Using Recreational Drugs Isn't Harmless
You want sympathy? Go look it up in the Dictionary!— My Father
When I was younger, I used to laugh hysterically at all the stupid things people did. It never occurred to me that anything was ever serious. When people were upset and dramatically crying over something, I would sit there and laugh at them until they saw the ridiculousness in it too, and then they would start laughing too, through their tears.
My mom taught me that. When I was at my lowest, curled into myself in a ball of pain, I would go to her and scream my pain and anguish to her in a long diatribe of self pity. And at some point, she would start laughing at me. Sometimes it made me mad, and she would say, “I’m sorry, but…” and then she would repeat something I said, and I would see how ridiculous I was being, and I would start to laugh, too.
So I learned to apply humor to absolutely everything in life, which isn’t always taken in a positive way. When you make fun of someone in pain, that is generally seen as you being a bully. But for us, it was a way to roust them up out of the mire of self pity they had dug for themselves. My family had very little sympathy for pain.
“You want sympathy?” my father would say, “Then go look it up. You can find it between ‘Shit’ and ‘Syphilis’, in the dictionary.”
My father was the one who taught me how to cuss. He also taught me bawdy limericks, and he gave me lots of little sayings that I still use right up to this day. Unfortunately, today’s world frowns on language with lots of character, but my father said it was just good, old, basic, Anglo Saxon verbiage.
When I was very little, we traveled a lot by car. When we stopped at a restaurant, my sisters would go sit at a separate table. They didn’t want to be seen with their cute little baby sister as she beat noisily on the tray of her high chair, chanting. “GODDAM GODDAM GODDAM GODDAM!” Mom caught on quickly, though, and would immediately start feeding me as soon as we went in a restaurant, so that my mouth was too full to chant. Dad? Dad would just lean back with his arms stretched out across the back of the booth, smiling proudly at his little prodigy.
That was before I was four. After I was four, my oldest sister was dead, my second sister had eloped on a motorcycle and disappeared, and I traveled the world with my parents.
Anyway, I thought absolutely everything was funny, especially the stupid things that people do. And the fact that they do these stupid things so seriously made it even funnier to me. I didn’t really see any harm in it, and when you are young, you wonder why your elders are so SERIOUS and ANGRY when they see you do something stupid. It’s no big deal, it’s just all in fun.
But now, I’m an elder. Me. Who’d a thought? Because now, when I look back on all the stupid things I’ve done, I realize that it’s an absolute wonder that I’m still alive. Now, when I look at today’s youth, and I see them do these exact same stupid things, I know for a fact that it isn’t all just harmless fun. For every action, there is a reaction, Karma is real, and you will reap what you sow. So now, I understand why my elders took such a serious view towards my actions.
Still. I can’t help it. I can still see the humor in it. But it isn’t full of the wild, joyful, elated hilarity it used to be. Now, it’s tempered with wisdom.
Which ruins it. Ignorance is bliss, and it really is. The only way to be blissfully happy is to not be aware of the bitter, painful, hurt filled, failing side of things.
Anyway. I used to spend summers out with my sister in Kentucky. She married, divorced, and married again, and her second husband was a true back woods hillbilly, a wild thing. He was strong as an ox and had long black hair and bright blue eyes. And both he and my sister were what you would call pot heads.
He worked as a mason, and he was good at it, so he made good money at his job. He also worked at other things, but I was never let in on what those other things were. All I can say is, he made good money, but you would never know it, because every cent they made was spent on recreational drugs and alcohol. At some point, Rob became allergic to alcohol – if he drank, he would go into violent convulsions of vomiting. So they both stopped drinking, but the drugs, they flowed through their house fast and free.
Here was my take on it. Young people do stupid things when they are young. When they have to be responsible, they stop doing stupid things, and grow up, start a family, and work for a living. I learned this from my father, and believed that was just the way it was. So, although I also partook in the doing of stupid things, I also understood that you couldn’t do these stupid things forever; there was a time and a place for them.
In my opinion, my sister and her husband and their young family were young and rebellious. They defied my mom and dad time and again, and did what they thought was right. They lived life their own way, the way they wanted to live it. I didn’t want to live the way they did, but I would support with my heart and soul anyone who wanted to do anything, so long as it caused no harm to others. I saw no harm in how they lived their life, and in fact enjoyed spending time with them. I never understood why dad took such a dim view of their lifestyle.
