The Gray Geezer's Out-to-Pasture Weed Experiment
Randy Bechtel
The Out-to-Pasture Weed Experiment

Doug eyed the rectangle of chocolate like a good Catholic contemplating divorce papers. “So why are we doing this?” he asked.

“To think outside the box,” Eddie replied.  

To be precise, we were doing it to think outside our box—a box we had enclosed ourselves in during years of friendship. Lately too much of what we said about our changing world was unchanging. Most stories we told, and most observations we made, began with, or should have begun with: “I probably told you this before.”

Tonight we hoped to escape our box with the help of marijuana edibles. There were several reasons that led us to this point. One was that Eddie had tried an edible at his nephew’s bachelor party and claimed younger people actually enjoyed talking to him. Another was that a consultant advised my Rotary club that to connect with younger people it should replace its bowling tournament with a cannabis comic-con. Another was that Doug’s doctor told him he must quit drinking.

Below is a transcription of our mind-expanded conversation taken from a tape recording. Edited out are “uhs,” “duhs” and other verbal whiskers; obscenities; and names of deities.


Eddie:  Why do so many people use the term stupid idiot? What would a smart idiot be?

Randy: People today don’t think about language. When they did, they wrote letters. Write and your words stare back at you.

Doug: I remember letters. Five cents for a first class stamp; 10 cents for airmail.

Randy: Talking is monkey-hear-monkey-speak. You hear “stupid idiot” and you know what it means so you don’t think about it. Mindlessly you repeat it yourself. The monkey-speak that drives me crazy is combining the verb “to be” with “at.” People can’t correctly say, “Where is he?”  They have to say. “Where is he at?” I suppose contractions are to blame.  “Where’s he at?” sounds more correct than, “Where’s he?”

Eddie: Okay, here’s a question not easily answered. Answering it might merit a federal grant. Why must women wear earrings?”

Doug: Seriously Eddie?

Eddie: All right, answer this: When have you ever noticed a woman’s earrings?

Doug: I don’t know. Maybe when they’re the size of Christmas ornaments.

Eddie: Exactly—a WTF moment! And yet, women have a compulsion to wear earrings every waking hour. Why? Clearly they do it for other women. But what is being communicated? Is this compulsion environmental? Is there a cultural symbolism that has been passed on over the centuries like rats are symbolic of the black plague? Or is it genetic? Is there an earrings gene in the XX chromosome?”

Doug: That’s just the kind of study I’d expect my tax dollars to go to.

Randy: Strange. I actually thought this week about the question: What’s in a name? And don’t say, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That’s true for roses, but not people. Take the first name Lloyd. Lloyd begins with a double “L” as if it’s taken from runic symbols or some other ancient alphabet. It helps fuel the mystery of why, in all my 68 years, I’ve never met a Lloyd younger than middle=aged. It’s as if, like the goddess Athena, Lloyds are born full grown springing from the head of Zeus. Which is why Lloyd doesn’t have a nickname. How could you tickle a baby and say, “Coochee cooche coo, Lloyd.”

Eddie: There’s an aura of dejection about the name. It makes me envision a face deeply lined by hardship and too many hangovers. If someone made a movie about Tulsa, Oklahoma during the dust bowl, they could call it, “Town of 10,000 Lloyds.”

Doug: Why hasn’t Hollywood thought of that one? Two hours of Lloyds blurred by flying dust, their voices drowned out by howling winds. Speaking of which—does the name Lloyd Grosvenor ring a bell?

Randy: I don’t know anything about the dust bowl, let alone the Lloyds who were in it.

Doug: I’m not talking about the dust bowl! Lloyd Grosvenor was a reporter for the Chronicle in the ‘50s and ’60s. He had a son named Terence, now a Wall Street banker, who was a classmate of Dale Merical at Stanford.

Eddie: That reminds me! (to Randy) Would you want to go to the Big Game? Bert Biggs can get a block of tickets through Cal Grid.

Randy: I haven’t gone to the Big Game for—at least 15 years. When is it?

Eddie: Two weeks from Saturday. (to Doug) What about you? Wives are welcome. It should be fun.

Doug: Watch the Stanford snots butt heads with the white-wine-sucking weenies of Berkeley?  No thanks.

Randy: That’s sour grapes. Just because your UC Santa Barbara doesn’t have a football team.

Doug: Quite the opposite! My alma mater recognized years ago that an institution whose mission is higher learning has no business staging demolition derbies with student brains.

Randy: And how often do you spout that line waiting to bet the over-under of Notre Dame at Harrah’s sports book?

Doug: I also bet the horses. That doesn’t mean I wish I’d been raised in a barn. Could we please move on? Or rather move back--back to what I was saying before I was interrupted . . . Which was . . .something about . . .What was I saying?”

Randy: “Something about Dale Merical and a Lloyd.”

