I had a friend. Joe. We were a terrible influence on each other. I am not excusing our behavior, you see. Everything I did was purely a result of my conscious, adult decision, my choice, my “educated” doing. But we were mutual catalysts for reckless behavior. I was in my mid-20’s, I think Joe was around 18-20. I should have had a bit more maturity than he but of course, I had no maturity to speak of. Our actions were our own responsibility, but in the other’s presence, we were unbridled and acted out of carelessness and wild abandon.
There was a period I used to take my Honda CRX Si out to race up and down the canyons of Los Angeles like I was immortal. My 2 favorite “racing” canyons, especially in that feather-light car, were Sunset Boulevard as it winds its way from West Hollywood through the exclusive hills of Brentwood and Bel Air until it ends at the Pacific Ocean in Malibu. The road curves violently and banks and has some limited stretches where you can gain daring speeds just in time to step on the brakes in time for the next hairpin. It was dizzying. The other road I liked was Laurel Canyon Boulevard which is a winding 2-lane street that sprouts from the western end of Hollywood Boulevard and curves its headspinning course through canyons and gorges and finally drops you into Studio City, “over the hill” as they say in LA when referring to the rugged Hollywood Hills which separate the mid section of the city from the San Fernando Valley. Initially, I discovered these routes on my own, and then Joe eventually joined me for my pseudo rally adventures. We had no fear. We were too stoned and bombed to worry about something silly like fear. We could have died so easily. Or we could have easily killed someone else. God takes care of drunks and children, so they say. Very true in my case.
One night, probably a Saturday, we decided to attempt a Laurel Canyon run. I don’t remember how we prefaced our little rally expedition, but we probably had a few beers and then we smoked some pot, probably while I was driving. We might have pulled over. I don’t remember. We used to smoke from a pipe and on this night we had smoked out quite heavily before embarking on our informal road race. We began cruising uphill which is how it is once you leave Hollywood Boulevard behind and attempt to ward off the mayhem of the uneven 2-lane Laurel Canyon, a crappy road surface further exacerbated by the ridiculous hairpin bends that deliver and remove you instantaneously from the fronts of fortified houses etched into the hills. It’s an exclusive neighborhood by day. Mt. Olympus, all kinds of fanciness. At night, the road is cloaked in danger and the hillsides run down to the very side of the road as you turn your steering wheel continuously to keep on the road. Actually, you don’t turn the steering wheel…you jerk it back and forth. If your car has a good suspension (which the CRX did), the g-forces will lob you from supportive seat edge to the other. It’s not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. And it’s better when you’re stoned. We put out the pipe and continued driving north toward Studio City.
There was a section of Laurel Canyon that straightens out after you clear the windiness of the canyons hills. This stretch of road extends further and points dangerously downhill and after driving on the curves for so long, the temptation is to let the car drive too fast just because now you can. It was during this stretch that I did something, I maneuvered the car oddly, which would have been amusing under normal circumstances but far from noteworthy. But see…we were completely stoned. For some reason, whatever I did just seemed funny as shit. Joe laughed first. Roaring in laughter. I followed suit. I drove for a ways and we could absolutely not halt this laughter. It was frighteningly contagious. We were laughing at the dumbest thing in the world but the laughter was manic and we could not stop. All because of some ridiculous driving maneuver I made while speeding along a straightaway on Laurel Canyon. We could not stop laughing and we couldn’t even comprehend why were laughing to begin with.
I’ve never been seized with such an uncontrollable laughter over something as inexplicably mundane as this in my life. I’ve had many laughing spells but in all cases the object of my laughter was explicable and definable. Not this. The laughing fit seemed to issue from, and exist, on a deeper psychic layer that defied logic. It’s like Joe and me were on the same mangled wavelength that defied all transmission receivers. No one in the world, sane or not, could tap into that signal man. We were crazed. The laughter was a demonic possession that would not release me and I felt light-headed from not breathing. Each fit of laughter would promise to subside but then Joe would laugh louder and propel me into a new spell of laughter. We soon lost sight of what began the fit. It was my quirky stoned driving earlier. We just laughed because we shared this bizarre meta-humor trigger that would not diminish.
I don’t know how long it took before we stopped. We probably reached Studio City first. Looking back I wonder if smoking pot somehow synchronized an indescribable and incomprehensible plane of existence, a communal mind. I know it sounds metaphysical, but I believe many herbal psychoactives tend toward reality-altering metaphysical offerings.
I haven’t smoked pot in over 10 years and I have no intention of smoking soon, but pot is great. I loved every minute of my pot times. Pot was consistently more friendly and shared a more idyllic coexistence with my constitution than booze. Booze is harsh. Pot is gentle. The illegality of marijuana is just another hypocritical conservative delusion that makes the United States seem such a prudish heap of conformity.