Hank and the Pineapples

First off, a Message to Mom:

Mom…. I’m not sure if you read my blogs or not. I think you do and just don’t tell me.

That’s totally fine because I love that you do…

Just a fair warning, This one may disappoint you. Just remember this, I turned out totally fine.

Ok.. Well maybe not totally, but this had very little to do with it 😉

I Love You Woman!

Ok, Now with that said, let’s get back to business. 

The first time I smoked pot is as vivid in my mind as if it were happening right here, right now. One of those childhood memories you never forget but don’t often tell. I was with my friend Harold, who I had met at a school mate’s Barmitzvha in June right before school let out for the summer.

This was the summer before I was to start high school and at this point in my life I wasn’t really into doing much but reading, writing, and what I like to call “nerding” out. Harold was a cool kid for his time. Halfway through high school already, he had his own pick-up truck but since he lived close to my neck of the woods he would always ride his bike to my neighborhood, which for some reason I thought was super cool. We’d hang out with the kids from my hood and either play ball (football) or just shoot the shit until it was time to go home for dinner.

During this phase of my life, my grandparents were living with us to help my mother out with my sister and I. Momma bear was a single parent and so life wouldn’t be so overwhelming for her, my grandparents helped with the responsibilities of taking care of us as best they could. The rule when it came to hanging out with friends, no one was allowed inside the house unless Momma bear was home. We could go outside but had to stay where you could be seen unless you had permission to do otherwise.It was one random day during this summer break that Harold, who everybody but me called Hank, came over a bit earlier than normal. Hank never came by the house early. Like most boys his age, he usually slept in until at least noon. On this day, I remember thinking how odd it was that he had been over to my place so soon. I don’t remember the exact time but I do remember thinking there were still a few hours before mom got home.

My mom and my grandparents liked Hank. He was a nice kid who always showed them respect anytime he was around. Sometimes I think it was because although his parents were together there was not much love in that home and so secretly he liked to pretend our home was his home away from home.

We sat on my porch for a bit talking. I asked him why he was out and about so early. As he pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket I noticed he was shaking a little. He went on to tell me about how his father and mother had gotten into a really bad fight. One he had to step into to protect his mother and instead got the brunt of his father’s aggression, so he decided to leave the house for the day. He opened the pack of cigarettes as he spoke and inside was a  lighter, a few cigarettes, and another little baggie but I couldn’t tell what was inside of it. He took out a cigarette and sparked it. It was only then that I noticed the bruising around his throat.

We spent some time talking. He did most of the talking and I most of the listening. Sometimes you just know when it’s best to be silent and so I was.

We had been sitting there in silence when my grandmother poked her head out and asked if I could do her a favor. She was going to be making some fresh cheese (that’s right!!! CHEESE.. mmm) and needed a few gallons of milk from the store.

“Since you’re with the Incredible Hulk, you both can go and he can help you carry them.” she giggled in Spanish. I found her comment funny too. Hank was thinner than any guy I had ever seen. If he stood sideways he literally who disappear. She handed me a few dollars and off we went, on foot, to buy us some milk.

As we walked, Hank pulled out another cigarette. He never smoked so many in a row so I chalked it up to him being stressed from the earlier altercation. This time when he opened the pack, the little baggie that was stored inside had fallen to his feet. He quickly picked it up and stuffed it back in the pack.

“What is that? I noticed it earlier.” I was inquisitive, I’ll admit to that. Most of you by this point would have already known what it was are at least had an idea. I was what you would call a late bloomer with a lot of stuff growing up. I literally had no clue.

“Nothing. It’s just a bag of pot I got earlier before I came here. I was gonna smoke it before I headed home tonight.” He said very matter-of-factly.

“As in weed??” I was stunned. Up until that point I had heard of weed but never had I really seen it before. Not in person anyways. “Let me seeeee!” I demanded.  He took the pack back out of his pocket, opened it up, and pulled out the baggie. Initially I laughed. I had never seen such a small zip lock bag before. I was astonished once I saw all the little Batman’s printed all over the bag. I fiddled with the zip lock, my fingers seeming to be too chubby to open it. Chubby or inexperienced, one of the two. He took the baggie from my hands, “You’re going to bust it open.” he laughed at me and then proceeded to open it up. The smell punched me hard in the face. I didn’t like it, but I did. It was a weird smell and yet I couldn’t stop taking in its scent.

