“What’s up, man, this is Bernie.”
“Hey, Bernie, what’s up.”
“Just wondering if you’ve got any pizza over there today?”
“Definitely. How much pizza do you need?”
“Well…I could eat at least a quarter of that pizza.”
“Cool, come on over.”
Back when Bernie had first started smoking pot and learning how to find it for purchase, he had discovered that significant paranoia accompanied most business transactions involving marijuana. There was good reason for this, as it was the mid-90’s and pot was still quite illegal in every state, and could land a harmless stoner a hefty fine, as well as other inconvenient legal hoops to jump through. For the person selling the weed, it could even get them time in prison for distribution. This resulted in some necessary, but sometimes comically exaggerated, paranoia.
(pipe by Ea glass)
Like some of the code words they’d used. There was no texting, no cell phones, so either you called your guy and hoped he was at home, or you paged him and waited for him to call you back. Once you were talking on the phone, most weed sellers wanted to avoid directly naming what it was that was being discussed. Just to be safe. So code words were skillfully and subtly employed. Code words like “pizza,” or sometimes, “chicken.” One guy that Bernie used to buy the green from told him to call it “cheese” when discussing weed on the phone.
Now it’s 2017. Recreational marijuana is legal in 8 states, including Oregon. Medical Marijuana is legal in 28 states.
Big Bernie took his last puff of UK Cheese and exhaled a huge cloud of pungent, earthy smoke, tasting it on his tongue. He took another puff and exhaled slowly through his nose. His brain soaked up the smoke like a sponge. Where had this amazing strain been all of his life? He turned on the stereo and selected “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh. Bernie turned it up to 11, and let the thick, heady effects of the UK Cheese settle in.
The high from the cheese was relaxing, expansive and euphoric. It felt to Bernie like all of the pores in his brain had been filled with the cheesy smoke. Bernie let Joe Walsh’s bendy riff play around with his head as he meditated on the mental and physical relaxation the cheese was producing. When the song ended, it occurred to Bernie that he had found a new favorite strain, and he was inspired to look for more Cheese.
Bernie checked leafly.com on his phone. He typed “cheese” into the search bar, and came up with a number of different possibilities. Some were Indicas, or Indica-dominant hybrids, some were Sativa-dominant. There was plain old “Cheese”, which was a strain from England, like the UK Cheese that Bernie had scored from The Greener Side. There was Confidential Cheese, Blue Cheese, Exodus Cheese (apparently another name for UK Cheese), Cheese Candy, OG Cheese. So many cheeses..
Bernie’s first stop was at The Greener Side, where he had originally discovered UK Cheese with the assistance of one of their knowledgeable budtenders. As he got out of his car, he thought about how great it was not to have to call someone to find out if they’re home. To see if now was a convenient time for them. To find out if they even had weed to sell, or maybe they’re out. Nowadays, he knew exactly what time the weed store was open. It says right on their website, and on the sign next to the front door. They are open from 9 am to 10 pm.
Bernie did not know how long The Greener Side would carry this UK Cheese grown by Ogres Garden, so he decided to pick up a half-ounce.
His next stop was Sproutly on west 11th. He bought a little Exodus Cheese (UK Cheese again, but produced by a different grower, grown under different conditions. It looked and smelled different than the Ogres Garden UK Cheese, but was still quite appetizing.). Bernie also picked up some Critical Cheese, and a Sativa-dominant hybrid called Chocolate Cheesecake. Bernie quickly made his way home to sample each one.
He took a small taste of each new cheese. They were definitely worth the trip. Bernie couldn’t decide if his favorite was the Critical Cheese or the Chocolate Cheesecake. The Critical had a spicy-cheesy smell that made Bernie want to eat it. Instead, he put it in the vaporizer so he could spend some time with the flavor. The Chocolate Cheesecake provided a nice, euphoric-energetic head lift that carried Bernie out the front door, searching for more cheese.
Leafly pointed him in the direction of a dispensary called Oregon Medigreen, where they carried a strain called Mac n Cheese. Bernie turned on his car radio and the speakers blasted out Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”
Robert Plant started out the song with a pinched wail, “you neeed coolin’, baby I’m not foolin’…” and Bernie sang along in a cartoon falsetto. As he headed down the expressway, Bernie thought back to a night when he was around twenty years old. Back before the long prohibition ended…
Bernie had been sitting next to his friend Jake’s stereo, breaking apart buds to roll a joint on top of the Led Zeppelin II album sleeve. He had the rolling paper ready to put the weed in when a giant sneeze came out of nowhere.
After the sneeze ended, he looked down at the rolling tray. All of the bud he’d broken up had vanished.
“Oh my god, did you seriously just sneeze away the whole joint?”
“Oh shit, I’m sorry, man…”
“Dude, that was our last joint..”
“I know, I’m so fuckin’ sorry, dude. I don’t know why I didn’t turn my head, it just came on so quick!”
