Clair McFarland: We must have been stoned to spend Thanksgiving at a pottery in Colorado
By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Photo
We stayed in a pot house, but neither of us smoked. I swear.
My mom came up with the idea of renting an Airbnb in Denver over Thanksgiving weekend so her kids and grandkids could bask during the holidays near the Christmas lights and shopping malls.
She considered a few different houses, but the one she finally rented for everyone came up as “420 Friendly”.
For those of you who didn’t go to public school and weren’t taught these things, “420” is a slang phrase for smoking marijuana.
It was an odd choice for Mom, whose idea of getting high is to eat an entire box of chocolates.
But in addition to having shiny purple bongs on display, this house had a pool table, vintage arcade games, a hot tub, and a Netflix subscription.
My mother occupied her credit card with thoughts of giggling grandchildren and arcade bloop sounds. It’s a known fact that my mom never had enough arcade time in the 80s.
She rented the potty house.
Now, I’ve never done drugs either, unless you count the time I tried Copenhagen long cut and threw up in my roommate’s sink.
I wasn’t keen on taking the boys to a house marketed for excessive marijuana, even though it was Thanksgiving weekend and I was supposed to focus on thanks and points positive.
I decided to be a diva.
“Is this rental final? I asked my mom in a text.
“Yeah!” she said, probably thinking I had an ulterior motive for calling dibs in Pac-Man’s first round.
I did not answer.
And I still haven’t answered.
It must have hit her. Mom quickly texted the entire family group saying she had asked Airbnb management to hide all the bangs.
So they hid all the bongs.
We made the trip to Denver, parked in a residential area of Denver bathed in darkness and rushed into the house, which despite all its colorful advertising was …
How are you. It was clean; there were no pipes in sight. There were no hidden cameras, no “special” brownies in the fridge, and no houseplants of the grass variety.
Everything was perfect until the baby found the bangs.
My one-year-old nephew opened an office cabinet with a mesh face and knocked out the tenant’s instruction binder, revealing enough weed paraphernalia to yodel Willie Nelson.
“Nooope, Nawp,” said my brother, who picked up the baby and planted it on a deep windowsill. There, the baby shouted “TRUCK!” 30 times until the thrill of hoodlum life escapes his memory like a cloud of smoke.
During this time, my sons learned to play pool under the gaze of stoner pin-ups on posters. Their grandmother alternated between challenging them at pool and playing Tapper in the arcade.
“Hi Mom !” began the fiery little twin, cradling the pool cue in his soft open hand. “This potty house is a good place to row.”
“Yeah,” Middleborn said, “but it smells like burnt cotton swabs.”
Just then my cabin fever hit and the open road called me.
I am a country thug. I have no idea what the city dwellers are dealing with and which parts of Denver are safe for solo runners. So I texted my details to my friend and colleague Leo, who knows the area well and is generally reassuring.
“Yeah, you’re totally good there,” Leo replied. “BUT FOR THE DEVIL’S LOVE, DON’T RUN SOUTH.”
After my dad showed me where south was, I had a great run. Turns out Denver is made of hills, and hills are for me. Win-win.
When I came back to the pot, my sister was cooking tacos. My sons and nephews (except the baby) were watching “Home Alone” on a mega screen from the hot tub. My mom had the highest score on Tapper.
All was well in the world. We have conquered the pot house; I conquered my fears.
I was almost sad when it was time to leave. Almost.
But I could never be discouraged with Wyoming waiting for me to come home.
The boys and I cheered as we crossed the Wyoming line: when the rolling hills clutched their snowy petticoats in timid folds, when the sky cleared into a breathless nothingness, when the earth thirsts for touch human.
My parents had given us a lovely vacation in a country house in sweet Colorado. But on the drive home, I realized that one of their greatest kindnesses—and my deepest gratitude—is for raising me in Wyoming.