One Morning

[When I wrote this in 2010, people could no longer be “busted” in Massachusetts for possessing small amounts of marijuana, but medical marijuana was a pipe dream. Pot was underground. Re-reading this in 2016, it seems remarkable that I thought this was worth a story.]

When I got up this morning, my brain was hazy. I bumbled around the house, and realized that if I rode my bike to my meeting, I’d run into a curb or fall over while waiting for a light to turn green. I decided to take the subway. I got myself out the door with my keys, sunglasses, wallet (including T-pass, amazingly enough) and iPad, on which I’m typing now. Or “tupping,” as it just corrected my misspelling. Is it really necessary for the iPad to replace a mistyped word with “tupping,” which means a ram copulating with a ewe?

Perhaps because my constant computer-aided distractions cause me to suffer from crow syndrome (the crow turns its attention away from the subject at hand and toward the shiny object), I have digressed. You know, I don’t think that “shiny object” behavior gives the crow due credit for its remarkable intelligence. Did you know that a crow can recognize a specific person, even through a car window? I wonder, were they the birds in The Birds? Then again, I like to believe I have remarkable intelligence, so maybe I am like a crow.

Begin again. I left the house with my backpack on my back. Through my muddle, I saw the sprinkler I’d left on the lawn last night. I’d left it there out of laziness, promising myself I’d put it away when I saw it in the morning. My laziness hadn’t been cured overnight. I trudged on, turning one corner and then another as I walked toward the T.

“Look at the gorgeous colorful flowers on the tall stalks. I think that’s the kind that butterflies really like. I’ve always wished those could grow in our yard.” My brain was starting to shake itself awake.

An odor wafted by. “Woah, that’s marijuana,” I thought.

Wild marijuana plant, Tadapani
Wild marijuana plant, Tadapani ,by Dey Alexander, on Flickr

The woman across the street, who was going in the opposite direction, frowned at me as she, too, sniffed the air.

“Hey, it’s not me,” I whispered in her general direction.

To my left, I noticed someone mowing the lawn. I speculated, “could it be that the nickname “grass” comes from having a similar smell?”

“No,” I answered myself. “Besides, that guy is way over there with the mower. He’s not hiding behind this tall shrubbery, smoking weed.”

My sharpening detective’s eye kept looking about. I ran through what I’d seen in the past minute. Not a single car had gone by. There wasn’t anyone in any of the parked cars. The porches were all empty. I looked more carefully at the man walking in front of me; I’d passed him over earlier because he didn’t have anything in his hand. I observed more carefully: he moved his hand toward his mouth, first finger on his thumb but not giving anyone the “ok” sign.

“Woah, check out that billow of smoke!” I said to myself.

He put his hand back in his pocket.

I speculated. “Was the joint in there? Had he snuffed it out? Or would he burn his pocket? Hmm. Maybe it was a sleight of hand: there’s a cloud above his head again. He definitely didn’t get rid of it.”

He was walking faster than I, so I could no longer smell the pot. Now he was directly across from the fire station, and dragging more frequently on the joint. At the next corner we’d be in the sight of the T, in the midst of more people.

“Brazen,” I muttered aloud.

He turned left. A few seconds later, I turned left, just in time to see him going into the odd little drug store with the lottery-live video monitor that sits in the window. The drug store with cough syrup and band-aid boxes covered with dust, not caused by age but by leaving the door open to the gritty street just outside. The drug store that still has a sandwich counter, and where you have to ask a clerk for most items, which range from aspirin to the walkers that are advertised as “medical devices” on the exterior brick wall. The drug store where you can buy vodka and other hard liquor, although not beer. The drug store that finally stopped selling cigarettes and took down the Marlboro awning about five years ago. [The drug store that lost its pharmacy license a few years later.]

Calves investigate smoking ashes
Calves investigate smoking ashes

“Maybe it’s not a drug store, it’s a drug store!”

The Mystery of the Stoner solved, I went through the T turnstile, ready for my day.


  1. a) See *Othello* re: "an old black ram tupping your white ewe."

    b) Funny picture.

    c) I like your beginnings.

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