There is no drug I wouldn't try once. Provided I could know in advance that I wouldn't feel compelled to try that drug again.
And therein lies the rub, of course. I have an addictive personality. Most people are only peripherally aware of this because my addictions are legal and only marginally bad for me. I've rationalized away a mild gambling addiction on the grounds that I may as well just set my money on fire (and not having money to burn tends to curtail it as well, at least for me.) I can take or leave alcohol and my experience with other drugs is limited to the odd pot cookie here and there (and that entirely for its painkilling and soporific qualities): no addiction there.
But put a plate of food in front of me, food I like, with four or five servings, and I'll eat all of it without blinking. The only reason I'm half a blimp instead of a full blimp is that my job involves a fair bit of exercise.
And of course there's the ephemeral, ethereal substance of 'connection'...to which I'm hooked right through the bag.
I grew up in a prudish house.
My mom smoked -- like a tire fire she smoked -- and alcohol made an occasional appearance. I'll never forget the evening she asked little Kenny to mix her a rum-and-Coke..."just a finger of rum," she said, and I couldn't figure out which finger to use. I laid my fingers against the glass, and all of them except my pinkie were taller than the glass, so I figured she must have meant my pinkie, and I glurged rum into that glass to suit. The Coke turned out to be mostly for colour. She took a sip and sputtered how much rum did you put IN this? and I wordlessly held up my pinkie finger....
My stepdad told me (never forgotten this, either) that if I ever wanted to get drunk, he'd buy me all the alcohol I needed to do it, just so long as I did it where he could keep an eye on me. I was the most sheltered kid in existence and I dealt in absolutes; my dad was a lifelong cop and I'd heard an awful lot...an awful lot of awful...about the scourge of drunk drivers. Every adult I knew was a driver, so driving must be good; but drunk took something good and made it bad. That made drunk, as far as I was concerned, the very definition of evil. And so my interest in getting drunk, in my house or any other place, was zero to seventy decimal places.
And other drugs? Don't even bring it up. I mean that. Just don't.
So I went off to university. I was already determined never to smoke a cigarette...besides being sensitive to the smoke (which has only gotten worse as I have aged), I couldn't help but notice that it yellowed everything and drove smokers into exile. I've experienced enough exile, thanks.
Naive. So, so naive. It turned out that most of my dorm wing was majoring in Applied Alcoholism.
They spent the entire school year trying to jam alcohol down my throat to "loosen me up". On at least two occasions people physically restrained me to that end. It never worked. I never had so much as a drop of booze that whole year.
The next year, I lived just off campus, in a house that has since morphed into an apartment tower. (There's an awful lot of that going on around here just lately; three former domiciles of mine have been eaten). I lived with Remi, who had been in the room next to ours on Mac 2 West; Ben; Mario; and eventually, briefly, my girlfriend Lynne.
Remi and Ben were both alcoholics of different disciplines. Allow me to illustrate with a couple of humorous anecdotes.
Ben half crawled, half skipped in the house one night at about 8:15 p.m, barely coherent. This was probably the worst of many such instances; time of day was completely irrelevant. He proceeded to tell us about this hot chick (his words) who was going to meet him here at 9:00. Burp. Yeah, sure, the rest of us thought but did not say. No way any woman would meet...that...anywhere. But Ben was excited.
Well, 9:00 came and went, of course, with no sign of a chick, hot or otherwise. We had all scattered to give Ben some privacy (ha-ha) and he took full advantage. Mario came around to our rooms and had us creep down to observe Ben sitting on the couch stark naked, with what appeared to be a railway tie growing out of his waist.
9:15. Shh, said Mario. I have an idea. He crept through the kitchen and down to his room to retrieve something, then tiptoed out the side door, ran around to the front, and rang the bell. The rest of us were most of the way up the front stairs and we all watched Ben lumber, or more to the point, Ben's lumber, his way to the door and pull it open.
Remi, by contrast, impersonated a human being, you know, a guy with blood in his veins instead of alcohol...six days out of seven. On the seventh....
