High Times

The Intermission Joint

Music and marijuana are a sacred duo, with the latter always enhancing the former, but how would I stay high?

Of course I would get high before the John Lennon tribute concert at Symphony Space last December. That was never at issue. Music and marijuana are a sacred duo, with the latter always enhancing the former. But how would I stay high? I decided I would just slip out at intermission, find a doorway on a side street and light up.

I know, I know—this may seem reckless and juvenile, especially at my great age. Still, I've been smoking for decades on the streets of New York City, and I've never been caught or even approached. If a cop ever got near, I would just drop the joint and grind it out with my shoe. There would be nothing else on me because I never carry more than a single joint.

Smoking pot seemed especially appropriate before—and during—a tribute to John Lennon, who loved marijuana and greatly influenced the hippie culture. I imbibed in the car as we drove down from Westchester. My husband drove; somewhat my junior, he smokes only rarely. I had my hand out the window because the smell of pot lingers for weeks in a car's upholstery.

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We parked on Riverside Drive and walked to the theater. As expected, the people streaming into the venue were mainly in late middle age or older. After all, we were the ones John Lennon most affected; had he lived, he would be 75 today. Although younger, most of the performers that night were also past first youth and had been touring for years. We knew them from when we were "young," in our forties, and from festivals like Clearwater.

Even from the balcony, we had a great view of the stage, and the performers were terrific. Martin Sexton, Lucy Kaplansky, Willie Nile, Joan Osborne: what superb voices and songs! There was also a tall, handsome musician I'd never heard of. He really cooked, but I forgot his name as soon as it was announced.

Soon it was intermission and time for my maintenance smoke. "See you soon, honey," I told my husband as I left the theater.

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I turned the corner and found myself on 95th Street. It wasn't long before I was in a good doorway. It was mild for December, so I wasn't wearing gloves. Out came the lighter, out came the joint, and soon I was blazing. All was fine and getting finer when some guy suddenly approached and said, "Hey, can I have some of that?"

"Uh ... no!"

"Oh, come on."

"But I don't know you!"

"Weren't you just at that concert?"

I nodded.

"Well, you just saw me play!" It was the tall, handsome musician. And he told me his name, which was so bland (two first names, like Paul George), I promptly forgot it again. I passed him the joint. Oh, this was cozy, toking up with a cute performer while my husband awaited me inside! Then the man burst my bubble by saying, "Can I call my girlfriend to come over?"

"There's not enough!" I cried. "I have only this one joint!"

It was mostly gone by now, so he didn't persist, just took a long toke. Then he said, "We just came in from Canada, and we don't know people in New York."

"I wish I had more weed for you, but I'm always very cautious on the streets."

"Yeah, like now," he teased. He passed me the roach, which was small and dead. I put it in my pocket.

"Hey, thanks," he said. "Nice smoke!"

I returned to the theater and my seat. "How did it go?" asked my husband.

"It was fabulous! A lifetime fantasy of mine just came true, at the age of 69. I smoked a joint with one of the performers!"

"Wow," he said. "Which one?"

Uh, hmm, um, blush. Memory loss? Inattention? Cannabis fog? I didn't want to admit to any of these, and I didn't want to say "I forget."

I found the name in the program and was armed with my answer when he asked again.

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