This is no one I know. Just a pic.
So, I would go out and spend my summers with them, and sit back and watch, and laugh hysterically at everything. My favorite times were the keg parties in the fields, when a big bon fire was lit and people would come from everywhere in their muddy trucks and park them in a circle, open all the doors and set the radio stations all the same and blast the music. Then everyone would sit around and talk, dance, or sneak off into the dark to play, or, well, to do other things.
Pot smoke floated around thick and free in those summers. I never smoked it, but I’m sure I breathed up my share. At first people were careful of me and tried to hide it, but after everyone got used to me they would just pass me a joint and I would take it and simply pass it on to the next person. No one ever paid any attention to whether I took a toke off of it or not, I was part of the group regardless.
The beer would flow freely too, and I did drink that. But the truth is, I could act just as stupid as any drunk when I was sober, so nobody really knew how much I ever had to drink. Sometimes I drank a lot. Sometimes I didn’t. But I do know one thing; watching people when you are sober is not as much fun as it is when you are a little drunk. I would usually drink two beers. That was enough to make me feel silly and happy. Then I would just sit back and laugh.
I loved the whole idea of the lifestyle they had out there in the country, away from the city, paying in the cow ponds, fishing, smelling sweet hay, the field parties… I loved all of it. But I could have done without the drugs. That whole lifestyle, without the drugs would be sweet perfection.
But, there was the drugs, and it was a part of daily life. A joint was the same thing as a cup of coffee, and was smoked as often as serious coffee drinkers drink it. The one thing I enjoyed laughing at was how the pot was obtained.
I remember one time with mom and dad, and My sister Lyn and her husband Rob had come in to the city for a visit. They would stay, sometimes for a month, then head back home. Anyway, Rob was a backwoods, boy, but he found ways to obtain his dime bag even in the city. My father used to fight tooth and nail over this, but at some point he realized he wasn’t going to win this fight, so he tolerated them smoking, so long as they did it outside.
One day, Rob was out waiting for his contact to meet him out in front of a convenient store near my family’s house, and my parents and I saw his car and pulled in to get gas and dork around inside the store a bit. It was evening, so it was dark out. We said hi to Rob and then went on about our business, as dad realized he was waiting to do a deal. Dad went up to the cash register to pay for our purchases, and noticed that the teller was very distracted and nervous.
Dad said, “Are you all right? What’s wrong?”
The cashier leaned forward, close to dad, and pointed out the window. “I’m going to have to call the cops! Do you see that wild looking, long-haired son of a b*tch there? He’s casing the store! He’s getting ready to rob me!”
“Who, him?!” Dad said in surprise. “Oh, no, don’t worry about him! That’s my son-in-law. He’s waiting for someone to come sell him a bag of pot.”
My jaw dropped. But that was dad, he told it like it is, straight up and to the point. I fully expected the cashier to grab the phone and call the cops, but instead he was visibly relieved. Dad finished making his purchases, and we left the store.
I found that whole thing hilariously funny, the way dad just blew it all off and was so matter-of-fact about it, and the cashier’s reaction. Oh, he’s buying pot? Well, that’s okay, then.
Out in the back woods, they would also do deals like that, for the “good stuff”. But most of the time, they would grow their own. I loved this; I thought it was hilarious. I called it “Pot Wars”.
Once again, no one I know. Just a pic.
The men would spend a lot of time “hunting”. “AW RITE, YA’LL, I’M GOEN HUNTIN!” They’d announce on their way out the door, a gun and a carton of Miracle Grow slung over their shoulder. We’d cackle and razz about that for hours after they left.
“Yep! They’re gonna sprinkle some of that Miracle Grow on a rabbit, that’s how they’ll catch ‘em! Just like sprinkling salt on a bird’s tail! Or, Oh! Maybe their gonna bait a TRAP with some Miracle Grow! You reckon?”
“I dunno, maybe they gonna sling the whole box of it at a deer’s head, it is pretty heavy.”
“HAAH! Yeah! Or maybe they think they can grow some more meat on ‘em?!”
It never occurred to the guys that we knew they weren’t hunting, even when they came back with nothing to show for it.
