Photo via Wiki Commons.
I don’t really talk to anyone from high school. Shortly after I graduated and moved to Philly, my mom moved away from the northern New Jersey town where I lived from 10th through 12th grade. I never went back, save for a couple of stop-throughs to reminisce with old blazing buddies. Before long, high school evaporated from my memory and with it went a few choice stories that I wish I remembered better. The other day, a kid from my high school who had seen the BHO episode of the Weediquette Show reminded me about some field trip shenanigans that I had completely forgotten about. I hit up my old friend Tal, who was in on the caper with me, and he helped me fill in some of the blanks. Here’s what happened. (By the way, this is the first time I’m using someone’s real name on Weediquette. Tal insisted.)
Our junior year, Tal and I were both in a marketing class taught by a man called Pena, who emanated the stench of business failure and peered at his students through TV lawyer glasses. Relegated to teaching fuckhead high school kids the five P's of marketing, one of the rays of sunshine in Pena’s existence was a marketing competition/conference called DECA. At these summits, hordes of tainty boys and girls gather to compete in marketing-related disciplines, attend workshops led by reject clones of Tony Robbins, and—if I remember correctly—watch a magic show. That year, the DECA competition was held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. It was an overnight trip, and we weren’t allowed to choose our room buddies.
I breathed a sigh of relief when Pena paired me with Tal. I knew that Tal was a head and that we’d be able to enjoy the luxury of our hotel in our favorite state of intoxication. I had been dreading the trip, because everyone in that class sucked. There were a handful of douchy popular kids living out the peaks of their lives—some goon ass jocks and waify cheerleaders, who got a pass from Pena even though they were idiots, and an uptight square we’ll call P.J. He didn’t seem like a bad dude, but P.J.’s crime was being a teacher’s pet. He was studious, active in school activities, and was always wearing a shirt with a collar—it all made him seem like a big narc. I avoided talking to this kid and paid him no mind until Pena opened his big puppet mouth and said, “We’re short on space so P.J. is gonna room with you two.” Tal and I were severely disappointed, as I’m sure P.J. was as well. It’s safe to say that our behavior and reputations were pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum from his, and there was no way he wanted to deal with a couple of wastoids. P.J. would most definitely rat on us at the drop of a hat. Tal and I stood in the hallway outside the classroom and assessed the situation. “Don’t worry man,” he said, rallying our pep. “I’m bringing some weed, and we are gonna smoke and chill. It’ll be fine.” I trusted him.
The day of the field trip came, and as the classroom bustled with kids and luggage, Tal walked in and gave me the “Yes I have marijuana” nod. I gave him the “That is fantastic, let’s smoke it” grin, and we headed to the buses. Tal said that we would have to wait until we saw the room to fully hash out the blaze plan, so we spent the ride lamenting our misfortune. Arriving at our destination, we went into the lobby and met P.J., who was already wearing his I.D. lanyard. As soon as we got to the room, Tal began auditing the room. “I have to pee,” he mechanically stated, and then he went into the bathroom. Minutes later, we were smoking a cigarette in front of the building as Tal broke it down: “I left a packed bowl in the corner of the bathroom. You go in there, stuff the door, smoke half of it, and then take a shower so the smell goes away. Then leave it right where it was and come out. Then I’ll go in, smoke the rest of it, and take a shower as well.” It seemed reasonable. We went back up to the room, where P.J. was sitting on the bed looking at some very organized notes. Like Tal, I mechanically said, “I am going to take a shower,” setting phase one into motion. Inside, I found the bowl, pulled out a lighter, and smoked what I estimated to be about half of it in big, bold hits that I exhaled toward the vent as best I could. (This was high school, mind you, so I was still getting really, really high off small amounts of weed.) My stonedness decided that I didn’t want to take a shower, so I waited a couple of minutes and emerged from the bathroom. Being dry as a bone and in the same clothes, it was obvious to Tal that I hadn’t done my part to eliminate the smell. He gave me wide eyes, which prompted me to jump right back to the plan and say, “That was a great shower.” Tal closed his eyes and looked down, and P.J., still shuffling through his papers, looked up, and let out, "Okaaaay."
