I didn’t inhale

Dennis Warden

I bet you didn’t know that former President Bill Clinton and I both have something in common. — we both didn’t inhale.

 It was a little over 25 years ago, March of 1992 when Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, then front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in an interview that he briefly experimented with marijuana while a student in England in the 1960s.

“When I was in England,” Clinton said, “I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and I didn’t try it again.”

When a high school senior heads off to college these days the school does everything it can to make sure the new student has a good experience with their roommate.

Dorm floors, sometimes whole dorms, are filled with young adults with similar interests. When Abigail, our youngest, started college life at the University of Missouri in Columbia four years ago, she was placed on a dorm floor with all science and math majors. She met her roommate through Facebook over a month before moving into her dorm.

Whatever the college did worked because those two lived together in the doom and then in an apartment for all four years at Mizzou.

Not so when I attended Columbia. In the late 1970s your room mate was basically picked out of a hat. It was the luck of the draw and I was lucky my freshman year.

As I returned to Cramer Hall the fall of 1979 for my sophomore year at Mizzou, I was surprised to be greeted by a new face. 

My roomie from my freshman year didn’t return that fall. Instead there was Steve (who was randomly picked for me). 

It didn’t take long to realize that Steve was not the roommate you wanted if you were looking to study and make good grades in college, which I was.

After eating dinner each weekday, my buddies in the dorm met in the only room at our end of the floor that had a 12-inch black and white TV to watch M.A.S.H. After the show everyone went to their rooms to study, except me. I went to the library or the dorm’s lounge.

Steve’s routine after dinner was different than the rest of us. Instead of watching a little TV and studying each night he would sit in front of his large stereo speakers, turn the music up very loud, and smoke marijuana from his bong. For those of you who don’t know what a bong is, it’s a water pipe used by marijuana smokers to cool and filter smoke before inhalation.

The contradiction with Steve was that he was very health conscious in what he ate. He spent time working out in the gym and always liked to look at himself in the mirror.

You may wonder if I was apprehensive that Steve might want to steal from me to pay for his habit. Not to worry, he grew some of his pot in our dorm room.

Overall Steve was very nice, he was just inconsiderate of my need to study in our room. He could not understand why anyone would not want to get high each night.

After the end of the fall semester I moved into another room with my third roommate in two years at Columbia.

Roommate number three, Paul, also had his own problems which had nothing to do with illegal drugs. Owning every one of her records, he loved to listen to nothing but Barbra Streisand.

I could hardly wait to leave the dorm life at the end of my sophomore year and move into an apartment with Richard, Randy and Ed.

They had their own problems — hey I had mine too — but after Steve and Paul apartment life was a piece of cake.

In case I am ever investigated by the FBI for a high level government position, I want the record to show right now that I never smoked any of Steve’s weed or anyone else’s for that matter. Let it be known that I didn’t inhale.

Also, I did drink beer in late high school and college but I never passed out or woke up the next morning without any recollection of what had transpired the previous evening. That’s another story.