“There just wasn’t nothin’ out there.”
“Probably cuz they could smell you with the Miracle Grow from a mile off.”
Anyway, Rob knew we knew, because we razzed him to his face about it. I don’t think anyone else could have gotten away with that but me. Rob had a pretty scary reputation even then that I wasn’t really aware of, no one had filled me in completely yet. But he took it all in stride when it was just us picking on him. He would then sit down and explain the concoctions he made in front of us. He’d mix bone meal and blood meal and this or that nutrient with this or that type of dirt, and then take it with him on his next “hunting trip”.
But, this was more complicated than you think. You couldn’t just go out and tend your pot patch, no. You could be followed. The police could follow you, but more likely, you could be followed by your friends. They would mark the location of your patch, and then when came time to harvest, you would go and find that they had made it there before you, and all that careful tending was being rolled into someone else’s joint, or worse – being sold to you.
We can’t have that, now, can we? So, to go out on your hunting trip, you had to act like you really were going on a hunting trip, which I never understood, as every pot patch grower used the same trick so they all knew what they were doing. I guess they thought it was for the sake of the police, who of course had no CLUE that this is what people did to hide the fact they were growing a patch of pot. Of course the cops didn’t know. I mean, yeah, they grew up there, and went to the same schools, and knew all the same people, but when you become a cop, well, you just don’t know these things, is all. And you can’t prove it! You can’t prove nothin’. Just cuz I have some Miracle Grow – I’m just taking it out to my grand maw, for her daisies! Yeah!
So then you have to take a convoluted path to get to the patch, which easily gets you lost in the back woods, so you have to draw yourself a map sometimes. Then you have to keep the map hid. You also have to cleverly conceal the location. A lot of the smart ones would grow it right in their back yard. They would plant corn or some other large leafy plant, and then plant rows of pot between them. That way, they couldn’t be seen from the sky when the helicopters flew over.
So all summer, this would go on, the careful planting and tending of the pot patches. And then we got to hear the stories, when they got home from a hunting trip, because Rob already knew the game was up with us. So he’d fill us in on some of the happenings.
“Yeah, I saw Alfred out there, I know he ain’t allowed to hunt on that strip of land. Yeah, he wasn’t huntin’, he was LOOKIN’. And I’ll tell you what, if he’s lookin’ for mine, then I’m gonna be lookin’ for his…”
And so this is where the real fun starts. At this point, everyone becomes completely paranoid. They start concentrating on guarding their patches, while at the same time trying to scope everyone else’s out.
“I found Dales! You know that son of a b*tch put BEAR TRAPS around his?! BEAR TRAPS!! That *#&%*! I ought take his #&(@ and @&#^^ with a pine cone!! (&$(^%$!! ”
And let me tell you, no one can cuss as colorfully or blasphemously as a back woods Kentucky mountain hillbilly.
“Roddy, that, #$&@&!! I shot at him and he ran like a rabbit, that &%(&$^!! He better not come back around or I’ll %@!$#$ his *&^*% (^(^^!!!”
So yeah, I’m killing myself laughing at all this. As far as I know, no one ever got their foot snapped off in a bear trap, and no one was ever actually shot. So yeah, it was funny.
When harvest time came, it was almost always the same. Someone else would get to your patch first. But I think this was probably because everyone was sneaking out early to harvest someone else’s patch before they harvested their own, so while you were stealing Alfred’s, he was stealing yours, and so on. Generally, everyone came back with something, but most of it wasn’t their own.
The funniest was the time my brother-in-law stomped into the house with nothing, stolen or otherwise. The cows had discovered the patch, and trampled and eaten the whole lot of it.
Ah, nothing like a happy cow. I laughed at that… I’m still laughing about that.
All of that seemed relatively harmless. Well, you could have lost an eye or a foot, but no one did, so. Harmless.
But pot is a gateway drug. People do it because it’s frowned on, and it’s really not THAT bad, but it’s a way to thumb your nose at authority, and nothing is more fun than trying to sneak around and do things behind someone else’s back. It’s exciting, it puts a thrill into an otherwise boring life.
The problem with seeking a thrill is that, once the thrill is known, it’s no longer mysterious and exciting. To get that thrilling, exciting feeling again, you have to find something new to do.
