The Toke of Hope

  Michael Phelps
His abs still go on for days. Clearly he’s not a pothead. Who cares?

Michael Phelps has smoked pot.


His swimming career will be unaffected, but he will probably lose endorsement money on this, which is a bummer, but only a temporary setback.

We’ve hung the hopes of a nation around his neck, weighing him down with each gold medal (as if his success has anything at all to do with me or you). How dare he betray us? How dare he be capable of error?

Whatever. Speaking of him strictly as a public figure, I’m glad. He may be a genetic freak marvel, born to torpedo through chlorinated waters and mug for the Wheaties box. He may have more focus and drive in one day of training than you or I could muster over a lifetime. But in a backward sort of way, his one-time-only (as far as we know) toke should give us all hope. It is proof positive that he is human — and that maybe we all have a shot. Any other attitude suggests staggering hypocrisy to me.

Barack Obama is another one we have built up to impossible heights. And he’s a smoker. Dirty, dirty smoker! A producer for This American Life recently begged the American public: Please do not, by public outcry and hypocritical posturing, drive those American Spirits from his lips! Barack Obama is a hero, a savior, an untouchable. We adore him because we are not like him. He is better than us.

Bullshit. He is us. And his clandestine tobacco habit proves it.

As our friend Judy Bernly once said, “I smoked a marijuana cigarette at a party once. I could never figure out what the big deal was.” One thing’s for sure: Phelps is a man, not a mouse. Well, he’s definitely not a wouse.


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the untallied hours

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