Dear people of Seattle and surrounding areas:
While my memoir book Alternadad has been correctly characterized as a celebration of/bitch session about the joys and pitfalls of contemporary fatherhood, it's also about another timeless –hood that I really enjoy a lot: stonerhood. Alternadad has now joined the great works of drug literature—Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Red-Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes, and Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy Town—in an exclusive pantheon. In this short but potent dime bag of an excerpt, I sexualize my marijuana consumption to the point of absurdity. Please enjoy. And I'll see you at Chop Suey.
I decided it was time for me to reform my marijuana-smoking habits. One of my best friends from high school, who'd become a successful family-practice physician with a specialty in infectious disease, spurred the change. He had a son a few months younger than my son Elijah.
"Dude, you're gonna be 35 soon. You can't be inhaling all that shit into your lungs."
"You're probably right," I said. He had a degree from Harvard. I sighed as I imagined what the next four and a half decades would be like without pot.
"You need to get a vaporizer. It doesn't combust the weed. It cooks. You're sucking down like 100 percent THC vapor."
"And it works?"
"It works so well that you barely have to use any weed at all. A quarter can last you for months. It is awesome."
I was faced with a purchasing decision that could get me very high and save me money at the same time; I didn't need to think on this for long.
"Where can I get one?"
An hour later, I'd found my quarry on the internet. An hour and five minutes later, I'd placed the order. My vaporizer was on its way. I went into the living room to tell my wife, Regina, of my lifestyle upgrade.
"How much did you spend on this thing?" she said.
I told her.
"Neal Ross Pollack! You're the one who's been saying we need to cut back on our expenses. And you spend that on something to help you smoke marijuana?"
"No, no. It's not about smoking. It's about vaporizing."
"Besides, it's almost my 35th birthday. And I'm going to treat myself."
It arrived a week later. I waited for Elijah to go down for his nap before I opened the package. A shiny metal cylinder emerged from a red plastic base at about a 45-degree angle. On the downward slope, a half-moon three inches in diameter had been welding-torched out of the cylinder. Inside was the "heat source," a six-inch piece of glass tubing that curved out for the final two inches, culminating in a soothing blue-and-green blown-glass pattern of the type that you see at a gift shop in Eugene, Oregon. Inside the tubing was a white heat wand that looked like a Tootsie Pop stick without its candy. On the other side of the cylinder was a glass knob done in the same blue-green pattern. A thick black electrical cord emerged from the base of the cylinder. The other component of my vaporizer was a two-foot-long piece of soft plastic tubing. On one end of that was a six-inch piece of glass, topped with a two-inch-deep oval container with a screen at the bottom. On the other end was a little glass circle with a blowhole. The manufacturer had also thrown in a weed grinder and a pick for tamping down the weed and for scooping it out when it was cashed. It was beautiful; I'd invested in the top of the line.
"That's some contraption," Regina said.
"They call it the Silver Surfer."
That night, the Silver Surfer made its inaugural voyage. I waited until at least an hour after Elijah had fallen asleep. It came into the living room with me.
"Wanna surf?" I said.
"Oh, all right."
This was a once-a-year venture for her, at best, so I felt honored. I pulled a nugget of homegrown out of a film canister. It went into the grinder, which I twisted a few times. A smattering of tasty shake remained when I was done. It poured easily into the wand, and then I patted it down with the pick. After about 30 seconds, the heat source glowed a deep orange. I turned the heat down a little and placed the contained end of the wand on it. After about 15 seconds, I sucked on the tube.
"I don't think I'm getting anything."
"Let me try."
She had about the same result. I placed it on again, and sucked in, breathing from the bottom of my lungs. I tasted something sweet on my tongue as I blew out. A cool, fragrant mist dispersed out of my mouth. A few minutes later, we were watching Giant on Turner.
"Oh my God," I said. "This is such a good movie." Regina appeared to be receding back into the couch. It threatened to swallow her entirely.
"You need to go get some doughnuts now," she said. "Don't you think?"
Excerpted from Alternadad by Neal Pollack © 2007. Reprinted with permission by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.