First it smoldered a bit in the pocket and then left a round gaping burn hole the exact circumference of the cigarette. It’s hard to hide your only winter coat - a new one at that - from your Ma. Both mother and daughter were pretty upset about ruining the new coat. Plus, that coat smelled like burnt tobacco for the longest time.
For the time being, based on the guilt factor alone, cigarettes lost their appeal. Another combustible, however, was to come into the picture to take their place.
One sunny summer day Charlene and her best girlfriend were walking along the roadside on their way to a sandy beach that lined the great shiny lake they lived near. In those days, no one seemed in a particular rush and your parents definitely didn't drive you; unless you had a driver's license, you walked everywhere.
Charlene’s brother Rod drove by in his aqua blue Rambler, stopped and asked where they were going. He said he and his buddy were going to the beach too if they wanted a ride, but that he needed to stop by his apartment first. He was about five years older and was already moved out of the house and living on his own.
They stopped at his apartment while he picked up some towels and blankets. Her brother’s friend laughed saying,
“Gimme a minute while I roll a marijuana cigarette."
Charlene overheard her brother say, “That herb doesn’t have any seeds; it’s Sensimilla."
After that he referred to it as Sensi.
Rod’s buddy rolled two joints, and lit one, filling the room with a thick heady perfume.
Charlene had been around when they "smoked up" before but this time her brother asked if she and her friend wanted some. After all, it was the summer, school was out, and the only responsibility that lie ahead was getting a good tan at the lake. Being asked to partake in this ritual made her feel grown up, and so with determination, she toked on that reefer like Bob Marley himself. Surely that would do the trick.
Charlene took a haul when the joint came around first time, second time, third time; after the fourth time, she passed on it.
Till this day she isn’t sure whether the following event was brought on by the power of suggestion of the book laying on her brother’s coffee table, or not.
The event was so remarkable in and of itself, it never left Charlene’s mind.
On a nearby table stood a snake plant, (or commonly referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue). At sixteen years old, any notion of a mother-in-law was very far, far off in Charlene’s mind. But she later figured that there may have been an unconscious association with a 'talking plant' that spurred the event.
She was sitting comfortably on the sofa, when out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw upright leaves of the plant moving.
There was no breeze in the room and the pointy plant with its vertical leaves were swaying back and forth. It was as if the plant itself had engaged in a premeditated dance. She looked over to see it was not her peripheral vision playing tricks; it appeared the stiff leaves were moving up, down and sideways, and apparently in time to the music on the high fidelity stereo.
Charlene swallowed hard with her now dry mouth, and kept this vision to herself. After all she did not want to be the freaked out little sister. Still inside her head she was singing,
“Freak out in a Moonage Daydream. Oh yeah!”
It was the 1970's after all, and so with towels, beach blanket, suntan lotion and a different state of mind, they all piled into the Rambler and headed to the beach.