So. Your Humble Blogger was supervising our student workers last night, as I am wont to do, or at least as I am paid to do, when one of our workers says more or less this: A guy just totally walked by the library doors smoking a blunt!
Now, my reaction was surprise that a marijuana cigarette would, in such an exchange, be referred to as a blunt. Not that I didn’t understand the term, but I have the sense that back in the early nineties, when I was the age that this person is now, the word blunt would have been an old-fashioned, somewhat pretentious or self-conscious way for somebody to refer to a marijuana cigarette. Such an item would have been called a joint, which (further investigation revealed) is a term still in use. I’m not sure what else would have been used in the situation. To the best of my recollection, a classmate might have told me that a guy just walked by the library doors smoking a fattie, but that would not have been a term used from a student to a supervisor. Similarly a spliff or a doobie or a jay, I suppose, or perhaps even reefer, used jocularly and as a way of indicating that the speaker is of course totally unfamiliar with such items. But from a student to a supervisor? It couldn’t have been anything else but joint.
I mean, without changing the terms of the sentence—I might have told a middle-aged supervisor that somebody walked by smoking marijuana, or even I suppose smoking weed, or just smoking something. Actually, I can’t really imagine telling the supervisor at all. Not that it was all that common, or all that uncommon, just not something I would have brought up in conversation, I think. Although I should say that the person had just come in, and I was the first person she had the opportunity to tell about it, so there’s that.
I should add that we are both white, both of middle-class (or upper-middle-class) suburban backgrounds. We are friendly enough, occasionally chat about topics not directly library-related, but aren’t best buddies. We are friendly enough to make jokes about illegal narcotics. I myself have never smoked the stuff (too cheap, mostly, and sensitive lungs) and the student in question is, you know, familiar enough with the smell of it (as I am, I suppose, if I am sufficiently decongested to have any olfactory sense worth the name) but not obviously in what we used to call the drug culture. I imagine all that stuff would make a difference in the jargon, but I have no idea exactly what that difference would be.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,