Personal experience shows me that I can’t very well exist in a state of being that’s all about self-medication. A medicated state of being that may be prescribed, may be legal. It’s not really “self-medication”, that. The self-medicated take it upon themselves to prescribe medicinal treatment though legal or illegal means. Or both. I put the pills into my headhole myself, thus it’s “self-medication”. But the medication’s been prescribed by a licensed physician for a specific reason, as part of a specific treatment of a certain ailment. How I function throughout my given day and night is dependent upon this medication and my ability to take it when I’m supposed to and how I’m supposed to and- Though the success of my treatment – in my case, for epileptic seizures – depends upon my ability to exist in a state of being of perpetual medication, administered by myself, I’m not- I don’t enjoy the- I don’t enjoy it. The state. The process. Being medicated. Any more than I enjoy the affliction it treats. It affects everything I do, is responsible for a large part of everything I don’t do.
I see or hear of someone living under the influence of shit they needn’t be on and I-
Why. Why do you do that, man? Why do that to yourself? When you don’t have to? I ask these questions not knowing the man’s pain, of course. Or woman. It can be a woman. It very likely is a woman. Why are you doing this?
The fact is, you’ve gotta include everything of an intoxicant into the answer to these questions. Anything that fills a hole, fills something that’s missing in someone’s soul. Anything that adds a little more pep when that ass is draggin’. So you come back with not just some kind of drug but alcohol. Sex. Food. The Internet. Books. TV. Work. Coffee. There’s a lot of real estate to cover in the answer. When you include these things with the specific ill that each of these things inflicts upon a person. Any person.
My antiseizure meds kind of fuck me up. But they’ve done no more harm than me than food has when I’ve used it to take the place of love that’s missing or to make up for what I went without in younger times. Passive entertainment has cushioned me against the pain of living through loneliness. Boredom. Caffeinated drinks keep me going when I can’t sleep (and contribute to the next evening’s sleeplessness, contributing to a vicious circle of sleeplessness and pepped beverages and more sleeplessness and more pepped beverages and so on). And the Internet. It’s often a convenient surrogate to life in general. Interpersonal communication, entertainment – anything that can’t be physically pumped into one’s body, the Internet’s got it. And we keep coming back to it. When we’ve become so empty inside that it’s our fun. Our social life. Do we really need chemicals, as well? To get us along?
Sometimes, yes. I think we do. My drug of choice is a nice girly drink. Fruity and fun, with a big garnish on it. I like a beer, too, but they don’t make my favorite, anymore. Tequiza. Remember Tequiza? Anheuser-Busch’s lager with agave nectar? And a hint of lime? For awhile, you could get, from your local distributor, packets of Tequiza-branded lime-flavored salt in case you needed a bigger hint. And it gave the impression of a tequila-themed drink. That was a good-ass beer. “A little girly,” some warned me. Perfect.
When I was a kid in my late teens and early twenties, I was a stick and just hearing the top of a beer pop off sent me into a buzz. Maybe the uncontrollable heaves, even. Usually both. I was a cunt. But, as I aged, I put on a tremendous amount of weight that has not only protected me from not being able to drink without getting sick, it’s allowed me to drink more. And recover quicker. In almost every example of a soaked outing, I had to get up for work within two or three hours of staggering home. And I performed my job wonderfully the next day, as I’d also learned to keep my body full of food and water while out on my boogie.
My current treatment for epilepsy prevents me from “enjoying” nights like those. I rarely – if ever – partake in the dread alcohol. Of any variety, manly or otherwise. I, recall, prefer the otherwise. But there’s always somebody who insists you solidify your bond of friendship with them with a gad-damned shot. A shot of anything. Depends on the company you’re keeping. Shots are usually manly drinks and being that, I loathe them. I did my time in my college years trying to butch myself up with bottles of tequila and vodka and even chugged a bottle of – gag – Scotch; I needn’t prove myself to anyone, now.
“C’mon! Have a shot of Crown with me!”
What you’ll typically find me imbibing is some manner of tea. There are nine-hundred varieties of tea in this house and my favorite is regular-ol’ fucking Lipton in a gad-damned teabag. I make no apologies for it. I also enjoy Bigelow “Plantation Mint”. Keep any other kind of mint-flavored tea away from me. I assure you I’ll hate it. I take either one hot and sweet and sometimes with milk (not the “Plantation Mint”, however, with the milk). They are like liquid candy to me on the one hand and on the other, liquid aspirin. I can have the worst headache and I’ll space the aspirin almost every time in favor of a nice cup of tea. I swear the shit works.
Other guilty pleasures? Milk. Plain-ol’ cow’s milk. Chocolate milk, too. And sometimes buttermilk. For when I’ve got that really deep hole in my soul that needs soothing. And Coca-Cola. In a classic glass bottle. Which means it’s made with real sugar. The Mexicans know how to cater to both my weakness for American nostalgia and the taste of sugar over – gag – corn syrup. Which some fucks are trying to call “corn sugar”, now.
Oh, man. Remember buying Coke in glass bottles out of vending machines in this fading republic? Sitting on a bench, somewhere, clutching a bottle of Coke, listening to real “Rock & Roll” on a shitty transistor radio while eating a hot dog, the scent of onion rings deep-frying in the shack behind you, neon lights crackling on a vintage sign above your head? That’s America, my friend.
I’ll never get those days back any more than Jay Gatsby can recapture his past. Any more than those kids from “American Graffiti” can stretch one last night of their high school years into forever. Any more than-
Any more than I can look through a list of names on Facebook and make those names be the people I used to know, so many years ago.
I think that some of the people I know who crawl into some easy chair or onto some sofa in some dimly-lit room to spark up or shoot up might be looking for the America they knew or some long-ago love they knew and maybe each time I shove another cheeseburger down my gullet, I’m trying to replace one or the other or both with something tangible, if only temporary. So the burgers have to keep coming and coming and coming. Like the smoke for some. Or the junk.
I was going to write something about that final scene in “American Graffiti”, when Richard Dreyfuss’ plane takes off and he’s looking down, out through the window, and spots that “T”-Bird cruising along a farm road below.
I’m still trying to get at that girl in the “T”-Bird. Among other ghostly things. In spite of everything that went through my head when I was at that radio station, being schooled by Wolfman Jack as he was sucking on Popsicle after Popsicle, trapped in that booth.
“I love you, Curt…” Suzanne Somers coos over the payphone at Mel’s Drive-In.
But she would never tell him her name.
I put her into my system four times a day. Two 200 milligram pills, once every six hours. I stuff her into my mouth, I pipe her into my ears, I spike my mind with her image constantly. I could never get onto that plane.
That’s not fair. I’d have had to have those pills, anyway. But the rest of it. The rest of it. The rest of it is my fault.
I see these people whining about the monkeys on their backs, these monkeys in the darkness of some seedy room in which they do their shit, and I say, “Fuck you. Nobody did this to you. You did it to yourself.”
“To yourself,” I remind me. In queue to board the plane.
“Don’t leave the queue. Stay in line.”