Sports: Some people grow up with them, and some find them later in life.Weed: Some people grow up with it, and some find it later in life.
I grew up among the farmland and cow pies of Eastern Washington. Soccer, tennis, and golf were my babysitter. The $50 my parents paid at the beginning of the summer for my junior golf membership was a steal compared to what they would have spent paying a neighbor to come over and play board games with me.
Weed I did not grow up with. I first smoked it when I was 20, and I coughed so much that I decided I would never try smoking it again. I suck at smoking it—as I confirmed again the next time I tried. I only recently got into weed after legalization made an ever-growing variety of edibles available to me. I find I can control my high better—and more accurately determine when things are going to kick in and wind down—when choosing to chew my pot.
Only recently have I gotten good at combining weed and sports.
Golf was my favorite sport during high school, and I honed my craft with hours of practice (more fun than homework). The idea was that it might elevate me into a school I wasn't going to get into on my grades. Sure enough, I earned my way onto a division 1 golf team. I averaged the lowest score on the team my freshman year. I also made terrible, lazy decisions with schoolwork, got put on academic probation, quit the team, gave up golf, got my shit together, and graduated with a decent GPA in four years.
After college, I went to caddy at Bandon Dunes, a very nice golf resort on the Oregon Coast. It was there that I smoked weed for the first time. I was caddying with a guy named Liam for a group of fathers and sons for 36 holes in one day. Liam and I were each carrying two bags.
We had about an hour between rounds to grab food, and Liam wanted to smoke.
We drove his car five minutes up the road from the caddy shack. He pulled out a small pipe, loaded it, and—after I admitted I'd never smoked before—gave me a quick tutorial. I gave it my best, pulling with my breath at the contraption a couple of times and scorching my bronchial tubes. As most first-timers experience, I didn't feel anything. Until I did.
Back on the course, everything slowed down. I couldn't do the math for proper yardages. The clubs all started to look the same, and I kept putting them back in the wrong bag. Walking up hills was hard. "Are you okay, Jon?" one of the clients said.
Fast-forward a decade, and I'm back on the golf course, playing with a friend we happily call The Dude. This is after legalization. He popped a tin out of his golf bag and offered me one of the hard candies clanking around inside. It was a 5 milligram lemongrass Zoot.
Obviously, after that previous experience on the green, I was slightly nervous. But an hour later, I was smiling, chuckling, and feeling very good. The Zoot was having a very specific effect on my golf playing. It was slowing my swing down. This was a great thing, as most poor shots are due to a player swinging too fast. On the other hand, during one round, I couldn't fully feel my hands. I couldn't quite grasp the way the greens were undulating. Both are a problem when trying to execute shots. I felt like an 8-year-old, or an infant, learning to swing again, which was pretty funny.
Everything about it was funny, actually. My miscues were easy to laugh off in my new state of mind. I wasn't nearly as uptight as usual about my game. And my score at the end of the round was no worse than if I'd played stone-cold sober.
Since then, I've played a few more rounds of golf properly Zooted to see if this was a one-off, and it wasn't a one-off. It was something I could depend on each time out—less frustration, more smiling. Even just walking around in the sunshine under the blue sky was more exciting than it usually is.
With my newfound golf elixir, I decided to see if edibles might benefit me in playing other sports.
I'm not as good at tennis as I am at golf, but I'm not bad. You can sum up my tennis game in three characteristics: risk/reward serve, big forehand, nonexistent backhand. I was a community junior summer tennis champion (under 13 division).
Curious about whether I could achieve any benefits from playing tennis stoney, I blasted off one doubles session with half of a 10 milligram Sinners & Saints mango candy.
Tennis is a fast game, with a harder-the-faster-it-goes green object flying at your face when you're on duty up at the net. Golf, you get to walk around; tennis, you have to be on point. If your reactions falter, you get hit in the face, and that shit hurts.
Soon enough, during the match, my body and mind were fighting each other over who was going to win. My mind wanted to embarrass our opponents with that big forehand of mine and feats of brilliant thinking, while my body wanted to sit down on the court like Richie Tenenbaum.
I thought way too much about what I was doing and how the ball looked as it spun through the air. I wondered what my doubles partner was thinking of me. If I could just sit down on the court, I could relax, take off my shoes, and pass the kouchie with everyone.
After the match, I decided this maybe wasn't the best use for my supply of candies.
From my early days in Seattle, I've played on a coed soccer team. It was actually one of my teammates who gave me one of my first edibles, a homemade peanut-butter chocolate, to try at home. "Eat a little bit of that and see what happens," he said. What happened was I couldn't make it out to drinks that night because I was stuck on the couch, physically unable to move, laughing an absurd amount at The Office and 30 Rock.
But a 10 milligram Verdelux Illuminations lime candy is a different story. All bets are off when it comes to the dosing on homemade edibles, but I can handle 10 milligrams.
I wanted to see if it would mellow the match. One thing I've noticed booting the ball around greater Seattle is that no matter the skill level of the league, you're bound to run into overaggressive players of all genders. In any context but the soccer field, I am a peacekeeper. But it's hard for me not to get in someone's face when they aggressively plow into your goalie and break his nose (that really happened) or constantly kick your ankles (which always happens).
Guess what? It did totally mellow the match! I could still run around the pitch and make passes, but there was something a bit slower, a bit off. Have you ever tried to run in snow boots? Playing soccer while high is kind of like that—you want to run as fast as you can, but it just doesn't feel possible. Your new top speed feels like 75 percent of your normal top speed, no matter how hard you try.
My passing and shooting were still on point, and probably even better for having a more calm mind about it all. I felt like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind—all the angles and calculations were floating just above me, changing and recalibrating with every touch of the ball.
But the best aspect of playing boosted was everything was okay. I didn't get mad once during the game. It was like I just kind of floated around the field, doing whatever I could whenever I had the opportunity. Altercations were laughed off with an "aw-shucks" attitude. No one could do wrong. We were all friends just out for a fun night run under the lights while chasing a little white ball.
I think that's my biggest takeaway from sporting in an altered state. I've never had a bad time. Sure, maybe I didn't perform to 100 percent of my skill level, but that's not really the point anymore.
Adult sports are all about the community. It's an excuse to get together with people you enjoy on a Monday night or a Saturday morning. And if there happens to be some childish aspects to the get-together—like, say, a hard candy infused with 10 milligrams of drugs—well, that's an occasion I can get behind.