So they upped the ante, and started using other drugs. And the thing about this area where my sister lived; it seemed like everyone there used recreational drugs, except maybe the kids, and for them it was inevitable, because they were surrounded by it. People would hide the fact that they were users for a little while, but they would get a greater sense of safety when they realized that everyone around them did it too. It was completely normal. In fact, you were really weird if you didn’t use drugs. So they did it anywhere and everywhere, right out in the open, in front of children, in front of kids, even in front of cops. Like I said, the cops grew up there – it was inevitable for them as well. So they had an environment to do these things that I’ve rarely ever seen anywhere else.
When I was there in the summer, everyone who associated with my family got used to me, too. I didn’t use drugs or smoke, but it has always been my belief that people should make their own life choices. If someone tried to force me to partake of something, I would say, “Hey, I’m not telling you NOT to do that, so you can’t tell me I HAVE to.” They saw the logic in that and left me alone. But like I said, over time, I was treated the same as everyone else, and so I got to see things simply because I went unnoticed.
One day, my brother-in-law came in with his brother. They had a baggie full of white powder, and by full, I mean at least 2 cups worth of the white substance. They were so excited and happy, they couldn’t stand it. They immediately sat down at the kitchen table and drew a couple lines.
This is about as ridiculous as what they did.
My sister was floored. It was the first time they’d done anything like that in front of me, but my brother-in-law blew it off and went back to his careful placement of the powder.
“Where did you get that?” my sister demanded to know.
“We took Danny’s car up to get it washed, and we found it in the trunk where the jack is!”
“You found it? Well, but… do you know what it is?”
“No, but we’re about to!” Rob’s brother, Alfred, hooted. And SNORT! Up his nose went the first line. Rob followed with his a second later. They both sat up and looked at each other, snuffling and snorting. They sat there.
“Well?” said Rob. “You feel anything?”
They gave it a few more minutes.
“Maybe we didn’t use enough.”
They began to draw out two more lines on the table.
“Are you serious?” my sister said. “You don’t even know what that is! I could be dish detergent!”
“Nah.” My brother-in-law dismissed this notion with expert disdain “If it were, it would’ve hurt!” SNORT! Up went the next line. Both of them sniffled and snorted and poked at their noses; apparently the powder wasn’t placed comfortably up in their sinuses, and so they had to sniff and snort to get it just so. Yeah, that’s better. Snuffle.
They sat there and looked at each other.
“You feel anything?”
So they drew another line.
“You have GOT to be kidding me.” My sister said in disgust. She walked out of the room.
I, of course, found this hysterically funny. How is that not hysterically funny? They are snorting a bag of powder that they found in a car up their nose, and nothing is happening. It’s frigging hilarious!
They snorted that whole bag of powder in one sitting. We never did know what it was. Towards the end, one of them asked,
“Do you feel anything?”
“No. Getting a headache, though.”
A headache? He’s getting a headache? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! How is that not hysterical? Their entire sinus could be impacted with 2 cups of white flour, for all we know. He’s getting a headache, he says. Really? No! It can’t be!
Well, cocaine is expensive, and they used it when they could. But if they couldn’t get that, they would simply crush up pain pills and snort those. Or any kind of pill, I mean, why not? It might make you feel something. But after a time or two of doing that with the wrong medication, they began to pay attention to what kind of drug it was they were snorting.
“Oh, you can’t take that! Do you know what that can do to your liver?”
What that can do to your….. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, how can that not be hysterical? What it can do to your liver?
They could snort a whole bottle of pain pills in a day, and be looking for more that evening. And they were worried about what another kind of pill could do to their liver. When would the hilarity end?
Well, it would end when they didn’t have any pot, or any pills to eat or snort. These instances happened frequently, especially when the supply was used up quickly. They would supply themselves with enough to last them several months, but it would be gone in days. Not only would they eat them like candy, but also they would sell them and give them away, and when word got out, the house became grand central station. Everybody was so happy and friendly when everybody had their fix…
…but when all the wells were dried up… it got ugly.
One morning at breakfast, Rob and his brothers were cooking up sausages in the kitchen, and they were snarling and snapping about something stupid. Suddenly, Alfred whipped around and swung the frying pan he was using, causing the hot grease to spray out at their little brother Randall.
