Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can You Give It Up?

It all started with the smell of Febreeze in a classroom. Someone had spilled something that smelled bad, and to cover up the smell, one of the students got out the Febreeze.

This led to a few comments about what other smells they might be trying to cover up, and I, remembering the 70s very well, said, "Oh no, that's what we used incense for."

One of the students looked at me and said, "Mr G, did you really smoke that stuff?" I know, it seems hard to imagine, but yes, I did. And unlike Bill Clinton, I actually inhaled. But a bit of explanation is needed here.

The times were different back in the 70s. Much different. Possession and use of small amounts of marijuana had already been "decriminalized" in places like Ann Arbor, MI and the entire state of Alaska. In those places, the penalty was the equivalent of a parking ticket. And it looked like there was momentum to change the rules nationwide. In addition, when I was in high school, I had read the 1944 report of the LaGuardia Commision, and saw its conclusion that the dangers of marijuana were quite overstated. In fact, put into historical perspective, I saw the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act which led to the criminalization of it, to be just another attempt at Prohibition, and we all knew how well that worked. So it seemed just a matter of time before the lobbying efforts of organizations like NORML would result in the laws being changed so that using marijuana was no different than having a couple of beers.

And so it was in that era, with many law enforcement people turning a blind eye to people who just had a little bit, that I occasionally smoked the stuff.

What was most amazing to my friends at the time, was not only that my mother knew I was doing it, but her reaction to it. She said something along the lines of, "I know that there are lots of drugs there at college, and that you'll be tempted to try some of them. My only rule is that when they start to affect your grades, you have to stop."

After a long pause, I said to the students, "It never affected my grades, but eventually I did give it up."

When one of the students asked why, I said "Because my new girlfriend didn't approve of it and asked me to stop."

Well, you can imagine the reaction that got from the room. Giving up something you liked doing just because your girlfriend or boyfriend asked you to. At least one person in the room made the comment that I was "whipped." But I had a reply to that.
Think about it. If you can't give up something when someone you love asks you to, then it means that you're addicted to it.
The room got really quiet, and one of the students said, "You know Mr G, you're right."

Now let me say right here that there's a big difference between someone you love asking you to stop smoking dope or drinking and that same person asking you to stop watching The Office or reading Harlequin Romances (No wait a minute, the last one really is a harmful addiction. Those Harlequin Romances will rot your brain). There's a difference between someone caring about what's good for you and someone being downright controlling. The problem comes when you confuse the first with the second, as too many people do.

I was able to tell my girlfriend that I wouldn't do it anymore, and I kept my promise. Even six years later, after we had broken up, and there was no way we'd be getting back together, I turned down a joint when it was offered to me - and that was 23 years ago.

I could give it up, and did. The question is, can you?

No comments:

Post a Comment