Son Like The Father
“Take this, brother, may it serve you well.”
I giggled. Mine was already starting to kick in as I handed the sugarcube over to Paul, my roommate. Of course, I had dosed a little earlier, and had complemented the treat with a nice, honeyed stick of ganja that was given to me as a gift by my father. Grass never invaded my brain or took me over. It always sat upon my shoulders like a little kid and pointed urgently towards the next fun ride that we were approaching on the Midway of Life. Acid, though, that was a whole other story. I slipped a hand over my mouth to still another giggle; what was so damn funny? It might’ve been the way Paul surveyed the cube with one raised eyebrow before popping it into his mouth gamely. He looked at me expectantly.
“Just suck on it,” I said.
I stood up and made a half-circle around the couch before walking down the hall and turning right into our small kitchen. The refrigerator was covered with little yellow post-it notes, one of which stated: “Vincent Magic Mountain Saturday.” That had been this past weekend. I opened the door and peered inside before withdrawing a plastic chug of Minute Maid orange juice. Closing the door, I set the yellow container down and tossed open one cracked wooden cupboard. Two glass tumblers, stolen from some I-Drive restaurant, gleamed in the fluorescent light. We had orange juice at Six Flags on Saturday, too. Vincent had been terrified of that new Superman: The Escape rollercoaster, the one that goes 100 m.p.h. His small hand clutched mine fearfully, nearly cutting the circulation off as the ride cars rocketed over the fairway. He began to move a little faster, urging me to hurry up before another horrible car could come along. To calm his six-year old nerves and quench his thirst, we stopped at the very next drink stand and got two sippers of orange juice.
“We’re not going on that,” he stated, sullenly sipping his juice through a red crazy straw.”
“I’m not going on that!”
“You’re not afraid of that.”
“The hell I’m not!”
I bugged my eyes out at him and he giggled; I followed suit. Then added a huge, pulp-filled *BRAAAP!* His mouth fell open and, eyes rolling back in his head, he fell into a cascade of laughter. When he was four, I had introduced burping to him accidentally while drinking some Coke. I’ve always been of the school of thought if it doesn’t come out one end, it’ll end up at the other, and it picks up a certain character if you put it off. Some cultures consider it a compliment to the chef, even polite, to fire off a belch after a filling meal. In my case, I’m just trying to preserve air quality. So, I had taken a particularly large swig of beverage, and that familiar burning caught me in the base of my throat. I let one rip, and he had gotten a strange smile on his face. Then, he took the can from my hand, tipped it back and slugged soda, then lowered it and faked a raspy burp. He had looked satisfied. My mother had looked horrified. Now, as a pretty nice report sounded in the air, I looked at him with admiration. “You’re getting better,” I said, and he looked satisfied.
I brought the glasses out to the living room, where Paul was sitting on the floor, hands in lap. Waiting until he showed me his tongue, which was clear of cube, I handed him a glass, sat across from him on a beanbag chair, and we toasted our upcoming trip. He was a neat guy, pretty open-minded. A hair-stylist. He had never done LSD before, and I just happened to have some lying around, left over from some long- running shindig at our pad. We had the entire day off.
“Thank dad for the fun,” he said.
“You thanked him.”
“Thank him again.”
“I’ll do that.”
“You know, you kinda remind me of him. In a way.”
“I dunno — the way you look at people. Like you’re sizing them up. And the bud. You must’ve gotten that from him.”
“No, I started on my own.” It was true, that. Though the evidence of my old man’s pot craving was constantly in front of me, I didn’t know enough to recognize the signs. In the small sphere of my childhood, father did no wrong and was capable of nothing illegal, since he worked in law enforcement. I figured every divorcé pad in America must’ve had Playboy spread out on the coffee table like National Geographic in a doctor’s office. And that thick smelling pipe tobacco that he favored must’ve been the source of all those stems and seeds that I found in the ashtrays sometimes. I hadn’t encountered unclean pot before, he had no reason to think that I had, and the secret was safely buried behind a cloud of cherry-smelling smoke. No, it was Eric Petersen who began smoking me out in front of his house before school or selling me one dollar joints in the locker room. Some might consider him a bad influence.
“Is it wrong that I’m getting you stoned and fried up?” I asked him.
“No, I want to get stoned and fried up. I’m actually quite stoned, thank you, and I think we’re frying up pretty quickly.”
“Do you think we all end up like our parents?”
“Didn’t they sum that up in The Breakfast Club ?”
They did. It was Ally Sheedy’s character who said it, something to the effect of “it’s inevitable” that we grow up to be our parents, at least in some way. I took a long sip of orange juice and wondered about that.