Cigarettes: I’ve tried smoking a couple times, but it never clicked with me like other people. Veteran smokers would watch me inhale and say, “It’s not a breathalyzer test. Don’t suck on it like a helium balloon. You don’t need to puff out your cheeks like a chipmunk. Have you ever seen someone smoke? Like on TV?” Then I’d say, “This cigarette’s broken.” The first time I ever smoked was at a creek down by my house with my friend Jillian, and I was disappointed cigarettes weren’t the roller coaster ride of fun I’d been led to believe by John Constantine. Jillian, on the other hand, subsequently struggled with an addiction to cigarettes for years and years. Dodged that bullet. Sometimes, though, I’ll hold a dumdum sucker like a cigarette, and, for a moment, imagine I’m Jon Hamm at a business meeting. I’ll put the sucker in my mouth and think, “I hope someone challenges me to a fight right now because I’m feeling so badass!”
Plus when you smoke, you have to deal with a constant barrage of disdain from every direction. People you’ve never met before will come up and, apropos of nothing, say, “Hey, you know that’s bad for you? There was like a study and stuff.” And, hey, why shouldn’t your fellow citizens express concern? You’re slowly killing yourself in public. If I cut my wrists with a rusty razor blade in public, and someone says, “Hey, you know if you keep cutting, eventually you’ll bleed to death,” I can’t respond with “Oh, I’m just a social cutter. You know, like bars and parties.”
Then there are all the other nicotine junkies who beg for cigarettes because, despite being ten bucks a pack, cigarettes are still treated like bubble gum — you can’t say no to a solicitation without seeming like an asshole. I don’t smoke, and I still get the occasional weirdo all up in my security bubble, asking for the precious. I can’t imagine the swarms of strangers who would mob me if I, say, fiddled with a lighter in a bar. To be fair, some smokers tell me they like being asked for cigarettes because they get to meet new people; it’s like they’re in a big club with cool eccentric members like Tom Waits and Hunter S. Thompson. Not me. I don’t like clubs, societies, communities, or groups of any shape or form, and I especially don’t like meeting new people (he said as he crawled away into his dark cave in the Misty Mountains). No, this is not the drug for me.
Marijuana: Other people become relaxed and passive after smoking pot, but not me. For me, it amplifies all of my worst neuroses to critical levels. One time, I arrived at a party at my friend’s house and discovered an enormous tray of brownies — oh my, do I have an abiding passion for brownies, cake’s hot overweight sister. If I have one substance abuse problem it’s in regard to chocolate in all its various forms and varieties. I devoured two or three brownies in seconds before someone finally said, “Wow, I only had half of one, and I’m pretty stoned.” “Half of what?” I asked through jowls bulging with gnashed up brownie bits. Once again, I had been bamboozled by brownie-love. Just as my psyche began its descent into pure anxiety driven insanity, a cavalcade of high school classmates I had not seen in years arrived through the door. All of the people I least wanted to see at that exact moment, all at once, surrounding me, and I’m saturated with a substance that turns my normal everyday self-consciousness up to a deafening fever pitch.
Alcohol: Whenever I drink — and even the smallest amount of alcohol will initiate this — I get out my phone and begin composing emotionally revealing texts to people who absolutely do not wish to receive them. I become certain these people would like to know how I really feel about them, whether that’s love, hate, or vague hunger for burritos. There’s no stopping this. I know what I’m doing is wrong, is embarrassing, is damaging to my reputation as a reasonable non-creepy person (this may or may not be my actual reputation), but still I find myself typing into my phone things like, “Listen, I don’t think you should marry him.”
Mushrooms/Salvia/Acid: Lots of people I know have tried hallucinogens and enjoyed them, but I expend enough effort dealing with this frame of consciousness; I don’t need one with giant spiders and liquid carpet whales. It doesn’t help that friends who try mushrooms say things like, “It’s completely changed the way I think.” That’s what an optimistic victim of brain damage says. That what the man who just inserted a yeerk into his ear says. The worst is when I express my reservations, saying, “I don’t want to do that because there’s a small possibility it will drive me insane and also I don’t know where this comes from. It might kill me.” These friends will inevitably say one of the stupidest things I always hear from the habitual drug user: “It’s from the earth. Everything that comes from the ground is good for you.” Everything? Well, except arsenic, poison ivy, trapdoor spiders, sandworms, zombies, the giant robots from War of the Worlds, and, oh yeah, poisonous ass mushrooms. The people presenting me with these substances aren’t pharmacists or botanists — they’re sweaty men in ponchos with Hagrid style facial hair. No, I don’t want to see your abstract expressionist art! Why do you have three rabbits in the living room? Why does it smell like burnt hair in here?
Heroin: Do you know how fast heroin would kill me? Regular people, after a few months of heroin, are reduced to pale dead-eyed skeletons. Now imagine what would happen to me, a person who’s already a pale dead-eyed skeleton. It would be like watching time-lapse footage of a dead fox melting away into the soil, leaving only some tiny bones and a happy maggot colony. And do not say William S. Burroughs to me. The only reason he lived so long was due to his use of orgone chambers, magick, cat love, and a lifelong commitment to immortality.
Also, the heroin high is, so I’ve heard, possibly the greatest euphoria the human brain is capable of experiencing. All those joys I work so hard to attain — finishing a non-crappy article, kissing a lady, eating expensive Whole Foods chocolate — are little more than a light head rub in comparison to the explosive brain orgasm of the heroin high. What exactly is your motivation to quit that? How can you tell someone they should go back to backbreaking toil for fleeting moments of slight gratification? No sir, I read Infinite Jest. I shall have none of that business.
Meth/Cocaine: I can never try these because I’m certain I would love them. I already love energy drinks and coffee in unreasonably high doses. Seems like it wouldn’t be a huge leap. I love Breaking Bad, being hyper, and Fun Dip. All the pieces are in place. In fact, I sometimes imagine diving into a bathtub of Fun Dip like a Lisa Frank painting of a pale dolphin jumping into a rainbow. All of these traits seem like prerequisites for the terminal meth/cocaine addict.