Voices: Dad Says Don't Smoke Weed

My Dad sold weed for a living. He was also a manager at an Office Depot. Also, he did computer things. But always, he sold weed. My mother kicked him out for selling cocaine from our garage when I was four. He quit selling hard stuff because she warned that a little girl shouldn't have to be around that shit, so he stuck to selling something more friendly: marijuana. 

There was always weed at Dad’s house, and because of the wide variety of folks he sold to, Dad instilled the fear of drugs in me. At an early age, he said that weed would lead me down a dark path, clearly the one he was on and wanted me to avoid, and that if I smoked a joint, I would turn out like all the druggies that I had seen. Now, to be fair, those druggies weren't just smoking weed — they were involved in all sorts of things like coke, pills, uppers, downers, whatever they could get their hands on. He was so paranoid that if I smoked, I’d become so much worse than him. So I knew what weed was since I was just a kid, and I knew that it what the devil’s dreams were made of.

The first hit I took was from a tiny joint littered with someone else’s parents’ weed. In California, all the parents have weed. That’s what we smoked—shwaggy mom weed that got us giggly. I was twelve the first time I got high, and to my surprise, the devil did not overtake my body. I did not grow a tail, or horns, or turn into a total fucking pyscho. I never told Dad that I often smoked at my homegirl’s mom’s house after 8th basketball practice. I never told him that I listened to Madonna nonstop and I certainly never told him that I often walked into screendoors when I was high.

But the summer before high school, the one where I thought I was the shit with tiny boobs and a tiny waist, we went to the annual surf competition in my hometown. Certainly Dad had plenty of clients at these types of events — all ages and sizes — and while I mostly knew that he was always hustling, we never talked about it, and we both pretended not to know about the other.

Until over the loudspeaker on the beach, Jimi Hendrix, “Have You Ever Been Experienced” played. I sang along, as an almost-high school gal, it was mandatory to know those cool tunes.

Dad flipped out. He forcefully walked me off the beach.

“Why do you know the words to this song?”

It’s Jimi (with an ‘i’) Hendrix duuuuuuuuuuh.

He squinted and told me that only stoners listen to that hippie shit. He said I should be careful that I don’t go down a path where I need to be high all the time, like Jimi he said, because that leads to devil things, and suicide, and all the other bad things he could think of at that moment. He suggested we buy t-shirts from the surf event, and get home, before things got out of hand. I had never seen him so upset.

Until I stopped into the Rasta-themed incense tent. By the time he realized what was happening, I was already 3 boxes of nagchampa deep. He demanded that I return it to the sweet old lady who sold incense, colorful wraps and scarves, and wind chimes. She politely told us that there were no returns. I followed him back to his truck, clutching my three boxes of pungent potpourri sticks.

We barely spoke on the drive home.

“Does your mother let you have lighters and matches?”

Poor Dad. It wasn’t exactly about weed, but about the tiny boobs, and all the things that were about to follow.