I Don't Do Drugs


When I was in High School and college, I smoked my fair share of pot. When I lived along the Sunset Strip in my early 20’s, I preferred clove cigarettes over marijuana, but then there was that time that I did mushrooms on Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland. But I don’t do drugs. I have a very carefully cultivated image as a PTA leader, team mom, and field trip chaperone that I’ve been living up to for two decades. I wouldn’t risk fumbling that ball for a bong hit.


Then there is my husband. He smokes pot pretty much every night. Just a couple puffs to take the edge off when he gets home from work. It’s been a source of angst in our relationship at times, like during my son’s eighth birthday party when I walked into the garage and found a giant bag of weed sitting on his workbench adjacent to the fridge where the kids had been grabbing drinks and popsicles all day. We had a big fight over that one.


So my friend Jenny’s father was suffering from cancer up in Northern California and her mom had this carefully cultivated, totally relatable Brownie Troop Leader/PTA mom/June Cleaver cookie-baking persona, but Jenny’s dad had changed since he got sick. He was no longer his funny, jovial self. He was intolerably cranky and consumed by pain. Jenny’s mom was at her wit’s end and asked the doctor if there is anything else they could try and the doctor suggested medical marijuana. Jenny’s mom was adamantly opposed to that idea. “No way! I am NOT going to give my husband DRUGS!”


One day Jenny’s brother came over to stay with his dad for the day while Jenny’s mom went out to get her hair done and grab a rare lunch with friends. Jenny’s brother had also tried to get his mother to consider giving their dad some pot, but was met with a consistent NO! But that day, he brought along some edibles and gave some to his dad.


When Jenny’s mom got home, her husband was in a great mood! He said he was pain free for the first time in ages. He was making jokes like his old self. Jenny’s mom asked her son what happened and Jenny’s brother confesses, “Well, I gave him a couple of gummy chews…”


The next day, Jenny’s mom gets her medical marijuana card. Now she’s not only taking care of her husband, she’s become a pusher. She tries all kind of products and if Jenny’s dad doesn’t like them, she offers them to family and friends.


So Jenny and I meet up for our annual girl’s weekend trip. Jenny books a quaint, boutique hotel in San Anselmo just above a fine restaurant. We go out to dinner, have a lovely time, and head back to our room, which, quite frankly isn’t what the website said it was going to be. It is more of a shabby dump that is not above a quiet restaurant but above a noisy bar, up a rickety staircase lined with mis-matched, musty carpet. But we’re just grateful to be together and away from family life. We get into our PJs and climb into our beds, opening up a bottle of Cabernet and turn on the 80’s film Working Girl with Melanie Griffith. We’re hanging out, enjoying our wine when Jenny pulls out a chocolate bar. A gift from her mother.


Now there are many words to describe me. One might be writer. Another would be wife and of course there is mother, but topping the list for longer than any of that is CHOCOHOLIC.


Chocolate is my jam. We each have a square of chocolate and we’re sitting there for a while, enjoying the movie, but neither of us feel anything. And this chocolate is tasty, so we have another piece. Still don’t feel anything. So we have another piece and another piece after that and we’re enjoying the film when suddenly it hits us. And we are laughing hysterically. But pretty rapidly that joy and laughter turns into a crazy paranoia, and our hearts are beating out of our chests and and my children are going to live the rest of their lives thinking their mom was a drug addict.


I’m freaking out before I pass out.


The next morning I miraculously wake up and I say to myself, I am never ever ever going to do drugs ever again.


That was a couple years ago. So cut to last Thanksgiving. My son is home from college and I am in my office and he brings me a paper that he needs to turn in soon and asks me if I wouldn’t mind proofing it. What you need to know about my son is that the partier skipped a generation in our family. My son won’t drink alcohol. He hasn’t tried any drugs. He’s never even had a soda. He’s 19 and he’s living clean.


So I’m reading his paper and he turns to look at the curio cabinet I’ve had in my office since before he was born and he’s playing with the Russian nesting dolls and looking through a book of quotes when he picks up great, great Aunt Beverly’s little China tea pot and he opens it up, “Mom! What’s this?!” And there’s a small bag of weed I think I confiscated from my husband a decade ago when he left it out where the kids might have seen it – again – and some gummy chews and butterscotch candies my husband’s brother gave him years ago. And there was a joint a friend gave me after I’d told her I don’t smoke any more because I don’t like getting paranoid and she said, “You’ve got to try this – it’s Charlie Sheen and it’ll make you mellow” as if mellow and Charlie Sheen are synonymous. Clearly, I’d forgotten this stash was there!


My son is so upset and he says, “We have to have an intervention!” So he immediately gets his sister on Facetime from her college, “Maddie! Can you believe MOM DOES DRUGS!” And my daughter says, “Well yeah, I knew.” I mean she asked me years ago if I’d ever tried any drugs and I’ve always believed in being honest with my kids. My son just never asked.


And my son says, “We need to get dad involved.” And so he brings his sister on FaceTime into the family room where my husband is playing Call of Duty.


Dad, did you know mom does drugs?” he asks incredulously, and my husband, the guy who actually DOES do drugs, and for whom I’ve been covering up for decades, and who I can pretty much guarantee is stoned at that very moment with several far bigger stashes of pot and a bong hidden in the garage, and he says, “I understand you found your mother’s stash and yes, son, occasionally the two of us will have a little something.” And I’m looking at my husband in disbelief. Seriously? My son’s jaw has dropped. My carefully cultivated super mom image has been destroyed. After 21 years of parenting and conscientiously taking the high road 99% of the time while my husband has actually been HIGH, we are now on an equal plane in the eyes of my child. Maybe NOW would be the time to try out that Charlie Sheen.


But as I was saying, I don’t do drugs.


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As shared at Story Salon on January 9, 2020.

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