To be sure, being grounded for a month after being busted with weed was a drag. But the hair that my parents cut off began to grow back, as did my hunger for the adrenal reality of post-adolescent mischief.
The song, “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis was high on the charts throughout April of 1996. Oasis was a band that rode on the back of what could have been the twentieth consecutive wave of Beatlemania that happened after the Fab Four hit the charts. I liked what they were doing, but then heard that lead man Noel Gallagher thought that “his band’s first album was better than the first put out by music legends THE BEATLES, THE WHO and THE ROLLING STONES.” (http://www.contactmusic.com/news/gallagher-my-debut-was-better-than-the-beatles_1013583) I felt this statement to be so deeply offensive, that I decided to boycott Oasis. I wrote their name on a piece of paper and taped it to my bedroom wall with a circle around it and a line through it.
My room was becoming quite the rock n’ roll shrine. It contained pictures of Jimi Hendrix playing at Woodstock, it had myriad photographs of John Lennon and the Beatles, it had a poster of the Who from the 1980’s that contained an ad for “Schlitz Beer”. These posters replaced all my half naked photographs of women. Looking back I still can’t believe some of the things my parents let me get away with. But making moral, ethical decisions wasn’t something on my radar until years later. And it’s still not natural for me to make those decisions, but rather the Spirit of God that compels me towards them.
I may not have been able to leave my house regularly since being grounded for a month when caught with dope, but I did find creative ways to keep my marijuana habits regular. I had kept acquaintances with one of Percy’s good friends, Damien. He was regularly into the use of dope and was starting to dip into the world of psychadelics. My parents thought they were monitoring me well, and I convinced them to drop me off early for school so I could get caught up on homework. Really, I was meeting with Damien and smoking pot behind a set of canoes that were not far away from Hudson High School in Ohio. We would meet on these cool spring mornings, with a layer of dew kissing the blades of grass on the ground. We’d smoke pot through a pop can, poking holes in the center and crushing the middle of it, and sucking the smoke through the open drinking hole. He would bring cigarettes filled with marijuana also. He managed to get me high before school on a good number of days.
I would buy marijuana in small amounts from Damien, and take it home. My parents didn’t get home from work until 5pm and I’d be home off of the bus by 3:30pm. I’d always have an hour or so to smoke weed on my own, through pop cans or whatever I could find. Sometimes drug buddies would come home with me for an hour and leave before my “rents” got back.
I learned the trick of using eye drops as well. I would put them into my beet-red eyes, which would always be the side effect of smoking pot, and they would turn my eyes white. I would spray cologne on before my parents’ got home. As far as they knew, I was making quite the turn-around. But I was pretty sure I had them fooled.
One day I was stoned at school, and it was gym class time. At this point I still had shaggy, long hair and was becoming as skinny as a rail from continued use of cigarettes, dope and a steady diet of strong black coffee. I would normally skip lunch and use substances to stave off my hunger. The gym teacher “Mr. Norman” used to call Duane, Mitchell and I “Rock n’ Rollies”. Especially me, because the only sport I was engaging in at the time was running sprints from school authorities and testing my lung capacity with various types of toxic smoke. Mr. Norman always made fun of me for my inability to run more than one lap around a track without getting winded, and my knack for only performing 3 push-ups before collapsing to the ground.
We were playing “Broomball” a fun gym class game this day, and I was high enough to be making quite a spectacle of myself. I began running backwards and cracking jokes, mocking the foolishness of the game. Kurt Bartmann was a short kid who happened to be tying his shoes on his knees behind me as I was running backwards. I ran backwards right into him and tripped over him like modern version of Donald Duck in the old Disney cartoons. But this was no cartoon- I landed straight on my wrist and heard a loud “SNAP”!!
The next thing I knew I was in Mr. Norman’s office. “Hey Joe, you see this Rock n’ Rollie’s wrist? Twisted up like a pretzel eh? You ever seen an injury like that Joe, huh?” Mr. Norman was commenting, making a spectacle of my severe injury to his jockey, meat-lovers pizza eating friends. Mr. Norman had a killer tanning bed tan. He ran 5 miles every morning at 4:30 am. He was 53 years old and could beat up most 20 year olds. All I knew is I was in severe pain.
I was taken to the emergency room by my Mom. After 2 hours of waiting in the emergency room for the deeply competent hospital to see to my wrist- which looked as if it was slanted in an unnatural 45 degree angle, they treated my ailment. They put an x-ray on my wrist and put my fingers into 5 metal Chinese-fingertraps that made up an iron claw. They pricked my wrist with a shot, numbing it with some sort of anesthesia. They then strapped my upper arm down and cranked the iron claw up, blasting my bones back into place. I was still coming off of the high, and was numb from that as well, so my Mom was surprised that I reacted so calmly to the seriously painful situation (though I did let out a little yell when they snapped my wrist).
They then sent me home with another big mistake for a kid of my addictive nature. They gave me a big bottle of pink pills labeled “Darvocet”, and told me to take them for my pain.
The next week I was off school, with a glow in the dark cast on, recovering from my pain. My parents were lenient with my grounding and allowed friends over to see me as I was laying around. I entered into the haze of these little pink Darvocet pills. They were tremendously strong and gave me a doped up feeling that I looked forward to. I learned from someone that crushing them up and snorting them would have a more impactful effect, so I did that a few times. Occasionally I would get a bit of weed from a friend and combine it with the Darvocet, putting me into a whole new high I hadn’t experienced before.
As I recovered from my broken wrist and floated on in a haze of Dextropropoxyphene (the active ingredient in Darvocet), nicotine and THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), I was being set up for release from school. It would be the summer of my 9th Grade year.
As “Pretty Noose” by Soundgarden, and “Counting Blue Cars” by Dishwalla blasted on the radio waves and audio tracks behind vivid images on MTV, I was heading into my first 3 months of total wreckless abandonment as a young party-hungry miscreant. I didn’t even catch the lyrical message of the Cranberries anthem “Salvation”, which foreshadowed brighter days to come.
To all those people doin’ lines,
Don’t do it, don’t do it.
Inject your soul with liberty,
It’s free, it’s free.
To all the kids with heroin eyes,
Don’t do it, don’t do it.
Because it’s not not what it seems,
No no it’s not not what it seems.
Salvation, salvation, salvation is free.
Salvation, salvation, salvation is free.