Eating Grass

Yesterday was the last day of class for this academic year. Whew, I’m exhausted. I still have finals to grade, but at least classes are over, so I can sorta relax. To get into the no-school mood, M and I went to our local watering hole, Glory Days, for a light dinner and beer.

We only had two pints–as it was only Tuesday–and left relatively sober. M drove, and as we were leaving the parking lot, I looked over my shoulder and told her there’s a cop behind us. I didn’t really have a good look at it, but there was something stealthy about the way it appeared out of the shadows in the parking lot. But the car passed us to the right, and we noticed it didn’t have any cherries on top.

“What are you talking about? Are you drunk?” M chortled. (I’ve always wanted to use this word…)

“Hmmm… Maybe, I guess…” But just when I uttered these words, the car let out two short bursts of its siren–woot, woot–and lit its back interior police lights–the one’s just above the back seat–and sped off after another car.

“I just got a nose for ’em,” I said, perhaps a bit too smugly.

“That’s because you were a grass eating delinquent. You always had to keep your eye out.” M retorted.

What M was referring to was a story of my more delinquent days. Back in the spring of 1973, I was hanging with the “guys”: Voz and Diddly. We were going to start a band–we named our band, appropriately enough, Stash. Besides practicing songs that we wanted to play at dances–Smoke on the Water, Free Ride, Dancing in the Moonlight–part of our preparation included scouting the competition to see what they were playing. We went to the Elk’s Club, a private building located near MacArthur Park where a hall was rented out for Asian dances, to see Free Flight and another band I don’t remember.

We listened to them play light songs like “Keep on Truckin'” by Jo Mama (Carol King’s former back up band), rock like “Situations” by Jeff Beck, and oldies–even then–like “Twist and Shout”. We listened for a while. I was young and rather naive, and gulped down sissy drinks like Singapore Slings and Harvey Wallbangers until I got a buzz. But with the exception of “Situations”, the rest of the songs were pretty mundane. We grew bored and decided to leave the Elk’s Club. We climbed into Voz’s new VW Beetle–I’m the youngest, so I got in the back–and headed home to the Eastside. Before long, Voz pulls out a joint, lit it and passed it to Diddly, who then passed it to me. Getting high(er), we started laughing and joking and making fun of the bands that played at the Elk’s Club that night, swearing that we’d make them eat our dust… When suddenly, Voz told us to shut up. Looking in the rear view mirror intently, he whispered loudly; “It’s the cops…” Well, I was way too inexperienced and I began to panic. I’m too young to go to jail. What am I gonna do! Voz gave the joint to Diddly who then passed it to me without taking a hit.

“What am I supposed to do with it! I can’t inhale that fast!”

“Fuckin’ eat it already!” cursed Diddly, rolling his eyes.

Oooh. @_@ I was really panicking now. In Japanese, I have what is known as a cat’s tongue, nekojita, one that can’t eat anything hot. And now these guys want me to eat a lit joint?!?

I’m not the religious sort, but I focused my eyes on the smoldering tip and started to chant a familiar mantra: Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.

“Use your saliva, man,” Voz rushed, the tension palpable in his Bug.

Oh, okay. Gotcha, I thought, and tried to build up as much spittle as I could in a mouth dry from the excitement. When I figured I had pooled enough around my lips, tongue and teeth, I slowly and painfully doused it–hacha, hacha, hacha–then stuck the joint in my mouth. Ugh, it tasted rancid. But I chomped on it a couple of times and swallowed it as is. Successful, I relaxed a bit, knowing that I had gotten rid of the evidence. But in my panic, I hadn’t noticed Diddly laughing hysterically and Voz staring at me through the rear view mirror, eyes wide in astonishment.

“Dude, you’re supposed to spit on it. You’re mouth is not an ashtray, man.”

At which point, the police car whizzed past us on the left, headed to some unknown crime scene or donut shop, leaving me with a awful taste in my mouth.

“False alarm,” Voz chuckled…