I learned to roll a joint from a nine-and-a-half-fingered Belgian count.
It was probably 15 or so years ago now, and I was getting ready to move away from New York (which, by the way, is a thing no one should do), which put me into a panic for about a million reasons, one of which was that I realized I'd been relying on the kindness of friends to keep me in joints. So I figured the time had come to learn.
The nine-and-a-half-fingered Belgian count rolled the best joints of anyone I knew, and, you know, was a nine-and-a-half-fingered Belgian count. I just kind of think, as a life rule, that if you have the option of learning any kind of skill either from a normal person or from a nine-and-a-half-fingered Belgian count, you should always opt for the count. Like, duh.
And so it came to pass that he and I convened for my lesson. He taught me how to properly fold a rolling paper to prepare it for its transitional journey from a piece of paper to smokable treat. He showed me how to break up a nug of weed and then mix in a teeny-tiny amount of tobacco to make a European-style spliff (Belgian counts smoke spliffs, naturally). Then came the meat of the lesson: How to actually roll the thing up.
The thing about joint-rolling is that it's actually a pretty awkward and unnatural test of your fine motor skills. As I was learning from the nine-and-a-half-fingered Belgian count, I struggled a bit and started to get frustrated, and so he decided that he would offer me a set of proverbial training wheels. A clever and compassionate Belgian count, he was. [SPOILER ALERT: The training wheels involve rolling the thing on a book or magazine.] But eventually, I figured it out.
And so, when the Tommy Chong joint-rolling lesson I described here last week turned out to be a bust, I decided that I could pay it forward and teach you in the way that I was taught. I briefly considered lopping off the tip of my right pointer finger for continuity, but then decided that was, perhaps, a bridge too far.
Instead, I made you a video. Not because I love being on camera (I don't), but because, much like folding a fitted sheet, learning to roll a joint is a skill best taught visually.
There were a few fine points that were left on the cutting-room floor in the interest of keeping our video to a reasonable length, so I'd like to address them now, before I send you off to practice.
- The use of the book or magazine is meant to facilitate the learning process. Once you feel comfortable with the mechanics, go ahead and challenge yourself to do it without the use of a hard surface. Or don't! I mean, there's no law that says you can't just stick with what works, and if what works for you is the book, keep on keepin' on.
- In the video, you see me inserting the filter after the joint is rolled. That is unorthodox! It's also just the way I do it, but not necessarily the way you have to do it. The more proper way of including a filter in a joint is to lay it on the paper after the folding portion of events, but before you add the weed. Continue as instructed in the video.
- Learning to roll a joint will take some practice. Expect that going in, and you'll find the learning process to be much less frustrating. Don't worry about pitching papers if you start and mess up (reuse the weed, obvs!)—papers are cheap, so even if you go through an entire pack in order to produce just one joint (that won't happen), it will be worth it to have learned a handy skill.
Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume); more of her cleaning-obsessed natterings can be found on Twitter, Kinja, and Tumblr.
Adequate Man is Deadspin's new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.