This might sound like my parents were off in a crack den somewhere while I raised myself on corn nuts (if you’ve been raised like this I’m really sorry; corn nuts, though delicious, have little nutritional value) but my parents had their shit together. They owned a house, had started their own businesses, got along pretty well and had both me and my twin brother’s college fund pretty much worked out. But it was no doubt that they had partied, much more than I probably ever would. The older I’ve gotten the more they have opened up about their past drug experiences: finding peyote in a field and talking to a dog for three days, taking acid while decorating a mall on Christmas Eve, smoking a joint in a tour bus with Neil Young. But those experiences seemed to be in the past; smoking weed was the only thing they had kept up over the years. It’s not like they were getting high and letting babies drown in pools like those anti-weed PSAs that played between episodes of Saved By The Bell. They just liked to get stoned and watch TV and laugh together, just like I was doing with my friends.
By my teens, I knew they still smoked and I didn’t really care, and they knew I did too occasionally, but I was a little less forthcoming about my drug experimentation. One night soon after getting my license, I had driven to a house party with my friends. I was the sober driver but my friend Jamie (who I realize now was really not a friend but a bully) convinced me that smoking weed didn’t count as “under the influence”. I figured it would wear off by the time everyone wanted to go home and, if worse came to worse, we were all close enough to walk. But the party had gotten busted early, forcing us all to hide in the basement, and once the cops had left, Jamie pressured me into driving her home even though I still felt a little high. I was so paranoid about getting caught driving under the influence that I accidently put the car in reverse instead of drive and gunned it into a neighbors rickety fence. She got another ride and I drove home much later, crying and cursing myself for being so stupid.
When I got home, I hysterically confessed to my Dad. He assured me that we would go to the house in the morning to fix the damage however possible. When I calmed down he hugged me and casually gave me some advice I still use today: ”Kate, you shouldn’t drive while you’re high. But it’s still way worse to drink and drive.”
In the morning, I sheepishly knocked on the door of the house whose fence I toppled and apologized profusely before the owner–a hippy about my dad’s age–stopped me. “Actually we really hated that fence, ” he said and gave my Dad, who was watching from the car, a knowing glance. “It’s good you hit it ‘cus we would have had to pay someone to come rip it out!”