Off a major thoroughfare, the freshly painted storefront sits at one end of a well-lit parking lot, next door to a busy Dari Mart. A graying couple exits their parked Corolla, license plate registration sticker current. They hold hands, gold wedding bands glinting, as they cross the tarmac and push open the lobby door. They’re greeted by a friendly receptionist and ushered into the sales room.
Where are we? This scene could be happening anywhere in America: Just a normal, law-abiding couple on a normal evening in a normal town. Except this town is in Oregon where recreational pot can now be bought over the counter in 315 registered marijuana dispensaries. And who are we? These normal-looking people, legally married as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, are two big ol’ raging feminist dykes. And they are us.
“Good evening, ladies, how may I help you?” says a cleancut young fellow in a bright-blue polo shirt, utterly unfazed by our queerness. I’m too stunned by the surroundings to bother making this a teachable moment and pointing out just how un-LADY-like we are. I’m sure he sees all kinds in here. We’d have to be a lot weirder to be too weird for this place.
Wifey and I give each other the “can-you-believe-this?” look, and proceed to gaze slackjawed into the shiny display cases, shelves lined with apothecary jars filled with big fat cannabis buds.
How surreal can it get? Here I’ve been an outlaw since I toked my first joint back in high school, joined the counterculture and let my freak flag fly. I’ve also been queer as a three-dollar bill since I came out in college in the 1970s, swore off men and charted a course as far from the nuclear norm as I could get.
Like the rest of Queer Nation, I’ve been subject to discrimination. Now, suddenly, I’m in a legal marriage and my wife and I are legally buying weed in a nice store from nice customer-service professionals. It’s hard to wrap our heads around. Very trippy.
Maybe it’s the fumes. The clerk opens jars so we can sample the rich, resinous aromas of the various products — Abracadabra, Incrediberry, Sensitiva. He explains the effects of different strains, the body high of indicas and the cosmic high of sativas. Talk about kids in a candy shop!
We settle on Bubba Kush, an indica good for overall relaxing, and an indica-sativa blend called Animal Cookies, for paranoia-free giggles. The clerk uses steel chopsticks to remove the buds from the jars and pack them into airtight plastic vials. We’re prepared for the “cash only” transaction, but for those who aren’t, this store even has an ATM.
Back at home I dig out the old water pipe, untouched for god(dess) knows how many years. Wifey loads it with a plump pinch of Animal Cookies and we fill our lungs. The smoke is not at all harsh — another plus of these artisanal strains. We adjust the pillows and get comfy on the homo-sectional. Wifey turns the TV to the music channel, we agree on an oldies station, turn the lights down and snuggle up.
The indica part of the blend is definitely working. We are re-laaaaaaxed. We sink into the cushions and become one with the music of our teens. Every song evokes a story. We tell each other how empowered we’d felt by Lesley Gore’s liberating "You Don’t Own Me" and how we’d both been politicized by "Eve of Destruction." Nothing against May-December marriages, but there’s definitely something to be said for being born the same year as your partner — like coming of age to the same music.
Sam Cooke’s "Twistin’ the Night Away" comes on and we sing along, “Dancing with the chicken slacks, she’s a’movin’ up and back.”
Wait. Whuuuut? I’d partied and twisted to these lyrics a kazillion times but never understood them.
“What the heck are chicken slacks?” I wonder aloud. This is where the sativa part of the blend kicks in. We start guessing what chicken slacks could possibly be. I have a notepad handy and sketch a chicken in tight pants. Wifey describes feathered trousers, flapping to the beat. Good thing we peed before we smoked!
Wifey’s laptop within reach, she Googles it. “Chicken slacks” turns out to be one of those commonly misheard lyrics. It’s really “Dancing with the chick in slacks.” Chick. In. Slacks. Jeeze.
Any other time I’d probably go on a rant that women are not chicks! But tonight — who cares? Wifey and I are having too much fun being a normal old married couple enjoying a normal evening at home.