Revenge of the Pot-heads
I went to high school in the mid-seventies, when the national sport for people my age was smoking dope. I was a most eager participant. At my high school, the main venue for pursuit of this hobby was one of two designated "smoking areas" at the far corners of the campus. Students would gather in small circles to either smoke dope, or not smoke dope. This made it an exercise in frustration for vigilant faculty members seeking to catch a student in the act of getting high, but there were a few self-righteous assholes who made it their business anyway. Usually they were administrators, who were generally student-hating bureaucrats unable to teach or find actual work. It was their job. But there were a few glory-seeking teachers who took it upon themselves to act out their pathetic fantasy of being a cop, their fantasy being unfulfilled from a lifetime of burying their head in a book and throwing a baseball like a girl.
The one that easily stood out in my high school was Mr. Carson, a creepy English teacher with political ambitions who wore a bow tie and glasses with lenses thick as Coke-bottle bottoms. Although he showed up at the smoking areas often, he never had much success dragging the miscreants to the school office. I remember one incident when Mr. Carson caught a student red-handed, but while escorting him to the dean's office, we all started yelling, "Run! Run!", which the student did, or jogged was more like it, stashed his weed in the bottom of a garbage can, went to class, got called to the dean's office, professed his innocence there (possession being ten-tenths of the law), went back and got his weed, and returned to his routine.
Rumor had it that even the administrators didn't approve of Carson's tactics, since it just made their job harder, not to mention having their personal thunder stolen by a wimpy English teacher. But a single incident one morning brought the situation to a head.
I was standing in the smoking area one morning during first period with my friend Paul. Now, Paul was already plenty spaced without smoking dope. He had these beautiful yet remarkably vacant blue eyes and the vocabulary of a farm boy, which he was. He lived just a couple miles north of me on a small farm with his dad. Despite these shortcomings, he was quite a ladies' man. I remember that at the time, he had a somewhat-unwanted girlfriend who, despite being in a completely different school district, could convince her mother to take her to Paul's school nearly every day, where she would chase him down and try to talk him out of breaking up with her. She was gorgeous, but, I suspect, a little too plump for Paul's simple tastes.
Above all, though, Paul was an extremely kind person, which made him my friend. That, and the fact that he always had dope.
And so it was that Paul and I found ourselves to be the only students in one of the aforementioned smoking areas one chilly morning. Paul had a joint, and asked if I would join him. However, it was first period by now, so I had already gotten high twice -- on the way to the bus stop, and with other friends before first period started. So I uncharacteristically declined his kind offer, and headed to the cafeteria for breakfast (chocolate milk, "the stoner's second best friend").
Upon returning only a few minutes later, Paul had mysteriously vanished. A lone, young student dragging on a Marlboro was the only soul around. "Did you see Nagel?" I asked. "Yeah, Carson caught him smoking a J and took him away." I was immediately upset. Carson had been prowling the smoking area for a couple of months now, and he had finally bagged a student too disdainful of confrontation to even take off running. Worse, it could have been ME. I took off for the dean's office, wanting to investigate the kid's story. Also, I knew there was a pay phone with a phone book near the office. I would get Carson's home phone number. This was war!
On my way there, a friend of mine, another stoner named Tracy, happened along my path. After explaining the situation, he followed me to the administrative offices. We walked by the dean's office, where the back of Carson's slime-green suit was pressed against the tiny, narrow window in the door. It was true! We immediately headed for the pay phone, carefully writing down Carson's phone number. Then we headed back to the smoking area. By now, first period was over and the area filled with students again. We spread the word that Carson had busted poor Paul, along with Carson's home phone number. Soon, the entire smoking area was abuzz with, in addition to the usual things, the news of the bust. We were talking of the awful things we would do to Carson for this.
