No two uniforms are the same, yet I always catch my heart rate rising to a deadly beat when I’m stuck next to a transit worker on the subway or walk past a meter maid after a smoke-out session. Deep down, I know these folks aren’t really going to arrest me for reeking of Strawberry Cough, and they’re not going to pat me down and check my linty pockets for shake, paraphernalia or the other drug-related crap I usually have accompanying me on my daily routine. But still, I feel like they can all read my mind: I am stoned and they know it. Look! See how they’re staring at me? I’m going to jail! Cops have given everyone in any sort of government-issued outfit a bad name. Even if all cops aren’t bad, the guns on their right hip and the handcuffs on their left one sure are—a diabolical duo that has often sent my stomach into such a flip, even Pepto Bismol can’t fix it.

I think back to the days when “marijuana” was just another word for a cigarette. I must’ve been about 7 when the Breakfast Club first introduced me to the word “doobage.” Sure I laughed, but I honestly had no idea what the hell they were referring to. I still waved to Mr. Policeman as he rolled on by back then. But, by the time I turned 13, the waving had pretty much ceased. At age 16, with license in hand, it simply turned into a one-finger salute. As a sneaky female, I never really had much interaction with the “authorities,” so soon enough, anyone with any type of badge, patch or button over the size of my fist was someone who wanted to right my wrongs, and therefore someone to steer clear of. This “flair” avoidance included Boy Scout leaders, soccer moms and firemen. Sadly, I’m older and wiser now, so here’s my apology to them moms and Boy Scout leaders excluded.

This column is dedicated to firemen. To the real Steve McQueens and Billy Baldwins. To the ones rushing in while I am getting the fuck out. How wrong I have been all this time. I hope you can forgive me. Here’s how my change of heart came about:

As any avid Vaporella reader recalls, I used to be a ganjatarian. Well, I’ve been a-swaying back to those good ol’ days when the answers to life’s problems could be found in the crunch of a cannabis cookie. And so, with the a-swaying comes the a-cooking. Now, not to divulge my self-patented chef skills on the double boiler or anything, but I cook with a lot of oil, and I’m usually pretty blazed by the time the first egg is cracked. So there I am, sitting on my sofa, waiting for the pot to boil, when I catch something flash out of the corner of my eye. Goo-goo eyes focused on the telly over Christian Slater’s comeback in True Romance, I pay no attention. Flash two: It’s the sex-in-the-phone-booth scene. I’ll look over there later. Flash three: My kitchen’s on fire. Stoned and horny, I have no idea what to do. So I decide to try and fight the bitch with a cup of water and a greasy dish rag. The bitch wins.