Drugs (and not so drugs)
Chocolate: Takes the edge off. Puts the fog on. Sometimes convinced that it makes
life worth living. Regret typically follows. First thing I stole was a Nestles
Crunch bar. Last thing before typing this was Green and Blacks dark.
Coca cola: Once a year. Dad always said the elusive seven ounce bottles were the
best. I agree.
Ice cream: Some early childhood hole in my soul that acts like a bottomless wafer
cone I continue to run to for seconds. Our childhood freezer was occasionally
occupied by Dolly Madison or Breyers by the paper half gallon...none of this 5.79
pint bullshit. We ate out of bigass BOWLS. Dad said that for my first birthday he
sat me on a Baskin & Robins stool where I downed my rations too quickly. Brain
freeze followed, my eyes went white, I "moo'd" and passed out, dropping backward off
the stool....fall broken by his feet. (I would repeat this particular move some
years later while sitting on a different stool in a different establishment.)
Cheese: My earliest kitchen memories include standing at my mothers knees in our Far
Rockaway project dinette waiting for her to pass me the next thick slice of full fat
Polly-O as she layered her Bronx-Jew version of lasagna.
Pizza: Quick and deliberate colon clogger and zit-fertilizer. Quick to sleep. Easy
breakfast. Some have been as close to heaven as any bite can be. Gloria's on Main
Street, Flushing was the worlds best (I know...you know a better
place.....whatever). Rarely stop at one. Gettin hungry...
French fries: I never eat one without realizing that it's not really food. So I eat
Sugar-cane: As a kid, a catholic neighbors' dad brought us canes or palms (or
whatever) on Palm Sunday or cane Monday (or whatever) and we chewed the woody things
and were immediately filled with way too much of the happy juice it yielded. I
chewed until my eyes were going to pop and had one of my top five non-concussion
headaches to date. Unlike other, more sophisticated substances I'd eventually
discover, nausea and disorientation did actually deter me from ever consuming sugar
in this particular form again.
Coffee/Sanka: Dads powdered lo-caffeine leftovers.....cold, milk and sugar at the
end of his cup. It was the perfect blend of bitter, sweet, fat and naughty (not very
unlike my first screw) and I took immeasurable pleasure in bonding with my dad in
this uniquely dad-ish thing...albeit in the form of his abandoned backwash. There
were times during the five teen years I worked at Cracker Barrel Bakery when I drank
up to ten cups per day. This contributed no doubt to ulcers and my chronic IBS
(jumping off of city buses between stops to run into shops and offices looking for a
bathroom, bowled over in a sweat for hours at a time). Love the stuff. Not good
for me. I do drink a cup if I'm driving long distances late at night and
occasionally when I can't move.
Birth control pills (stolen from my friends teenage sisters drawer): At thirteen, we
took a few and began stumbling and laughing...placebo stupidity for ambitious self
Magic markers: Surpassing the pleasure elicited via my sense of smell, I felt their
soothing effects in my throat, my chest, my shoulders....I drew it in slowly through
my mouth and as deeply as my lungs could stretch, put the lid back on, breathed a
few normal breaths, and repeated.
Cigarettes: became a cigarette smoker when I stopped smoking everything
else...(Nice move, Hawkings.). Never ever had a drag without thinking, "this is
killing me". Finally quit on the same day as Jenn around twenty years ago. It was
surprisingly easy. Nearly smoked one on 9/11.
Diet pills: Stolen from mom for whatever they might do. Super
speedy-cranky-tense-agitated-angry boy emerged terrified I was dying. Lay in bed
awake all night long swearing never again. Next day, did it again.
Shower Massage: I'd run its strong "needle" jet into my ear. There have been many
times when I've scratched the skin off of bug bitten sections of skin, but letting
the strong jet enter my ear was like scratching a long suffered itch in my skull.
Craning my neck like a purring cat, I could hear the roll of aqua-thunder and feel
it IN my sinuses and would be totally frozen there, head tilted to allow for just
the right angle so that water could penetrate just so. I'd count to
ten...determined to terminate the obviously dangerous act...switch ears and resume
for a prescribed period....vow to be done....then switch again. If you've ever had
an itchy ear, add an impending orgasm and then stuck your finger in to scratch it,
and multiply it by ten then you might understand how this felt. One of the more
immediately self destructive things I've done (beginning around age twelve)
additionally insidious because no one ever would have to know and I'd be all alone
with my shame, busted eardrums and brain damage looming. Don't do it.
