Pubdate: Tue, 09 Jul 2019
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2019 The New York Times Company
Author: Dwight Garner


Humphrey Bogart had a way with life's little vices. When he bought you
a drink, the critic Kenneth Tynan recalled, he wouldn't just pass it
across - "he'd take me by the wrist and screw the glass into my hand
as if it was a lamp socket." Bogart's manner with a cigarette was so
vivid that his surname became an admonishing hippie-era verb: "Don't
bogart that joint."

I've tried repeatedly, over the course of my life, to become a druggie. 
It's never taken. But even I know what it means to bogart something: to 
hoard it, to refuse to share. It wasn't until I read Lizzie Post's 
helpful and inquisitive new book, "Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the 
World of Cannabis, From Dispensaries to Dinner Parties," however, that I 
fully understood the term's provenance.

"Bogarting is a term derived from the way Humphrey Bogart would just
let a cigarette hang out of his mouth, not seeming to actually smoke
it," Post writes. "Bogarting a joint is when you are holding on to it
or wasting it by letting it burn down without being hit." In other
words: Pass the dutchie, Bogie, on the left-hand side.

Post is the great-great-granddaughter of the American etiquette
doyenne Emily Post. Born in 1982, Lizzie is the author or co-author of
several previous books about manners, and co-president of the Emily
Post Institute in Burlington, Vt. The first question she asks, in the
preface to "Higher Etiquette," is: "What would Emily Post think of
this book?" She decides her ancestor would have nodded her assent, if
not with a lopsided grin.

Emily Post didn't drink or smoke, and she left behind no opinion about
pot. But she fought against the prohibition of alcohol. As one of her
biographers, Laura Claridge, wrote: "She was disgusted with the
government's interference with what she believed were citizens'
rights." It's a mistake, anyway, to assume that Emily Post was a goody
two-shoes. Edmund Wilson admired the original edition of Emily Post's
"Etiquette" (1922), and later wrote about it: "One feels, in fact,
something like sadism in the whole approach of Mrs. Post. She likes to

There's no sadism in "Higher Etiquette." This is a friendly book, the
one to give to your cousin who is about to visit her first dispensary
on a "weedcation" (one of the many portmanteaus that fill this book,
like Hindu Kush inside a hollowed-out cigar), or your aunt who wants
to learn about CBD oil, made from a chemical compound in cannabis, to
palliate the burden of her arthritis pain.

A book titled "Cannabis for Dummies" already exists. A better title
for this one might be, "Cannabis for Really Nice Dummies, Who
Regularly Change the Bong Water and Rarely Let Their Coffee Table
Remain Sticky." A question this book poses on nearly every page is:
How can something that makes your cheeks sore from smiling, that so
reduces your zone of woe, be worth scorning?

Ninety-five percent of the contents in etiquette books would be
superfluous if we tattooed the golden rule on the insides of our
eyelids. Still, Post writes, "When changes occur in a culture (like
the legalization of cannabis), new manners emerge, and others become
traditions of the past or obsolete." If we base our behavior on
"consideration, respect and honesty," she writes, "even when things go
badly, others can understand our good intent."

"Higher Etiquette" is packed with concerns of which Emily Post could
never have dreamed. Is it O.K. to "hang with" your delivery people?
Maybe a bit, Post suggests, but don't invite them in to play video
games or allow them to "get involved in roommate or relationship dramas."

Don't slobber on the pipe. Don't take too many hits at once. ("We all
know that dude.") Try not to dreamily repeat "I'm so high" over and
over again. Don't go robotic and mindlessly scarf all the munchies.
Don't assume we want to hear your theory of existence, at least not
right now.

It's easy to imagine this book's genial tone applied to an etiquette
book about, say, orgies. ("If you see a participant who seems lonely
and unattended to, it would be good manners to attend to them," one
line might go.) If this book's prose had a tail, it would always be

Post considers pot and table settings, a brave new world for sure.
About vape pens, she writes, in a passage that would make certain
hosts and hostesses of my acquaintance have instant Fred Sanford-style
heart attacks, "they may be placed to the right of the setting or
across the top of the setting either between the place card and
dessertware or behind the place card."

"Higher Etiquette" argues that it's time for cannabis to move, in the
public imagination, away from its surfer and "Cheech and Chong" image.
To that end, Post is interested in language. Avoid the stigmatizing
term "pothead," she advises. Mostly avoid "marijuana," too. It has a
slew of undeserved negative connotations and, anyway, it isn't a
scientific term. The term "weed," to some, is totally disrespectful of
the noble plant.

"Cannabis" is the preferred word, even if using it can make you sound
like a stuffed owl. Among the conversation starters Post suggests is
this abysmal one, which will make you sound like Colonel Mustard in
the kitchen with a wrench: "What's your cannabis preference?" (What's
your preference for how quickly I sprint away from you?)

Post suggests you find yourself a good "budtender," and tip well
because he or she probably makes minimum wage. She's fun to read on
good strains, the way Auberon Waugh used to be fun to read on good
wine. Waugh once wrote that the only wine that paired well with pot
was Deinhart's Hochheimer Konigin Victoria Beng Riesling Kabinett,
which I thought was a joke tipple until I looked it up.

Post made me long to try a strain called Jack Herer, with its strong
piney smell. It makes you feel, she writes, "clear, focused and
uplifted." This would be preferable to my standard post-pot
comportment, which is muddled, teary and curled under the dinner table.

In Post's gentle world, someone would surely help me to my bed and
leave behind a glass of cool water. As she writes, "Etiquette can be
so easy."
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