Since I last wrote you, my drug problem has gotten worse. It started when I read Jerry Stahl's addiction memoir Permanent Midnight, in which Stahl's escalating heroin abuse alienates his friends and wife. I don't have any friends or a significant other, so I figured that for someone like me hardcore drug abuse would have the opposite effect and make me popular.
My drug of choice thus far has been crack, which I've also started dealing on the side. In the process, I've learned the Crack Commandments. Not just the common-sense ones in that Notorious B.I.G. song, but some of the more advanced ones as well:
-When negotiating a crack deal, always ask for more than you expect to get. If you expect fifty dollars, ask for a hundred. If you expect twenty dollars, ask for fifty. If you expect to get ripped off and shot, ask if they could maybe just stab you a few times.
-One should know the difference between a buyer's and a seller's market. In a buyer's market, people are buying lots of crack. In a seller's market, they're selling their children and internal organs to buy more crack.
-When hosting a meeting of local crack dealers to hash out territories and decide what to do about that rogue cop who's been throwing crack dealers off rooftops, make sure the catering arrives fifteen minutes early.
The worst thing about crack is probably the paranoia. Last week, for instance, I was eating at Subway and saw they were getting ready to close. People who close restaurants used to be called "closers" but now they prefer "evening service specialists" and consider "closer" an offensive slur. Somehow, as I watched the two Subway employees close up shop, I got the notion that they could read my mind. My first thought was "don't think 'closer,' don't think 'closer,' don't think 'closer,'" but by then, of course, I'd already thought it three times. One of the workers gave me a piercing look, stopped what he was doing, and approached my table. I thought he was going to punch me or stab me with a knife carved from a really stale loaf of bread, but instead he just handed me some coins - I'd forgotten my change. I realized then that the whole mind-reading thing was just crack-induced paranoia. No one could read my thoughts after all! My secrets would remain mine forever!
I was surprised at how disappointed I felt.
In addiction memoirs like Permanent Midnight, there's usually a "moment of clarity" where the addict finally apprehends the full destructive scope of their addiction. I had one of those recently. I'm not talking about my addiction to drugs; I'm talking about my addiction to addiction memoirs. I've lost count of how many I've read lately. The funny thing is that the narrator's day job always fascinates me much more than their actual addiction. In Permanent Midnight by former Alf writer Jerry Stahl, I wanted to read more about Alf. In Drinking: A Love Story by former reporter Caroline Knapp, I wanted to read more about reporting. In Tilted Arc, by former vintage pinball machine restorer Al Madusky, I wanted to read more about vintage pinball machine restoration. I wanted long, fetishistic descriptions of cleaning ramps, replacing jet poppers, polishing coin slots. I wanted extensive taxonomies of every pinball machine produced by Midway between 1988 and 1992.
As my obsession with vintage pinball machine restoration increased, I became a regular at The Bumper, a pinball-machine repair shop a block from my apartment. I'd go there every day and chat with veteran pinball technicians, one of whom had helped design the legendary Addams Family pinball machine. One night, after a terrible nightmare about a broken flipper, I ran to The Bumper at 1:00 in the morning, but of course it was closed. I stopped going after that. There was something different about the place at night.
That wasn't my moment of clarity, though. That came yesterday when I discovered that Permanent Midnight is also a movie, meaning I spent hours reading a story I could've watched in 90 minutes on my television. Since then, I've been trying to read fewer books and watch more movies. I'm writing this while standing in line with a dozen other film junkies outside a forgetting pill clinic. As you know, Hollywood has stopped remaking classic movies and instead sells pills that make you forget having ever seen the original. I've pawned my TV and PS4 just to see Ghostbusters for the first time one last time.
I'm currently writing a script for a film based on my own addictions. I wanted to give it a title like Permanent Midnight only scarier. I couldn't think of a scary substitute for "permanent," so I tried to think of a time that's even scarier than midnight. The best I could come up with was 6:66, but an internet search revealed that that's not an actual time, even in military hours. I liked the idea of referencing Satan in the title, though, so I decided to call my movie "Permanent Satan," then just "Satan."
We might find we have more in common than we think if we just stop fighting long enough to combine our bodies into a singular organism.
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