Was walking through the little civic park across the street from the high school a few days ago. Saw two girls — looked like juniors or seniors — smoking. That’s bad, I thought. People of any age should all know how bad cigarettes are for your health. It’s not like when I was a kid. Smoking was everywhere then. Cigarettes were still advertised on TV until I was sixteen. You could smoke virtually anywhere including airplanes, restaurants, offices, busses, movie theaters and sports venues. Today there’s virtually no place in which smoking is permitted. So why bother? I’m amazed that there are still people in this country who light up. How dumb to you have to be? And here I saw two cute, intelligent-looking teenagers smoking.
But I noticed something as I get closer to them. The odor. Those aren’t cigarettes at all. They’re smoking a joint. Well, that’s better! Or is it? It’s the middle of a weekday. They should be in school, not in a park getting high. There are times and places to get stoned. (Here I note that when I was a high school you could sometimes find me on a weekday afternoon partaking of marijuana or alcohol or even LSD — not often, mind you, but it happened. So perhaps I’m being something of a hypocrite. Maybe I shouldn’t “talk.” Then again I have extensive experience with various methods of getting high and practiced them into my early thirties when I finally recognized that I was an addict and alcoholic. I’ve been clean and sober for several decades.)
One thing twelve-step programs teach us is not to judge others. That can be a tough one. In any case I didn’t judge the high school girls. I wondered about them. I often wonder about females. I grew up with a mother who was mentally ill so obviously I wasn’t close to her. I had no sisters. Maybe this somehow contributed to my enduring fascination with females. I even married one and sired two. Women can seem such mysterious creatures. First of all there are their bodies which have different shapes, different genitalia and breasts that come in various shapes and sizes. They are softer creatures than we men. They are often very pretty to look at it. Men often expend a great deal of energy picturing these creatures in a state of undress.
Sadly many men do not treat women very well. Some men are misogynists. Society, despite recent advances, is still male-dominated and women — remarkably — still earn less pay for the same work. Sexism, two decades into the 21st century, is still prevalent.
Women are speaking out and seeking redress, no longer tolerating such insults as unwanted sexual advances. Men are being called out more for their bad behavior. This is a welcome change.
But my head spins at some of what goes on in our culture. I saw a young woman on Twitter asking for someone to pay her airfare for an upcoming trip. In the comments I noted two men — who appeared to be middle aged if not older — made offers. It didn’t even seem that it was transactional (though it very well might have been). Old guys just fork over cash to young women merely for the asking? On the same day someone drew my attention to his daughter’s college roommate (they are freshmen) who had in her TikTok profile a link to her Venmo for “sugar daddies.” I guess leering older men buy her gifts and give her money. Not sure what they get in exchange. I suppose in some cases there are meetings in which some form of sexual activity occurs. In other cases perhaps they have a zoom call in various states of dress and undress. I don’t know and I do believe I want to keep it that way.
So very pretty girls are squeezing money and gifts out of older men. It seems so cold and cynical and very sad. I can’t make sense of it. I suppose one could say that the young women are smart capitalists making a buck. But I wouldn’t. Again, I don’t know what I’d say about it.
Earlier I mentioned the differences between men and women. Pretty elementary stuff. Birds and the bees and whatnot. But hold on. Maybe not so simple, not like when I was a lad. I grew up in a world in which homosexuality was not discussed. Until high school I was not even aware that two men ever had sex. By the time I left for college I was much wiser in the ways of the world. I had a friend who was gay and had been propositioned (not by my friend). I’d heard members of a gay awareness group speak at my school. I acclimated to all this rather easily and had shed myself of homophobia not long after discovering that such a thing existed. That was simple enough and I’ve since worked with dozens of gay men and lesbians and numbered many among my friends and have been a vocal advocate of full equality among people without regard to who they choose to fuck.
But all this preceded the burgeoning trans movement. Seemingly overnight pronouns have become a point of contention and people on the right are having meltdowns over who gets to use bathrooms and how people identify (to be fair some people on the left are also having trouble dealing with this). I admit to some confusion about the whole gender identity issue having grown up in a world in which such talk would have seemed like science fiction. However I am not rigid and allow for times to change and support people being their true selves.
Let’s see….this all started because I saw two high school girls (do girls and boys became men and women on their 18th birthday? Seems as good a demarcation point as any) smoking a joint in the park in the afternoon of a school day. Surely among my legions of faithful readers (I see you Collingwood Longfellow Peterburger III of Ripton, Vermont) there are thousands of high school girls. So here’s my advice to you young ladies: don’t light up a doobie during school hours. Indeed reserve getting high for weekends, vacations or at least at night AFTER you’ve finished your homework. Even at that be judicious. You’re young and have many years of pot smoking ahead if that's what you choose to do with your leisure hours (also moderation in all things -- as if I'm one to talk). As for alcohol most definitely save that for college and in all instances by careful. Not all young men are gentlemen as I was in days of yore. Unscrupulous lads try to take advantage of girls who are high. Sad but true. So be careful. Have a friend around, know your environment. Don't overdo it.
Have fun everybody!