Tal hustled into the bathroom to finish the deed and clean up the aftermath for both of us. Now it was the narc and me. I threw my dry towel onto the bed and took a seat at the desk. “Whatcha doin’?” I dumbly asked P.J. He began explaining the basic tenets of a competition that we were both supposed to be prepared for and noticed when I stopped paying attention. He paused, and I looked back at him. P.J. put aside his papers and said, “I’m not stupid, man. I know you guys are smoking pot in the bathroom.” I laughed a little before turning grim. “Do you give a shit?” I asked. “No, I don’t care. I just don’t want to get in trouble. But really, it’s fine. I don’t mind if you guys do it. I’ve smoked pot before. I won’t smoke any right now, but really, it’s cool.”
I was flabbergasted. In my blazed excitement, I confessed to P.J. how Tal and I were certain that he would be a dick about it and that I would never have guessed in a million years that such a tool would have been open to weed. He laughed and told me how he himself wouldn’t expect anyone to guess either, based on his general demeanor. Even though he was our polar opposite, P.J. was just a dude, and in that moment I learned not to judge a book by its cover. I must have learned that lesson at an earlier point in my life as well, but that instance escapes me now. In that moment, P.J. shattered a stereotype for me, and what he said next ground it into dust.
When we heard the shower finally go on, P.J. said, “So, Tal doesn’t know that I know that you guys are smoking in there. Maybe we should fuck with him a little.” I was immediately so down. “Just follow my lead,” P.J. said.
Tal came out of the bathroom, showered and red-eyed. Avoiding eye contact with P.J., he took a seat on the bed and popped on the TV. After a couple of minutes, he had a look of accomplishment on his face. As far as he knew, we had committed the perfect crime. A few minutes into whatever we were watching, P.J. began sniffing. I don’t remember if he was a theater kid, but for this prank, dude was killing it. “Do you guys smell that?” he said. Tal’s eyes darted to meet mine, and he curtly uttered, "No." P.J. continued sniffing. “I smelled pot once, it kind of smells like that.” Still sniffing, his nose led him out of his chair and towards the locked door between our room and the one next door. He breathed in deeply at the door and turned around to face us. “I think they’re smoking pot next door. Do you think we should tell Pena?”
Tal leapt up. “Nah, man. It’s not really any of our business, right? Let’s not have this turn into a whole thing. We gotta go to sleep and be ready for tomorrow.” P.J. was defiant. “No. This is wrong. We need to tell someone. I mean, it’s illegal! I’m gonna go tell Pena,” he said as he headed for the door. Tal put his hands out and painfully let out, "Okay." He pathetically moved towards P.J., his hands nearly coming together, and said, “We smoked in the bathroom man, that’s where the smell is coming from. Don’t bring Pena in here, he’ll totally know. You gotta give us a break, man!”
That was when I completely lost it. I had stayed quiet the whole time, allowing P.J. to set up the scenario, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. P.J. started laughing too, and a totally punked Tal eventually joined us. “I don’t give a shit,” said P.J. “He doesn’t give a shit, man!” I echoed. Tal looked like he was going to collapse into jelly. “Oh my god dude, I thought you were a total narc! Fuck me!”
After that, we all just kicked it. Tal and I may have even smoked more in the bathroom—this time sparing the theatrics of a full shower for every few hits. We didn’t become homeboys with P.J. or anything, but we definitely weren’t as dismissive of him. Since then, I’ve smoked with plenty of un-down-seeming nerds, but P.J. was the first, and for that I thank him.
Tal made a few notes on the incident, and I think they give things a little more perspective, although I don’t think he remembered that I was privy to the prank the whole time:
I guess the most important part of the story is to explain what kind of person P.J. is. How straight edge, and what a class president type of guy he was. Not to mention how neither us were friends with him. We thought we were being so slick smoking weed with the shower on, as if it didn't smell like a skunk in there. He tricked us so well. It was so not part of his personality. He did an amazing job at taking two kids who he was probably somewhat intimidated by and really wrapped us around his finger. That was his chance to grab these two "cool" kids by the balls and really turn it into a power play for him. He could have ruined our lives at that moment. He truly did a flawless job tricking us, and the relief that we felt when he explained to us that he didn't care and he was just joking was something that will remain memorable for the rest of our lives.
And check out Tal's standup!
Previously – I Quit Smoking Weed to Study for the LSAT