Poker Face

As far as potsmoking goes, I'm as bold as the situation allows. If I sense no immediate danger to my career or criminal record, I'll fire up as soon as I can.

I've walked the streets of San Francisco smoking joints the size of Camel Wides in broad daylight. I've fired up in cabs wheeling me to the airport. You name the place or situation and there is a strong chance I've burned there. Public restrooms, wedding receptions, and too many clubs and concerts to mention have all been home to me and my weed. Almost always surrounded by people. Lots and lots of straight, sober people.

Some are oblivious. Some know it's being smoked. Others may even know you're the one smoking it. But if you keep your cool and act like this is as it should be, you'll walk away the vast majority of the time without hearing a peep... except the possible request for a hit.

But there is no guarantee of safe passage. Even the best of us make blunders. Huge blunders.

Such as while playing poker at a friend of a friend's beach house. I had smoked with at least a couple of the fellows, and the other acquaintances were aware of my habits. But the guys I knew best were sucked into a game at the other table with the owner of the house, a long-haired dude with a backwards baseball cap and raggedy cutoffs. I didn't know him from Adam, but he seemed chill.

So I bide my time at the smaller table, exchanging coins with a coworker and a new guy. An hour into the game and it becomes clear the new fellow is a smoker indeed and fishing for a hookup. My coworker, who pays lipservice to herb but does not burn, invites this revelation by making reference to the "200 pounds of pot... ting soil" he just picked up. The new guy playfully jumps at the bait, offering to take a pound off his hands right then. I return slyly that illicit drugs are prohibited until 10 p.m.

We laugh it off, but our mutual intent is clear. We make a few more telling comments as the night progresses and wait for the lone stranger at the other table to leave. Upon his departure, I approach the other group and pose the question I've asked in so many different ways so many times before.

"Is this a pot-friendly poker (substitute any occasion) party?"

I get a giggle from one so-called friend and utter silence from the rest. Someone replies, "Come again?"

I now know I'm walking into a landmine, but I have no choice. So I repeat myself.

At this point, another aquaintance asks me if I know the host, the man sitting just below my extended right hand. Before I can respond...

"He's the chief prosecutor for this town."

The man confirms the statement with a nod. He then thanks me for having the forethought to ask, but I know the answer is no.

I'm embarrassed and incensed. Embarrassed for obvious reasons. Incensed because I wasn't provided fair warning. Nor was I given any emotional backup by my friends at the table. They disregarded a key principle of potsmoking specifically and friendship in general. Steer those you care for away from danger. Be the eyes in the backs of their heads. It was more than careless and insensitive. It was downright dangerous.

I'll remember that the next time they need a bag.