I jolted awake, covered in sweat, still shaking. It happened again: college, English class; unbearably high, trying to give a presentation. Well—not me. It was David brooks, but I feared for his life. It kind of reminds me of a story my friend told me the other day—about how his childhood home got shot up and he and his younger siblings had to crouch together behind their couch to dodge the stray bullets—except not at all. Y’know?
Lets backtrack for a bit. The day before my gruesome nightmare I had read David Brooks’ recent New York Times op-ed in which he details his younger self’s harrowing and traumatic relationship with weed. And I think I can say with confidence that I wasn’t the only one who was left trembling. He spoke of his (and therefore a widely accepted) belief that “stoned people do stupid things,” bringing to mind the obviously less stupid bunch of heroin and crystal meth addicts. He mentioned his foresight at such a young age: “Most of us figured out early on that smoking weed doesn’t really make you funnier or more creative.” And he’s right—I mean, consider these famous potheads: Maya Angelou, Matt Damon, Andrew Sullivan, Stephen Colbert, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Jack Kerouac and Jon Stewart—clearly all idiots. Brooks triumphantly failed to be equitable, taking the side of white, affluent, American men only; and he planted fresh new seeds of insecurity in all of us when he said that smoking weed “isn’t something people admire” and that he gave up weed and “graduated to more satisfying pleasures…deeper sources of happiness.” Basically, Brooks painted a thorough picture of the ubiquitous man who drove us all to smoke weed in the first place.
When I finished the article I was many things: despondent that someone could be so naive, frustrated, indignant and, of course, slightly tickled all at the same time. Cut to, nightmare: little Dave & Busters pitifully trying to get out the words “King Lear” without bursting into hysterical laughter. He looked like a maniac; terribly uncomfortable; like the type of kid whose awkwardness is contagious. Then: I jolted awake.
I began smoking cigarettes in high school and continued until my sophomore year of college. Freshman year of college was when I got into smoking weed and, a year later, this habit eventually surpassed my craving for cigarettes. My parents were always against smoking, in general, but when I started to smoke weed regularly they began to voice their unpopular opinion that they’d rather I smoke cigarettes than weed. And I can safely say I have not met one other human with that same opinion since. I tried arguing with them, explaining the absurdity of their logic, and how wrong they were, but my mom would always shoot back with, “One joint equals a pack of cigarettes!”—a fallacious claim she no doubt read on TV.
Weed grows from the ground and is natural; cigarettes contain tar, are manufactured to be addictive, and are not natural in the least. The benefits of smoking weed over cigarettes should be incontestable, and yet for some reason this isn’t the case. Perhaps the same logic that my parents used to justify their claim that cigarettes are better than weed was borne out of the same logic that David Brooks employs in his op-ed. Perhaps it can only be explained as a generational difference. But that still doesn’t explain Brooks’ complete neglect of the benefits that decriminalizing weed would have on the incarceration of minorities. And at this point—as discussions and debates on the decriminalization of weed are growing rampant—it’s really not a stretch to label Brooks’ thinking as naïve.
Eventually I was able to convince my parents (with the help of an ex-boyfriend) that they were wrong. Then, the next thing I knew, my father’s hometown of Colorado decriminalized weed and, as Brooks predicted, the mere availability of weed was enough to turn my Neo-Con father into a pothead. Except—wait, that didn’t happen at all.
It feels redundant to list the benefits of smoking weed; instead I’ll just direct you to the documentary In Pot We Trust. What I will mention is weed’s alleviating effect on anxiety, because it’s the most commonly mentioned perk of smoking. It assuages a distinct anxiety that has creeped into the fabric of every 20-something’s life; an anxiety about our failing economy and dependence on our parents; and an anxiety borne out of maddeningly ignorant and judgmental adults like David Brooks.
So I did what any sane 20-something would do and read the piece again, except this time while high. I re-read the first paragraph, then took 3 long inhales. Then, I tinkled in my pants a little bit. “Uninhibited frolic? I’ll show you uninhibited frolic…” I muttered, as I took another hit. As my brain began to reject everything I was reading, my eyes zeroed in on Brooks’ photo. Do me a favor: look at his NYTimes photo again and tell me if his countenance does not say one thing and one thing only: “I am getting my butt fingered, it kind of tickles, and I’m trying not to laugh.” As I continued to get high, everything, as usual, began to crystallize. My powers of “reason, temperance and self-control” gained fortitude and, well—I forgot to finish re-reading the piece.