I called Mags the other night. The last time I saw her, we had checked into an hourly motel for the night. Mirrors on every wall and of course the ceiling. Closed circuit television playing the worst kind of crack whore porn, the kind where you see more scabby ass pimples than nipples, despite the poor lighting and motion blur. It’s not like I wanted to fuck. I knew she did, but I played it off as long as I could. She huffed crystal meth and and got jacked on Wild Turkey. I took a little puff, but I do so hate the effects of ice. I got to interview her about her Craigslist prostitution days. The time she met a john at his house and it was a well-to-do colleague of her well-to-do very conservative doctor father. The time a guy just wanted to pleasure her for hours with a humongous wand. The close calls and getaways and the near romances. It was stunning. She’d been out of rehab for a month at this time, kicked out for having sex with another patient.
I’m getting plasma sucked out of me the other day, and a technician sticks me through my tattoo. You’re not supposed to go through ink, and I told him my other arm is free, but he declines. This is the second time they’ve done this, and I know someone will notice and an administrator will inspect the puncture when I’m done and implore me to command the tech to use my free arm next time. This tech is a young man, maybe 24, nice guy. He mentions he has a tattoo in his lip, and I ask what it says. I’m expecting maybe some Jesus Freak stuff by his chipper demeanor and affable manner. But no, it says “scum”. “Oh,” I say, “like a GG Allin thing”. He smiles and tells me that’s not why he got it, but he appreciates Jesus Allin. I concur, and a few minutes later he’s telling another tech about the last time he had a q-tip inserted in his urethra. Made a bad decision one night, and the next day…well yada yada. You know.
I’ve never had to worry about that. Freaky unprotected sex is just one of the many activities I’ve never had the opportunity to purvey.
The day after I spent the night with Mags, a mutual friend informs me that she’s on her way to rehab again. And in the course of our dialog it’s explained to me the types of barter that Mags would endure to score when she had no money. And for a week, I waited, and inspected. A little twinge, any itch, was cause for paranoia. I also felt a little guilty. So when she messages me the other day, I call her up.
"Are you clean?"
"Yeah! For about 2 months!"
"Like, totally clean?"
"Yeah! Er, I mean I drink. I smoked pot once."
"That’s great Mags. You’re a great person. You should take care of yourself."
"Thanks! Are you clean?"
"Um…so did you finish rehab?"
"No, I got kicked out. After a few days of being homeless in Nashville I decided to come home, and my parents say if I fuck up one more time, I’m dead to them."
Drugs so proliferate through our culture that I wonder if we’re becoming a new species. Homo Intoxicant. Ambien to sleep, oxycodone for that disintegrating vertebrae, Adderall for Johnny so he can do math homework, a whole mish mash of steroids and antidepressants for mothers nearing middle age who must keep up with atavistic Johnny. A quadruple bypass survivor who won’t give up pork keeps chlorestoral at a base line with an army of statins. The last time I got released, the doc asked me what my drug of choice was. I say “whaddya got?” sending up Brando and Layne Staley in one swoop. They tell me they want to put me on anti-depressants, and I adamantly decline.
"But I would be interested in mood stabilizers, something for A.D.D., something I could take when I feel an anxiety attack coming…"
"We’re not giving you those because you’ll just abuse them."
I cock my eyebrow and think for a second.
"Fair enough", I say.