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Maxim Beeching


4 min
Rated:
Mature

Listen & Toke


Talkin’ Deep-Ass Shit

Tagging and bagging with T-Gray

by Maxim Beeching

“Let’s spark this shit.”

Talkin’ Deep-Ass Shit | Tagging and bagging with T-Gray

I used to play ball with my boy T-Gray almost every summer day. No matter how hot the crackle of the Atlanta blacktop, I’d run over to his mom’s house and knock on the door.

To be read while listening to the instrumental version of “What’s The Difference” by Dr. Dre.

Sometimes it took twenty minutes for him to come outside. The sound of yelling voices would filter out through the door. I’d chill on the stoop and wait, practicing my spider dribble. Then I’d practice spinning the ball on my finger. Sometimes T-Gray never came out. Eventually I’d decide to stop waiting and roll to the courts by myself, ready to get whooped by the big kids. I never asked T-Gray about those days.

T-Gray had a black Sanyo boombox. He told me it used to be his dad’s. He got it for his birthday and I don’t think I ever saw him without it. He’d pinched a silver sharpie from Ms. McDonald’s class and tagged the boombox with twelve uniquely lettered versions of TIGRÉ. When we played ball, he’d set it up next to the court and play the only tape we ever listened to, The Chronic by Dr. Dre.

T-Gray had a boombox. He told me it used to be his dad’s.

T-Gray taught me about trouble. About getting into trouble and about getting out of trouble.

The sharpies were the start of the trouble. Lifting them from class was easy. Developing a cool tag was hard.

We finally got caught when we tagged the boys’ bathroom. Probably had something to do with T-Gray’s kind of obvious tag. They grabbed me too because we were always together. Mrs. Mays walked us into the principal’s office. T-Gray leaned over to me and whispered:

“Don’t say anything. They know it was me, but they don’t know shit about you.” Then he rapped one of our favorite Chronic lines right into my ear: “You wanna make noise, make noise / I make a phone call my niggas comin’ like the Gotti boys.”

T-Gray taught me about trouble. About getting into trouble and about getting out of trouble.

He spit the line so confidently, head cocked and smiling. The last fifteen syllables flowed out in staccato pops. When the principal called us in I wasn’t worried, I was smiling too. We got suspended an extra day because we were grinning like nothing was wrong.

Tagging eventually got old. By ninth grade we had graduated to smoking weed. We’d grab two Swishers from Mr. Lee’s market — 50 cents apiece back then — and roll up. Then we’d hit Candler Park and spark the blunt.

When you first start toking, you do some pretty goofy things: making one big pancake with half a bag of chocolate chips in it; Chappelle’s Show marathons; reading Chuck Norris Facts out loud. Then you get used to being stoned, and you can enjoy it more. Of course Dre was one of the things that got better while high, especially after he dropped 2001. But you also start having deeper conversations.

That’s how we got to talking about T-Gray’s dad. I’d heard bits and pieces about the man over the years, but never enough to fulfill my curiosity.

Taylor — he’d left “T-Gray” in middle school — heaved a big sigh and launched into the saga. His dad had been a drinker, probably still was. He claimed to be clean now, but it didn’t sound like he was trustworthy. He’d been around when Taylor was younger, but came and went as he pleased. He got to be the cool parent, swooping in to take his son to the arcade or a Braves game, but never having to deal with parent-teacher conferences and all the real responsibilities. All that fell to Taylor’s mom.

He didn’t talk about his dad like he hated him. It was more like he was frustrated.

He didn’t talk about his dad like he hated him. It was more like he was frustrated. Hurt. I felt sympathy and also a little guilt; my dad had pretty much been there to do the heavy lifting that the job called for. He wasn’t perfect and I’m sure he pissed my mom off plenty, but that’s how a marriage goes at times.

About an hour in we rolled up another blunt. We needed some staying power.

The second blunt made Taylor go a level deeper. He identified his anger. He realized that the majority of it was on behalf of his mom. He felt like their relationship was strained because she’d had to pull so much of the weight. He wondered aloud if it would have been better if his dad had stuck around the house, even as a drinker and drug user. At least he would have been there. But no, Taylor concluded, he and his mom had gotten on fine without the guy. They’d made it through.

We were just a month away from graduation, and he was getting ready to head off to college. It felt weird to leave the conversation there, because we hadn’t gone that deep before, and now it was all laid out. But it also felt good; I was happy he trusted me enough to share the story.

The second blunt made Taylor go a level deeper. He identified his anger.

We gave each other a real hug after that, not a lame guy-hug. I told him I wouldn’t see him until the following summer, because we’d both be out of town over the holidays.


Almost a year later we see each other, just as we’d promised. Taylor is upbeat and confident, rolled blunt already behind his ear.

“Did you get laid or something?” I say.

“Maybe,” he says. Then a beat. “Actually nah, not recently.”

“Then what’s up?”

“Guess who was waiting for me at the airport with the goddam Chronic blasting from the stereo?”

“Not… him?” I say.

“Yeah dude, my dad.”

“That’s really fucking cool, man. Yeah.”

“And guess what else?”

“What?” I say.

“Well, we talked about basically everything. We had a heart-to-heart for like four hours. He told me everything that went on, admitted a lot of stuff I needed to hear. He’s got his 6 month button from AA, and I believe him.”

“Wow. Just wow.”

“He’s got a lot to make up, especially to my mom. But it’s a step.”

“I’m really happy for you, dude.” I come in for a hug.

“Maaan, cut it out.” He dodges my hug and grabs the lighter out of my hoodie pocket. “Let’s spark this shit.”

Asa's Growing Up Weed

Stories curated by Asa Beal, Managing Editor

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It wasn’t until I got stoned with Rob — using that same Da Vinci vape — that I fully appreciated this story. What I realized, is that he is someone who really enjoys the way that cannabis relaxes the brain and lets us make connections and have thoughts we wouldn’t when sober. Archer is the perfect piece of nostalgia for Rob to disappear into because it mixes the pop culture of his youth (cars, films, Americana) with the style and humor of today.

I really admire Tonya. The first word that comes to mind when I think of her is wise — you could call her an old soul. But that wisdom, while undeniably an asset, is born out of some serious hurdles she’s been forced to confront in her young life. One piece of wisdom this story shows is knowing when to pause and take a deep breath. It’s something most of us do too seldom, but it’s crucial to our mental health. She and her wife Rachel use Sunshine Daydream to take that healthy pause, letting THC soothe them when they need it most.