In the new book, America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom, Daily Beast columnist Meghan McCain and comedian Michael Ian Black take a road trip across America and write about their experiences. The excerpt below is from their visit to New Orleans, and what happens after Meghan and Michael light up.
Meghan McCain: A few minutes later a very tall, handsome black man approaches and greets us with hugs, giving Michael the “guy hand shake,” and I can’t help but giggle because Michael clearly isn’t used to giving other guys bro hugs.
“Hi, Michael, Meghan?” he asks and we nod. “Good to meet you. I’m Glen.”
As we make our way into Glen’s neighborhood, he suggests a quick stop at his girlfriend’s house. She is apparently a professional boxer training for the Olympics. We walk up to a modest-sized white porch leading to the door and he casually asks if we smoke weed. This is a loaded question for me, because there is no right answer to this in the political world. I am a truthful person and I hate liars, so saying no would be a lie. Saying yes in America basically makes me a scofflaw.
Let me put it right out there. Yes, I have smoked marijuana a few times in the past. The first time was on a trip to Amsterdam in college and I was surprised by how mild of an experience marijuana was (and in my experience still is). It is a plant that makes me mellow and giggly and, quite frankly, tired. Yet, depending on where you are in the United States, smoking is possession, and that is either a misdemeanor or a felony. Split that hair however you want, it’s still a crime.
That being said, I believe that marijuana should be legalized. This is not a decision I have come to quickly or lightly. Over the course of the last four years, in discussions with friends pro and con, I believe the legal ramifications of possessing marijuana are egregious. For one reason, I think it is a substance that does no more damage than alcohol does, and second, if we legalized marijuana in this country and taxed the hell out of it, our economic problems would at least be temporarily helped a great deal. In fact, you could even use the revenue stream to pay for universal health care if you wanted.
Mostly though, I do not completely understand the allure and taboo associated with marijuana. The few times I have partaken in smoking pot it has been a mild experience. Yes, it is a substance that will alter your mind frame and judgment, but as someone who is high strung and has a natural tendency to get nauseated, I can see its appeal.
Michael Ian Black: We walk along the cobblestone streets of Old Algiers. Glen says he’s started something called the “No Nigger Campaign,” which is his effort to get people in the black community to stop using that word. I nod. He says it’s damaging to people’s self-esteem and that until black people start respecting themselves, nobody else is going to respect them either.
He shows us some neighborhood landmarks. “The Mardi Gras floats? This is where they build ‘em.” He then points out the invisible line between the black section of the neighborhood and the white.
“Is it still pretty segregated?” I ask.
“You know something? Unfortunately, New Orleans is. It’s real fucked up. My girlfriend’s white and what fucks it up is that people are people. They didn’t vote for Obama here,” he says, pointing to the neighborhood around us. “Only in New Orleans,” by which I guess he means the other side of the river.
We get to his girlfriend’s house, a cheerful little shotgun shack. The house is aligned along a narrow corridor. One room flows into the other: living room to what I guess would be the dining room to the kitchen. The reason it’s hard to tell whether or not it’s supposed to be a dining room is because there’s a punching bag hanging from the ceiling, along with a bunch of other training equipment. It turns out Glen’s girlfriend is a professional boxer named Tiffany Junot. Framed photos of Tiffany line the room. On the floor are a couple of belts, the kind boxers get when they win championships.
Glen packs a small bowl with pot. I take a hit. Meghan takes some.
“You’re SO gangster, Michael,” Meghan says, trying not to cough.
Meghan: Does it cross my mind that entering a stranger’s house and smoking marijuana might not be the smartest thing to do? Yes, of course it does, but I like Glen. In the 45 minutes that I have known him he is making all of us laugh, showing us around his neighborhood, and opening us up to a side of New Orleans we would not have gotten to experience otherwise. He is also flirting with me and calls me a beautiful woman. I like men who confidently flirt with women they have just met. On top of everything else, I do not want to seem like the Debbie
Downer in this scenario. Michael immediately says yes to smoking a joint with Glen. I don’t know—buy the ticket, take the ride, right?
As we continue down the cobblestone streets, Glen passes a joint. The thought does enter my mind that someone could see us and we could get arrested, though if we went to jail I’m pretty sure it’s Michael who would cry.