Updated: Feb 26, 2019
This story, as you will discover, is intended to illustrate the lengths I was willing to go to in order to gain a sort of significance. It is not intended to promote or glorify illegal or unethical behavior. It is simply a story plucked from my personal experience growing up.
“Aw man, who forgot to take the stems out?”
I said loudly as the car passed.
“Man, who rolled this joint and left the seeds in it?”
My Aunt Pam shouted.
We wanted the people driving by to hear us and know that we were smoking weed.
Who knows if they actually heard us and my bet is that if they did, they went on with their lives unchanged. As lame as it sounds, we wanted to be considered cool and the smoking with blatant declarations of our "joint ventures" checked all the boxes in our self defined meaning of cool.
I was in Jr. High school at the time, 9th grade I believe and while there could have been others involved I am certain my Aunt Pam was part of this and possibly my sister Lori. The reality is, we were not even smoking marijuana. In fact, I was not smoking at all. I was sucking smoke into my mouth and blowing it back out.
There were no stems in the “joints” we were brandishing because Lipton tea did not have stems in it. Lipton tea, when burned, had an aroma not exactly like weed but eerily close. When we discovered this by accident, we decided to roll some tea joints and test our hand at being drug dealers.
To be clear, nobody actually said, “Hey, lets be drug dealers!” I believe it was something more along the lines of “Let’s see if we can trick Rose into buying some.” Rose being a girl a little older than us who we believed epitomized cool. If we could get her approval then maybe it would launch us into her galaxy where we could at least orbit her planet.
Somehow no one objected as we concocted this crazy plan, laid out the steps and then put it in action.
Step 1. Go to Juniors and buy some rolling papers. Juniors was the neighborhood convenience store. Everything a teenager wanted could be bought there: snacks, soda, penny candy and cigarettes could be bought inside. Almost anything else you wanted could be bought outside.
Step 2. Roll the tea joints and put them in a baggie. This part was all trial and error for me. I had never rolled a joint so the first 5 were pretty pathetic. It’s a good thing our supplier, my Grandmother, had a near full box of Lipton tea bags in the kitchen cupboard. We could afford to make a few mistakes and not run out of it.
Step 3. Test the joints' smokability. This is where the episode above comes in. On our way to see a movie at the Crest Theater we “smoked” our tea joints and acted like we were getting high. Not sure why we found it necessary to convince perfect strangers driving down the street that we were smoking weed but obviously our idea of “being cool” was a bit twisted.
Step 4. Offer Rose a sample. We decided we'd brag about this "good stuff" we had and let her take a few hits with us and
Step 5. Give her a joint and then wait for her to come back for more. We must have seen this portrayed in some movie like Shaft or Starsky & Hutch or some other Hollywood production and thought if it worked for them it could work for us.
I can’t speak for my Aunt Pam or my sister Lori but thinking back about our little foray into organized crime has caused me to see that it wasn’t just being cool that motivated me. There was this element of risk involved that made it exciting and dangerous and daring. At this time in my life, I didn’t have a whole lot going on to provide that and along came burnt tea to scratch that itch.
I have discovered that I derive significance from excitement, a dash of danger and a real possibility of pain if things don’t go well. This translates into me taking on audacious projects that no one in their right mind would ever consider.
We pulled off all 5 steps and while it seems that Rose did tell us how good she thought our “weed” was, our tea cartel never made it off the ground.
The funny thing about all of this is that as I was raising my tea joint up to my lips to take a hit, it occurred to me that the position of my fingers as they held the joint were in is the exact same position they are in when I’m holding a dainty tea cup and pretending to drink like a british snob.
Test it yourself. Right now.
Pick up that imaginary joint and bring it to your lips.
Before you take an imaginary puff, leave your fingers in position and imagine you are a british snob taking a sip of tea.
I have no idea what that means other than it’s the kind of thing you notice when you smoke tea instead of drink it.