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I Smell a Skunk!
by Bill Tope

The other day I was walking home
from the busstop when I passed a
young woman just alighting from
her automobile. There was an acrid
odor in the air, and it seemed to be
coming from her car. Seeking to just
be pleasant, I asked my neighbor,
"Run over a skunk?" She stared
blankly at me for a moment, then
smiled and replied, "Something like
As I proceeded down the block I heard
her talking to her husband through the
open door to their home, telling him that
some guy asked her if she had run over
a skunk. There arose the sound of hearty
laughter. I felt clueless.
When I was a youthful drug offender,
some 200 years ago, pot smelled like
pot; you know: like fragrant wood or
burning rope or something in between
the two.  Back in the day these were
the adjectives I would use to describe
burning marijuana: fruity, piney, pungent.
But, never would I have described the
odor as reminiscent of a skunk!
But in the forty years since I was last
high, I've noticed that "skunk" has
become the predominant aroma of
the pot being used today. They even
have one strain that is eponymously
named for the creature.
Though I'm certain that skunk must've
existed back in the day, none of my
own friends and associates would
have thought to use it. Reefer was
then quite against the law; people
were arrested, prosecuted and jailed
for even a single joint.
Today the only way a stoner can get
pinched is if the state feels that the
perp is holding out on them. It's important
to buy your expensive distribution license
and collect taxes on each sale: government
wants their slice of the pie and doesn't take
kindly to being stiffed--just like any drug
So to me, once a restricted-substance
user with the best of them, this rather
putrid odor is a novel thing.  I've noticed
people getting on the bus who smell like
skunks and are maybe walking a little
I've noted also parked cars from which
skunk-flavored smoke is billowing
like the incinerated waste from a flare
stack at a petroleum refinery. Subtle
they are not. (Interestingly, the radio is
usually blaring very loudly in these
vehicles). And no one gives a hang--
it's all but legal now. In fact, they're more
likely to get busted for using excess
decibels than for using the dope.
So as I walked away from their apart-
ment, feeling rather archaic and square
and out of touch, I tried to save face by
calling back to the stoner couple: "Ya'
know, I've run over a few skunks in my
own time." They smiled back and gave
me a thumbs-up as I continued on home
to take my nap.

Originally published in Little Old Lady Comedy