There was plenty more hot grease where that came from. Randall shot up and grabbed for another frying pan. Alfred intercepted. I snuck out of the room and locked myself in the bathroom, where I listened to them punch, kick, hit, and burn each other, and cuss each other in much more fluent Anglo Saxon than my father ever knew. After a while, there was silence. I sat there on the edge of the toilet, waiting and listening intently. Suddenly, someone tried to turn the knob on the bathroom door, but it was locked. The rattling of the knob stopped and was replaced by a soft knocking.
“You can come out, now.” Alfred’s muffled voice came through the door. “We’re done.”
“Okay, thanks.” But I waited a few more minutes before coming out.
If they didn’t have drugs, sometimes they would get inventive. I saw them smoke different kinds of leaves, banana peels. They would drink cough syrup. I remember a trip I went on with my sister where she brought a supply of cough syrup to tide her over. Three day trip.
One time, a guy came in with a bottle of whiskey, but it wasn’t doing enough for him. So he rolled up his sleeve, filled a syringe full of whiskey, and shot up with it. His eyeballs rolled up into his head and he passed out cold. Only when he was lying there passed out on the floor did it occur to anyone; what if he had just killed himself? What were we going to do about it?
But he hadn’t. He groaned and got up, and we laughed at him. How stupid! You could have killed yourself!
The amazing thing to me was, they never did. They could eat a whole bottle of pills in one sitting, chug cough syrup, shoot up whiskey, and nothing ever happened to them. So yeah, I laughed at them, because it was all harmless. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, but it didn’t.
But for me, it stopped being funny at some point, and starting being just flat stupid. I can understand making a mistake once, but you learn from it and go on. You don’t keep repeating the same mistake over and over and over. And I kept seeing it happen, over and over and over. And like the same joke over and over, it stops being funny and just starts being annoying, and beyond that, sad.
I stopped going out there so much, started going to college, getting my life in order, working for a future. I know I hurt some feelings, because I started concentrating on responsibility. The fun loving, goofy, silly party person had abandoned them. But you have to grow up sometime, and here it finally occurred to me, while I was in college, that my sister should have become more responsible by now. In fact, she should have done it years ago. She was thirteen years older than me.
I’m pretty slow to realize things like this. I call myself obtuse. But I don’t like to judge people; everyone makes their own choices, and follows their own path. My path had never followed along with theirs; I had just traveled in the same direction with them for a ways. But suddenly I was horrified to realize that their path had never varied. It followed a line of white dust and smoke.
There was nothing that was worth much, in their house, and generally nothing breakable. That was because my sister would fly into a tantrum when she was “feening” as they called it, and she would trash the house or sling every item she could lift at my brother-in-laws head. My parents would visit and see the poor quality of living, and they would try to help. They would buy food, clothes, and furniture. When they left, Rob would sell all of it to get money to buy more drugs, and what they didn’t sell would be destroyed in a fit of pique when they didn’t have what they needed.
I had learned, traveling, that the less you have, the less you have to pack to take with you. So at first I didn’t associate the lack of material possessions and money with the drug situation. I saw being poor as a sort of rebellious freedom. They lived that way because they wanted to, not because they had to.
But I was wrong. They had to.
I remember coming into the house one time when a son from her first marriage was visiting my sister. He was sitting on the couch next to my niece. His eyes were as big as saucers. The TV had a great dent in the screen, where some of the glass had been chipped out. There were bits of china on the floor, and a bullet hole in the roof. I took this all in, and then looked at my niece.
“Okay. What happened this time?”
She sighed and rolled her eyes, then started droning the story in a bored, disgusted tone. “Mom got mad at dad and they got into a fight. Mom threw everything at dad, someone got the gun out and while they were fighting over it shot a hole in the roof, and the bruises on mom aren’t from dad, they’re from her stumbling down the porch steps when she was fighting with him.” Then she lapsed back into silence. I looked over at my nephew and smiled.
This kind of thing was commonplace, and not only with my family, but the whole area. One woman got mad at her husband and drove her car into his car in a fit of anger, trying to get back at him. Only his car was an 18-wheel rig. She drove her car into the back of his parked rig, and the car pretty much went under it, totaling her car and doing virtually nothing to the truck.
“Atta girl! You show ‘em!”
