Rembrandt's "The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild," 1662, via Wikimedia Commons
When I was 15, a weed mentor of mine told me over a shwag blunt that there are people in this world who refuse to smoke weed that’s below a certain grade. “If you pass them a blunt, they’ll ask you what kind of weed is in it, and sometimes they even refuse to hit a blunt at all.” I couldn’t believe my ears. To me, the weed you smoked was simply the weed you could get your hands on—whatever availability and budget allowed. I never turned down a hit, and I certainly didn’t have a problem with blunts. I had no idea that I would become precisely the type of snob for which I felt so much scorn.
At some point shwag started to give me a headache, or rather, it always gave me a headache but then I started to mind it. To the disappointment of Malik, the neighborhood shwagman, I switched to the product carried by a nearby hippy, who consistently had tasty weed that I wouldn’t taint with the flavor of a blunt. There, I said it. Blunts are only good to mask the flavor of shitty weed and give it a little nicotine kick. The only other benefit, and thereby the only reason to use blunts for good nugs, is if there are a bunch of people smoking and you want the weed to get around. Blunts are famously slow burning. At the peak of my blunt days, I belonged to a crew of stoner outcasts that managed to consume hordes of blunts in and out of our dorm on the corner of Broad and Diamond in Philly.
We lived in virtual prison cells on the seventh floor of a building on the edge of campus, with a steady flow of zombie-like bums and crackheads rattling at the partial fence around it. Adding to the postapocalyptic vibe was our elevator, a haunted iron maiden that scared us onto the stairs, which then scared us right back into our rooms. With our weed coming from a floormate, the only reason to emerge from the building was to grab a dutch from the gas station across the street, where at least three shootings occurred in our first semester. This hugely undesirable task required only one quester, a role that was decided by nose goes until a new member of the crew entered our midst.
Egon was a fucking lunkhead. We first encountered his doofy ass because fate and the housing board paired him with our integral homeboy Dave. In that first few weeks of freshman year, when everybody exchanged numbers with everybody, casting a wide net and then narrowing it down, clumping up into little unranked cliques, our pristine crew congealed with a dust particle in the mix, and that was Egon. He ignored all the natural cues and forced himself into our circle. None of us, not even the most dickish among us, could shake this kid. And so, during those cold winter days, over the ghoulish murmur of the elevator lurking just feet away, we decided to nominate Egon as the permanent blunt getter. For the first few weeks he obliged us, until one day when I was breaking up weed on my djembe (yeah, college) and I casually gestured for him to exit the room and do his job. He spoke up in his garbled, goony voice, “What do I get out of it?”
It was a valid question, as we had all equally contributed to the weed pile for this blunt, and he had gotten the last several dozen dutches, but nevertheless it infuriated me. None of us even liked Egon, and we had done him the solid of finding him a place in our crew, and now he was questioning that contribution as if he didn’t now how god-awful he was. The nerve! That first time, we avoided a confrontation and sent someone else to get the dutch. And the next time someone else, until suddenly we were back to the pre-Egon method. What didn’t change was Egon’s lameness, bringing down the quotient of our whole crew. A couple of the softies in our group humored him, pitying his lack of other friends and continuing to feed this stray cat with obligatory games of Super Smash Bros. He was still there for every blunt session, and the next time I was hunched over the djembe asking him to go grab the dutch, he opened his fat mouth and uttered those seven words in a half-retarded, garbled whine: “What do I get out of it?”
This time, I couldn’t take it. Egon had thrown off the balance, refusing to comprehend the burden that placed on us, and completely disregarding what we had given him—a purpose. In front of all of us, he spat on that purpose in defense of whatever brittle confidence he had in himself. It all bubbled up inside me and came spewing out all over Egon’s face. “What do you get out of it? What do you get out of it, you fuck? You get to have friends, you worthless sack of shit. You get to pretend that we all fucking like you, and all you have to do is work your dumb ass down to the store and get the blunt right now!”
Yes, I am a monster, but you know what? So are you. There’s a monster inside all of us, and it takes an Egon to make it come out. It takes that pebble in your shoe that jams itself into your heel and your big toe alternatingly, and no matter how many times you take off the shoe, smack it against a wall, inspect your sock, you pop your shoe back on and start walking, and suddenly there it is again—a seemingly minor annoyance that’s somehow fucking your life up so much that you want to scream! AAAAHHHHH FUCK YOU EGON!
I'd love to tell you that after that, Egon took the hint, went down to buy the dutch, and resumed his role, returning order to the system. I wouldn't even mind telling you that he punched me in the face and ran out of the room. No. Egon sat there staring at me blankly while I raged for a few minutes. I finally ran out of steam, I may even have knocked over the djembe, and he was still sitting there just looking at me with some vague expression of fear or anger or maybe nothing at all, just the void of his intellect echoing my wrath back at me. I stared back silently for a minute and then someone else in the room said, "Uhhh... Fuck it. I'll go get the dutch." It wasn't the last time Egon tangled with his position in the crew, but things pretty much went back to nose goes, and I think that means that Egon won.
Speaking of blunts, check out a rolling contest between me and a rapper called OG Dutchmaster, presented by Taji of Mahal fame. Who do you think won?
Previously - Getting Busted in New York