Radical Rant: My Arizona Shopping Dilemma


Dang it, I’m out of milk!

Should be an easy enough problem to solve, right? Just go to the corner store and buy some milk.

But there’s a complication. I’m not back home in Portland, OR, where there are convenience stores full of milk within walking distance of most neighborhoods.

I’m in this strange little town in Arizona and not only is there no store within walking distance, but they don’t sell milk to people unless a doctor certifies you have osteoporosis. Weird, huh?

Never fear, though, because I’m one of the lucky few who happens to know a friend who knows a guy in this backwards Arizona town who has a cow.

But I have to be careful. If I get caught trying to buy some milk from some guy who got it from some guy who owns a cow, I could be in some serious trouble here. Not only could the cops arrest and jail me over that milk, they could also take my stuff even if they don’t arrest me for the milk!

So I call my friend, but I have to use code words to guard against my conversation being overheard in real time or recorded by cops. “Hey, man, it’s me. Do you know if anybody’s got any, um, vanilla frosting?”

My friend says, "Sure, c’mon over." That’s all I have to go on. I don’t know if it’s raw milk, fat free, 1 percent, 2 percent, or whole milk. It might be chocolate milk. It doesn’t matter, though, because I need milk.

So I get in the car and drive to a bank so I can get cash out of an ATM. That’s necessary because my friend can’t give the cow owner a check or a debit card. Cash only.

I make the drive across town, spending 45 minutes in rush hour traffic. I can’t really make the trip for milk at any old time, because the guy who owns the cow goes to bed early (after all, he’s got to be up at 4 am to milk the cow).

I pick up my friend and he gives me the directions to find the guy with the cow. I give him the twenties I pulled from the ATM – yes, milk really is that expensive here. He takes me to a shady part of town.

We knock on the cow owner’s door. He answers, wearing some dirty sweatpants and a ratty old T-shirt. His house is a bit of a mess and has a very odd smell. My friend and the guy start into a conversation, leaving me just sitting there on bad couch.

“Dude,” the guy says to my friend, “You gotta hear this track my band just laid down for our demo!” He pushes play on his stereo and I’m treated to some pretty lousy garage band noise. “You want some?” the guy asks me in the first sentence he’s directed my way. He’s holding a small paper cup with some milk in it.

I am kind of thirsty and it would be nice to know what kind of milk I’m buying. I take a sip. It’s not great milk, but it’s not bad milk. “Thanks,” I tell him, as I hand the paper cup to my friend for a sip.

After a few more excruciating minutes of the musical cacophony and the guy’s three cats forcing their way into my personal space, my friend and the guy retreat to another room. When they return, we sit there a few minutes longer, sipping more milk, until my friend eventually steers the conversation toward a goodbye.

We leave the guy’s house and get back into the car. “Here you go,” my friend tells me as he hands me a canteen filled with milk. It’s not in a carton or a bottle. It’s not labeled in any way. I think it tasted like whole milk back at the guy’s house. But I have no idea if that cow was treated with hormones, GMOs, antibiotics. I don’t know if that milk was properly pasteurized. Hell, it could be goat’s milk, for all I know.

But thankfully, it’s milk and I’ve got it. Sure, the canteen seems like it’s not really the full quart of milk I was wanting, and it’s the most expensive milk I’ve ever purchased, but I needed milk and now I’ve got milk.

I drive my friend back home. As he exits the car, he tells me it’s been a long time since he’s had any milk. Could I do him a favor and pour him some milk into a small cup off the canteen for him before I leave, he asks me? He did do me a favor finding the guy with the cow, after all, so sure enough, I let him take a bit of the milk from the canteen.

I drive back across town. Along the drive I find that there’s an Arizona state trooper driving behind me. Is he following me? Was he tracking people coming and going to that guy with the cow’s house? I check the rearview mirror in case I have a milk moustache. I’m getting a very nervous feeling until that trooper passes me to go about his business elsewhere.

Relieved, I get across town and park at my temporary Arizona home. Inside, my roommate sees that I have brought home some milk. “Hey man,” he asks me, “I’m going to go visit my friend who’s got some milk tomorrow, but I’m completely out right now. Would you do me a solid and let me get some milk from you tonight? I swear I’ll pay you back tomorrow.”

Getting milk here is a pain in the ass for everyone, so I understand. I pour some milk into a cup for my roommate and he drinks it down. “Thanks, man,” he says before going to bed.

Finally, after two hours of driving around town, I get to sit down and drink a nice relaxing glass of milk.

Wait, did I say “milk”? I meant “marijuana.” You never really appreciate how truly unnecessary, frustrating, and terrifying prohibition really is until you’ve lived for months within walking distance of an shop any adult can walk into and buy marijuana like a quart of milk, and then you have to go back to scoring weed on the black market.


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