My first drug experience came in seventh grade when I found some pot in the glove compartment of my mother’s car. The car was parked in the street in front of my aunt’s house, which is where I had posted myself in order to scope out the eighth grade boy across the street. The trick was to look like I was seeking something important and elusive enough to warrant a thorough and patient search.

What I did find was a lump of dope, wrapped in Kleenex, which I contemplated for about half a second before I slipped it into my pocket. My mother and her boyfriend had a conversation about what a bummer it was that “It” was missing, though he was sure that he had put “It” in there. There was only a perplexed, off-in-the-distance stare, but no one suspected me.

For a long time I hid the dope lump in the pocket of my winter coat. Then, one day when I was alone in the house for the first time since finding it, it occurred to me that I could smoke some of it.

I knew my mother kept rolling papers and pot seeds on a Mickey Mouse serving tray under the couch. On this sacred tray I managed to roll two straight and smokable joints, which I took to the basement. I stared at them and sniffed them. After pacing awhile I decided the best place to smoke in secrecy would be the dark little storeroom under the porch. Here I lit one and smoked, holding it in, then exhaling in a burning cough. After three puffs I had a paranoid premonition of someone pulling into the driveway, and I stubbed the rest out on my shoe. Then I began the frantic pinwheeling of both arms like a makeshift air freshener.

With a constricted throat and pounding heart, I tore up the stairs and burst into the kitchen to find that I was alone, and also, very stoned.

The phone rang. It was one of those old fashioned ones with the separate receiver, and I couldn’t seem to manage both parts. It turned out to be a melodramatic and reactionary friend from school. I was delighted to brag about my liberation. She reacted with a shocked sucking sound, and began to fire questions.

Are you tripping out? Are there colors? Do you have the munchies? Are your pupils dilated?”

I went into the bathroom to look at my own eyes. They did seem kind of weird to me. Jessica’s voice changed pitch and I began to feel heavy.

I sat down on the floor and rested my cheek against the black and white tiles that were now swimming in a crazy crossword puzzle where seven across was definitely vertigo. I guess I was there for awhile, long enough for Jessica to give up and hang up on me. I’d dropped the receiver and it recoiled like a poked snake. I kept seeing the image of an up-ended broom with Barney Rubble hair, superimposed over a piece of white bread. I heard laughter, high in pitch and nearly hysterical, like a witch on a roller coaster zooming around in my head.

Eventually I became paranoid about the remaining joint and a half. I looked at them, partly giddy over the easy transition from boredom to elevated consciousness, then in an unsettling attack of guilt and fear I threw the joints in the toilet and watched them swirl around, then disappear.

Next I ate four pieces of white toast. I admired how the toast left its dewy breath on the glass tabletop. I basked in the tactile splendor of the surface of toast, as well as the aroma and enriched white floury goodness, it’s warmth, it’s breadth, if you will. There were other flavors, textures and smells in the kitchen, what a thrill!

But then, a car pulled into the drive. I was no longer alone, and the buzz of wonderment began to recede. I went to my room to pretend I’d been napping, all at once sad because toast had become steak to me and I’d flushed the fun away.

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