Saturday, July 24, 2004

The Only Truth That Mattered
He told our mother he’d worked out a system to ensure that he only got stoned in moderation: He’d lock his baggie of marijuana in a metal box, enclose the key in a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and drop the envelope in the corner mailbox. This way, he couldn’t have access to his stash for at least three days, which was about as long as it took for the post office to deliver the key back to him.

He was fond of systems, and imposed order on an otherwise chaotic household by assigning each chore a point value ranging from one to five (one if he loved the chore, five if he detested it). Washing the dishes, for example, gave him three points, since he neither enjoyed nor hated performing the task. Each day he was required to earn ten points, and the incentives he’d built into his system encouraged him to complete chores he detested and limit the number of chores he preferred. If he vacuumed the living room (five points) and scrubbed the toilet (five points), for example, he could devote the rest of the day to reading, whereas if he made the coffee (one point) and fed the cats (one point) in the morning, and at night fed the cats again (one point), he’d still have seven more points to earn before going to sleep.