October, 1973, Magnolia, Massachusetts
I entered my sophmore year at Bishop Fenwick a socially awkward, unhappy kid. I wrote depressing poetry & had very few friends. I took pills for motion sickness so I wouldn’t throw up on the bus to school. My frequent episodes of motion sickness the year before had led to much humiliation and teasing. I hung out with this kid Gregory from Magnolia who taught me how to ride his motorcycle. On the surface we were close friends and his family(mostly Lebanese immigrants) were really nice to me but I was annoyed with his anti-semitic and homophobic sentiments. It became a habit to hang out with him after school after I got Osgood Schlatter Disease and had to quit my paper route. At the time I had nothing better to do. So every morning I fell asleep riding to school & arrived looking like I was stoned on barbituates…eyes red slits from the dramamine. The afternoon ride home somewhat shorter…would get off at Gregory’s house and ride the Yamaha Enduro 125 with him. Then we would take a break and Gregory’s mom would make us coffee. His aunts and cousins would marvel at the kid who liked his coffee black.
This went on for a few months until Gregory’s family became concerned about other friendships I developed. My classmate Fred had seen me arriving to school looking stoned and had told his cousin Sammy that I must be doing some good drugs. They were disappointed to learn it was only drammamine. One Friday night they showed up at my house and asked me if I wanted to come for a ride. They asked me to bring a cassette tape of the Grateful Dead. We drove around East Gloucester and Magnolia. Freddy rolled a cigarette and lit it up…my first joint. Sammy said, “You probably won’t get high your first time unless you take to it like a duck to water.” Fifteen minutes later we were all laughing our asses off. I guess you could say I took to it “like a duck to water”.