“Wanna smoke at the Lincoln Memorial?”
I texted back with feigned confidence.
Lesson number one: Dicks make you dumb.
It was 3am, and I couldn’t sleep. I had been talking to this guy on Grindr for fewer than five minutes before he invited me (dear gay men: if you need weed in a new city, go to Grindr). He was very attractive. I had joked to my friend that I wanted to make “a story” of the night, and this was just too perfect.
Oh yeah, this wasn’t a good idea, I told myself walking up the giant marble steps of the Memorial. My eyes darted between the two security cameras on the roof. Despite feeling cynical lately about the effectiveness of government, I had a feeling that these cameras were both working and monitored around the clock. I felt so patriotic.
Perched at the top were two figures. “Hi, friends,” I said. They both nodded their heads coolly with squinted eyes.
I took a seat next to the two and spread my legs flat over multiple steps. They didn’t say anything at first, and I looked out at over the reflecting pool to the blinking red lights of the Washington monument. It really was a gorgeous night; an idyllic warm breeze drifted through the quiet Mall.
It took me a moment to question the fact that there were three of us. I introduced myself to the guy whose torso I didn’t recognize. He was from Colorado; he was 24. Cute Face from Grindr was 22. I was 21.
They began rolling; they had kindly postponed the revelry until I arrived. We waited for the papers to dry; all three of us stared at the nation’s obelisk.
“I can’t wait for the day when we can smoke in all 50 states,” said Colorado with an air of grandeur fit for the Mall. “The country is totally headed in the right direction.”
“Yeah, the last few months have been crazy,” said Cute Face in a way that made it sound like he was agreeing. I was not going to have a structured discussion about where the country was headed.
“The arc of the universe bends toward justice,” I said diplomatically.
The door behind us creaked loudly. I turned to the other two.
“Yeah, we know.”
The officer walked out, turned toward us with an air of intent, then walked back inside.
“Are we really going to do this here?” I asked. No one ever wants to be that guy, but I was too sober to be this much of an idiot.
“Dude,” said Cute Face, actually calling me dude; I’m not proud to say that I’d let him call me anything with his bone structure. “Do you know we’re in a place that recently legalized weed?”
“Decriminalized,” I corrected in a pompous, matter-of-fact tone that I learned from precept.
“Do you know how much you can have that’s still legal?” he countered.
“2 ounces,” I said confidently, “but you still can’t smoke it in public.” I had done my readings in the Uber ride over.
“Do you know how much we have on with us?”
“Less than a gram. That’s not enough to do anything, no one cares here.”
Lesson number two: Dumb thoughts said confidently are still dumb.
I shrugged again, and Colorado took out his lighter.
“Do you want a hit?” Cute Face asked.
I don’t even like weed. It doesn’t stop me from smoking anyway. (Read into that as you’d like.) Regardless, that night it did not make sense.
“No, I’m good.” I said. Cute Face looked at me, his face full of patronizing pity.
Once again, the ancient door creaked. I surprised myself with my reaction. I sat relaxed, legs still splayed over the marble. I was peacefully resigned.
“What are you doing?!” said a voice, high and stern. “don’t you try to put that away,”
I was disappointed to see Cute Face lose his confidence. “I’m new here, I didn’t know, I’m sosorry” etc. etc. I sat and watched the scene unfold as if I were a third party.
“You can literally smoke anywhere in DC,” said the officer, incredulous, “this is federal property, this is a federal offense.”
Lesson number three: On federal property, smoking weed is a federal offense.
I hadn’t thought about that. I started wondering about whether or not some alum would represent me in federal court.
“Common sense, guys, seriously.”
Maybe I could get a Princeton student discount; alums are good like that, right?
“What were you thinking! You could’ve chosen anywhere.”
I could represent myself—that’d be a cool line on my resume.
Colorado sat coolly, and Baby Face continued his drawn out apologies. The officer, realizing that she was not getting anywhere, said, “just put it out, give me everything you have.”
Ugh, goodbye, Harvard Law.
The officer’s eyes widened, “Don’t you dare put that out on the marble; I will arrest you right now.”
I’ve discovered a love for the “whadud I do?” face. You relax your entire face, but your eyebrows are raised high. It says innocence through shameless ignorance. For some reason, it always makes me think of Channing Tatum. Although I only saw Colorado’s profile, I could tell that it was an especially impressive one. The officer rolled her eyes, collected the weed, and watched us leave.
As if in a movie:
“Thank you, ma’am,” the three of us said.
“You kids stay out of trouble, okay?”
We approached the reflecting pool. “She just didn’t want to fill out the paperwork,” Colorado told me, “see I told you it was fine.”
My arm gained a life of its own, and my palm reached my forehead before I even registered what Colorado had said.
“Yes,” I said, chuckling, resigned to the fact that it was now 4am, “you were right.” Colorado and Cute Face looked elsewhere in the Mall for a dark place to smoke weed that they still managed to have.
“Really, you really—Yeah, I’m gonna head out.” The two started walking away, I called an Uber, and I shared a “God, you’re dumb” / “lolz, I know” smile with Cute Face.
It just didn’t seem worth it.
I resigned to the fact that I’d never see Colorado again, but held out hope that I would be able to message Cute Face in the morning. I returned to the Memorial and stared out over the reflecting pool. It really was a gorgeous night; an idyllic warm breeze drifted through the lonely Mall.
Lesson number 4: Idiots have more fun.