Sunday, January 27, 2013

Just say no. Or don't. I don't care.

I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to intoxicants, both legal and illegal. I was one of those kids that the Reganomics-era scare-tactic PSAs affected a little too deeply. I can distinctly recall sitting in my elementary school gym in sixth grade, wedged beside two kids that had probably already started experimenting with their parent's liquor cabinets. Two government employees stood up at the front. They had turned their hats backwards, and were speaking in faux ebonics, while Kris Kross's 'Shame' pumped through the P.A. system. Probably even the first graders could see through the facade, but not me. I walked out of that presentation thinking that if I so much as stepped foot into a room where people had been smoking pot, I would get kidnapped by drug dealers, the parliament buildings in Ottawa would burn to the ground, and Magic Johnson would lose all respect for me.

Just say no.

Flash forward to junior high school, where all of my best friends had been drunk and high, and it hadn't killed them. Still, I maintained that my household was a drug-free one. Never mind that my father and uncle spent and unusual amount in the garage together, even when it was very, very cold out. Particularly before hockey games or playing music. They always came back into the house much, much happier than when they had left a few minutes prior, which made no sense to me, because our garage was tiny, dingy, and freezing. I was always under the impression that they were out there "fixing things", despite the fact that neither were very handy guys.

It wasn't until a particularly horrible flu season in high school where my father took me to a busy immunization clinic. We sat in the car after my injection, as we were asked to wait a few minutes prior to leaving in case of a bad reaction. "Sarah", he started, "I have something to tell you, now that you're old enough to know". At that moment, my mind started to race. Was I adopted? Better yet, was my sister adopted? If my parents weren't already divorced, his tone suggested that he was leaving my mom.
Instead, he continued, and said five of the funniest words I've ever heard in my life: "I puff on the reefer". Exact quote.

It was like my whole world came crashing down. My dad was smart, and funny, and successful. How was this possible? It was the first time it had ever occurred to me that all of the 80's PSAs I had so intently listened to, all of the school presentations, may have been just a tad over-hyped. I got drunk for the first time a few weeks later, on an island only reachable by boat. A hippie boy, years younger than myself, gave me a bottle of strawberry wine, which we shared behind a barn. We giggled and swayed and told secrets. I woke up the next morning feeling like death. That day marked the beginning a life-long love affair with intoxicants. A very careful love affair, but nonetheless.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to become the child bride of a burly biker in order to obtain things that make you feel good. Just look in your local medicine cabinet. Have you ever taken muscle relaxers on an empty stomach? Yiiiikes. Sudafed makes you feel like you are flying everywhere you go. Take melatonin tablets and Benadryl together, and thank me for the best sleep of your life. Pot is available by just about every human being that claims they are an "artist" by trade. I can legally order beer to my house right now, and it's early on a Sunday morning.

That being said, there is still a natural fear on intoxicants that looms deep in my psyche. Personally and professionally, I have watched people wither and die, or just become raging dicks, because of addiction. I have set strict limits on when, where, and how much I indulge. I am not afraid to tell someone when I am concerned for their own well-being. A good measure of this is whether or not they think dreadlocks are a good idea, or think 'Jock Jams' is a decent album.

It's a fine balance, really, between having a great time, and totally pissing off Magic Johnson. I'm old enough, and wise enough, to know now that the parliament buildings will never burn down, no matter how fucked up I get.

~sarah p.

No comments: