From the Archives: Mother’s Day (1994)

From the Archives: Mother’s Day (1994)

By Marsha Turner Brown

The cruiser was backed into a space beside the Kentucky Fried Chicken. Blissfully unaware, I sped by him at 20 miles above the limit. He pulled behind me at the first caution light; I was driving through the second signal when he put on his siren. Pulling to the curb I readied for the drill: name, number, state of sobriety and registration.

In the moment it took to review my license, the trooper smelled a rat, or as I would shortly discover, a “leafy vegetabletype contraband.”

When I unlocked the glove box to retrieve the registration a little pistol fell to the floor mat. Things got worse, real fast, from here on in. The officer, who had been leaning in my window, spoke. “Please open your door and step out and away from the car, ma’am.”

I stepped out and away and was escorted to the back seat of his car. Safely caged away, he called police central and reported the gun incident. Three more cars arrived, blaring and flashing, before a policelady reopened the cruiser door. That was the first time I saw the dog.

She was sniffing like an anteater, dancing around her trainer’s knees and yodeling. When the door of my car was cracked open, the big slobbering hound jumped in and over the front seat. Her nose came to rest under a pile of food trash my son had thrown in back. Just as we were clearing the gun-ownership/right-to-carry issue, an officer reached under the hamburger wrappers and produced my son’s shaving bag. Unzipping it, he reached inside and produced two baggies, each over half full. 86.2 grams, the warrant read.

The legitimacy of my status as an elected school board member, community activist, and Baptist became questionable. The A.M. teaser on our television station: “Ranking school official arrested on narcotics charge…details at six….” The morning papers were no less complimentary: “Indictment Pending: Drug Dog Gets Big Dog. ” It was a stupid headline, and I discovered, painfully, the repercussions of telling a city editor he had a stupid headline. The next morning it read, “Commissioners Want Resignation Immediately. ”

Let me clear up any misconceptions you may have about mothers. Not all mothers are capable of loving a child; some mothers—and others—are incapable of loving anything or anyone. The lack of a mother’s love is the greatest tragedy of childhood, the coldest injustice. Those who haven’t experienced this unboundaried love are poorer for the loss.

Those who have known a mother’s love will understand, if not embrace, the insanity and absurdity of genetics. What would Mama do for you? What indeed.

Look at the market, around your neighborhood, watch CNN, read a paper. Documentation is available if the reality is beyond believable. There are mothers whoring on streetcorners and conference tables to house and feed their kids; mothers waiting in unemployment and HUD offices to do the same. Mama will give her last dollar to feed you or keep you warm. She will give you a kidney if you need one, or her life, if required.

Mama will also be cavity searched, bailed from county holding, indicted, arraigned, and pronounced guilty to protect her child.

Marijuana ruins lives. Ask any moralist or Baptist and they’ll tell you about the ruin. “People smoke that stuff, think they can fly, and jump out windows.”

I have never consumed anything that made me think I could fly and felt slighted for the exclusion. Good enough to fly? That was good.

I split from the Protestants on points of cause and effect. Possession, not inhalation, is the destroyer of lives and families. Get caught in the deep South with two ounces and life as you know it ends. There are no laws, below the Eastern Continental Divide, to protect from the crimes of intolerance and injustice. My son is just starting on his career trek. Mine was growing tiresome long before the arrest. I saw no need to mention that my child had driven the car last, that the marijuana was his. Denial wouldn’t have changed the reality: the floorboard held proof. My career was the required, and judicially necessary, sacrifice to protect my child.

I seek amended laws as a citizen and nonuser. As a mother, I make a simple request to sons and daughters everywhere: Until the repeal of criminality, please do not leave your stash in the back of your mother’s car. She won’t be happy when the hound dog jumps on her seat cushions. Trust me.

From the Archives: Mother’s Day (1994)
High Times Magazine, May 1994

Read the full issue here.

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