Dream of:17 February 1996 "Problems Facing Society"
My old friend Weinstein, a fellow named Robert, and I were sitting in a room and talking. (I first met Robert in the sixth grade at Highland Elementary School in Portsmouth). Our conversation turned to my early history in Portsmouth, and as we talked, I tried to remember some of the students who had attended Highland with me in the sixth grade and then later had gone to Portsmouth High School. I mentioned that Robert had gone to Highland and he confirmed that was true. I said I thought Wendy had also attended Highland. I recalled Wendy, a blue-eyed blonde, as being one of the prettiest and most popular girls in high school, and I thought I remembered her also from Highland, but Robert said she hadn't gone to Highland. My memory was so fuzzy, I couldn't contradict him.
I remembered another girl from Highland, but I couldn't recall her name. However, she stood out in my mind because even in the sixth grade she had been an excellent artist. I could still remember the almost life-like pictures of horses which she used to paint. I was sure she must have gone on to become a successful artist, and I thought that at some time through the years I had even heard such a report. Suddenly her name came to me and I blurted out, "Vickie Nestor!" But both Weinstein and Robert looked at me puzzled, and indicated they had never heard of Vickie Nestor. I thought that was rather strange.
I also remembered another fellow (Lange), but I couldn't recall his name. I knew that Weinstein had been friends with this fellow during high school and that Weinstein would clearly remember him; but since I couldn't remember the fellow's name, I tried to describe who he was. I told Robert and Weinstein that the fellow had lived in a part of town near the river. I also said the fellow had been able to do just about anything he wanted because his parents were usually gone. I said that the fellow's father had gone out to Las Vegas to live as a gambler and that his mother had worked as a "riverboat queen"; but then I said that I was just making up the part about his mother being a riverboat queen, and that I was just using that term to describe the wild, free life which she had led.
Still, neither Robert nor Weinstein could figure out who the fellow was. Then I remembered one other thing about the fellow, and I thought this was the kind of thing which would have stuck in their minds, so they would remember him. I remembered that the fellow used to have parties at his house, and that Penny Bressler (a girl I had known in Portsmouth around 1972) had come to one of those parties and had had sex with six different fellows. But even after I told Weinstein and Robert about Penny, they never indicated they knew who the fellow was, and we moved on.
I thought for a moment that Weinstein himself might have gone to Highland, but then I recalled he had probably gone to Roosevelt Elementary School, so I didn't bring it up.
As Robert also tried to remember who had been in the sixth grade class at Highland, he mentioned there had been a play that year and he tried to remember who had been in the play. I told him I didn't recall a play, but then I added that I hadn't been at Highland during Christmas of the sixth grade, and that the play might have taken place at that time.
As the conversation began to wane, I looked around the room, and began to recall where we were: we were at the local probation office. I recalled Weinstein and I had come there with a fellow named Scott, who had only recently been put on probation. This was Scott's first visit to the probation department. Scott's appointment was supposed to be at half past the hour; but although we had arrived on time, no one had been ready to see Scott; so Scott had left the room to go to the restroom.
As Weinstein and I waited, I noticed a table with some papers on it; I saw a copy of the Wall Street Journal. Thinking I would read a little while I waited, I picked up the paper and flipped through it. Something quickly caught my attention: a map of the United States. The map of the country was divided up into sections, like states, but the names of the states weren't on the sections. Instead I saw such words as "Legalization" and "Marijuana" on the different sections. I quickly concluded the map was part of an accompanying article about legalization of drugs and I decided to read it.
At the same time, Weinstein had walked up and was looking at the paper over my shoulder. I pointed to the map and to the article and told him this was the number one issue facing the country today. He somewhat scoffed at what I had said, clearly thinking I was going too far by believing legalization of drugs was the most important issue in the country. I wanted to try to explain to him my thoughts on the subject, how I thought so many of the problems facing society would be eliminated if drugs were legalized.
Although he obviously disagreed, he did seem interested in the subject, and he said he would like to read the article. I wanted to read it myself and I didn't want to give it to him, but finally I relinquished that part of the paper, keeping the rest of the paper in front of me.
We continued to talk about legalization. Weinstein expressed his doubts by saying something like LSD could be harmful for a person if too much were taken. I quickly began talking. I told him that of course anything could be harmful if too much were taken. Even food of the most healthful kind could be harmful if a person ate too much. Anything in excess could cause problems. I didn't disagree with that. I told him I didn't even disagree that something like marijuana was somewhat harmful even in small amounts. I wasn't arguing the issue of whether drugs were harmful; I would concede that. My argument was that the laws against drugs did far more damage than good, and the laws against drugs were the root of some of society's worst problems.
As I talked, I noticed Scott's probation officer had come out of her office and was standing in the room. The room was rather capacious and had built-in wooden file drawers all around the walls. I thought the drawers must contain the files of all the people on probation.
The probation officer was an attractive woman (probably in her early 30s). She was obviously upset because Scott wasn't there. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 10 minutes before the hour – Scott had been gone for more than 20 minutes! I couldn't imagine what he could have been doing in the rest room for such a long time. I headed for the door thinking I must go and find him.
Just then he walked in. He was a thin lanky fellow (probably only in his early 20s) shorter than I. He was dressed all in gray and had a burr haircut. He almost looked like a prisoner. I immediately walked over to him, began chastising him and lightly slapped him on the back of his head with my bare right palm.
As I continued to criticize him for being late, I stopped and took a look at myself. I was acting like some kind of authoritarian. I didn't used to be that way. How was it that I was pushing this fellow around, even slapping him on the back of his head that way? Obviously I had somehow changed, and I didn't particularly like what I saw.
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