The Kind of Fun I Hate

Though my flight was at eight in the morning, I decided (?) it would be an excellent idea to stay up until six-ish smoking bowl after bowl with Vanessa, her boyfriend Paul, and some of her cute friends from out of town. Actually, it was the brownies that made this idea really sparkle, and when, an hour after I had dozed off in front of a marathon of The Closer on TNT, I was jostled awake by Paul, I was still thinking this whole thing was Just Perfect.

So Paul drove me back to my place to get packed and showered (and to smoke another bowl after I had packed and showered). As I went to get in the passenger seat of Vanessa’s dinky outdated car I almost sat on a large slab of brownie wrapped up in plastic. “I guess I’ll eat it now,” I said. “Thanks for this.”

Tucson is one of the few cities I’ve ever enjoyed being a passenger in, mostly because the roads are all exactly straight (thus no swerving, no hard turns), and because—holy shit!—cactuses, tumbleweed, mountains, the massive, marbled sky. I remember sticking my face out the window, and thinking to myself, “This is not something I’ll be doing in Detroit later today.”

I had been high for air travel before, and although I had always been a little extra-resentful of all that “security,” and although it always made the flight seem a little bit longer, I was determined, as a born-again pot smoker, to find the secret beauty in it. I exited the car, thanked Paul again, and lit a cigarette.

Next thing I knew I was getting laughed at by the security screener—a jovial, brotherly laugh—as he patted my shirt and pants. The kind of laugh that says, “I know. But friend, who cares what I know?”

Suddenly I was waking up in my seat on the plane, getting the nastiest look from a bald, black man with a businessman mustache in a businessman suit. My head had swam out while I was sleeping into the belly of the plane, and as much as I tried to reel it back in, as much as I hoped to be able to explain to this man that whatever he thought I had done—whatever it was I had done—it wasn’t against him. I didn’t do it to make him angry.

But, of course, this recovery wasn’t going to happen any time soon….

The next time I woke up, two very southern women were having a conversation in the row behind me.

“What’s that?” one of them asked, in her delicate as a real-china teacup with purple flowers painted on it voice.

“What’s what?” her daughter, maybe, asked.

“It smells like marijuana….”

And this was too much for me. All these people knew, and were unable or unwilling to do anything about it! My smirk slipped into a deep well of laughter, the holding-your-chest kind of laughter, and I bumped my head into the seat in front of me, spilled the glass of water that had somehow found its way to my tray-table, turned to look at the businessman actively frowning at me—I could taste his hate—and laughed. Right. Into. His. Face.

Then I was in Minneapolis, my layover. I called Jonathan, explained to him the situation. “Jonathan,” I said, “my brain is still on that flight. The altitude let it balloon out far past where it’s supposed to end, and….” I didn’t know what else to say.

“Sounds fun,” Jonathan mused, “are you having fun?”

“I don’t know…yes, but it’s the kind of fun I hate.”


Donald Dunbar's book Eyelid Lick won the 2012 Fence Modern Poets Series prize and will be out in the fall. He runs the reading series If Not For Kidnap from his home in southeast Portland. 

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