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All About His So-Called Reckless Youth

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

So Son of Woodstock has come and gone, the time for anyone old enough to remember bell-bottoms to flash back on all his or her wild drug stories.

We live in a time when even our President has confessed to past drug dabbling, uneventful as that story turned out to be. With this in mind, I feel it’s high time to come clean about the secret of my own crazy hallucinogenic past:

I don’t have one.

I was allergic to marijuana. It gave me headaches. I don’t like mushrooms even on pizza, so why eat any for a good time? My sinuses are so congested, cocaine would have been a waste. And heroin? I can’t stand it when a doctor puts a needle in me, so where’s the thrill of doing it to myself?

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No, I decided early in life that drugs just weren’t for me.

At every party or night out, my friends looked at me as if I’d shown up in a leisure suit. They didn’t know what to make of the weirdo who just said no. They’d always try to get me to change my mind, but at least they didn’t seem too upset when I didn’t indulge.

That’s not to say I haven’t been affected by peer pressure. Instead of expanding my mind with chemicals, I did it by dreaming up new and interesting lies about all the drugs I’d used.

I’ve moved around a lot during the past 10 years, so the deception has been easy. In every new city I’ve had a new set of friends who knew nothing about my less-than-reckless youth.

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This left me free to make up tales, such as the one about the time in college we got so high, my friends and I slept in a graveyard.

Or the night I was so stoned, I went out into a lightning storm and tried to take pictures of the maelstrom--but forgot to take off the lens cap.

And the night before a Super Bowl Sunday when I took mushrooms with my roommate, fell into a snowbank and stayed there for an hour--trying to figure out who would win if God and Superman got into a fight.

I was the Rosie Ruiz of the drug culture. I didn’t run with the pack when they were doing their drugs. I just jumped in later to pretend that I had.

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I’d launch into a new fib every time the conversation turned to discussion of wild youth, as it often does for guys in their 30s. And every one of them worked. Instead of sounding like a wuss, I was cool. I fit in.

I’d grown up a real straight arrow, yet was always jealous of all those kids sitting in the high school parking lot, smoking pot while I was learning fun facts about logarithms. Years later, these were the people who ended up as my friends, so I figured it was imperative to appear as hip as they were.

There was just one problem. Telling stories about doing drugs is almost as addictive as doing them. And both have the same effect: Fun for a while but in the long run, a tiresome waste of brain cells.

So I’ve decided to kick the habit. As embarrassing as it is, I’ve started letting all my friends know the awful truth.

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It’s about time, really. Clean and sober is in. I’m in my mid-30s, and the drugs of choice for everyone in my peer group are the ones that clear nasal passages or ease painful itching and swelling. Boasting about past drug excesses is out of fashion. Boasting about recovering from those excesses is in.

Like any other cheap thrill, drug tales have just lost their luster. Talking about that time you made a bong out of an old toilet-paper roll is about as interesting as talking about the Grateful Dead show you grooved to back in ’83. Taking drugs used to be a way to feel young. Now, talking about them makes you feel really old.

This is the time of life to get kicks from other mood-altering substances. Like children. Many friends of mine have swapped their roach clips for diaper pins.

It’s easy to see the similarities between drugs and kids. Both can be pretty expensive if you want to do them up right. When either is bad, they can keep you up all night. And after a few years of having either around, you should be prepared to just say no quite often.

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