My brother has had chronic knee and shoulder problems for years. A confirmed sports-a-holic, he’s golfed, footballed, tennised and judoed from childhood to middle age. Well into his forties, he’d troll for pick-up basketball games, begging strangers to let him play. He was in constant agony from his bum knees and shoulder, but was always jonesing for athletic activities. Even after several operations, he just couldn’t deny his jockhood. It is as much a part of him as his chin.
Baby Bro is a pretty button-down guy. He has a beautiful home in an old, established Michigan neighborhood, complete with manicured lawn and an attached garage, where he parks his Lexus. He’s an accountant by trade, but he has a beautiful, sprawling mind, and has always pursued new and innovative business ideas, writing and selling marketing and training programs, and collaborating on books designed to improve even the crumbliest of corporations. He’s also a doting husband, father and grandfather, and an active member of his synagogue.
And now he’s a pothead. After all of the shoulder and knee surgeries proved worthless, his doctor approved him for the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program. He’s a bona fide, card-carrying member.
I imagine him coming home from his corporate dealings at the end of a long day. He parks his Lexus in the garage, goes into the house and puts away his briefcase. He reviews his day, returns some business calls, files some papers. Then he goes into the den, pops in a Pink Floyd CD and pulls out his bong.
“So,” I repeat, “how’s the pot smoking going?”
My brother knows me well. He understands that I’m going to ask him four-hundred crazy questions, and that I’m going to laugh at him, but he’s going laugh too. It’s the way we roll.
“Um….good,” he says. “It’s fine.”
“Is it relieving your pain?”
“Yeah, it is.”
“Are you a pothead now?
“No. It’s not like that. I just take a hit, and then an hour or so later, I take another. An hour later, another. “
“Right. That’s what potheads do,” I say. “Do you get the munchies?”
“Not so much.”
“What do your friends and family think of all of this? Are they there with you when you do it? Do they get a contact high from the smoke?”
“They all think it’s great. It’s strange though, because almost everyone I meet asks me for some, but I’m not allowed to share. It’s kind of a problem.”
“How?” I press, in my nosy, big-sister way. “How is it a problem?” It makes me laugh, hearing of his dilemma.
“Well, by law, I’m allowed to have two-and-a-half ounces of pot in my possession at any given time…”
“Yeah. And my caretaker is allowed two-and-a-half ounces in his possession at any time, in case I run out…”
“Caretaker?” I ask, “Is that a euphemism for dealer?”
“Yeah, and he’s allowed to grow two-and-a-half ounces of pot so that he never runs out.”
I’m sort of astounded. “So…..you always have access to almost a half a pound of pot?”
He sighs. “It’s unbelievable. My caretaker calls me and says, “‘You gotta take some of this off my hands.’ He’s not allowed to go over the five ounce mark.”
Apparently, this predicament forces my li’l brother to consume more Mary Jane than he normally would. I picture him, a corporate stoner, going to business meetings with red-rimmed eyes, giggling during training sessions and saying things like, “Check out these far-out monthly productivity reports, dudes.” Or maybe he goes to Friday night services and ends each prayer with a solemn “Amen, man.” Soon he’ll be wearing tie-dyed suits and hemp sandals to work. Maybe he’ll grow dreadlocks and start wearing a rasta hat, like a paler, less soulful Bob Marley.
I begin considering moving to Michigan and becoming a “caretaker.” A few grow lights, some mulch and a couple of seeds, and I could enter the medical profession. I quickly and sadly realize that I’d be horrible at it, though. My thumb is so brown that I can’t grow regular weeds, much less the kind that’s harvested for chronic pain. My poor “patients” would be begging for their two- point- five ounces as I panicked and struggled unsuccessfully to fill their little Baggies with tiny, wilted leaves. Mentally, I retire before I’ve even begun my new career.
“Well, I’m glad you aren’t in pain anymore,” I tell my baby bro.
“Me too,” he says, and we move on to other subjects, like pickles dressed as policemen and an idea for a new musical genre called Jew blues, with inspired titles like “Oy.” We laugh until we cry. And neither of us is high.