I regret to inform you that I bought a can of the new THC-infused Coca-Cola today. I know the last time we spoke, I made it a point that under no circumstances would I purchase this monstrosity, but realistically, what other choice did I have? The company took over every billboard in Los Angeles, so whenever I left the apartment, I was bombarded with bright green holograms of pretty people chugging can after can of the stuff, and it turns out I’m not as strong-willed as I thought.
I also regret to inform you that the aforementioned soft drink (or is it a hard drink? Let’s go ahead and call it a “medium drink”) was actually quite delicious. I bought one at Ralph’s—remember we used to get super stoned and watch The Big Lebowski in your garage? I miss those days. But anyway, I bought one from Ralph’s, and can you believe the gumption this beverage corporation has? Apparently, all the billboards in L.A. weren’t enough; the only thing in the entire store, on all the shelves, was this medium drink! So before you get on my case for going back on my word, just know that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t have purchased anything else. Sure, I could have tried some other store, or not bought anything at all, but I’m only human. So I bought a can from the teenaged cashier, who was drinking one in secret. I nodded to him approvingly, but he must have been on his twelfth can, because his eyes were bloodshot and all he could do in return was shake his head “no.” I tried to hand him my money, but he just kept on staring at me, so I left it on the cash register and walked out into the sunshine.
I didn’t have anything planned for today, so I took my can down to the beach and watched the sailboats pass. It rained earlier this morning, so the sand was still wet, but I didn’t mind. I found a nice spot between a surfer couple and a very orange woman reading The Color Purple. The beach was fairly busy for a Monday. I wondered what all of them did for a living. The surfers, I assumed, were far from professional because they were having a picnic, eating ribs, ice cream, and a bunch of other sloppy foods that don’t belong in a basket. Perhaps they were in sales, or any other industry whatsoever. I’ve seen the orange woman before. She works at the paint store on Abbot Kinney. None of the people on the beach were smoking weed, but as far as I could tell, all of them were drinking green cans of soda.
As you might expect, this made me extraordinarily hesitant to open mine—you know I’ve always done everything in my power to stand out, like the time I wore kids’ trousers as a hat for a whole month until your dad told me I could no longer see you if I continued to dress like a buffoon (that’s what he called me, a buffoon. How’s he doing by the way? Please tell him thanks for the PlayStation 2. I have no idea where I’ll find games for such an ancient machine, but it was a kind gesture nonetheless). Anywho, I opened the can, took a sip, and to my surprise, it wasn’t terrible. It tasted exactly how you’d imagine it to, like cola with a bit of weed in it. Quite anti-climactic, really. I half-expected some angel or demon to come repelling from the sky to tell me that I failed the conformity test, but no such thing happened. A police officer walked by, and deep down, I wanted him to arrest me. Well, maybe not arrest me but a slap on the wrist, a ticket, or something. But lo and behold he was drinking one too.
After the beach, I moseyed on over to the bookstore I like and played with the cat. I picked up a book on California in the 20s. The 2020s, to be specific. I’ve been trying to read about topics that interest me. For so long, I’ve been consuming books, movies, television shows that other people have deemed “the greatest” and haven’t spent too much time figuring out what I like. What interests me about California in the 20s, you may ask: Well, I suppose it’s the fact that I existed then, and you did too, which, unfortunately, is no longer the case. After the bookstore, I went to your old job and ordered a sandwich—the Coke left me feeling hungry and light on my feet. A part of me waited for you to walk out of the back wearing that dreadful neon blue polo you used to hate putting on, but naturally, you weren’t there.
The turkey club was outstanding. I ate it while watching a sitcom about a raceless, genderless family with clay heads. It was pretty funny and I figured it would be even funnier stoned so I ate one of those brownies you made last year. I’d been keeping them in the freezer for two reasons: 1.) I liked knowing that they were in there, baked by your sweet, sweet fingers, a physical reminder of love. 2.) The last time we ate them, I wound up taking a two-hour shower without ever turning the water on. But it was 4/20 and I was all alone so I decided what the hay. Fast forward the entire first season of that show, and nothing. I considered myself a fool for thinking year-old brownies would work, but just to be safe, I ate another and as soon as I did that, the first one kicked in like a mini dirt bike crashing into my skull—in a fun way, of course.
I paced around for approximately forty-five minutes, wondering what to do. I was getting undressed to take a shower when you walked in the bathroom door, home from a long day at the hospital. You said something about all of the diabetics being rushed in today. We kissed and when you looked into my eyes, you could tell it was going to be a long night. You turned the water on, took your scrubs off, and hopped into the shower. I got in too and stood there shivering, not because the water was cold but because I tremble whenever I’m high, which you find amusing, so I’m glad I got to put a smile on your face. I said I’d cook you some dinner, so I pulled my shit together long enough to make mostaccioli with soy sauce and pickles, just the way you like. I spent the next decade or so cleaning the apartment, and made it bedside just in time to watch you slip into the unknown. I say the unknown because I can’t tell if you’re dead or not. I’ve felt your pulse multiple times in the last hour, but it’s likely that I’m confusing the pulse in your neck with the pulse in my fingertips. Are fingertips supposed to pulse? I’m scared. Please respond, or move a little so I know you can hear me writing this. If I go to sleep, does that mean I die too? If so, at least we’ll be together, frolicking on an alien dream planet, far from medium drink billboards and the pressure to buy, buy, sell.
This story was originally published in the April 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.