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First stop is FreeChoice tobacconists; all chrome and glass and vaping supplies and funky little signs displaying the sort of Philip Morris libertarian slogans David Leyonhjelm spouts in lieu of policy.

“I’m after components for a bong.”

The young woman at the register is instantly wary.

“Rubber grommets.”

It doesn’t help. Now she’s flustered and checking out back for more staff.

“I’m sorry. We don’t sell adult products.”

I look down at the bubblegum coloured vaping paraphernalia on the counter.

“Bongs aren’t adult products. I’ve been using them since I was a kid.”

She backs away pointing towards the exit, stuttering something about a shop past the traffic lights.

The other tobacconists is warmer, gloomier and more ‘ye olde style’ with an overpowering smell of fake sandalwood. Most products on display have a gentle decorative purpose as well as a utilitarian one. The lady serving has green hair and is about my age. She understands immediately.

“I need the little rubber rings you use to join bong parts together.”

“You mean grommets?” She pulls a box from beneath the counter with a sigh of regret. “We’ve only got the small ones. We restock next week. If it’s urgent I can check if Hamilton has any.”

It’s not. After splitting one while cleaning the bong last night I borrowed a replacement from a neighbour. Now I need one to return plus a spare for myself. There’s no rush. Marijuana and manyana go together like chocolate and more chocolate.

Then the supermarket. Always the supermarket. The trick is to maintain a state sufficiently dissociative to inure yourself to the marketing, muzak and rampant consumerism while avoiding the kind of trance that sees you leave the store with bags of interesting looking items bearing no resemblance to those on your list. If the frozen dragonfruit hadn’t been on special I’d have escaped unscathed. In Vietnam we called it thanh long ...

Near the checkout lurks a row of $2 vending machines set to the eye level of a small child. They’re full of brightly coloured products of the petrochemicals industry. Some masquerade as food. I’m intrigued by the little containers labelled ‘Toilet Slime’. Those bacterial marketing campaigns must really work. Why else would parents shell out for something their children provide in unlimited quantities for free?

From → autobiography

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