I grew up with a father that played bass guitar in a rock band. I don’t know if that instantly gives me cool points or if I should just put on a wife beater and go eat peanut butter out of a jar. As a kid I didn’t think much of it, other than on Thursday nights the band would come over and practice in our unfinished basement, the perfect setting for these middle aged guys with beer bellies to pursue their passion. (Am I cooler yet?)
During band practice the basement was off limits to us little ones. Did that stop me? Nope. Umm hello, my father was in a rock band. We are rebels. On the rare occasion, I’d slowly open the basement door just as a song was winding down and sneak downstairs. The music would be just loud enough to hide the squeak of the door opening but not loud enough to flood the upstairs with the southern rock the band played. I’d perch my narrow hiney on the top step & pull the door closed equally slowly behind me. I’d stay on the top step b/c that was just close enough to hear if my Mom was walking around near the basement, and far enough out of site that the band couldn’t see me. I’d wait for them to play my favorite song, “Gimme 3 Steps” by Lynard Skynard. I knew all of the words.
Aside from sneaking downstairs to listen to them play, I don’t remember a ton about the band. My sister remembers far more than I do. She is older and apparently has a better, bigger and stronger brain than me. One Friday morning, my sister woke up and thought there was a bear sleeping in the basement. She patiently waited for her twin to wake up (safety in numbers!) before gathering the courage to tiptoe downstairs to find Coyote, the lead singer, passed out drunk and snoring on the basement floor. He eventually woke up, let himself upstairs into the kitchen, said good morning and was on his way. Side note: if having a name like Coyote doesn’t instantly make you the lead singer of a band, I don’t know what does. My Mother may have been a saint to allow this weekly event in her home.
It wasn’t until my freshman year in high school that I was flooded with those band practice memories for the first time. My friends parents were out of town and she was having a party. As I walked into her basement I thought, “what is that smell? OOOooooOoo that smell! It reminds me of something. Oh! It smells like band practice.” Being super smart (*takes off wife beater, puts peanut butter jar away*) I put 2 and 2 together. What do you know!? It was weed. The reason I probably loved sneaking into the basement as a kid was the contact high I was unknowingly receiving. That’s right, Dad’s band smoked weed in the basement on Thursday nights. No wonder I hardly have any band memories. I take back the older sister, stronger brain comment.
Now, not to rack up even more cool point or anything, but I remember coming home from that party and telling my mom that kids were smokin’ pot there. My mom, being super cool, handled that conversation beautifully and also put the fear of God into me. She talked to me about drugs in an informative way. She also told me about someone she knew that smoked pot laced with PCP once. She told me the horrific details of this person thinking they were made of rubber and, as such, pulled at their face and skin for so long that they were basically permanently disfigured. Kudos Mom. Kudos. That is a straight up horrifying story for a vain, self conscious, developing high schooler. I was never ever ever going to touch pot lest I disfigure my precious face.
That changed after I graduated high school. I had a boyfriend that smoked weed fairly often and after 2 years of being together I finally decided that I would give it a try, rush decisions apparently aren’t my thing. I told him I was ready and he kindly held my hand through the entire process. He was super soothing, told me to take it easy, what I could expect to feel to expect, and gave me the smallest puff off a joint to get started.
That is a total lie. Now that I know better I think this is what SHOULD have happened. What happened instead?
He packed a gravity bong made from an old 2 liter bottle, pulled it for me and I sucked it down like it was going to make me cool enough to be someone named Coyote in a rock band. I had never been high before, outside of band practice, but I was definitely high then. Like super high.
My mouth feels like I ate a piece of chalk. My eyes have basically sealed themselves shut. My heart is going to beat out of my chest. I think this is anxiety? Who smokes pot and feels anxious. Oh my God!! Am I going to turn into rubber and pull at my face??? Shit!!!! *Sits on hands for the next hour*
… 5 minutes later… am I high? I think I am high. How do you know when you are hight? Wait, am I high?
… 10 minutes later… GIVE ME ALL THE POTATO CHIPS AND SOMETHING WET FOR THIS ERASER IN MY MOUTH.
… 30 minutes later… the boyfriend suggest a movie. I am all in, this likely means more snack food, like popcorn. Yes. I am in on the movie idea. Where is the popcorn?
We pull 2 more huge bong hits and curl up on the couch. I tell my brain to stop asking me if I am high by deciding that I must be high. The movie starts. I am excited, we are probably watching one of those stoner movies that I’ve never really understood, like “Dude, where’s my car?” I am finally being indoctrinated into this cool group and all of the questions I’ve ever had, such as why the fuck do people like this movie? will finally be answered. This is a big victory. A big one.
You guys. I don’t know if he was a sadistic jerk or what but my boyfriend put on The Shining.
T H E S H I N I N G.
As in Redrum. Stringy hair Shelly Duval. Creepy finger friend. Voice that lives somewhere in my stomach.
Tricycle on 1970’s carpet.
I had not seen that movie before this moment in time. I have not seen it since. I have never been so petrified in all of my life. I think it permanently rewired my brain watching that movie high. I can not believe I sat through the entire thing. I still can’t look at tricycles the same way. My twin sisters sometimes terrify me if they are standing next to each other in a hallway, holding hands (happens more often than you think.) I won’t ever date a guy named Johnny. I can never marry a logger for fear of an axe related death and don’t even try to take me to a ski resort, like ever.
That experience scared me more than my Mom’s story about the rubber man. Given the choice, I’d much rather the company of a bunch of beer bellied, middle aged men, playing southern rock in an unfinished basement.
Do you have a first time story to share? Are you one of those, The Shining doesn’t scare me people? (How is that EVEN possible?) Do you think I should give The Shining another try? Is your Dad the one that was made of rubber and disfigured his face permanently or did my Mom make that up entirely?