So we are in the French Quarter -- YES THIS IS STILL THURSDAY -- and me and Mars and Slick are in a girls' clothing store, poking around. It has some interesting stuff, in bright colors, but I don't know that I'm in a spending-money kind of mood. So Scrow comes in and says "I'm going to the store across the street to grab something to drink, do you guys want anything?" and I say "I think I'll join you." I exit the store behind him and as I'm crossing the street my eye is caught by a sign that looks like a Marlboro logo, but instead it says "Mary Jane." Yum. So I call after Scrow, "You know what? I think I'm gonna go ahead and see what this place is like," and glide in.
Man. Remember how I got that wok, with the . . . angels and whatnot? What's a group of angels? A gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, a pride of lions . . . someone will know. Anyway, that's what this was like. A panolpy of angels, chorusing from heaven as I entered. So far as I know, Philly does not have a head shop. Ridiculous, no? It's possible there is one and I just don't know about it, but it's not on South Street, and that's where it should be. There was one in New Brunswick (where I went to school) for a year or two, but then it closed, and I don't remember this many glass pieces. Holy crap. There were glass counters, and they were PACKED IN THERE. Ha, I said packed. No, but seriously, they were lined cheek to cheek, from one hitters to spoons to sherlocks to bubblers . . . and then the shelves on the walls were lined with bongs, tall acylic ones and those weird curvy clear ones that look like chemistry equipment (is there a special deal to those? Why are they so institution-looking, is there a perk, or are they just cheaper?). Oh, and ash catchers and stash jars and everything. And these weren't those crappy pieces of shit you see at the shore, these were some really nice worked pieces. Man. I was like a kid in a candy store. Or a pothead in head shop, if you want a more accurate description.
I am drawn to the bowls, for some reason. Even though I don't love bowls. I mean I love them, and they have their place, and they're very important, but I hate the way I get ashes on my tongue. And the smoke gets so hot.
All I have is my super mega-deluxe 20" bong. Which is the most amazing piece ever, and I love him, but I feel silly when I'm smoking by myself, to be sitting on my couch watching Letterman with this monstrosity on my lap. So I decided months ago to purchase a bubbler -- which still has water in it, but it's a pipe you can hold with one hand, and there's a carb, not a slide. But I haven't gotten around to it. But somehow I was drawn to the bowls, not the bubblers (they were too expensive anyway.)
So I'm staring all googly-eyed, and the dude behind the counter asks me if I need any help. Holy crap. This guy was CLASSIC. If you know me in real life, ask me to do an impression, because holy cow. I made Mitch choke on his drink when I did it for him. This is my future, man. This is me in thirty years. He was all, "Hey, maaaaaan!" and ditzy and just a generally burnt-out hippie, but not the kind of hippie I hate, just . . . just an old pothead. He ruled. One of the things I like best about pot is that it's such a friendly drug. People are always offering it to you at concerts and shit. Where was I?
Ah yes. So the guy asks me if I need anything, and I don't want to be all shady and lurky, and I really did have something in mind when I saw the place, which were blunt papers. But I wasn't sure if I was allowed to say "blunt". I mean I know they're called "Phillies Blunts," but still, I didn't want to take my chances getting kicked out of this El Dorado of Smoke. So I ask for them in some clumsy manner, something referencing cigars, and he's like "oh, blunt papers? Sure, we have these, these, these . . " They have like eight different kinds, some of them flavored. Ugh. What to do? [Man, now that I'm thinking about it -- I totally didn't pay attention to the flavored ones, because they immediately struck me as Silly. But what if they had had chocolate? Mmmm, chocolate. Oh, regret!] So I ask if he has a recommendation, and he says, well, he doesn't really know, because he doesn't smoke blunts, he prefers his glass piece. SO! I feel I should let this guy know who he's dealing with, so I tell him about MY piece and how I myself constructed a wooden box for it, for travel purposes. So he says that a friend made his for him, and his only request was that it fit on the shelf on the door of his refridgerator. Awesome! I guess he doesn't use hot water as I do, because that would shatter the damn thing. Yeah, apparently ice water is the thing to use -- they sell bongs with special ice chambers. Which is weird, because I've grown so accustomed to hot water, that when it's even luke warm, I make a face.
Where was I? Ah yes. So I pick some papers, and say I'll purchase them. He asks to see my license, and stares at it for a good long time, trying to find my birthdate. He's all hovering his finger over the thing, too, searching around -- man I love this guy. So I point it out and he sees it and it's all good, and he says "is that all?" and I say "for now, but I think I'm going to peruse these bowls for a little while."
About this time is when Tami and Manning walked into the shop. "I knew we'd find you here!" sez Tami.
So I'm looking and looking, and can't stop smiling. An orange inside-out bowl catches my eye, so I ask to see it, and he brings it up. It's really cool-looking, and a nice length, and has a deep bowl, but a tiny hole at the bottom, which is nice because then not so many ashes, maybe. And it fits nicely in my hand. At first I just wanted to look at it, but it's only $34.95! And a quality piece! Tami comments that she likes the kind that look like real pipes, sherlocks. So then I remember that I do too so I pick one of those, and he brings it out. It's more clear, which means it will turn colors (i.e. "get really dirty") with age, which is neat. But the orange is so nice . . . I ask the dude behind the counter what HE thinks, and he says he would pick the orange one, because it's a lot sturdier and "I tend to drop mine a lot." Oh man. This guy. Seriously.
So finally I decide on the orange one. I still have this huge stupid goofy grin on my face. So dude asks . . . to see my license. Even though he just looked at it like five minutes previously. But I don't want to embarass him, so I start to get it out and hand it to him and then he says "Oh yeah! I already saw your license!" Man. So I hand him my credit card (oh no! The government knows I've been in a head shop in New Orleans!) and am chatting with Manning and Tami, and then he (the burnt-out guy, not Manning) says something like, "well, we're having a special today. And since your sales tax came within eighteen cents of [something something], you get a free pack of rolling papers, any brand, your choice!" Man. This guy just wanted to give me a free pack of papers, because I was cool, and wasn't wasting his time, looking at the bowls and stuff. So I ask if they have the kind with the little wire in it, and he says they sure do, regular and king-size, so I should get the king-size because it's more paper for the same price and if it's too long, I can just rip the end off! Well, I can't argue with that logic, so king-size it is.
Finally my purchase is complete and I trip out the door, still smiling so big. Man. I guess it's a little unfortunate that the thing that gets me so excited is drugs, but 1) it's not MY fault marijuana is illegal and 2) I'm just glad there's something that makes me so happy.
That was possibly the most exciting part of that day so far, until . . .