We sat with our backs against the fence in the rear corner of the field behind our elementary school. It was not long before that we went to this school. We were only a few years out, but the changes we made in that short amount of time was drastic
To create a better view, I think I should describe the area before moving further. The grass-covered field was long and very wide. It extended passed the cement playgrounds and swing sets that were kept just outside the school’s double doors. This is where we once played games like tag or kickball.
The school itself was not very tall, nor was it overly large. To us, perhaps, the school may have appeared larger than it was because we were still young and in our smaller years. These were the times when our mothers picked our clothes and dressed us for school. However, our teenage years were much different.
Our backs were against the fence that bordered between the edge of school property and the backyards of neighboring homes. The homes were all the same style. They were all two-story, single family cape houses. Every so often, we could hear the sound of a dog barking in one of the yards close by.
At the other end of the field and across the street was the town’s water department. The property was fenced in with the department of water’s vehicles on the inside, and of course, there was a tall, blue-colored water tower. The tower was very tall and it stood above our neighborhood, giving at least to me, a sense of suburbia—or the feeling that ours was a small town.
There were four of us sitting in a row. All of us were longhaired with half-closed and bloodshot eyes. Aside from myself, there was Myles.
Myles was on the end to my right. He was holding a small pipe with his thumb covering the leafy green contents, which we were about to smoke. This is also why our eyes were half-closed and bloodshot.
Jason was next to Myles. He was drinking from a beer bottle and holding a small container of gasoline. The gasoline was not for any sort of vehicle though. Jason had recently returned from an adolescent drug rehabilitation center, so he was subjected to random drug testing, which, we all believed there were tricks to passing them. But rather than take any chances, Jason brought the small container of gas to use as an inhalant. When huffed, gas fumes do a nice temporary trick. The rest of us however, we stuck mostly to the weed and beer.
Mike was next to Jason, and I was on the opposite side of Mike. It was sunset. It was the beginning of summertime and the lightening bugs were circling in the warm, dusk air. Jason passed the beer to Mike and Mike drank his share of the bottle. Someone had a radio with a cassette player.
I cannot recall who the radio belonged to. I only recall it was somewhat large and black with silvery metal around the speakers. These were the days before CD and MP3 players. Many of us in town still had rotary phones in our homes with cords that limited the phone’s reach to other rooms in the house.
Myles took his small pipe and put it to his mouth. Then he lit his stainless still Zippo lighter. These were the kind with the flip-tops; they were the reusable kind, the ones we filled with butane and learned different tricks to open them fast, light a cigarette, and look cool.
Myles put the flame to the bowl of the pipe. I always loved the smell of smoking weed. I had smelled it often when I was younger; only, I had no idea what it was. But when I learned, I felt as if my behavior was almost acceptable. I knew marijuana was illegal, but I saw the law as senseless, especially since the places where I smelled the aroma was in the home of supposedly responsible adults. I never knew this, but decades later, the smell of burning weed turned into the smell of nostalgia.
Myles took his hit. Then he passed the bowl over to Jason to hand to Mike, which he did, but not before swirling the smoking bowl beneath his own nose to tease his senses.
Mike took his hit. He inhaled as much smoke as he could until his blue eyes became watery. He removed the pipe from his mouth with his cheeks slightly bulged from inhaling too much smoke. He held the smoke while fighting off the coughing fits that often come with drawing too much. Then he handed me the pipe and exhaled with a deep and heavy cough.
It was my turn. I put the pipe in my mouth and took the smoke in. As I did this, the contents of the bowl began to glow in the heat of a bright orange. Smoke lifted as I toked from the pipe. Then similar to Mike, I inhaled the smoke, held my breath with that same, puffy-cheeked expression, and handed the pipe back over to Myles to start the rotation over again.
Meanwhile, Jason took to inhaling the gas fumes. The way Jason saw it, since they would test him and monitor his behavior to stop him from getting high, Jason would find another way to expand his mind without being caught by the system. He decided to find ways that would not come up on random drug tests. And it worked.
We continued to smoke until there was nothing left. We drank from that same bottle of beer until all of it was gone. Then we took turns huffing from Jason’s container of gas.
Gas fumes are a different kind of high. I remember how the rush began. A good one came in strong waves. It sort of crept in slowly—so I would huff harder until the waves moved in faster. Next, I felt my body pulsating. Bells rang in my ears as I felt the absence of gravity. My hearing changed. I could not focus very well. I could only hear and feel my heart beating, which matched the rhythm of the pulsation that came with the short but intense high. And as quick as the high came—it left the same way.
What I recall about this night while feeling good from the weed and beer, and while under the spell of huffing gas fumes was the lightening bugs and the way the flashed and circled in crazy patterns. I thought about when I was a boy in grade school. I used to chase lightening bugs and put them in a glass jar because I thought I could use them as a lantern. I thought that was fun. It was amazing to me how much my definition of fun had changed in only a few years.
I remember this time very well. Our country was very different then. Times were different. True, we were crazy, but the world was not a worse place. Parents were not afraid to discipline their children and police were not as careful when say, ducking the head of a teenage boy so he wouldn’t hit it while being placed in the backseat of a police car.
We listened to fast and loud music. We smoked Marlboro Reds and kept the box of cigarettes in the outside chest pocket of our denim jackets. We wore steel-tip work-boots—either that, or we wore high-top sneakers, or the blue suede pumas. We wore jeans with ripped knees and concert t-shirts. Our hair was long and our look was awful. I suppose the adults of our time looked at us the same way I view the youths of today.
We really thought we knew what we were doing
But man . . .
time sure flies when you’re young and stupid.