I am twenty years old, and I regularly smoke cannabis out of a small, well-seasoned, red leathered pipe in Mark Meyer’s Mom’s basement. Remember The 70s Show? I am precisely Eric’s age. It seems as if Mark’s mother is always upstairs obliviously making dinner, and Joey DeVito is always downstairs moping around, waiting for Mark’s cute sister Dee Dee to come home from school. That’s where we all hung out forever back then,. That’s where we all got high and got by while we wondered what was going to happen next. Black light posters slaked in day-glow colors hang on the walls, and the Allman Brothers Band tears through a pair of very cheap speakers when suddenly my best friend, Mike Young, bursts through the door at the top of the stairs.
“Check. This. Out!”
Tall and lanky and as affable as they come, Mike grins widely as he holds up a thin magazine with a silver-blue cover. “It’s about weed!” he says.
“Get the fuck out here!” I blurt as I snatch it from his hand. The masthead fills me with an outlaw shiver as if someone had just torched the porch, and I knew it was time to run…
“Ooo, this is fucking cool!” I declare and everyone concurs. We sit down at the thick oak table scarred with black cigarette burns and old beers stains as I began to flip through the pages. There are sections for fake letters and a forum for straight talk – just like in Playboy magazine. The provocative cover of a Gallic beauty sensually tipping a phallic mushroom towards her parting lips seem to take its tip (literally) from the bunny book too. There is a contributors page that apparently lists some very real names and a feature story about Tantric Yoga that is terribly illustrated with grainy pictures of nude hippies. A news item quotes Keith Stroup from NORML praising the medicinal qualities of cannabis, and a book excerpt from Jack Frazier – “Hemp Papers Reconsidered” – is nothing short of prophetic. Then, far to the back on the last page, appears the first THMQ (Trans High Market Quotations: “Milwaukee – Columbian – $35. / $40. p/oz”).
But the piece which stays in our hearts and heads is the first High Times interview playfully titled, “Confessions of A Lady Dealer.” Just like its targeted readers, it is riddled with sexual tension.
Perhaps at this point a beam of pale light accompanied by a deep-throated drone snaps on above my head and bathes me in a portentous green glow signaling This! This Is Your Future! ; but if that happens, it goes unnoticed. Some part of me, though, shivers at the magazine’s presumption. I am blown away by the way it seems to echo my thoughts: There IS nothing wrong with smoking marijuana and as sure as warm sunshine this plant WILL be legal again!… Or so it seems to me on a simple summer’s day in 1974 bolstered by my best friend’s very good weed.
So. As Mike packs Old Red once again and fires up the bowl, I take another hit of inspiration before I offer the boys in the basement my impromtu first reading of our Lady’s provocative confession:
“Lynne is typical of the Lady Dealer’s candor and assertiveness.” I read aloud. “She has been dealing in earnest for three years. As she herself says, ‘I do everything in earnest.'”
I cock an eyebrow. The pull-quote has a familiar ring too:
“If I can get laid while doing a deal… I’ll do it… When you have to give tastes to a man and it’s just the two of you getting stoned, the chances are you might wind up spending the night.”
Style and substance; right out of Playboy, circa 1974.
Do not judge us. We are twenty-year-old boys who are in constant communication with our erections Just like the Lady Dealer, we are riddled with sexual tension. We look at each other bug-eyed and vigorously nod our heads. Sex and weed! Weed and sex! This IS fucking cool!
And we are hooked. We devour every word, ogle every photo and scrutinize every ad. Sex and weed, indeed!”It says here we can get a subscription. Ten issues for $12.”
“Not sent to my house!”
“Well, we gotta get the next issue.”
“There’s not going to be a next issue,” I say, “These guys are gonna get busted…”
I was wrong about that.
Now, it was Dee Dee’s turn to burst through the door.
“Hey, guys! What’s going on?…”
In the winter of ’75 each one of us would move out of our parents’ homes, take jobs, find girlfriends, start lives. Joey and Dee will get married, and the boys in the basement will drift apart. But the day that first issue of High Times arrived remains a silvered memory for everyone in the room, a treasured touchstone to those last lazy days when we met in Mark’s Mom’s basement to smoke a little weed and wondered what was going to happen next.
For the boys in the basement & Dee Dee.