Well, one time he pissed himself...shit himself...puked all over himself...and then passed out. Lynne cleaned him up--I couldn't go near him for the smell--and as he was coming to, he announced in an aggrieved tone: "I'm never going to drink again."
That lasted a week.
You look at that...and you work around the animals that populate a 7-Eleven after midnight (oh, the stories I could tell) and you can't help but ask yourself why. Why the fuck would I want to act like that?
No alcohol for me that year, either.
The following year, an alien thought somehow got into my head. You should get drunk, it said. I took that thought and kicked it over. Turned out it was a Weeble: it wobbled but it didn't fall down. C'mon, it said. Just try it. Once. What's the big deal, everybody else does it.
Well, that made me kick the thought harder. If everybody else did it, that was a good reason for me not to. Still, the thought persisted.
My best friend lived in Toronto that year. I went to see him. We got drunk on various things, from high-end chocolate liqueur to rotgut whisky. After a while it all tasted pretty much the same.
It turns out I can drink a surprising amount of alcohol before I feel anything. And then I don't feel anything. I just go with the flow. And the flow ended up with me in bed with him.
Awkward. Very awkward. I'd never looked at another guy in my life and thought sexual thoughts. And I wasn't looking at him and thinking sexual thoughts, either. I wasn't thinking ANY thoughts. I was just...doing. And being done to. Kind of enjoying both, but without any volition in the matter. Come morning I was hit with a crisis of meaning. What did it mean, I thought. Am I gay? Bi? I mean, I love the guy, there's no denying that. I might even be persuaded to do that again fully sober. Might. But I didn't really want to. Best just call this an experiment with mixed results. No hangover, either. He had one, I didn't.
I've never been drunk since then. I don't trust my drunk self. I do know that if I'm drunk enough, I will go along with...whatever. And that terrifies me.
It seems to me that this is the hallmark of altered states: no control. I don't get the appeal. I know many people do, but I don't. Why would you want to lose rational thought? Maybe if your thoughts are things you want to run away from, but mine are generally thoughts I want to chase.
Yes, I have, very occasionally, ingested pot since. half an hour before bedtime on a night when I'm hurting and afraid I won't sleep. I'm not awake by the time any hallucinatory effects hit. At this point, I consider marijuana to be more medicine than anything else.
I think it's fair to say that I'm a lot more open to having my mind changed on drugs than I once was. I heard all my life how marijuana was this evil, evil plant...a Venus mindtrap that rotted your brain and expanded your waistline. I know better now: marijuana has saved and redeemed far more lives than it has ruined. Is it addictive? No more addictive than, say, chocolate. I know a gentleman whose attitude towards pot was once, if anything, even more vehement than mine was; he was convinced it would cure an extremely inconvenient sore throat; it did, almost instantly.
What else have I been lied to about?
I no longer have anything against people who indulge in anything. I would much rather see full legalization than criminalization or our current system of selective enforcement. You're not going to get rid of drugs. All criminalization does is drive drug use underground and make it forbidden fruit.
I still feel contempt for those who indulge irresponsibly. Especially the ones who do that and then drive. It's irrational, perhaps, but to me drunk drivers should all be rounded up and charged with attempted murder.
I feel inexpressibly sad for those who are addicted. Because drugs have costs. Not just financial costs, either. For most addicts, not only self-control but self-esteem is minimal to nonexistent. I hate to see that. In anyone.
I have friends, good ones, with extensive drug experience. They don't treat me any different for abstaining; I don't treat them any different for partaking. I would, honestly, try anything once...just so long as I could be absolutely certain that once wouldn't ruin my life. With this addictive personality...I can't be sure of that. There's a substance out there that would get me. I know it. Is it coke? Meth? Acid? No idea. Best to just avoid it all. I know that booze is safe, for me: I can drink one bottle and have zero urge to drink more. I can eat one pot cookie and...go to bed. (Couldn't smoke pot if you paid me: I'd cough my lungs out.) So it's safe, too. Anything else? No, thank you kindly.