It was the early 70s and my father and his friends used to openly smoke marijuana around me so often that I actually thought I had learned how to roll up a joint just by watching them.
I said in chapter one, in the first paragraph I believe, that my parents were young, and if you'd keep that in mind it will explain a lot about my life.
Did you think I was kidding?
Well when it came to rolling a joint as it turned out I really couldn't. But I was I fairly confident that I had the hang of it.
How many times can you feed a octopi in a aquarium before it will eventually learn how to lift up the top and climb out?
I was smarter than a squid, right?
And for the record, no one ever handed me a joint or sat down and taught me how to roll up a joint, it was just around me all the time.
When my father was in his early twenties that was just how he relaxed. That is how all of his friends relaxed. It was normal.
”Well I get stressed too,” I thought. “Whoever said being a kid is easy has never been a kid.”
My father walked in on me one night on the floor of his bedroom making a mess of it all. I had weed all over the floor all over my hair all over my face.
I knew where he hid it. I knew what drawer. I knew in what box and under what pile of sox.
I looked up at him. I don’t know what I expected to see, but what I got was this his face that I had never seen before.
It wasn’t anger. I had seen that.
It wasn’t disappointment. I had seen that as well.
It was fear. It was fear that I saw on his face, in his body. It was in his posture it was in the way that his lips trembled and his eyes teared up.
He yanked me up from the floor by my arm and ---.
That is all I remember.
My guess is that I blacked out some point after that.
So much for giving us spankings that will leave an impression.
He later told me that seeing me down there actually scared him to death because up until that time he hadn’t given me enough credit to be able to figure out what he and his friends were doing. When it finally registered in his head what I was doing he flipped.
It was very imitating to him that a kid as young as I was at the time could learn something like that just from observation alone.
To his credit, I have never seen him smoke a joint again in my life.
In fact, the only reason I knew my father continued to smoke occasionally were based purely on circumstantial evidence. Like he would be in the bathroom with the lights off for about two hours and when he left the vent fan was on and the bathroom smelled funny.
And it wasn’t boo boo I was smelling.
He ate the same dinner I had eaten ate and the bathroom didn’t smell like that after I got off the pot.
No pun intended.
To this day I get sick to my stomach whenever I smell marijuana. I lose my appetite. I get nauseous.
I guess maybe he did leave an impression after all.
The subconscious mind is an amazing thing isn’t it? It has seen fit to completely remove from my memory everything that happened after he snatched me up into the air by my arm but left all of the psychological after effects of the experience, just without any of the trauma.
It’s like eating a Twinkie that has all of the taste but none of the calories.
I just wish my subconscious mind would do that little trick with all of the embarrassing moments in my life.
My parents were if anything in love.
They set an incredible example to me as to what I have always expected a marriage to be like.
Since I could remember I wanted my future wife to move into the house next door one summer, I would expect us to hit it off, date throughout high school, go the same college, get married the week of graduation, start having kids and spend the rest of our lives happily ever after.
Dating and playing the field never appealed to me.
My parents met in college. That was about as long as I wanted to wait to meet my wife.
I actually went to college looking for my wife.
Actually I didn't even look. I was waiting for her to materialize in the seat next to me in a lecture hall. I was waiting on her to see me playing basketball and come introduce herself to me the way my mother had my father so many years earlier.
The older I got, the longer I went without being married the unhappier I became until I realized what was going on. I had a time table I was on. My parents have had each other since they were 19 and 22 years old respectively. By the time I had gotten 23 year old felt as if someone had shorted me a year.
I don’t want to say that the example they gave has given me unrealistic expectations but it certainly has made it difficult for me to just settle down with just anyone.
They were always playing music, singing together, turning the lights down low, sitting up under each other, standing up kissing and holding each other. They definitely seemed to give more attention to each other than they did me.
I didn’t mind at first because it allowed me time to get into my own mess. I need a lot of alone time. I did even as a kid. I still prefer to be alone with my thoughts.
If I had been a really needy child there definitely would’ve been issues.
But as it stood we were perfect for each other.
They would be in the living room smoking weed, listening to the Stylistics with the lights off and nothing but candles burning.
I would be in my bedroom teaching myself how to draw "fire" or write my name in cursive.
Life was good.
In fact, life was real good until these "can’t keep their hands off each other" parents of mine called me into the living room one night and asked me if they got “divorced” which one of them would I want to live with?
Remember I am only 3 years old, if that.
I freaked out. I screamed. Ran back in to my bedroom and completely wigged out.
To this day they both maintain that they just wanted to see if I knew what the word “divorce” meant.
Yeah right. I haven’t been that stupid since I was two.
Unless of course they really did just want to see if I knew what the word “divorce” meant.
Which would be a trip wouldn’t it? The one time that they laid it straight with me I didn’t believe them.
I remember that they called for me after I ran away and I didn’t come.
Now that was a serious “you don’t do that” in my house.
The words “When you hear me calling your name you come” was always followed by a smack on the ass.
Well this time I didn’t come.
That meant I was serious. And I was serious. Serious enough to disobey one of the clearest rules they had.
But I was pissed.
Besides, I wasn’t about to go back into that living room with them. What if they weren’t done and they had other words that they wanted to see if I knew like, “Cancer”, or “Orphan” or “Foster Home”.
They eventually came in after me and tried to console me by telling me that they were “just kidding”.
Just kidding? Is that supposed to be comforting?
God, what the hell did you get me into?
My adult logic tells me that things probably weren’t as lovely as they appeared on the surface between these two. At least not at that point in their marriage. However despite the odds against two kids getting married while in college and then staying together for the next 35 years and counting they did it.
The reason my mother gives as to why their marriage has worked all of these years is simply, “we were both determined to make it work.”
That’s it? No eternal love? No soul mates? No completing each others sentences?
Nope. Just hard work.
That might be the magical formula but try writing a hit chick flick movie with that theme. Good luck.