Suddenly, the double doors leading into the smoking area burst open, and through them stepped Paul! Much of the smoking area fell silent with disbelief. It was like the second coming of Christ, if Jesus had worn tattered Levis and a dirty coat that smelled of reefer. "Paul! What happened, man?" "I dunno, man, Carson caught me smoking a joint and took me down to the office. I stuck it in my pocket when I saw him. When we were in the dean's office they told me to pull my pockets inside-out and Carson's like looking at me, going, 'Okay, Paul', so I pulled out my pockets like this" -- he demonstrated by pulling them out again -- "and it's gone man, I don't know what happened to it. Guess I have a hole in my pocket or something." With this, he began shaking his right pants-leg, and a half-burnt doobie tumbled out and onto the ground. Paul looked up with that bewildered blank stare of his. We all shrieked with laughter. Then we finished the joint.
But it wasn't over. With the bungled bust of one of the kindest among us, Carson had finally overstepped. We began a campaign of phone harassment. With a black marker, I wrote, "Carson's phone number is 555-4773! Call him and tell him what you think!" in huge letters across the top of the smoking area doors. Unwanted pizzas and taxi cabs began to descend upon Carson's house on a nightly basis. One time, we even arranged it so that all three local taxi companies and both local pizzerias showed up at his house at the same time. This became the talk of the faculty, some of the teachers never showing up in the smoking area again, and others laughing at Carson behind his back.
STILL he wouldn't quit. I remember standing alone at the outer corner of the smoking area a few days later when I spotted Carson making his quick-stepping approach (I realize now he NEVER ran, probably because he ran like a girl). "Carson!" I called out to a knot of underclassmen near the door, who turned out to be smoking nothing more than Camels. But Carson was enraged, so he approached me, a terse smile on his waxy yellow face. "You have a problem?" "No, sir." "How come you yelled my name?" "Because we all look forward to your arrival." His face turned into a frown. "What's your name?" "Dave Peck", I answered, recalling the name of a school jock I had recently intimidated. "Beck?" asked the hair-tonic-ensconced dweeb. "Peck", I repeated, wanting him to get it right, because just a couple of weeks earlier a friend of mine was asked for his name after Carson heard him when he called Carson a "walking fruit salad". My friend intimated that he was Eric Clapton, and got in a limited amount of trouble when Carson checked the school roster to find no Eric Clapton there at all. As punishment, they sent a note home to his dad explaining how young Steve Harrell had purposely misidentified himself. "What name did you give him?" Mr. Harrell asked. When Steve replied "Eric Clapton", his dad, an airline mechanic, burst into laughter.
So, even after all the pizzas and taxis, Carson was still making the occasional unwanted foray into places where he had no business.
We needed to stop him for good, and I had a plan. It would take teamwork. From John Warthog, whose parents had considerable property at the end of my street, I secured an M-80 and ten minutes' worth of fuse. The Warthogs always had these goods, as they were used for scaring birds off their property. Since Steve McLeod had a reliable car, he was recruited to help carry out my plan. Another friend, a musician named Jeff, went along for moral support.
I had already scouted out Carson's home, after all, his address was right there in the phone book. He lived on a dead-end street, and a huge tree blocked his view of his mailbox from the house.
We first went to McDonald's to grab a burger and cleverly cover the rear license-plate light of Steve's monstrous '63 Chevy with black tape. Then we set out for Carson's, with me in the back seat, a mad bomber with a chauffeur. I lit the slow-burning fuse before we pulled onto Carson's street. We went to the end of it, turned around, and slowed to a stop in front of his mailbox. I carefully placed the M-80 inside and we drove away, a little sorry that we would miss the fireworks but feeling like heroes nonetheless.
Steve was tired and went home after dropping Jeff and I off. But Jeff and I wanted to see the spoils of our victory, so we grabbed my dad's pickup and went back to Carson's to survey the battlefield. As soon as we turned the corner, the remains of Carson's mailbox came into view. All that remained was the post and the bottom of the box. One side of the squarely-shaped mailbox could be seen lying in the street. We turned around and got out of there, screaming with laughter and triumph all the way.
Carson never returned to the smoking area.
MR. CARSON (not his real name) became a State Representative in 1994 on his third try at election. Naturally, he is a Republican. Whoever runs against him gets a donation from me, even though he doesn't represent my district.
PAUL is not dead, as far as I know.