The tiny pieces of bud were all but lost in the thick carpet. Bernie and Jake brainstormed about where to get more weed. Neither one had a good connection at the time. Bernie’s guy had gotten busted last month, and Jake had only recently moved to the area.
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Eventually, Jake remembered a guy at work who had given him his number, said he sold bags of weed now and then. Jake hadn’t taken him up on it because he usually got weed from Bernie. Also..
“The guy seems kind of weird. I don’t know if I really want to go over to his house.”
“Like, weird, how?” Bernie asked.
“I don’t know… He just gives me a weird vibe, I guess.”
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“Well…. If you do call him, I’ll pay for most of the bag. You can pitch in, like, 10 or 15 bucks, and you’ll still get to keep almost a whole eighth.”
Jake hesitated for a moment, then saw reason. He called the guy up.
The guy, whose name was Berg, did, indeed, have weed when Jake called him up. Bernie wanted to buy a quarter. He pitched in most of the money, and provided transportation. Jake instructed him to park at the curb a couple houses down from the address Berg had given him.
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“Sorry, the guy’s kind of paranoid, said he didn’t want anyone he doesn’t know to come in the house.” Jake said as he got out of the car.
“Whatever, I can wait here.” Bernie said. “Just make sure the bag is weight.”
Jake returned to the car 15 or 20 minutes later, and they headed home. The bag was, indeed, weight. The quality wasn’t bad, either. Bernie opened up the bag in the dark car to take a sniff, enjoying the fine fragrance. Back at the house, when Bernie was taking some buds out of the bag to prepare them for smoking, he spotted something suspicious.
“Hey, did Berg happen to have any dogs?” he asked Jake.
“Two big huskies. Why?”
Bernie held out one of the buds so Jake could get a closer look. There were a couple of thin, wiry, white-ish hairs sticking out of the bud. Jake started to pull them out, but some of the dog hairs were really stuck in there. They took out the rest of the buds from the baggie. Almost every single little nugget had a couple thin hairs worked into it. Bernie worked for about an hour, breaking apart all of the buds, meticulously pulling out dog hairs. He really didn’t want to smoke dog hair with his cannabis. It made the bowl taste bad. And besides, it was fucking gross.
Bernie had been buying legal marijuana from Oregon dispensaries since the summer of 2015. During that time, he had never once encountered a dog hair.
He arrived at Oregon Medigreen, and after a brief time inside the cool little dispensary, returned to his car with a couple grams of Mac n Cheese.
He opened the container and took a sniff. If there were an actual plant that they used to make the cheese powder that comes in a box of Kraft Mac n Cheese, this is what it would smell like. The appearance of the flower was similar to the UK Cheese, but with darker orange hairs. The buds almost looked camouflage to Bernie. He couldn’t wait to get home to taste it.
Once he was back home in his smoking chair, Bernie packed up the bong and took a big rip. It tasted very cheesy on the tongue upon exhale. The Mac n Cheese produced dense, thick smoke, and fast-acting, stony effects. Bernie was immediately stoned. This cheese produced extreme physical relaxation, especially in the head and face muscles. He couldn’t find any information on Leafly, but Bernie guessed it was Indica-dominant, because it left him stuck In-da-couch. (ba-dum, tsssss….)
Bernie found more new cheeses. As usual, The Greener Side offered some excellent options. He picked one up the following week called Cherry Cheese (by Y Tree Farms). It was sweet and good and mentally relaxing in a similar way to the UK Cheese. Bernie picked up a half-ounce to put some away for a rainy day. He also had to try their Jack Cheddar, which turned out to be a great strain for treating pain, with its 10.65% CBD content. There was also the body-melting Black Cherry Cheesecake. After he left The Greener Side, Bernie stopped by Sweet Tree Farms for a gram of Cheesequake, a gnarly-stinky Indica.
When he got home, Bernie loaded up a mixed bowl of Cherry Cheese and Black Cherry Cheesecake, and turned on Spotify. He found a playlist from a Cleveland radio station he used to listened to back in high school, 107.9 The End. Bernie scanned through the list of long-forgotten-but-familiar songs, and found one he wanted to hear. He selected “Change” from Blind Melon, and returned to his smoking chair, and the bong.
As the acoustic instruments started up the song, followed by a plaintive, soulful vocal, Bernie sparked up the bowl and took a deep, long hit of the cheese. He held the smoke for a minute and let his brain soak it up like a sponge. The drums came in and kicked the song up a notch. Shannon Hoon started to wail.
“Cuz when you feel life ain’t worth living, you got to stand up and take a look around and you look up way to the sky-ha-hi! And when your deepest thoughts are broken, keep on dreamin’ boy cuz when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die!”
Bernie hadn’t heard this song in years. He nodded along.
“So I want to write my words on the face of today.” Hoon kept singing.
A big smile spread across Bernie’s face, and he exhaled.
(pipe by Ea glass)