Sunday, January 31, 2010
What's Wrong with Chong?
One of my sons is currently interning with NPR's Talk of the Nation. We are as pleased as can be about this blessing and the opportunity it affords him. I wish I could say that I follow Neil Conan's program dedicatedly, but about the best I can say is that his was my favorite program (alongside The Splendid Table and Shamrock and Thistle) that I enjoyed listening to before D ever got this break.
There are some times, however.....
I mean, NPR does have a reputation for being rather liberal. And there are often times in the World of the News, which is some version of a reflection of the world, when this blessing fills this Mama with at least a moment of lip-biting. Such was the case when I got in my car this past Thursday in time to hear the last bit of Mr. Conan's interview with Cheech and Chong.
As I came in mid-interview, I recognized the distinct Hispanic stoned-out voices of the duo before a name was mentioned. My response of distaste was not the reformed view of being a Mom for going on 25 years now, who felt differently when I "didn't know any better". I felt the same dis-connect and offense towards their flavor of humor back when I was a kid and watched others laugh themselves silly over their antics. I can give Cheech the benefit of being able to carry on an intelligent conversation, but Chong sounded dumber than ever. I know this sounds so judgmental of me, but you'd have to have heard him, really! I actually exhaled a "Thank goodness!" when Neil Conan thanked the two for speaking with him from their sister studio out in California, I have to admit. Dom would not have to actually walk them downstairs and be impressed by dingleberries cloaked in celebrity.
Dom laughed at me as I confessed all of this in a phone call a few nights later. "C'mon Mom, he's a simple guy who likes to smoke pot," he said in that 'loosen up, Mama' voice. And I let it go with a shaking of my head over the phone, because I'd already used up all my serious conversation for the evening. I had plenty of laughter to spare though, so we veered into those conversational waters that release and join us in shared humor.
Later on I thought over his words, though. To my knowledge, my son doesn't know what it's like to watch someone he cares about lose his footing in life because of pot. He hasn't helplessly stood by as a friend slips through that back door of marijuana use to become trapped by stronger drugs. He simply doesn't know, and for that I am thankful.
Chong, simple? No. That's a description for him and others like him that is far too effortless and untroublesome. Perhaps at one time years and years ago, his life was one of the innocence that simplicity springs from. I truly hope so. But today he is a 65 year old Poster Child for the legalization of marijuana, leading others down this weed-filled path. He's a Pied Piper of Pot. That's a story you might not have even heard before, old nursery stories often being neglected today. If you do recall it perhaps you might only remember, like me, the fact that the Piper led the town's rats out to the outskirts of the town to be drowned. But I looked it up online as the association was made in my mind. The tragic end of the story is that the Piper takes the town's children. Chong's call echoes that of a similar temptress we read of in the book of Proverbs 9,
She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
and calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way.
"Let all who are simple come in here!"
she says to those who lack judgment.
I love Simplicity. Simple things like creamy Amish butter, the bloom in children's cheeks, how my feet feel on a clean kitchen floor, a really firm and solid hug, the color of spring green, candlelight flickering over my walls in the early morning hours, the light of recognition that sparks between two babies, the smell of a fresh-peeled orange, how unique and individual each person's laugh is - like a fingerprint, the glow of moonlight on snow, the love of God.
There was another who issued a call in the book of Luke. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As was written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, he calls us still today:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.