Doug:  Yes . . . Stanford . . . Lloyd . . . Right! Terence and his old man Lloyd Grosvenor. Yes, well, here’s the deal. When they were students, Terence got $%*+-faced and bore his soul about his old man to Dale. After years at the Chronicle, Lloyd quit as a reporter to become a freelance journalist. Or so he said. Not long after that, he sent Terence to a posh private boarding school on the East Coast. It wasn’t Groton, but pretty damn close.”

Randy: How could he afford that?

Doug: Not just that. Lloyd bought a five-bedroom two-story in the hills overlooking the Marina District. And not long afterward bought a vacation house at Lake Tahoe. Well, Terence was too young to question how, and later made a point of not thinking about his old man at all. He preferred to let his classmates think—and himself, I suppose--that his family was the California branch of the Westminster Grosvenors in England.  After Terence graduated, the old man paid his way to Stanford. Thirty miles away and the kid rarely went home. Then, in his junior year, the old man died. Terence started to look into things. The estate was worth more than two million not counting real estate, but Terence couldn’t find anything as far as royalties, copyrights, old manuscripts.

Randy: The father was probably a drug dealer.

Doug:  The police didn’t think so. Oh, didn’t I say? Lloyd Grosvenor was murdered. A detective divulged to Terence two things. One was that the investigation suffered not from a lack of suspects, but from too many. The other was that nothing pointed to drug trafficking. Terence finally added everything up and came to the conclusion that his old man had been a professional blackmailer.

Randy: Don’t tell me. The final clue was that Lloyd Grosvenor swilled martinis and always wore an ascot.

Eddie: Oh, I believe it! Or, at least, I believe it could have been possible. Today it’s easy to dismiss blackmail as a profession because blackmailers don’t have pricing power. That wasn’t true 50, 60 years ago when people so feared scandal. Back then people needed to sue for divorce and proof of adultery could be very costly. Gays cowered in their closets. Before the information age, people could usually hide their dark pasts. And dark included being a former commie sympathizer, or a mulatto,  or an  illegitimate child, or a Swede.”

Randy: A Swede?

Eddie: Did I say Swede? I meant the mother of an illegitimate child.

Doug: Easy mistake. They’re practically synonyms.

Eddie: I was thinking of the Ingrid Bergman scandal. Wow, my thoughts are coming at me . . .

Randy:  In a rush? Or, to use the classic  expression: “You’re having a rush.”

Eddie:  ”Heavy, man. Okay. Anyway, my point is, a blackmailer today almost needs his mark to be a murderer to have pricing power. And then, he’s in a race with DNA and forensics to score a payoff. Blackmail is a profession that has gone the way of the dodo. Like commercial artist or carnival owner or TV variety show host.

Randy: Or drive-in movie owner. What do kids do today without drive-in make-out movies?  When I was in high school, I must have taken a date to every make-out movie made.

Doug: Roger Corman movies were the best. And the best of those starred Vincent Price.

Randy: I saw this documentary on Turner Classic Movies that said the box office of Corman’s films rivaled those of the major studios. It went on about how Corman  tapped into a teenage market alienated by mainstream movies like Tracy-Hepburn flicks.  What it didn’t say was that Corman’s films succeeded not because teenagers wanted to watch them, but because no one did.

Carl: There were no parents at make-out movies. Nobody older than 20 or younger than 16. You know, I didn’t date much in high school because it was a lot easier and cheaper to pick up girls at the drive-in. Especially when you could drink a few beers during the cartoons for courage.

Randy: The best thing about Vinny Price was that the finale always had him incinerated alive in his mansion or castle. Except in the “House of Usher,” where the house imploded and he was squished. The roasting of Vinny alerted you that the parking lot lights were about to come on. The other good thing was that if a girl’s mom asked her what the movie was about, she could say Vinnie was so haunted he went nuts and finally burned to death in his house. She’d be right too, except for when Vinnie was squished.

Eddie: What about Price’s most popular movie, “The House on Haunted Hill?” The house didn’t burn and Price didn’t die.

Randy:  That was a William Castle movie. Cheesy though his movies were, Castle intended them to be watched in theaters. He was notorious for installing gimmicks inside theaters that pranked audiences during his films. Ever see “Matinee?” John Goodman’s character is patterned on Castle.

Doug: Plus didn’t they remake “The House on Haunted Hill” with Tony Shalhoub? No true make-out movie is ever remade. No one would remake nothing anyone wanted to see.


Randy: Great! The pizza is here!


Epilogue: The three of us acknowledge that nothing reported above will advance humankind. We also sincerely apologize to all Lloyds, living and dead. However, much of what we said was original to us and we did experience a certain exhilaration saying it. It’s possible that, once we become more accustomed to THC, one or more of us might say something both original and worthwhile. Also, for someone whose sense of taste has been waning in recent years, I found pizza never tasted so good!

Copyright © 2019 by Randy Bechtel

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