Still, you have to wonder: How did the same people you see photographed for local society columns become the Cheeches and Chongs of Chestnut Hill (if Cheech shopped at Neiman Marcus and attended gallery openings)? Is a generation desperately trying to hang onto its receding youth pairing bong hits with Botox in an effort to look and feel 17 once more?
Then again, attitudes have changed drastically toward the once-taboo drug. It’s as if we’ve reached a turning point in our view of pot, which is regarded these days by many as a perfectly valid lifestyle choice, rather than a passé and slacker-ish habit. The question looms, though — with our formative years in the ’70s and ’80s spent getting yelled at by our parents to do our homework and not smoke pot, is lighting up as an adult the ultimate, if somewhat silly, act of rebellion before we hurtle headlong into old age?
IN 2010, marijuana is suddenly everywhere in pop culture. And today, it’s largely portrayed as a lighthearted, almost upscale pursuit, connoting boho chic and an appealing rakishness, like wearing Lululemon workout clothes or driving a Prius. Smack in the middle of Bryn Mawr, a cute-looking spot called Omar’s Hookah Cafe has opened. Granted, you can’t buy or use pot there, but still, it’s a hookah bar in Bryn Mawr. Think of the current climate as less Woodstock and more Anthropologie, less Haight-Ashbury and more dinner-party-in-Haverford.
The theme to most contemporary portrayals of marijuana: Pot is naughty, harmless fun! On a recent episode of Parenthood, a father confiscated his teenager’s weed, and later ended up smoking it with his brother outside the teen’s school auditorium. In last year’s It’s Complicated, Meryl Streep’s character, an accomplished bakery/cafe owner in her 50s, gets gloriously high with Steve Martin (playing an architect), has a blast dancing at a party, and then makes chocolate croissants — rolling her own pastry dough from scratch, no Doritos in this movie — to sate a case of munchies. (On a side note, I don’t smoke pot, but does anyone really stay high for four hours after smoking a single joint, as Meryl does in that movie?) And it’s this age group that a government study recently singled out as the folks who got high in record numbers in the past year, with some 4.3 million people over 50 copping to illegal drug use. And what’s more, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier this year, fully 81 percent of Americans say they’re in favor of legalizing marijuana, at least for medical use.
With the taboo once attached to pot dissipating as quickly as smoke from one of Omar’s hookahs, non-teenage Philly marijuana fans are increasingly less shy about sharing their joie de bong hit. “I was recently at a meeting with a client,” says Doug, a consultant who lives outside Chestnut Hill, “and after we were done with the meeting, he fired up his bong and offered it to me.” Doug’s business partner, Steve, who’s in his 30s, says he