College Dabbers and Dabblers

The kids are alright.
The kids are alright. LEAH GRACE/FLICKR

I, the intern (one of two), was tasked with describing college weed culture. I graduated last year. Here goes.

The kids are definitely getting high. They’ve got all these hurly whirly contraptions — dab pens, vape pens, joints — to light up with. I’ve got one friend who keeps a little ball in his dab rig that spins around like a 100x speed race car when you pull. Supposedly it gets all the wax melted. There’s also ice in his bong for a clean hit. These days, it’s all about doing it right.

One thing about the kids these days and their hurly whirly contraptions is the adults have no clue. The kids can rip a fat one in the middle of family Seder and everyone thinks they just sucked on a USB, weirdo.

For example, there were three guys in my apartment building last year who kept this weed-smoking thing on the fire escape. It was a green glass tube about five feet long with stickers all over it. They left it there, August through May, and the landlord never said anything.

Some bongs are dirty with gunk climbing up the walls. Others are shiny like they just came out of an Easter basket. Typically, the shiny ones belong to the worst students.

There are three types of students: potheads, neutral potheads (smoking whenever the opportunity presents itself) and zealots. The zealots just won’t have it. Instead, they’ve got buffets in the student center with red sauce pasta getting soggy in aluminum pans and a peppy administrator who get it, she really gets it.

The zealots are pre-med, engineering, or poly sci (to be a lawyer, of course). Never creative writing or English. And god forbid "undecided."

“Undecided? You are undecided? Your father and I don’t pay $50,000 a year, didn’t take out a mortgage on the house, pull our inheritance early with hellish taxes for you to be … to be undecided?!”

“When you’re great-grandmother came to this country, dirt poor, shoe-less and eating her own toe nails …” etc.

What’s funny is the circumstances which create a zealot and the circumstances which create a pothead are strikingly similar.

On Friday nights, when there was to be a party later, the potheads would stumble into a basement where all the neutral potheads and zealots were playing drinking games like cave people. The potheads giggled amongst themselves.

They joined the drunks, throwing ping pong balls and dice, drinking big stinking cups of Natural Light. One of them happened upon the aux, meaning he could play music. His compatriots all nodded in agreement at his choice in songs, saying “yeah, bro” emphatically.

The potheads lost their aux, though. By some unspoken law, it was always changing hands. And so one of them would have the great idea of going back upstairs and smoking some more, and they would all nod, huddled together — a great idea — and leave before any guests had shown up.

One time, a college student that we’ll call Jim was in the basement on a Wednesday night watching some seniors play a drinking game. It was a big deal, this drinking game, because it was part of an inter-fraternity drinking game tournament. There were 30 other students down there just to watch.

The guy sitting next to Jim got passed a dab pen from somewhere unknown. He then took another one out from his pocket and hit both pens at the same time. He coughed and smiled at Jim, handing him the pens.

I feel bad for Jim. He’s one of those naive neutral potheads. He’d had his hand held through every encounter with weed. He didn’t own a bong. He didn’t buy weed. When he hit those dab pens, he didn’t know what to expect.

You don’t feel dab pens when you hit them — or so I’ve been told. They create this black box of smoking where you’re not sure how high you’ll be once you come out the other end. It’s like spinning the wheel on Wheel of Fortune.

Over an hour later, long after the game had ended and the basement emptied, Jim was leaning over in his chair, coughing, higher than the Superman at Six Flags. He wondered whether the pain was enough to bear to go upstairs to his room.

Eventually he made the journey, slowly, and took a hot shower. The steam lifted into his lungs and he burped, it tasting of weed. Soon he was feeling better, so he shut off the water and dried off.

It was only 8 p.m., Jim realized, and the dining hall was still open. He put on a jacket and drifted outside through the cold and across the lawn to the campus eatery, dreaming of all the things he might eat.

Burgers sizzled on the grill. Ice cream cooled in the freezer. Bags of candy, in various neon colors, sang out from the metal racks. To Jim, the world seemed full of opportunity. And what could be more true? With a lifetime of success ahead of him, what feeling better describes today’s college student?

He ate, walking back satisfied, and went to bed because he had class in the morning. That’s the end of that.

Munchies, weed, class … college!

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