Last night, Graham and I found a show on TLC called “My Strange Addiction.” Normally we don’t watch TLC together because all of its shows seem to be about the morbidly obese or the morbidly procreative. Graham can’t stand really gigantic fat people and neither of us can stand Christian fundamentalists with a shitload of children, so we mostly watch the Travel Channel.
But last night I made him stop at My Strange Addiction because it had the word “addiction” in it, and I am nothing if not a superfan of Intervention. While the addictions on this show were indeed strange (like the woman who can’t sleep without her hairdryer on, which was somehow more weird than the woman who can’t stop eating toilet paper), I don’t know that I’d actually classify them as addictions. I’m as hard up for addicts as everyone else who watches TV, but I know what a real addict is. They’ve been my friends, I’m related to them. A real addict will lie and steal and start barfing in public without their substance of choice. This bitch just needed a white noise machine.
I think a lot of people get confused about the difference between an addiction and a habit. Or, even if they know the difference, they don’t care because “addiction” sounds so much more exciting than “habit.” And it is, I guess, at least if you don’t have any real experience with addiction yourself. If your adult cousin has never threatened a family get-together with a gun if someone doesn’t give him money while you pretended to be asleep in the back bedroom, then yeah, I guess “addiction” sounds pretty edgy and cool. Or if your best friend didn’t spend a year (on-and-off, but still) at an eating disorder clinic, or if you’ve spent any time listening to real addicts talk about what they used to spend all their time doing, which, trust me, it’s fucking graphic, but I didn’t ask for permission so I can’t copy it here.
If you’ve spent the past 6 years smoking crack in condemned buildings, you’re probably an addict. If you started eating toilet paper when you were in high school because you don’t know the difference between butt tissue and potato chips, I think you’re probably just mentally retarded.
Similar to (and worse than) the fake addicts are the people who actively seek out the addict lifestyle. Years ago when MySpace was still popular, I started talking to some dude on it. I know, I know. It wasn’t racy or anything, and I knew after the first time we hung out that this person was crazy and there was no way I would continue speaking to him.
First, he was short. Like, came up to my chin short.
Second, we hung out in the shitty studio apartment of his female friend, which is weird for one, but it was also in one of those giant buildings on Grand right across from the Compton Heights Water Tower. For St. Louis natives – especially South City natives – this is where morons who want to live in the City live because they think it’s cool. They don’t bother to learn anything about off-street parking or bad neighborhoods or insanely high rent for a single fucking room when so much larger and so much cheaper is available in other, less obviously cool neighborhoods. Sorry, this kind of thing just really annoys me, because it’s those exact people who get robbed and are all like, “The City is bad, waaaaaaaaa.” Shut the fuck up. Go home.
Third, these kids were rich. Like, grew up on the same street as Ozzie Smith rich. Yet they were hipsters in the worst way, which is the rich-kid-pretending-to-be-poor hipsters. They’d never been poor and still weren’t poor (almost invariably, these kinds of hipsters are still supported by their parents), but they were seeking some glamour in dirty clothes and PBR. Hey rich kids, let me tell you something you should have learned from MTV by now…poor people? Like, real poor people? The second they get money, they do everything in their power to be unpoor. Not a single rapper from a bad neighborhood stays in their housing project apartment after getting a major record deal. Why do you think that is? BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO BE POOR, you stupid fucks. There’s nothing cute or quirky about it.
Fourth, during a conversation between these two people (who had known one another for at least ten years), it came about that they had both been to clinics for heroin problems. I found it odd that they were talking about this in front of me, for starters, because I didn’t know them at all and would personally not want this information told to strangers if I were them. Second, if they already knew this fact about one another, why were they bringing it up? Third, when I asked them what caused them to develop these problems, you know, considering their backgrounds and all, you know what they said?
They saw The Basketball Diaries in elementary school and thought it “really glamorized the lifestyle.”
What. In. The. Fuck. I saw The Basketball Diaries, too. I loved the movie and the book, just like I love all my other Jim Carroll books. But I love them because he was a brilliant writer and poet, not because I think the years he spent as a heroin addict were glamorous. Not once did I read about Jim waiting for a dealer in the frigid cold or giving blowjobs to dudes on Upper Broadway and thought, “you know, that sounds really glamorous. I’d like to do everything in my power to do the exact same things!”
Because it’s one thing to try drugs. I tried it, too. Just to see what people were talking about. While that probably wasn’t the smartest decision I ever made, I also decided never to do it again. Maybe I’m lucky that I don’t have an addictive personality and therefore wasn’t compelled to do it again, and again, and again, but then maybe I just didn’t want to run the chance of becoming a real addict. And that’s exactly what these kids did. They didn’t try it once and move on. They kept doing it because it was their conscious choice to keep doing it. They were trying to become addicts. They thought that being a heroin addict, just like being poor, was cool.
Clearly I have enough of a problem with idiots, but I also have a problem with people who purposefully take their advantages and flush them down the toilet. You’re not Good Will Hunting, motherfucker, you are not smart or good-looking enough to make Robin Williams your mentor. You and the toilet paper woman and the dumb bitch who’s going to burn her house down with her hair dryer can all hang out together.