I was in the High School theater taking Driver’s ED. The teacher stood on the stage as we sat in fuzzy, red, auditorium seats, and watched him as he tried to keep our attention while he explained the rules of the road. He talked about how the speed limit used to be “Reasonable and Proper” when he was our age. He talked to us about how you shouldn’t drive right behind a semi truck to save gas, because trucks can stop faster than cars and you’ll crash into them. To this day, I’m not sure if anything he taught us was true or just sounded good.
A student came in late and slipped into the seat next to mine. I don’t remember much about him, except his breath. When he turned to me and said “What I miss?” it hit me like a brick. It was this harsh, oddly woody, smell that spiked itself into my head.
I choked out an answer to his question and turned back to our teacher, who was telling us we shouldn’t flash our brights at other cars as revenge. He pantomimed someone stepping on a floor pedal because, when he was our age, the brights were controlled by a foot pedal.
Suddenly, my nose felt wet. Something warm was pouring out of it at an alarming rate. I grabbed my shirt and pinched my nose with it as I tilted my head forward trying to stop the bleed. The flow continued and I was afraid I would bleed to death before reaching the school nurse. Then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. I looked down at my, now disgusting, shirt and was surprised to see it wasn’t covered in blood. It was covered in mucus. The smell from his breath had been so bad, it had caused my body to react like I had a severe allergy.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized what I had smelled on his breath was marijuana. Now, with California Proposition 19 nearing a vote, I feel my sense of anxiety rising. Normally, I would be for legalizing anything that causes no harm to others, but I have to take a stand on this one. Should Prop 19 pass, I will find myself in a world where my nose will suddenly jet mucus like a drinking fountain several times a day. Sure, it might be fun for my kids, and I might be of some help to the local fire department, but I think that would wear thin after a while.
So, please vote against Prop 19, or the next time you light up a joint, I’ll come stand next to you and inhale deeply.