Getty / Victoria Pineapple

Hello, reader! It’s me again, Josh’s girlfriend. Happy International Women’s Day! Cheers to all the ladies who contributed to this issue of the Mercury. Cheers also to my job at a baller non-profit that has retained enough of a “fuck you” attitude from the ’60s that they close, and give us a paid vacation day, for International Women’s Day. (Were we open on Presidents Day? Yes, reader, we were.)

So, I’ve got the column again, and Josh has the week off again. As longtime readers will guess, that means he is currently stretched out on the couch, wearing his favorite “I have high friends in places” T-shirt, grinding up a new strain (“Babe? This one’s a pure landrace sativa strain, babe. PURE.”), and telling me, earnestly, about why, like, if you think about it, vaporizing is not only better for your health, it’s also really the right way to respect the plant’s many properties AND maximize the experience of the terpenes. Don’t tell my parents, you guys, but my boyfriend is a huge stoner.

Since I don’t go in for weed wonkery quite like Josh does, I don’t have a nuanced opinion on the latest policy change or a thoughtful review of the newest strain or gadget. (Chill, bro, he’ll be back next week, and I promise not to lady-up the column again for a long time.) I am not a stoner, reader, and I didn’t even particularly care for the devil’s jazz tobacco until I took up with Josh. I grew up in the era of full D.A.R.E. fear-mongering—think “weed will make you do meth and your teeth will fall out and everyone will hate you and you will die”—and this was a real conflict with my plan to follow all the rules and become Valedictorian of Everything. I dabbled, but only so I wouldn’t look like a square at parties. (Shockingly, I still looked like a square at parties.) It wasn’t until my senior year of college that my Also Very Well-Behaved friends and I considered that, you know, this was our last chance to be wild crazy college students, and we should really live it up! Or something! Smoking sounded yucky and cough-y, but we all liked brownies!

Of course (OF COURSE) none of us had any connections. We found a friend of an ex-roommate who had a boyfriend who had a medical card, and delegated one of us to place an order. As I recall, he was reasonably patient with our rookie questions, which meant we had to be polite when what he came back with was not brownies, but banana bread. In retrospect, this should have been our first (or, like, fourth) warning—I’m sure one of the roughly five billion new edible companies in Portland is doing it well by now, but I do not recommend banana bread as your cannabis-infused vehicle of choice. Nevertheless, we persisted. He advised us to eat about a half-piece each, to be on the safe side, since we were new to this, and obviously nervous. He politely didn’t call us losers. He left.

The banana bread was truly wretched. Bottom-of-a-bong, mixed with rotten banana peel, mixed with fearful steaming refuse from the pit of hell. We had a careful plan to eat a bite at a time and wait a half hour, but it was so vile we just bolted a quarter of a piece each and hoped for the best.

Reader, it was not the best. It was not chill, it did not expand our consciousness into new realms, and it did not give any of us a peaceful easy feeling of serene connection with our fellow humans and mother Gaia. It made half of us violently ill. Out of the five of us, one spent the next several hours curled up in the shared dorm bathroom. One did not make it that far, and threw up in the cat’s litter box. One hated throwing up more than anything, so she just sat very, very, very still in her closet—for about eight hours. The other two of us experienced something that I have since heard described as being “trapped in your body”; at the time I just felt like I had fully, completely gone crazy. I couldn’t talk, or move, or even really control my thoughts—I just lay on my friend’s floor and watched ideas flick-flick-flick through my head, unable to hold on to a single one of them. When I could form thoughts at all, they were mostly that I was now an actual crazy person, that I had had a mental break, and when I woke up (if I woke up) it would be in an institution, where I had maybe actually been all along anyway, and OH MY GOD IS ERIN PUKING IN THE LITTER BOX?!?

As it turned out, it was not a mental break, and we were all just way too fucking high. And that was it! Our first experience with weed! Easy to see why people were so into this! We all more or less staggered awake at four o’goddamn clock in the goddamn afternoon the next day, and swapped stories like we had just come home from the goddamn war. We agreed stoners were puzzling AT BEST, and that certainly we were never, so help us, touching that shit again. One of us cleaned up the litter box and, lady-god bless that woman’s Amazon warrior heart. I stumbled home, made popcorn several times, and watched Disney’s Madagascar before going back to sleep.

What I’m trying to tell you is that if the D.A.R.E. people had been trying to devise a scenario to say, “Look, kiddies, stay off the pot weed!” they could not possibly have done better than we did. On the other hand, three out of five of us have gone on to have successful pot-weed-smoking careers, and five out of five also have successful regular career-careers. Zero out of five lost our teeth or accidentally cooked babies into meth. And while it took some coaxing on Josh’s part to get me to try again, I can now totally appreciate the sacred magic herb plant. So fuck you, D.A.R.E., for your shitty scare tactics, and for your totally unnecessary contribution to making my younger self even more of a well-behaved loser. Clearly, I actually had that one covered on my own.

Enjoy the lady-holiday, stoners! Don’t get too high out there!