“I found a pipe by the tire,” he tells me, “when I was doing weeds.” Hesprays the puncturevine a few times a year; otherwise, it spreads into thegravel lot and takes over everything.
“What kind of pipe?”
“That should hold back those damned goatheads for a while,” he con-
tinues. “I track them inside my truck, everywhere—”
“Dad, what kind of pipe?”
“A glass one, used for drugs.”
“What kind of drugs? Meth? Weed?”
“How in the hell would I know?”
My father and I have lived in Idaho our entire lives—our houses sit
only two miles apart—but we still somehow inhabit different worlds.
I teach English composition at the state college in town. He’s a retired
paper mill foreman. At fourteen, I first smoked weed from a soda can in
the bluffs behind my parents’ house. I discovered acid the next summer,
asking “What does it do?” only after placing the white tab on my tongue.
An insecure teen with a self-destructive streak, I huffed, snorted, and
smoked everything I could. If someone had offered heroin or meth, I
would have eagerly tried it. When I spent the night at friends’ houses, I
brought alcohol in washed-out hairspray bottles, a rank blend of whis-
key, vodka, and schnapps stolen from my parents’ liquor cabinet. I con-
vinced my friends to drink with me, then head downtown to wander
the streets and look for someone to pick us up in his car, take us for a
My father’s priorities as a teen ran a completely different course. Hewanted only to fish, to wander the grassy banks of the narrow St. MariesRiver with his fishing rod and tackle, to cast into a deep hole and waitfor a cutthroat to strike. But he grew up the son of a sawmill owner.When he was fourteen, his father woke him the opening day of fishingseason by tossing a pair of leather gloves in his face. “Get up,” he said.“You’re going to work.” My father has never done drugs, not so muchas a joint while deployed to Germany during the Vietnam War, thoughhe’s told me about the potent German beer. I’m not sure he even knowswhat acid is. His idea of cutting loose is downing a few Busch Lights orwhiskey-sodas and listening to Willie Nelson.
“It’s probably just teenagers,” I say, “using it for a place to smoke pot.”“I don’t know. The neighbor told me some woman’s been stayingthere.”