Many years ago, when I was about 10, my brother and I decided to smoke the dried, tubular, hollowed out weeds that grew near the creek in our back yard. We’d pluck a nice fat one and break it down to a cigar sized length. Then we would light blue tip matches off of the dry rocks and attempt to fire up the hollow weeds. The weed really didn’t light and we would end up inhaling more blue tip match sulfur than smoke.
My brother got the completely logical idea that we should use the hollow weeds as a medium to smoke something else out of. Sort of a hard cased cigarette. Since we did not have any tobacco in the house or in the seven miles radius of desolation and country farms that we called home, we opted for the next best thing: tea.
We went in the house, opened up four Lipton tea bags and dumped the contents into a plastic sandwich bag. We disposed of the external tea bag material, string and paper by stuffing it way in the bottom of the trash can because we were sure mom or dad would figure out what we were up to if they found the remnants.
In the back yard we stuffed the hollow reeds with some of the tea. We used smaller weeds to pack the tea in cannon ball style. We fired them up. He coughed. I choked. He wheezed. My eyes dripped tears. It was smooth.
When we finished (fifteen seconds after we started) we went back inside and most likely played Atari. He probably won and punched me in the arm because that's how it always was.
Three years later I was in the living room (probably playing Atari) when my mother called to me from the kitchen. I entered. Dad was sitting at the kitchen table. Mom was standing. Between them at the table was a plastic sandwich bag filled with three year old tea.
Mom did the talking. “Is this yours?”
My mind raced back. I ended up tossing that plastic bag of tea in my underwear drawer, way in the back. I’d see it every so often, but didn’t think much of it as it was only tea. I never threw it away. Mom had been going through my drawers, diligently looking for weed, and low and behold she hit the mother lode.
I answered her question, “Yes. It’s tea.”
“Is this marijuana?”
“No! It’s tea!”
My parents wouldn’t know tea from weed so I was in for a bit of trouble.
“You have one more chance… is this marijuana?”
“No! It’s tea! Steve and I tried to smoke it years ago!”
Dad finally spoke up, “You smoked tea?”
“Yes. Out of the weeds by the creek.”
“The hollow ones?” Dad didn’t drop his apples very far from the tree.
Mom couldn’t believe that her snooping was proving fruitless. “There’s only one way we can tell that this is tea.”
Dad put a pan of water on the stove. I was made to sit at the table and wait forever watching for the water to boil. He dumped in the contents of the bag. We all waited more. I distinctly remember Dad wafting the steam to his face and saying, “Well, it smells like tea.”
That was all the proof they needed. The weed tea was disposed of. I was given some sort of punishment that involved not being allowed to play Atari.
My recollection of this story sounds brave, but I’m sure I was whimpering and high pitched stammering and I bet I ratted out my brother in the first ten seconds of the interrogation. When he came home that night, he got three years of backlogged reprimands. His punishment was probably worse because it always was.