I suppose it would be a good time to talk about weed.

Weed and I met when I was a teenager. I had just started to go to parties where (gasp) drugs and alcohol were present. I tried it a few times. It was OK. Until that one day…

You can always tell the first time someone gets high because they have their first encounter with something called “the laughies.” You’re not sure why, but whatever just happened is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. And there you are, like an idiot, laughing uncontrollably, for probably the first time in your life.

My “first time” came in a room above the garage at my friend Jim’s house with Jim and Ian. Ian was microwaving some pizza, and he said “pep’roni.” He didn’t say “pepperoni,” he said, “pep’roni.” That was it. That was literally all it took. I looked at him and started laughing uncontrollably.

“What did you just say?” I said.

“What the hell is wrong with you,” he said. “Oh. Laughies. Got it.”

I maybe did it a few more times in high school but it wasn’t really my thing. I was headed off to Syracuse in the fall. The day came where we all found out who our roommates were going to be. Mine was going to some guy from Long Island named Evan Adelman. I don’t mind using his whole name. He was an asshole.

I called him. We talked. He told me he wanted to get a leather couch for the room. Then he said:

“Hey, so uh, Randy. Do you, uh, smoke the weed?”

“I guess. When it’s there.”

“Well if it was there all the time would you smoke it all the time?”

Christ, what an asshole. We hated each other right from the start. Sometime during the first week of school, he and about a half-dozen other morons on my floor started ripping bong hits in our room. No towel under the door, no incense. So I went into someone else’s room. I didn’t want to be a part of that.

Two minutes later, the R.A. comes in and busts all of them. Evan immediately assumed I went and tattled, as this was presumably the only way anyone could have deduced what was going on in there. Not, say, the waves of smoke billowing out from under the crack in the door, of course. But me.

So one night when I was out, he duct taped all of the stuff on my desk to the wall. Kind of odd, really. A little funny. But mostly, just a dick move. That actually describes him pretty well: kind of odd, a little funny, but mostly just a dick. I switched rooms.

As the semester wore on, my friends and I began taking more and more excursions “into the graveyard.” We were all still too scared to get high in our rooms so we’d bundle up — this was Syracuse after all, it was like eight degrees outside in November — and head down to the cemetery next to the dorm. Then we’d come back inside, get warm, order Campus Delivery, and play Sega until 3:00 a.m. “What a life!” I thought to myself.

As weed and I became closer, classes became less and less important. I stopped matriculating all together in March and ended up the year with a 0.9 cumulative.

Drugs 1, Randy 0.

My parents were rightfully furious. But surprisingly, they didn’t say, “All right, you little shit, you’re staying in this house, going to Lock Haven University and getting drug tested every week.” They’re smart people, Jim and Leslie. I think they saw that I was totally unprepared to do anything with my life, so rather then force me into doing something else that I would half-ass, they set me free. I moved to Denver with my other Syracuse drop-out friend.

This, as you can imagine, did not go well. Any motivation I had to work or go to school or better myself was simply lost in a haze of smoke and apathy. I got fired from at least three jobs and ended up working at Burger King. It was 1998, I was a 21-year-old waste of space.

Drugs 2, Randy 0.

So I moved back home, tail tucked firmly between my legs. I went to LHU, but this time it was because I wanted to. I got myself a good girl who made me want to be a better man, and I busted through four years of college in three years. For a while, however, the weed remained. I kept getting high, only this time I was doing it by myself. I still managed to wake up for class and show up to my job. I even managed to make a few new friends. And that’s when it started to get weird.

Whenever I would get high with new people, I would completely forget how to interact socially. My paranoia game was on point. I would just sit there, miles behind any active conversation. Then I’d start sweating, turn ghost-white, and excuse myself to go sit on the porch and wonder what the hell was happening to me. I just wanted to be a person again, you know? Not this druggy shell of whatever I used to be. So I made a decision. Weed and I had come to the end of our road. We broke up for good.

Drugs 3, Randy 0. Game, set, match.

I’ve often thought about what I’m going to tell my kids when the time comes. Drugs are bad? Well, they were for me, that’s for damn sure, but that’s just me. I know plenty of people who “had a great time” in college and still went on to be productive members of society. But I also know plenty of people who weren’t as lucky as I was, and I do believe I was lucky. I never turned to anything harder, never went down the darkest path. We lose a lot of good people to the darkest path, and you just never know where the journey’s going to take you once you take that first step.

So yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just let them read this one day and decide for themselves.

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