Cold and wet, a dark gray flannel blanket descended over the dorm’s common room. Lifeless eyes buried themselves in their sockets, chins melted like lava into the motionless chests beneath them. Bodies – immobile in their depression – fused with the mud brown sofas on which they spread. An escaping sigh – the sole response to the “hey guys, how’s it going?” with which I entered the room — was the only sign of life in this vacuum. A mournful Roberta Flack killed them softly from the stereo.
It was the early 70s — and a day without weed might as well have been a day without sunshine.
One of my pod-mates (a pod was a collection of bedrooms with a conjoined kitchen, living room and study area) managed a half-assed smile as I bounced off to my room, leaving a “you guys need to cheer up” in my wake.
But these were my friends; I couldn’t let them continue to suffer. The least I could do was to whip up a little something that would lighten their moods so I could read without guilt — surrounded by the frivolity and laughter that was the ‘white noise’ of my study environment. So I stopped in the kitchen, grabbed a small bowl and went to work. Let’s see … a little parsley, marjoram and oregano. Oh, add some thyme and tarragon. I love sage; let’s add a little rubbed sage. Hmmm … it’s not quite right … something’s missing. I added a little more parsley and a few pinches of chervil. Oh! Crushed rosemary – yup, just the tiniest bit. Voila! I pulled a sandwich bag from the drawer and into it I dumped my creation and skipped merrily back to the living room.
“Hey guys! Look at what one of my study-buddies dropped on me today!”
Now anyone who knew me – okay, anyone not desperately in need of a joint — would have recognized my ruse immediately. The probability that I would have a stash was about as likely as a vegan barbecuing Porky Pig. As the pod’s token straight arrow, it was common knowledge there was a major stick up my butt. That someone would give me a little baggie of dried herbs for something other than spaghetti sauce was beyond believable. Equally commonly known was the fact that I loved a good joke. But in their despair, no one gave it more than a moment’s thought.
Immediately the fog lifted! Rolling papers, lighters and roach clips stood at attention ready to get the party started.
“Whoa this is some good shit! Got a few sticks in it, but not too many!”
“Yeah, man, this is Gold – I can see it!”
I thought I’d been found out as they fired up the first doobie and it started crackling and popping. Apparently, however, that was a quality valued in good pot. I, on the other hand, strongly suspected I’d added too much rosemary.
“I like this shit! Where’d you get it? And why’d they give it to you?
But then why look a gift horse … well, you know the rest. So, the Funkadelics replaced Flack, an aromatic haze filled the room and everyone was happy. Once again there was laughter and all was right with my world. Mission accomplished, I disappeared into the study room to prepare for my biochemistry exam.
The mind is often our own worst enemy. It will convince us – contrary to clearly available evidence – to believe exactly what we want to believe.
You met her at your favorite bar. You weren’t sure what color her eyes were – you hadn’t gotten beyond the “I’m yours” tattooed on one of the breasts threatening to explode from their confines. Her lips were moving – but you didn’t hear a thing. Yet, as she waved the other flies away from her honey pot, a lightening bolt descended from the heavens and you decided she was the woman of your dreams. No sooner had you slipped the ring on her finger than your dream became your worst nightmare. Ten years later she ran away with your best buddy, the kids you only assumed were yours and half of everything you owned. And now you send her a check every month.
Successful and independent, you were your own woman — you didn’t need him. But you wanted him. He was obviously handsome, apparently rich and of all the women he could have chosen, he wanted you. Lucky you. Pre-nup? No, you couldn’t do that. After all, he didn’t ask you to sign one – and wouldn’t that have been an indication you didn’t trust him and that you expected the marriage to fail? So you set about combining your lives – and your assets. In short order you discovered his bank account was empty, his condo and car were leased and his job was nonexistent. But what about all the wining, dining and vacationing? Well, wooing you was expensive – his credit cards were maxed out as well.
Ummm … you closed your eyes and let your favorite coffee and cream concoction tease your taste buds. When you finally opened them you noticed the bespectacled weirdling who briefly smiled at you from across the room then quickly returned to his book. It occurred to you that he could very easily have been the inspiration for a multi-part episode of Criminal Minds. As he closed his book, stood and turned in your direction, you hastily packed up and ran. Sometime later you happened across a girlfriend with whom you hadn’t touched bases in ages. Seems she married some twirpy little engineering geek. Since his company went public she hadn’t been around much because they spent most of their time at their other homes. She whipped out her iPhone and pulled up a photo showing her smiling happily with your Starbucks unsub.
Listen to your heart, but use your head. Be open to possibilities, but do your homework. Make your list and check it twice. Know that appearances can be deceiving – especially when they’re showing you exactly what you want to see.
And remember: all that gold might just be variegated oregano.