Alcohol: My first drunk was at twelve with Randy and we were outside on the hill
throwing gravity knives at trees and into the dirt. I remember the satisfaction and
rush of achieving a good throw and got into a drill of backhanded throwing into the
ground a foot or so in front of me. After one such throw, I bent in the growing
dusk to retrieve my weapon and could not find it. I stepped back to get a better
look and it was nowhere to be found. I let Randy in on my search and the two of us
scanned the patchy lawn for a few minutes before he pointed at my foot. I followed
the trail of his pointer and discovered the thing sticking straight up out of my
blood-soaked Pro-Ked. Super powered, indestructible and delighted, an indelible
note was made on my identity....I needed more of this in my life. Never drank to
achieve just a buzz...always to get drunk. A tumultuous decade-long affair ensued.
Model airplane glue: A warm blanket of ease, always making a deal with
myself...setting a limit, but breaking it immediately to inhale just a moment more.
Always resulting in a headache, foul breath and regret.
Sex: Prevailing obsession. Perhaps if someone besides porn and fantasy had told me
what it's really for, what I'm really worth, and how it's really done, I would have
had many more early connected, interesting and fun experiences. I was an impatient
young man because I thought it would make me whole.....make me real. Talk about a
blessing-turned-curse. When it finally happened (with a partner), it happenned all
wrong and I'm still shaking my head. Failing to stop to consider adjusting motives,
execution or consequences, sex was a very over-perused cycle of forgetting, wounding
and obsessing. I have not sworn off the stuff, but have modified the application.
Valium: I'd known about the many bottles of yellow pills my mother had in a bag in a
box in the closet under her sewing scraps and replacement zippers and such. But I
discovered their usefulness at around age fifteen when they appeared just in time to
help me cope with another of dads long hospitalizations, a barrage of teen agony and
a cursed stretch of insomnia.
Marijuana: Heavenly ether...my best friend second to music. But overuse and a
complete forgetting of my path fucked that one up. I miss this the most, but enjoy
having my lungs, my clear thoughts, my un-aided creativity. Would if I thought I
could. But not today.
I'm gonna stop detailing the slew of particular things I smoked, snorted, huffed,
cooked and swallowed here because they all kinda blend into an amalgam of regretful
behavior that is more about ME and less about the stuff. I'll have a lot to say
about specific drugs one day soon. But I am ok with the existence of recreational
drugs. Some would have them abolished but I know a lot of people benefit from them
in incalculable ways. Wish I could. I've been fortunate to know many people who
have gotten to the other side of their nightmares and to recognize their lives as
the gifts that they are. They've gotten over all manners of habits with things some
would consider "harmless" and others with things typically pegged as "hard".
Because it's largely the person, not the stuff. I've also had more friends than I
can count drive poison into veins, toxins into lungs, cars into trees, bullets into
brains and blades into wrists and each one might have had a more fortunate outcome
had they gotten space between themselves and their substances. A few of my best
friends and heroes didn't get that space. Neither did my brother. And it's that
space that worries me. We never expect to need that space when we begin. It's a
space we avoid because the discomfort is unbearable. Because we're not ready to
face that which it masks. Because life is...among other things....suffering. And
how can we argue against dulling pain or enhancing the ordinary? I say do what you
gotta do. And if your life is perfect, then do what you will to make it even
Sometimes I really fucking wish it were that way for me....I know so many people
have wonderfully enhanced experiences with the assistance of their favorite
substances. I did when I started. But then the benefits stopped manifesting and
consequences infested but I kept doing it anyway. Some people get high and lower
their stress levels. I spend rent money. Some heighten their creativity. I fall
into dark, ugly places. Some generate responsible, productive and efficient
routines. I lose jobs, sleep with other men's wives and set cars on fire.
More power to us all, because regardless of our survival strategies, we're made of
the same diseased, imperfect, ridiculous, miraculous stuff.
A great irony here is that even without being drunk, stoned or otherwise impaired, I
still find ways to escape, enhance and even to self destruct. And my considerable
and long held disdain for my limits has transformed--mostly--to respect. Perhaps I
could have it another way after all this space between me and my last time.
But i do not need to know.
Because maybe not.