By this point we had just come on the grocery store. It wasn’t far from where I lived and there was a trail in the back of the neighborhood that lead directly there without having to be anywhere close to the road. The trail led right up to the back of the store. Suddenly the idea struck me.

“I wanna smoke it!!!” I jumped, like literally jumped with enthusiasm. In my mind, why not?? It’s not like it was dangerous, or not that I had heard, and trust me, I had already been told many stories from friends who had already tried it (Yep imagine that… BEFORE entering high school kids were already smoking). The summer was in mid-swing. No classes therefore no homework. Mom wouldn’t be home for hours. It was now or never.

“What??!! No WAY!!! Are you kidding me?? We’re supossed to go and get milk and you want to get back high??! Are you crazy??….” He stared at me in bewilderment maybe waiting for an answer that I didn’t give him. “Yea you must be nuts. That or you are already high from the scent.” He must have forgotten that I was still holding the bag. I smirked.

“If you don’t let me smoke some with you…” He cut me off  by snatching the bag back from me. Damn it. He laughs.

“Listen, you wanna smoke some? Fine. But just one hit. That’s it. Then we go in, grab the milk, and head back. Ok?” Maybe it was the fact that he wanted to smoke too that he gave in so easily. Maybe it was because I have never looked so disappointed to have been told no. Either way it didn’t matter. I was getting to try the stuff all the cool kids talked about.

We found the perfect spot to smoke. Behind the grocery store, there was a set of stairs that sat right next to the loading ramp. Unless you were a store employee throwing out cardboard boxes out or there was a truck delivery to the store, no one would be out there to see us.

Hank and I sat ourselves at the very tippy top of the steps that lead to some random door. An emergency exit I’m sure. He pulled out a folded up piece of paper that he had in his back pocket. He opened the baggie that was still in his hands, and dumped the contents of it out on the paper. It was slightly breezy so I made sure to sit in a way to block the breeze from hitting him. He began breaking up the little nuggets and once he was finished, he took a cigarette from the pack, dumped out the tobacco and replaced it with the magical herb. Not all of it fit in the cigarette so he made sure to put the left overs back in the mini zip lock, then tucked that away into the cigarette pack. All of this took absolutely no time. I was so stunned at how little time it took for him to do all of that. It had been one of the coolest things I’d seen.

He sparked the spiked cigarette and inhaled an enormous hit, letting some of the smoke float out of his mouth and then taking it in through his nostrils before it slithered away. That had been the second coolest thing I had seen. I remember thinking he looked like a music video, but I kept that to myself.

He passed it to me. It was now my turn.

I had NEVER ever inhaled smoke before. Not purposely anyways. Sometimes when my family had holiday get togethers, the amount of cigarette smoke that lingered in the air was too much to not inhale. I remember I would always complain about my eyes getting too itchy and watery, but the grown ups were too busy partying that it didn’t matter. Eventually my eyes grew accustomed to it.

As he handed me the cigarette he makes sure to give me a run down on how to inhale.

“Go really slow. Your lungs aren’t used to this yet. And you’re going to cough, hard. It’s normal.” he almost looked worried.

I stared at the stick for a second. Then as the ash built into a long stick of its own, I took a slow drag.

Nothing. I exhaled and a little bit of smoke came out. There was no coughing and there was definitely no buzzing effect. He had said one hit, but who ever does one of anything honestly?? I took another drag. This time deeper and for longer. I felt a burning sensation deep within my chest and as soon as I felt it a HUGE cough escaped me, like flames bursting within a furnace. I thought I was going to suffocate. My eyes watered and my nose started to run. It took me a while to catch my breath and it was only then that I realized Hank was rubbing my back in an attempt to comfort me.

“I told you to only take one!” He said semi-authoritative, semi-jokingly.

“I *cough cough* know but…” I couldn’t even talk. It still felt like my eyes were rolling in the back of my head for some reason. Was this normal? Was that supposed to happen? What if I was that one case of overdosing on Mary Jane?? How tragic. I could see it now:

“Teen dies during summer break when trying Marijuana for the first time!” Fuck watching Reefer Madness. I was living it!

