Put the wife and children to bed; this story has some mature content. Frank, near-constant discussions of drug use litter this rant and its strong language may shock, even offend the population’s more decent and sensible citizens, especially its cavalier attitude toward the psychotropic subject matter. In the author’s defense, it must be noted violence is kept to a minimum and nudity is non-existent. You would need to click here or here to properly appreciate those reprehensible vices--not that we encourage that sorta thing around here.

Back in 1969, John Sinclair forked over two joints to a Narc and got ten years in jail. Lennon wrote a song about it. A percentage of the public was outraged, and the Michigan Supreme Court eventually overturned not only the sentence but the good state’s marijuana laws as a whole. Score one for the Libertarians, the hippies, the counterculture. Some radical and naive thinkers saw the ruling as a first step toward legalization, but here we are, forty years later--the moral majority to the left, hypocrites to the right, and I’m stuck in the middle with Michael Phelps.

The golden boy of American swimming and I have almost nothing in common. He’s athletic and smiley, a hero to the masses; I’m lazy and curmudgeonly, a hero to no one of note. But Kevin Bacon be damned, I can now play six degrees of separation with Michael Phelps, provided pot dealers are a fair play. Yes, Uncle Sam’s fourteen time Olympic Gold Medalist and I have both been caught with our hands in the cookie jar or more specifically, with our mouths on the bong. Not the same one at the same time. The urinal code of ethics should always be applied to marijuana pipes as well. No homo. We’re living in heady times, my friend. They don’t make ’em like they used to, the role models, I mean. Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

When I was a little boy, I thought my parents had all the answers. All old people, really. I thought those bastards all possessed some mystical book which explained how to behave. But the truth is every person in the world is as clueless and bumbling as the stupidest mouth breather in the dumbest Kindergarten West Virginia has to offer. We’re just a bunch of dumb beasts fucking and punching along on the way to Oz, passing the buck to more glamorous and talented beasts like Michael Jordan. People call him a role model, apparently, because he throws a ball through a hoop with astounding regularity and cheats on his wife. George Washington too, though him more so for not wanting to pay taxes and for owning human beings. They’re role models but not Michael Phelps. He was a role model last week but now he’s a got-dang pothead. They must be mutually exclusive.

What’s the punishment nowadays for a bong hit? Loss of role model status. At least that’s what some woman said on the television last night. Her face was all red, and she said she was going to have to talk to her children about drugs now. Because of Michael Phelps-- not because it was good concerned parent behavior. Because of Michael Phelps. And what he did--with that bong--in the living room. Sorry, Mrs. Peacock.

Recent studies have shown over fifty-five percent of Americans between the ages of fifteen and forty have experimented with marijuana. That’s roughly the same percentage who’ve given a blow job. It’s higher than the percentage of people who watch the Super Bowl, the foremost shared cultural event of the year. We’ll talk about Joe Montana to Dwight Clark around the water coolers but not pot. Because trying it was a bad decision and talking about it would mean talking about it with our parents, our children, the pastor of our local church. We can’t do that. Discussing such a thing out in the open would lead to Anarchy at the very least, a combustion of all that is right and true on the average. So, we briefly remove the hypocritical sticks from the most unholy of holies and chastise people like Michael Phelps for growing up. We make him feel bad for emulating his peers. And worse yet, we make him apologize.

The majority of people who try marijuana experience feelings of shame and regret over their decision. That’s sad. Last year, Miley Cyrus was branded as the town whore for sending scantily-clad pictures via cell phone to her boyfriend. Millions of teenage girls hate themselves for trying the same thing. That’s also sad. Because all of these experiences, all of these fuck-ups help us to grow up. And that never stops. Ever. Three year olds (and dumb eight year olds) learn not to touch the oven when they burn their fingers something fierce. Fifty year olds (and dumb ninety year olds) learn not to shack up with slutty twenty-somethings after they lose millions in divorce settlements. Like I said, we’re all just dumb beasts fucking and punching along the way to Oz, but we’re worth keeping around precisely because we’re so stupid and debaucherous.

I’ve never liked Michael Phelps. Don’t worry, I rooted for him during the Olympics. I’m not a Communiss (Confederacy Of Dunces shout-out). But I never liked the man because he seemed sheltered, like those kids who win the Spelling Bee’s. Everything from his calorie count down to his free time was structured. But maybe I gave him a rough ride. He doesn’t seem like such a bad guy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those Cheech-wannabees who immediately likes everyone who’s ever smoked God’s good green herb. No, I like Michael Phelps a little more now because he said “fuck it.” He stepped off the path and got his hands a little dirty. He grew up, went out on a limb and came back stinking like Eric Foreman’s basement.

Michael Phelps is a role model because he let someone take a picture of him smoking pot. Just as Miley Cyrus is a role model because she snapped a few candid photos of herself and passed ’em along to please her boyfriend. Babe Ruth was a role model because he ate like Chris Farley and still made a living exercising. And you’re a role model because you’re sitting on the couch in your underwear with chocolate stains reading this article instead of shoveling your driveway. It’s cold, I understand. That’s why I’m a role model too.

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