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My First Time High: One-on-One with Fat Chuck

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The first time I got high, I didn’t know that I was going to get high. It was the early 70s and I was a 16-year-old counselor at a summer camp for underprivileged boys in upstate New York.

After taps and lights out, we counselors were officially off duty, and if we couldn’t get a ride into town, we’d go to the canteen, buy some crap (frozen Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my go-to) and shoot pool for a few hours. Then a bunch of us would end up in the auditorium, which doubled as a gym. Fat Chuck, Skinny Lenny and Doug were my co-counselors for the older kids and we’d often play two-on-two or one-on-one games of basketball until curfew. 

One night I was just shooting hoops by myself when Fat Chuck walked in. He was a few years older than I was and resembled a biker if bikers were allowed to wear cut-off jean shorts. He was also obsessed with beating me one-on-one. I was a decent player and, unlike a lot of big men back then, could shoot from the outside pretty well. For some reason that pissed Chuck off. We played one-on-one almost every night and he never came close to winning.

Let’s do this, Lar,” he growled while taking off his shirt, revealing his already sweaty fat belly and then tying a Grateful Dead bandana on his head. You take it out.” 

And for the next hour or so, I just kicked his ass. We played up to 11 and there were some games where he didn’t score a single point. He was always huffing and puffing, as it was steamy hot in the gym, to say nothing of his strategic cigarette breaks every 10 minutes. Skinny Lenny and Doug walked in just as I drained a corner jumper.

Game!” I said, and then Chuck put out his hand for what seemed like a shake, but only to grab me in a bear hug, wiping his disgusting sweat all over my slightly less disgusting sweaty body.

Hey, let’s take a time-out. Follow me, guys,” Fat Chuck said. Skinny Lenny, Doug, and I all went up to the stage in the auditorium/​gym and then up another couple of steps to a small alcove. Chuck began to sing the Grateful Dead’s Friend of the Devil.”

I set out running but I’ll take my time/​A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine.

Let’s get toasted, fellas,” Chuck said, taking out a joint from this cool black leather trucker wallet that he always wore on his hip. You get high, don’tcha, Lar?”

All summer I had lied to these guys, who were all in college, about getting stoned and getting laid and anything else you could get, and Chuck must’ve known I was full of shit because I could see the pleasure he was getting out of making me feel uncomfortable. 

He lit up and took a deep hit and passed it to Doug, who took a hit and then passed it to Skinny Lenny, who took a long pull on the joint. Lenny then passed it to me and shot me an encouraging nod. So I took an even longer toke until I started coughing my brains out. We continued passing the joint back and forth until it was a tiny roach in Chuck’s fat fingers.

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