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Excerpts from

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Breathe. Just breathe.

I don’t know if someone’s telling me that or if I’m telling myself. I’m sure people are still in the room with me, but I’m oblivious. I’ve just survived one of the most awful experiences a human being can go through and I’m completely out of sorts. I didn’t black out during the procedure, which undoubtedly made it worse, but I am in a daze. It was all so surreal.

Did that just happen?

The soreness of my throat tells me yes, it did just happen. You tried to kill yourself by overdosing on your psych meds, you called 911 and they took you to the emergency room to pump your stomach.

What now?

I had told someone along the way to notify my parents and, now I get a call in the emergency room and talk to my dad first.

“Hey, pal.”

“Oh my God, Dad. I’m so sorry.”

“Hey, don’t be. I’m just glad you’re alive. How ya holdin’ up?”

“I’m pretty fucking exhausted. That shit was pretty awful.”

“Yeah, I can imagine. Bet it’ll make you think twice about doing that again.”

Yeah, Dad, next time I won’t call 911. I better come up with a more suitable response.

“Yeah, I don’t wanna go through that again.”

“Well, I’m sure your mom will be calling soon. I think she’s gonna come up there.”

“I know Dad, thanks.”

“OK, son. I’ll let you get some rest and I’ll talk to you soon. I love you.”

“Love you, too, Dad.”

I am overcome with guilt and remorse. I still don’t feel bad that I almost took my own life. Mostly I feel like a piece of shit for almost robbing my parents of their youngest child. I didn’t realize at the time – or even for a while after – that suicide is one of the most selfish acts a person can commit. It was all about me. I wanted to die. No one else wanted me to.

Uncle Hank

Most of the time when I ate a large dosage of opiates I was smart enough to eat a little food beforehand. But one night I ate five and went to bed on an empty stomach. The next morning I took 15 to school with me and planned to ration them out so I would have a stellar day. But one thing I would learn about being an addict is that trying to hold on to drugs and not use them all at once is just pissin’ in the wind.

When I arrived in my first period class I had eaten a few pills and the buzz was starting to kick in. But that was just an appetizer. I stepped out of class to go the bathroom and I kept eating them until they were all gone. Once you pop you can’t stop. With the pills from the previous night still in my system and no food in my stomach, it all hit me like a ton of bricks.

First period wasn’t even over before I started to get that opiate itch. I couldn’t help but scratch all over my neck and face even though it was a telltale sign. A couple of my classmates intensified my fixation by scratching themselves to fuck with me. I told them what I had done and they were dumbstruck.

That was the kind of people I associated with. It was no longer the friends from the talented and gifted classes. Some of them were using drugs at that point, but none of them hung out with the miscreants that I called a crew. All of my old buddies were choosing colleges for the next year and I didn’t even know if I would graduate high school. I didn’t need a formal education to do what I wanted to do anyway. It was a simple plan: Sell dope for a few years and invest the profit in a legitimate business.

My first order of business, however, was surviving the day.

I managed to get through the next two classes before the shaking and the sweating became too noticeable. By the time I hit fourth period I looked like death. I was peaked and I could not stop twitching for the life of me. One of my friends asked me if I was on heroin. Close enough. Then the bathroom started screaming at me again.

I ran out of class and darted down the hall only to find those particular bathrooms off limits because of maintenance. I turned around and tried to make my way to the other end of the hall, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The trash can in front of me was as good a place as any, so I unleashed my fury. As I looked up and wiped my mouth on my sleeve I saw a pretty girl staring at me in bewilderment.

“Don’t ask.”

I don’t know if I thought those words or actually vocalized them, but the message was clear. She looked like she didn’t want to know anyway.

For some reason I went back to class to get my stuff and tried to trudge through the rest of the day at school. My last class was with a teacher I had at the reject school who loved me to death, so I wasn’t disturbed once as I slept through the entire period. It was more like a coma. When I came to I had my mom pick me up and I told her I had food poisoning. I think the only reason she believed me was because she so desperately needed to maintain some shred of serenity in her life.

Deliverance in Cancun

Any time is a good time for a drink in Cancun. When we arrived in Mexico and hopped on the bus to the hotel at 9:30 a.m., the hospitality crew immediately began serving ice cold Corona. Fuckin’ A! I never much cared for waiting on alcohol. I didn’t understand why it was OK with all my stoner friends to get blunted in the morning, but having beer and cocktails for breakfast meant you needed some serious help. But I was on vacation, and that was all the excuse I needed. Not that I ever really needed one.

We made it to the hotel and I already had a few cervezas under my belt. Then it was time for the real shit. Corona and Tequila shot. Corona and Tequila shot. Corona and Tequila shot. Gone. My last memory of that first day was from the early afternoon with me getting my hair braided under a gazebo. The next day I woke up in my hotel room bed covered in sand with a furious headache and the lingering fear of why my ass was throbbing.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t Deliverance goes to Cancun. As horrible as the experience was, I can laugh about it now. Like I said, the Mexican combo of beer and grain alcohol was working a little too well for me and I reached oblivion before the day even got started. The reports the following day were at once hilarious and frightening:

Apparently Walter and Jason found a huge rock near the shore from which to leap into the ocean. In my stupor I stumbled upon another rock that wasn’t as close to the water, but I was no less determined to take the plunge. The sand welcomed my feet rather harshly, and because of the slickness of the surface I slipped straight onto my ass. That explained my sore posterior and alleviated any fear that I had been butt-raped on my summer vacation.

Jason carried me into my room and tried with all his might to force me to take a shower before I got in bed, but it was to no avail. The next day I sat in bed in morbid reflection for several hours before I dared to leave the room and hear everyone regale me with anecdotes of my comical antics. I solemnly swore to myself in that hotel room that I would never drink again. I had embarrassed myself before and I thought I almost died from alcohol poisoning on one occasion, but that culmination of events left me at an impasse in my drinking career.

The picture of me lying face down in the tide was reassurance enough. I was a sloppy drunk, and if someone hadn’t seen me to drag me out of the water I could have drowned. Alcohol could have been the death of me, and after all that I could think of several better ways to end my life. Besides, I always had pot, and that was harmless. Fuck booze. I would never drink again. Ever …

I got wasted that night.

And the next.

I had to face it: Booze had me by the balls. Just about every other drug I put in my body affected me in a similar manner, but not to the extent of alcohol. I knew that any time I drank too much I blacked out and underwent a disturbing metamorphosis from a pleasant, affable young man to a jaded, cantankerous old son of a bitch. My friends would say, “Why don’t you just stop before you black out?” They had no idea.