Tuesday, June 22, 2010

do as I say...




not as I do. That was our family motto. My father made a mosaic table once which we used as our coffee table when I was growing up. He invented a family crest and my mother, who was into ceramics at the time, did a small banner with that saying on it in gold paint that was included in the crest. I always thought it to be hypocritical.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I smoked pot for the first time. It made me nauseous and I actually threw up a little. You'd think that that would have been enough to put me off it from then on but I am not so easily put off and it never made me sick again. And like everyone who smoked pot in the late 60s and early 70s, we knew from the first that we were being lied to. It wasn't addicting and it didn't make you go insane.

During my senior year (that would be 1967/1968) I became familiar with an underground that I barely knew existed before. I started wearing beads, seed beads that I had strung myself, and that alone attracted some unwanted attention. I say unwanted because I spent my entire high school years trying to keep a low profile. At first it was to avoid the girl bullies that I suffered from in middle school but later it was so as to not attract the attention of the teachers and administrators. I just wanted to graduate, just get the hell out, without any trouble so I never smoked before or during school and I refused to have sex with my boyfriend. That was trouble I had no intention of courting. (Meanwhile, the 'cool' kids, the ones my parents wanted me to hang with, were getting drunk, getting pregnant and getting caught.) I just didn't need that kind of grief in my life. I was getting plenty from my unhappy parents as it was.

Since my father was a doctor I heard every horror story connected to drugs that he ever encountered in his attempt to convince us (myself and my siblings) to stay on the straight and narrow. What he didn't know was that I had already slipped from that path. That was also the year that I learned just how hypocritical he and my mother were.

My mother's bedside table drawer had always had pill bottles in it but I didn't know what they were and never really gave it any thought. About midway through my senior year I was rummaging around in it for some reason, probably my mother had asked me to get something out of it for her, and all of a sudden I realized what was in those pill bottles. She had tuinal, seconal, nembutal and valium. I knew the first three as christmas trees, reds and yellow jackets, barbiturates all and though I never got into pills, didn't take them, my mother was a pill head and my father was her supplier. From then on anything they had to say about drug use fell on deaf ears.

I finally broke up with my boyfriend during my senior year because the pressure to have sex was becoming too great. Neither did I take any other drugs. I did eventually have sex after I graduated (a random choice) and I did acid for the first time at my senior prom but those are different stories.


25 comments:

R. J. said...

Life in the sixties seems great in my memories, but examined through the eyes of my sixties, I also find it a bit nuts. I didn't take drugs and I'm relieved I never started smoking, but I found other stuff to do that I should not have done. I marvel that any of us survived our own decadence. What were we thinking?!

She Writes said...

Hypocrisy in our parents leaves sets our teeth on edge. I want to know more about your story.

slommler said...

Ahh! Those were the days!! the sixties! Drugs and sex were rampant. I guess today is no different. I smoked cigarettes and tried grass but didn't like it. Never really got into the drugs...but did drink!! Partay!!!
Hugs
SueAnn

The Bug said...

My parents didn't smoke or drink or do drugs. In fact, my mother was such a lightweight that 1/4 of the lowest dosage valium sent her for a total loop. She preferred to just drink diet coke & CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN (and iron) to handle her demons.

And I was a nerd who got a little afraid when the kids were sniffing glue on the bus. By the time I got around to trying alcohol I just couldn't overcome my aversion to the taste.

But now sex was a whole OTHER matter - after high school. Heh.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh man. Fantastic story. A family crest with the essence of hypocricy as the motto? That's bad magic, Ellen. What was your dad thinking?

Your poor mom. What a piece of work.

But look at you. You knew better and turned out beautifully. Bravo!

Linda Sue said...

Parents of the Eisenhauer dream. Bunch of deniers not so much liars as unconscious. My mom's "diet pills" turned out to be black beauties- truck driver vitamins! NOT drugs!

Marguerite said...

Interesting post! I can relate to much of this post, especially the family motto. Except my parents didn't do drugs or drink alcohol. The sixties were straight, for me, but the seventies were another matter!

Linda in New Mexico said...

After reading your post, I am sitting here thinking...yep been there done that. I thought I was the only girl in my sorority (which I joined to shut my mother up) who smoked weed and felt very alone until one night I found other flower children lurking in the greek system and from then on...we were hard core. Greek Freaks. My folks drank and Mom did her best imitation of a lady who had the vapors alot. And they had no idea about what I was doing. But with my own daughter I was honest and up front, cautioned her after my stupid antics, accepted her "silly" decisions and we all lived safely, that was my only concern.

madamebutterfly said...

My "era" was the mid - late 70s, attitudes had changed a little although I didn't smoke or do drugs, we all drank destructively; and from that culture I have come to appreciate how easy it is to cross the thin line between social drinking and needing to drink. Every decade has its problems I guess.

lakeviewer said...

