Thursday, 29 October 2015
By Vicki E. Jones
The year was 1969, and I was a graduate student living in an old dormitory where graduate students lived two per tiny apartment. My roommate was named Helen and she looked exactly like a blonde-haired, blue-eyed version of Sophia Loren in both face and figure. She also had a sparkling personality.
Helen was a popular young woman who knew everybody and one day she asked me if I would like to attend a party with her, hosted by four graduate students who were sharing a large apartment.
I wasn’t a party-going person but she really wanted me to come with her. So I agreed to go along. I offered to drive, especially since I was a non-drinker.
The party was crowded and everyone seemed to be having a nice time. The music was good and there was plenty of food. Helen introduced me to those people that she knew and people stood around talking, learning more about each other or talking about events of the day or making new acquaintances.
Eventually someone suggested that everyone sit down in a circle. Once everyone was seated, one of the hosts announced that he was going to light a joint of marijuana and pass it around for everyone to take a puff.
Then I remembered Brenda. Brenda was a close friend during my last two years of high school, back in 1963 and 1964. When we graduated, I kept in touch though we were both so busy that it wasn’t often that we talked or saw each other.
She had entered UCLA after high school and I had gone off to a small state college about 40 miles from home and was living on campus. Each of us was carrying a full course load.
Brenda hadn’t been at UCLA more than six months when I got a phone call one weekend from her mother when I happened to be visiting my parents in L.A. Her mother asked if I had anything that had belonged to Brenda. I immediately understood, from her wording and tone of voice, that Brenda was dead.
Soon after starting college at UCLA, Brenda had met her boyfriend. It being the days of free love and social and sexual revolution and birth control pills, she had moved in with him. He had gotten her started on smoking marijuana and doing LSD. And now Brenda was dead. Brenda was 18 years old.
I learned decades later, at a high school reunion, that Brenda had taken her own life. But Brenda had no such inclination. She had no depression or any other factors that would lead to suicide. I could only think that perhaps her drug use had contributed to it.
So when everyone sat down and I heard that a joint of marijuana was going to be passed around for each person to take a puff of it, I only wanted one thing: I wanted to leave.
I turned to Helen and said, “Helen, I don’t want any part of this. If you want to stay and get a ride home with someone who has been smoking pot, that’s up to you. You could also get arrested. I am not staying. I am leaving right now.”
Helen thought for a few moments and then said, “Never mind. I’ll leave with you.”
That was the last time I went to a party where I didn’t know the people or their idea of what goes on at a party. I had no need of going to parties where drugs were passed around. I was – and still am - a no-drugs person. And I am that way partly because of Brenda and what happened to her after she started doing pot and LSD.
I was glad that I left the party, and proud of myself for taking a stand. And I was proud of my roommate for her decision to leave the party too. /p>
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