John is always concerned when I'm obviously depressed. So when he asked the other day, I told him the truth about what was bothering me: "We're using too many non-renewable resources."
"All the electronic products and printer cartridges and computer monitors... I mean, think of all the deodorant we use in this country! That's made from aluminum. Once that's gone, there won't be any more left!"
John was staring at me with that look that says he knew what he was doing when he asked me to marry him, but that doesn't mean he always has to like it. "You want us to stop using deodorant?"
"Well, no. But I think we should start using hemp."
John looked at me. "Underarm hemp?"
"Yes. I mean, no. I mean as a nation, we need to start using hemp."
"I think you seriously need to ease up on the hemp."
"There, you see? That's just the sort of attitude that keeps us dependent on foreign oil."
John was regarding me skeptically now. "I thought we agreed before we got married: you get to pick the church, and I get to pick the political party."
"Bah!" I flapped my hands at him. "You can be green and a Republican at the same time."
"Republicans are more of a tasteful gray, honey," he pointed out. "Maybe with pinstriping. And I'm sure the party would lend more credibility to renewable resources if the resources weren't things like cow farts and marijuana plants."
"But hemp is so... wait, cow farts?" John looked at me. "Methane. There's a dairy down in the Bay Area that's using methane digesters to power most of the farm." We both looked over at the dog, lying under my desk and stinking up the place. "I don't think it gets rid of the smell, sweetheart."
I was tilting my head to peer at the dog's backside. "Where do you put the bulb?"
The other good thing about John is that he always knows when to change the subject. "Weren't you telling me about how growing pot would solve the world's problems?"
"Not pot, hemp," I corrected him. "And you can mock me, but growing hemp would be a lot better for developing nations than open cast mining like they do for aluminum. Aluminum is found mostly in tropical and subtropical regions, so to feed our obsession with this nonrenewable resource, we're having these people chew up their lands for something that can't be replaced once they've sold it. Unlike hemp, which they could grow forever."
"So they should throw off the oppressive yoke of the deodorant manufacturers and produce hemp? And hemp can be used as a substitute for deodorant how?"
I was not necessarily pleased with the direction of the conversation. "Uh, it can be converted to gasoline or plastics or..."
"Well, not deodorant. Not yet, anyway."
"So the point of the whole idea is to smoke enough hemp that you don't care what you smell like?"
A scary memory of outdoor concerts surfaced, making me wrinkle my nose. "Uh, well, the patchouli normally covers that all up anyway. Sorta." We gagged together for a moment, but then I continued trying to make my point. "Look, for the last time, I'm not talking about marijuana, I'm talking about industrial hemp. Look at this website." I pulled up the screen for www.hemphouse.com.
"What is that?" John exclaimed, peering at the logo on the top of the screen.
"It's the hempopotamus." Duh.
"A hippo with a pot leaf tattooed on its butt??" he snorted, then grew thoughtful. "Actually, I think I dated her in college."
Ignoring that, I pointed out the fact page to him. "See? Hemp is easy to grow in poor soils and requires little or no pesticides or fertilizer, both of which are harmful to the environment. And industrial hemp is not psychoactive. So even if you did smoke it, you couldn't get high. See? The mulberry tree is in the same family, too."
"No smoking mulberry trees," he glared at me. "And no mulberry brownies."
"Industrial hemp is not for getting high!!! Or for deodorant!"
"Then what good is it?"
"It's a highly renewable resource!" I sputtered. "Look, it can be used to make more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to cellophane!"
"Dynamite? That's dangerous. I'm going to write my congressman and tell him industrial hemp should be banned."
Exasperated, I gave up. No wonder the hippo dumped him.
Comments and Hempopotamus sightings to Alex.Queen@gmail.com.
This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.