Randy Cohen

Looking at the Times this morning, I realize what I’ve not seen for weeks—full-page ads from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. It’s like suddenly noticing the ringing in your ears has stopped. Who are those guys? Does the Times charge them? The TV shows I worked on gave them free air time. Running PSAs, Public Service Announcements, satisfies the FCC that a station is serving its community, a condition of using the public airwaves. Anti-drug propaganda is thought to compensate for Suddenly Susan.

Would the Times donate ads for my Say Yes To Drugs Tour? Half-a-dozen high achievers—doctors, scientists, scholars—will crisscross America, describing their youthful drug experiences to college students and Scout troops. The Tour won’t advocate drug use; it will simply tell kids the truth. I’m sure the networks will give us air time. Because for democracy to function, the people need all the information on an issue. That’s the sort of value they cherish up at Time Warner.

I’ve had no drugs in years, but I intend to buy LSD with my first Social Security check. It’s a perfect pleasure for old age—introspective, indoor fun with little chance of breaking a hip. Hallucinogens call on a lifetime of memory; they revive the senses diminished by age. In a decent society, LSD for seniors would be government-subsidized. In America, we give them blocks of inadequate cheese. And don’t look for support from President Clinton. He’s busy confiscating the medicinal marijuana from some grandmother with glaucoma.

My mother phones. She’s planning a trip with an Elderhostel group on the trans-Canadian railway next November. Too late for fall foliage, too early for spectacular snow, it is presumably when the railroad has seats to fill.

E. takes me to lunch at the Monkey Bar. After years at the Wall Street Journal, she’s now at another financial publication. I ask her about her new job. “It’s taught me to fear the Midwest. They’re tougher about money than people in the East.” I feel a surprisingly patriotic urge to defend the acquisitiveness of my fellow New Yorkers, but she tells me not to bother. “In the Midwest, accumulating wealth is Christian virtue—husbanding resources, being a good shepherd, that sort of thing. Here it’s just greed.” So there’s a happy ending, I suppose: virtue triumphant. I wonder if E. would enjoy speaking to college students and Scout troops?