A number of states have now made cannabis legal for both medicinal and recreational use, but 50 years ago it was completely verboten. At that time my next door neighbor was an avant-garde artist, a single mother, and a good friend. We lived on the second floor of a two-story garden apartment complex and our children were in and out of each other’s houses every day.
One night my neighbor left her daughter with a sitter while I was out collecting the March of Dimes. Returning home I was shocked to find fire engines and police cars barring the entrance. I raced to the front door and found my daughters and my friend’s daughter surrounded by other neighborhood residents.
An electrical fire had broken out in my neighbor’s bedroom wall and her sitter had wisely led my daughters, along with her charge, to the street after calling the police. Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished by excellent firefighters and the only real damage was to the affected bedroom wall. It was then the children remembered the dog still hiding somewhere in the smoky apartment. Two firefighters quickly pulled out the muzzle used to subdue anxious K9s, ran up the stairs, and came down wearing big smiles and carrying the rescued miniature Yorkie nestled inside their giant muzzle!
After the smoke had cleared we were allowed back into my apartment where I bedded all three girls and waited up for my friend to come home. A very officious police officer was stationed at her door and when she arrived we were able to calm her down enough to inspect the damage.
An hour later my doorbell rang and there stood my neighbor carrying a designer suit and a very large hat box. “May I leave these with you?” she asked. “Of course,” I replied, silently wondering why, of all her many possessions, she wanted these innocuous items stored...especially with that imposing police officer guarding her door. I took her things, put them in a closet, and promptly forgot them.
When my husband, who had been away on business, came home the next day, I regaled him with stories about the fire and the humorous rescue of the tiny Yorkie. It was good to be able to laugh at something that might have been a great tragedy.
Several weeks later, after the damaged wall had been restored and painted, my friend came to reclaim her property.
“Did you look into the hat box?” she asked. “No,” I replied, “Why would I? I assumed it was the hat that matched your suit.” As she removed the lid my heart skipped a beat. The box was half-filled with ready-to-use marijuana! Jason was so angry he walked from the room shaking his head and trying not to lose his temper. He deplored using drugs and felt that life itself was a high. Aside from that, in those days, had we been found with a hat box full of an illegal substance, we would have faced years in prison; who would believe I didn’t know what was in my own closet? The designer suit had been a red herring, covering the fact of the hat box.
It took Jay a long time to forgive my friend for putting us in such jeopardy. Eventually though, he saw how lucky she had been for the fire to have stopped before it could do further damage. The entire neighborhood would have been walking around high for days had her hat box gone up in smoke!
It makes for an amusing anecdote now, but knowing what could have happened had the stash been discovered in my house gives me pause. As a Seasoned Citizen looking back I see how indifferent my friend was to my possible consequences and how trusting and naive I was not to have questioned her to begin with. To quote an old Amish saying: “We grow too soon old and too late smart.”