By JOSEPH TINTLE
If you ever become a teacher get ready for one question I guarantee you’ll be asked: “Have you ever done drugs?”
“No,” I always reply.
“Aw, c’mon, Mister. You must’ve done weed at least.”
Most students quietly size me up to determine if I’m telling the truth. And when they realize that I am, they ask why I didn’t do drugs.
I tell them I have never in my life followed the crowd about anything that I didn’t agree with. Now, I didn’t avoid drugs years ago because my parents told me not to. I certainly disobeyed them on more than one occasion.
A student then wonders if, perhaps, I didn’t use drugs because they were against the law.
That wasn’t my reason either. After all, I could have bought any drug from my friends and chances were pretty good that I would not have been nabbed by authorities.
At issue was health.
What might have happened if I had indulged in drugs? Would I have liked them? And, if so, would I have gone too far? I also thought about my children years down the line. I wanted to be able to look them in the eyes one day and say I did not do drugs when they inevitably would ask me about the topic.
But a childhood friend hit upon yet another reason I had to consider.
“You didn’t do drugs because you just wanted to drive the rest of us nuts,” he said.
I gave his suggestion some thought and had to admit that was indeed part of my decision-making process.
He laughed and promised, “The day you turn 70, I’m going to get a pound of pot and roll up a massive joint with the Sunday New York Times, and force you to smoke it.”
March 26, 2022 is not that far away.
As the years passed my decision — no matter why I made it — seemed to be the correct one for me. Friends who went off to college stepped up their drug usage, particularly LSD. An acquaintance at the time told me that someone had secretly slipped him a tab of acid shortly before he drove down Route 1 to pick up his girlfriend at Newark Airport.
On the way, the drug began to take effect. He swore that as he looked into his rearview mirror he saw a giant Dunkin’ Donut pursuing him at top speed.
“And it had a bite taken out of it,” he recalled.
His experience got stranger.
Once inside the airport he was gazing out the panoramic glass windows to get a clear view of his girlfriend’s incoming flight. That’s when he saw a 707 explode in flames and topple onto the runaway.
“That’s my girlfriend’s plane,” he shouted hysterically as he pounded the glass.
Security rushed in and convinced him that no such accident had occurred. They told him that he was imagining it.
One time I was visiting George Washington University and staying with a psychology major who fancied LSD. He always spoke about the wonders of the drug. He said that the national drug guru at the time, Timothy Leary, did LSD often. “And he was a Harvard professor,” my friend said, as if that made dropping acid okay.
We fell asleep late that Saturday night, but an hour later my friend was standing at the foot of his bed trying to convince me that a headless sailor was dangling in front of our window and blood was gushing out of his neck. I had all I could do to persuade him that he was seeing things and that he needed to stay away from the window which was six stories above the pavement. When exactly he had ingested LSD that night, I have no idea because I would have stopped him. He probably knew that which is why he did it on the sly.
I really didn’t need anymore convincing about the effects of drugs after that, but then I came across a John Lennon interview. The former Beatle was regaling an interviewer with his countless trips on acid and admitted that he had gone too far because years later he never felt like he had completely come back from those drug excursions. He described the feeling as his soul being just slightly outside his body at all times.
The possibility of my soul being just slightly outside my body every day for the rest of my life — nah, that wasn’t for me.