Demolition derby behavior was one of the best ways to show your displeasure at having nothing to smoke or snort. People think these things happen when folks are drunk, or stoned, but no. Frequently, it happens because they are NOT drunk or stoned, and they simply can’t stand it. Without their drugs, they feel sick, feverish, nauseated, shaky, and they are very, very quick to anger.
As I got older, it all started becoming less and less funny. As you get older, you are supposed to mature and become responsible, you are supposed to care about your family and take care of them. And you are supposed to stop all the foolishness and start tending to the future.
But they never did. The kids went without medical care because the money wasn’t there to take them. The kids went without school supplies because the money wasn’t there to buy them. They never drove a decent car, or lived in a decent house, because those things weren’t important to them. My brother-in-law made good money; he made more at one point than my father did traveling, or my husband and myself ever did, combined. Every cent of it was spent on habits.
The more I saw these things happen, the more resentful I felt towards them. What they were doing wasn’t harmless anymore. It was affecting the very people they were supposed to love. Today I can look back and see clearly how badly her kids were being damaged by this. One was left with health issues that could have been prevented with good health care as a kid. But it was never tended to, because it wasn’t as important as having the money to buy drugs. As an adult, it finally reached a point where it was life threatening. I paid the money for a doctor visit, and they finally realized just how bad the problem was. The doctor did the surgery for free, he was so concerned by the urgency of it.
One of them could have been an excellent musician, but the instruments were never bought. The interests of the kids were never supported because the money was needed for drugs. And they all hate their grandparents and myself because we never tried to help them. But we did try to help them. Any help we tried to give was always converted into drugs.
I visited still, but the fun was gone, and my presence was resented. When I started visiting with only me and the clothes on my back, I wasn’t nearly as well received as I had been when I brought gifts of food and money. Being as obtuse as I am, I was slow to realize this. Finally it occurred to me that I wasn’t welcome. Even after I realized this, I still went to visit. I went, because I wanted to have family. Family was always very important to me. But that’s all gone, now. They are no longer family.
When they fell on truly hard times, they did some bad things to get the funds they needed, and I took the things they did personally. It was a betrayal to me, it reflected on me, it reflected on the whole family. Even after the worst betrayal, I still struggled with wanting to have a family. I wanted it to be the way it was when I was a kid. So I still went to visit. And even though I knew I shouldn’t do it, I still tried to help. I had them come out to pick up some furniture.
Not very long after that, when I went to visit, I saw the brand new bed I had given them being carted out of the house. I was floored. Rob was giving it to one of the worst low-life’s known in the area. They knew what kind of person he was. Worse, they knew I couldn’t stand the man, and knew how I would feel about it. I saw it as an insult. Once again, they were spitting on my efforts to help. But there they were, giving the brand new bed to… him.
Pic of Some Old Mattress. No One I Know
Ah, but they were not giving it. They were selling it. And not for money. No, it was for a trade. For a lesser quality mattress set, and a bottle of pills.
That was the last gift I ever gave them. After a while, I did stop trying. I never went out to visit with them again.
None of it was funny anymore. Was it ever funny? Was it ever harmless? Where is the line? Was there ever a line?
No one I know. Just a "Country Life" Pic
I still envy the life style. I still have fond memories of my days out in the country. Fewer material possessions mean you can pick up and go anywhere, any time you want to go. Living in the country gives you freedom to do what you want without judgment from too many people, but it’s also more than that; it’s a feeling you get, being in the country. You are surrounded by life and earth, not steel and cement. It’s a completely different atmosphere. It fills me with peaceful contentment, where living in the city only fills me with neurotic stresses and a constant sense of urgency. I love the life style they lived, but at first, when I was a happy go lucky, stupid kid, it never occurred to me that wasn’t the reason why they lived that way. The truth was, they lived in a bubble; in a whole community of people whose lives revolved around only one thing. They lived that way, because it was the norm. It was accepted.
They lived and breathed and worked and fought and thought of only that one thing, they revolved around it and talked about it and dwelled on it constantly.
After my sister died, I sent money to be given to each of the kids, a gift from their grand mother. I addressed it to be received by one of the kids, hoping they would do what their grandmaw wanted with it. But the money ended up in the hands of my brother-in-law. I’m sure the kids never saw a dime of it.
I wonder what it was spent on? Huh.