Parental information Night Hits an Old High

Posted: February 16, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Last night I did something in a secondary school (US translation – High School) that I haven’t done for over 35 years, and is surely illegal, unless you’re with the Principal, the head of the PTA, and, most importantly, the Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) from the area Garda Station (US – Police station), which I was.

A drug awareness evening was held at the school last night. Between us, Trish and I have three teenage sons in the school, and a daughter due to start next year. Statistically speaking, we thought it imperative that one of us make the effort. Trish stayed home with Ryan and I went over to the school.

If I’m being generous, there were parents representing as much as 5% of the student population. So it was an average turn out. I’m sure some parents think they already know it all. To some degree, I was tempted to stay home too. And as it turns out not much that much has changed since I was in high school at the turn of the 70s, except inflation of course. Still, it’s always good to keep up with current events, as any hypothetical, direct knowledge I might have allegedly ever had belonged to a time and place far, far away.

I took a seat on the aisle in the second row, and a few moments later the local JLO began. He was a genial sort of character who looked more like he belonged behind the bar of a country pub or on a farm than in a Garda station. He was a talker, and he began to try to cram what was probably a three and a half hour session into one hour, at the request of the principal who probably did not want to overtax, and lose, what little audience he had. In fact, they split the time difference to somewhere in the middle.

The JLO began the night with a couple of anecdotes and scare stories, then proceeded to run through a list of controlled substances. He had a sample of each substance to display while he spoke. Then, when he finished that topic, he allowed the sample to be passed through the crowd for closer observation. Because he was racing through the presentation, he quickly got to a point where the substance he was discussing was four or five topics ahead of the sample being passed to me. So there were a number of samples being passed around the auditorium at any one time, while people were also trying to focus on the speaker. Bags began arriving like busses. You wouldn’t see anything for three topics then four samples would come by at once.

This might sound a bit haphazard, but the JLO seemed to know exactly where everything was at any given time while he spoke. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he knows full well what and how much of it should be coming back to him at the end of the night. No one was going home with free samples. Anyway, everything was much sealed in plastic bags, except for a small, tin box that actually contained the same cannabis content, loose and rolled, that it did when the JLO took it from some young man outside of the Ambassador in Dublin. But even with this item, everyone was on good behaviour. By the end of the discussion, everything is back on the table next to him.

Then, the JLO looks to the principal. “Will I light this up?” he asks. The principal nods. He is sitting directly in front of me, so I can’t see whether he’s smiling. The `this’ in question is an ashtray containing three or four sizable chunks of hash. The JLO’s plan (remember, he’s done this many times before) is to light the hash so that we can all become familiar with how it smells. That way, we will recognize it if we notice an unusual odor coming from one of our children.

This is surreal. The JLO hands the ashtray to four middle-aged women sitting in the front row, one of whom produces a lighter. Apparently, it isn’t easy to light four big chunks of hash in an ashtray, and the result is a bit disappointing – barely a whiff of smoke before it fizzles out.

The ladies pass the ashtray to the right along the front row, in my general direction. These people are having even worse luck. So, the head of the PTA, who may or may not have known what he was doing, grabs the largest chunk, and holds it over his lighter for at least 20-30 seconds, as though he is trying to light a charcoal briquette for a barbeque. Finally, half the outer edge is turning red, seemingly about to erupt in flame, and a small, steady stream of smoke is rising. This sucker ain’t going out this time! He hands it to the woman in front of me. It’s been a long time, but I begin to detect an unmistakable scent. The woman in front takes a quick sniff and passes the hash back to me. At that very moment the last of the red embers die and another cloud of smoke erupts from the hash, right in my face, not unlike it might from a bong (so I have heard), so I pull my head back and pass it along.

And then it’s over, and I’m more interested in how many messages I might have in my pocket from Trish, who wasn’t expecting this meeting to go on more than an hour. I certainly don’t notice any after effect. I mean, it’s not like we were smoking it.

The evening wraps up shortly after that, and I go home. I walk into the living room and start animatedly describing the evening, gesticulating for emphasis. Trish takes one look at me and says, “You look like Montgomery Burns after the injections. `I come in peeeeeacee’.” I’m not sure whether she’s more disappointed that she missed it or more irritated that they sent me home in this condition. She wants to ring the school and complain, but I assure her that the JLO promised another demonstration next term. I’ll bet there will be more parents for that one.

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