The Marijuana Party Summary
by Mary Helen Ponce

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The Marijuana Party Summary

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

It is the fortieth birthday of Petra, a lower-middle-class Mexican American housewife living in Los Angeles. The plump, graying mother of two school-age children, she lives a life filled with cooking, cleaning, shopping, and caring for her family. Looking for excitement to mark this significant day, she wants to do something dangerous and prohibited—something that her children would call “far out.” The only thing that she can think of, however, is to go shopping, which would scarcely provide the excitement that she craves, particularly because she has just done it the day before. Petra decides, therefore, to invite two good friends, Tottie and Emily, to join her celebration, even though Emily, the younger of the two, is “Goody Two Shoes.” Before calling them, she bakes pumpkin bread and dusts her already spotless house. While dusting, she rediscovers the marijuana cigarette that she found in the patio after a recent visit from her nephew, a rock musician, and decides that sharing the joint with her friends will provide the perfect celebration.

While waiting for her friends, Petra carefully applies makeup and dresses in a blouse and K-Mart polyester pants. Tottie and Emily appear almost simultaneously, each curious about what surprise Petra plans to share with them. Petra, stalling for dramatic effect, first serves them chips, salsa, and wine. Although outwardly a prim and responsible housewife, Petra drops all of her inhibitions and uses raunchy slang and makes repeated references to sex, calling her birthday “the birth of the biggest sexpot in history!” Emily, embarrassed, tries to change the subject by discussing the new PTA drug awareness committee; however, Petra swiftly cuts her off by leading her friends into the bedroom to see her surprise. When her friends wonder what the strange, wrinkled cigarette is, she calls it a miracle drug from Lourdes. Emily smiles her approval, but when Tottie cries out that it is marijuana, Emily is shocked by the idea of using an illegal substance. She is even more horrified to discover that both her friends have watched porno movies that Tottie once found in her son’s car. She runs from the bedroom to get another glass of wine but quickly returns.

As the friends attempt to get high on the marijuana cigarette, unexpected visitors interrupt their party. First the mail carrier knocks, expecting to have a cup of coffee and chat as he often does. Then Petra’s obstreperous daughter storms in, having forgotten her lunch. No sooner does her...

(The entire section is 630 words.)