Friday, March 30, 2007

An (Unpleasent) Story

I am cranky with a capital "Grr..." today, mostly due to a bad, non-drinking related headache, but also because every single person that I've talked to on the phone thing morning has been impossibly difficult and irritating and, goddammit, DON'T THEY KNOW IT'S FRIDAY?!?!?


Sorry. Anyway, because of my general state of crankiness, and because I can't think of anything else to write about, I'm going to tell you this story:

When I was a Sophomore in High School, there was this kid, a Senior, who was a decent running back for our football team. His name was something bland, like "Mark Smith" or "Mike Jones;" a name you'd forget if you didn't write it down. He was handsome, very All-American, like Paul Walker in Varsity Blues, and he had the pretty, standard-issue Cheerleader girlfriend who rode with him every morning to school on his Kawasaki motorcycle. He wasn't the Prom King and he wasn't the President of any clubs, but he was well liked and generally considered to be an okay guy by the popular and unpopular kids alike.

The details are fuzzy as to why, exactly, but it's generally accepted as fact that, during the Christmas break of his Senior year, Mark Smith got into heroin. It's impressive, because we're talking about Arlington, Texas here; not exactly the slums of the Lower East Side. None of us at the time even really knew what heroin was, except for that those boys in Trainspotting sure seemed to get a kick out of it. To have an actual heroin user, right there in our midst... well... that was big news. Of course, we all at first thought it was the usual rumor bullshit. Sure, his grades were slipping ("plummeting" would be more accurate) and he got kicked off the football team, but c'mon... heroin? Surely you jest.

But, no. It was true. We may have been dumb hicks, but we all still knew that a person's arms aren't supposed to look like that. Open sores and ruined veins are hard to hide when they don't allow long-sleeve shirts in gym class.

The end of the year came and his class graduated. Mark Smith did not.

My Junior year was a great year for me; lots of friends, a cute girlfriend, active in the Theater Department. Parties and fun and okay grades and a brand new car. What High School is supposed to be about. I sat next to Mark Smith in my US Government class for the entire year, and the man had seen better days. Nineteen now, and no longer handsome; his teeth had gone bad, rotten, and his breath reeked of cigarettes and decay. His skin broke out too, badly, to the point where he looked like a burn victim. He wore the same clothes every day; a Pearl Jam t-shirt, greasy, black jeans and a pot-leaf medallion necklace. He never talked.

One day, he wasn't there and then he wasn't there ever again that year. We all assumed he'd died.

Finally, I was a Senior. Not as good a time as my Junior year because a lot of my friends had graduated, but not too bad. I had the lead in the school's huge Fall production of Young Frankenstein, the Gene Wilder part, and that was definitely the highlight. I was ready to get out of there, that was for damn sure. During the first week of school, it was being whispered that Mark Smith was back, clean and sober. When I finally saw him, he looked okay. Acne-scarred, but with a haircut and some new clothes. He always looked at his feet when he walked and not a single person I knew had actually spoken with him. "Good for him," was the general consensus. He's trying to get his life back and that's awesome.

It wasn't until mid-year that the full story came out. There had been an overdose the year before. A coma. Brain damage. He was now functionally retarded and he probably wouldn't graduate this year, though he was certainly giving it his all.

When graduation day came, his name was, again, not called. Mine, however, was and off I went to Austin, then to New York, then to L.A., then finally back to New York. I'm here now and, from what I understand (local gossip still runs hot, even after all these years), he's in a special home now.

He still has not finished his senior year.



Blogger lioux said...

They don't allow long-sleeve shirts in gym class?

1:39 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

How did the production of Young Frankenstein go?

1:39 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Lioux... Not in the gym class I had, no. Also, it was Texas in the Spring, which is quite warm.

Jeff... It was a rousing success, actually. We had a suprisingly good theater department back in the day and, if I do say so myself, everything about the production was top notch.

1:42 PM  
Blogger lioux said...

I Love, Love, Love Young Frankenstein®™©™!

It's one of my favorite movies.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Braden said...

I didn't realize my graduating class was so comparatively boring. I thought I hung out with you lower-classmen because I was a drama nerd, but it turns out I just wanted a slice of the incredibly tragic action.

Spring Break '99!

2:16 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Yeah, we were a cry-a-minute.


2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Private schools suck! I want good stories about hard drug users! I knew a few kids who drank beer and smoked cigarettes... so suck on that!!!!!

3:15 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Dude, do you remember in Junior High when those two kids got kicked out for dropping acid in the boys bathroom? I... can't remember their names, but I remember one of them got expelled and the other didn't.

3:17 PM  
Blogger lioux said...

I dropped acid once in science class.

I think it was sulfuric.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...


3:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This may be a weird statement but I have always wanted to try heroin, but of course never will. I First of all the who concept of injecting a drug is repulsing and of couse for reasons you described above. I am curious what it makes you feel like... I mean for it to be that addictive it has to be some feeling.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

I understand that. I've always been curious about acid, but I've also always been too much of a pussy to actually try it.

Still... you don't get the good, quality hallucinations with plain ol' booze.

3:57 PM  
Blogger d said...

i've always wanted to try it too. though the thought of it scares the bejeesuz out of me.

i mean, i can't quit my addiction to diet coke and cheez-its, i can only imagine what heroin would do to me.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

What about Absynthe? Its supposed to be like a booze drug. I was in London two months ago and meant to try it but just never got around to it.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Beehive Hairdresser said...

I smell a payoty (sp?) party being planned through ZFS blog.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

d... Word. Money's also an issue with me; them good drugs is pricey.

Jeff... I've always meant to try Absinthe too, but it's always seemed like a way big hassle.

Beehive... Bad Beehive!!! Oh, and it's "peyote."

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried absynthe once... but I think it was some crappy "legal version". I think they just took some Zima, dyed it neon green and put a little fairy on the bottle. Not the hallucinagenic experience I was looking forward to.

I hear mushrooms are pretty cool and they're organic!

4:50 PM  
Blogger Irish and Jew said...

I dont know, sometimes doing all the drugs in h.s. is a good idea.

My brother is 6 years older than me and was a drug user and dealer through high school. Thanks to him i smoked pot and got drunk in 6th grade, did shrooms in 7th, angel dust and acid in 8th, pcp in 9th. Then after like 10th grade i didn't do any drugs anymore, i was just sort of over it. (Except for a brief addiction to coke in college)

And I drank absynth in amsterdam a couple years ago, it was ok.

But i really suggest getting all that drug stuff out of the way in high school so you dont fuck up your adult life. FYI in high school I managed to be in all the plays and musicals, do competitive cheerleading and be all county in softball as well as being a recreational drug user.

So basically what i'm saying is that i'm awesome and everyone else sucks :)

love, Jew

5:38 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Scott... Yeah, to get the full Absinthe effect, you've got to get it from overseas and it's a huge-ass hassle. Not worth it.

Jew... Sounds like you'd have been fun to know back in the day. As for me, I stuck exclusively to alcohol in my High School days. It was the easiest to get ahold of, for one thing.

10:12 AM  

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