I got home — if I made it home.
An attractive woman in yoga pants walked by. “You’re staring,” said Anthony.
I tore my eyes away and thought for a minute. “You know,” I said, “being an attractive woman is probably like being high all the time. Everywhere you go, everyone’s always staring at you.”
Anthony looked at me and then stared off into the distance. “Whoa,” he said.