I would be that kid. The example. The one to ruin it for everybody.

“Dude, seriously are you even listening to me?” I came back. Hank had been saying something while I was busy freaking out over my death that hadn’t happened yet. “We need to  put this out and get to buying that milk. Your grandmother is probably wondering what is taking so long.” He was right. She probably was. But how was I supposed to go in the store and buy milk high like this? Was I even high?? I was sure I was. I hadn’t spoken a single word for what had seemed like forever and that was NOT normal. He took in one more big hit before putting it out. He tucked it back into the pack of cigarettes, which now I knew held contraband, and as soon as he placed it in his pocket and we stood up, a delivery truck appeared. He pulled i=onto the ramp towards the unloading area and looked up at us as we headed down the stairs. I was sure he was going to yell at us for being up there, it was just a matter of time. We descended the stairs quickly and as we walked past the truck I noticed huge pineapples on the side of it. Really it was one huge ad of produce. Fruits and veggies were all over this truck but the pineapples were what took a hold of my brain.

The truck driver continued to look at us but had said nothing. His eyes said it all, “You stupid kids shouldn’t be up there..” We just kept walking. I couldn’t take my gaze off of the pineapples. They were so big. They looked like they would have been nice and juicy too. I wanted to cut the tops off, take out the core, and crawl right in. I hadn’t noticed but I had started walking towards the truck. Towards the pineapples.

“Can I help you?” It wasn’t so much a question as it was a statement. A statement as to how weird I was acting, and of course, I couldn’t just respond with something normal. No. That would have been too smooth for my first experience of being high. I responded,

“Your pineapples look juicy.” in the weirdest voice I had ever heard my self speak in. In the background I heard Hank utter something but I couldn’t determine what. I steered away from the truck and away from its driver. I smiled to myself as I replayed in my mind what had just happened. At that moment I looked up and over to Hank and instantly we burst into laughter.

From that point until we reached the house, everything seems like a comical blur. I remember laughing at everything. At the store clerks and their customers, at the way I fumbled with my money when trying to pay for 6 gallons of milk. I mean seriously, who buys that much milk, especially two young kids such as ourselves?? I suspected, that everybody else suspected, that we were up to no good. That was fine with me. It just made everything else seem that much funnier. If only they knew granny was just making some cheese..

We eventually got back to the house with the milk delivered safe and sound.

No one ever suspected a thing. Hank left to deal with his hectic family life. My grandmother got to making her cheese without even a question as to what had taken so long. Maybe we actually hadn’t taken long. Or maybe my grandmother was now on old people time and had lost track. Who knows. My mother came home later on that day. By then I had taken a nap and was feeling only a little cloudy. To my disbelief my mother had stopped at the grocery store before coming home and within her bags of goodies? I am not lying to you, there were two pineapples in one of the bags. Scouts honor.

It would be YEARS before I touched the stuff again. This one time was enough for me. After some time Hank and I lost touch. It was maybe a year out of high school that I ran into him at a friend’s party. He looked awful, as in life had not been very good to him. It broke my heart. He was barely coherent and after just a few minuets of slurred chatter (mainly from his end) he disappeared. I found out later that night that he ended up driving home that night which angered me because anyone that was a true friend wouldn’t have let him drive under those conditions. Apparently he had gotten himself heavy into drugs which really explained his physical deterioration. I never heard of him since.

I think back to this memory and write about it with a big smile on my face. It was something I had gotten away with as a kid. Something that was innocently fun yet if found out about, would have gotten me into so much trouble. My first time smoking pot was a funny experience and I’m glad it happened with Hank. To this very day whenever I eat, see, or even smell pineapples, I think of this time. To me, that day, deep down inside it helped Hank to forget about home for a little bit, while also taking the chance to help me to break me out of my shell and experiencing something totally new in a non-malicious manner. It does make wonder though, how do some kids let themselves get so deep in to drugs of the heavy sort, while others can dab a little in the fun without falling in to the deep end.

This post is dedicated to you Hank 🙂 Hope all is good in the hood 😉

dscf0395-2  Photo Credit: Natal Galvan