With all those pressures, you still kept your head screwed on right. Good for you.

Gail said...

I only see what this mixture has produced and she ain't too bad!

Fireblossom said...

I only ever bought marijuana once, and I stuffed the bag in a tin of tennis balls, under two balls, under some games on the top shelf of my closet. Uh huh, the second or third place my mother looked. Did I mention I had zero privacy? Anyway, my parents were older, the age of my friends' grandparents, and when my mother asked me what the marijuana was, I rolled my eyes as only a seventeen year old can and told her it was heroin. It took me about fifteen minutes to scrape her off the ceiling and convince her that it wasn't.

I was a "good" kid, I wasn't doing any of the crap she thought I was doing, but that was dear old Mom. Never mind the time not long after that when she OD'd on her Mother's Little Helpers and "went to visit my aunt" for a month. Jesus Christ.

Nancy said...

It was so accepted in those days to take all those prescribed meds! Can't wait to hear the other stories.

Minka said...

My high school was in the eighties. No drugs (what's that?) no alcohol, and cigarettes made me nauseous when I only caught the smell f t. I actually found myself in a class of rather good girls (and one boy, sometimes two). Looking back now I wonder if I was a normal kid at all. Maybe not :)

Friko said...

Strange times, those.

I never smoked pot, but I took barbiturates by the ton. In fact, I kept an extra bottle for years, in case life became too difficult and unwanted. In those days doctors prescribed them without a thought, I had regular repeat prescriptions for the stuff for years.

In the end, I threw the bottle away, it must have been long out of date.

It took over a year to come out of the addiction.

Strange times.

willow said...

Sad about your parents. Classic "do as I say" story. I was quite the nerdy girl in high school, never touched drugs or alcohol, even though the school restrooms were thick with pot smoke.

Madame DeFarge said...

I still haven't tried any drugs. Not sure whether or not I'm really bothered. However, discovering the hypocrisy of parents is something I think we all go through. I did with mine

Snowbrush said...

Can we eagerly await your acid story for next time?

I actually knew a great many people who were addicted to pot. Statements such as, "Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope," was one clue. Smoking all day everyday for years was another. Surely, you knew such people. Like you though, I never got addicted to anything, and it wasn't due to a lack of exposure. Right now, I have a collection of pills that would make your mother drool, but they will get too old to take before I finish them all. Lucky us.

ellen abbott said...

Snow, oh yes, I know plenty of people who let it waste their lives. I guess what I meant was that it wasn't physically addicting the way heroin, speed and cocaine is. I will agree that it can be psychologically addicting. But then some people can get addicted to anything. My mother was addicted to Coca Cola. You did not drink the last coke in the house! I am lucky that I do not have an addictive personality and I had the good sense to stay away from things that were physically addicting. I smoked pot off and on for much of my life but I didn't spend my whole day doing it, mostly in the evenings. When it got in my way, I never had trouble stopping. My statements should in no way be taken to construe that I advocate drug use. I am merely reporting on my own life and experiences. One especially I was lucky I lived through. It was one of the few times I went against my own prohibition against taking pills.

Butternut Squash said...

If I can teach my kids to know right from wrong and go with their gut, the way that you did, I'll be pretty happy.

The 'insanity du jour' changes, but today's kids have their own guantlet to run.

Shari Sunday said...

Hi. I found you through sync-ro-ni-zing. I confess I looked you up because you said you had done some nude modeling. How brave! I was in the bathroom before my college art class when a girl walked into one stall, took off her clothes and left with a robe on. I wasn't even in the life drawing class but that was racy for me. I grew up in the same era as you and I would have loved for my dad to be a doctor. Strange to see the other side. I found your blog and scrolled and scrolled through it. I love your work. Wish I was close enough to take a workshop.

Ruth said...

Maybe because I was on the opposite end of the bench in high school and never even tried marijuana or went to drinking parties, now I am fascinated by the true stories of those who did. Your approach here, to talk about your parents' hypocrisy gives that time an extra layer of interest, and I would like to hear more as well.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Interesting that you tell us about that time. I wonder why parents come up with stuff like your phrase and another "pretty is as pretty does". Yuck.
Your story certainly resonates with me although my experiences were somewhat different. I never got into drugs with the exception of an occasional joint & once a snort of cocaine which did absolutely nothing for me. One of these days I'll begin to think about my childhood and the effects it had on me and maybe I'll be able to put it into a blog though it may be boring.

Hilary said...

It's strange to find myself on the other end of that relationship. Smoking pot is not something I would have ever wanted my parents to know.. and they didn't. It's also information that I wouldn't share readily with my older son. The younger one is so incredibly open with me though. He has no intention of hiding anything. I relate more to him that way.

Sydney said...

Ellen, your blog is so diverse and rich, it's really a work of art, which is what you do so well... I am jealous in the very best way! :-)