"I think it's despicable the way you glorify drugs in your writings, especially cocaine. Why would you romanticize that drug? Cocaine is horrible-just like you are...."
I remember the first time I snorted cocaine. I was about 19 years old, hanging out with some friends in Brother's Tavern in Monroe, NY drinking beer and playing foosball with Flipper.
Flipper was this old-school trucker dude we knew from the bar. He was about 35-ish, average height, on the slim side, with long, thin, greasy, dirty-brown hair that hung limply beneath a mesh baseball cap-a real O.T. (Original Trucker).
Flipper was something of a mentor. He taught us the stuff they wouldn't teach in high school, like how to win drinks playing pool, or how to foot-pass with the five-man in foosball and, on the night in question, how to sniff cocaine out of a plastic baggy with a rolled up $20 bill.
What I remember most about that night-as we stood in a circle in the back parking lot of Brothers, waiting for our turn with the bill and the baggy, was this massive Peterbilt of fear bulldozing through me. It wasn't just the usual fear of being afraid of the first time you try a hard drug. I had another, extra reason to be afraid.
I was about 15 years old. It was me, Jeff, his sister Janet, and two girls from the neighborhood playing with a Ouija board in Jeff and Janet's basement. We were asking it all the typical teenage questions, like who we will marry and how many kids will we have, and we eventually took the game to its inevitable, morose conclusion-which was asking Ouija how and when each of us was going to die. And what the Ouija board said about my future scared the all-shit outta me.
It said I was going to die of a heroin overdose at age 21.
Now, I'm not normally inclined to believe in this sort of hocus-pocus, but the way that planchette just walked over to those terrifying letters, H. . . E . . . R . . . O . . . I . . . N, spelling out my untimely demise with such deliberate certainty, well it really scared the all-shit all outta me. Later that night, in bed, wide-eyed and glaring at the ceiling, I vowed that not only would I never take heroin, but that I would never do any drugs, because everybody knows one drug leads to another and there was just no point in taking chances.
I honored that vow. For a while.
However, by the time I was 18, most of my friends were smoking weed. At first I resisted, but my natural tendency toward experimentation gave way, and one day, sitting on the curb with Matt, I succumbed to my curiosity. And just before I took that first puff of the joint, I thought, Well, this is how it all begins-this is the first druggy step on the long, druggy road to heroin death.
About a year later, hanging at Round Lake, Arthur handed me a hit of mescaline. I held it in my hand looking at it thinking, Here we go again-yet another gruesome step toward my heroin undoing.
It's about a year after that now, and I'm standing in a circle outside Brother's Tavern with Flipper and some friends-waiting for the bill and the baggy to come to me. I'm 20 years old with a heroin overdose looming around the corner, scared all outta my all-shit thinking, Christ, are you really gonna do this? This is cocaine we're talking about. Cocaine!! The only place to go from here is the hero....
I honestly don't know why I do these things. I don't consider myself a stupid person, yet I snorted coke in the face of my own mortality. Maybe I'm just the sort of person who doesn't believe everything he is told. I don't know. The point is, I'm not glorifying cocaine-I'm just telling it how it is, or how it is for me. And how it is for me is I am one of the lucky ones. I just didn't have that horrible experience with addiction and despair that so many others have had.
How it is for me is I use cocaine for special occasions-a Vegas trip for instance, or a bachelor party, or maybe I just feel like going all Inca on the town tonight-whatever. When the baggy is done, I unroll the $20 bill, buy myself a gallon of water and some Excedrin and contribute to society in my own little ways.
How it is for me is cocaine doesn't crank me up like it cranks up others. It just ain't the illegal garbage that messes me up. It's the legal shit. Like cigarettes. I used to smoke the all-hell outta cartons of Salem Lights, coughing up lung porridge by the time I gave it up. And my addiction to Mexican food is gonna kill me loooong before the coke ever will. Maybe I should write to Roberto Robledo and tell him to stop glorifying rolled tacos.
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