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As a man: marijuana and modelling

Published:Monday | August 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMMelville Cooke

On the night of The Great Blackout - Saturday, August 27, soon after power was restored along Molynes Road, in St Andrew, I had reason to be at an all-night tyre shop for an extended period. It is a fascinating place to observe the interaction of men around that most macho of objects - an automobile.

Part of that is the intensity with which the process of repairing a tyre is observed. The persons fixing the rubber that makes contact with the pavement are experts, the persons who stop for repairs are not. Yet, the staring, the inspection, the advice given at times and the general demeanour indicates that the men whose tyres are being attended to are not into any joking business. (Come to think of it, I have never seen a woman driving in to take care of repairs. They get there as passengers and never speak, apart from to the man who drove them there - very rarely and in low tones.)




But on the night in question, what fascinated me was the number of men driving up who had spliffs - you know, marijuana cigarettes. Not one was equipped with tobacco. The sheer volume of persons driving with a spliff in hand or mouth was absorbing in itself; that none of them was lit was intriguing.

I thought about it long and hard, even as one or two cars pulled up with the male driver and three male occupants all equipped. The style of dress indicated that most of them (spliff holders) were on their way to a party, so I thought maybe they are saving it for the session.

Only one person had a half-burnt spliff, all the others were untouched. That led to me thinking that maybe there is a 'no smoking in the car' rule. Weed smoke must be hell on upholstery and air conditioning ducts. Can you imagine buying a vehicle that a hard-core weed smoker once owned? You are driving and other motorists are wondering why you are so happy while stuck in traffic. It is because you have the air conditioning on.

Talk about second-hand smoking.

Then I stopped focusing on the spliff as an object on its own, and looked at it as part of an entire way of dressing, of male presentation of self. It was only then that it hit me -the spliff was part of the male uniform - part of dressing to say 'I am a man'. It was also a way of achieving male uniformity, of fitting in with the largely lower socio-economic male demographic which utilises the tyre shop. The spliffs said 'I belong'.




Seen that way, the spliffs were accessories, as much as the shiny shoes (one guy had on a pair that Michael Jackson would have envied) and the American flag coloured drawers ballooning over the top of one man's sagging light brown cut off jeans. They were not meant for display, hence they were unlit and displayed very conspicuously.

Heck, chances are some of them are not even smokers or, if they are, not of the regularity implied by their coming out of a car on a major road with a spliff. They were modelling marijuana, just as a guy who is all abs and aquiline jaw struts a piece of clothing down the runway.

From what I have seen, the relaxation of the laws against marijuana have not resulted in a wide-scale use of weed. Sure, in the parties and concerts (of all kinds) it remains high, as it was before the legal adjustment. But I have not seen a large number of people walking around under clouds of ganja smoke on an ordinary day.

Maybe we have more marijuana modellers in the society like those who I saw after an island-wide blackout at a tyre shop.