The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ice Storm

Watch your step.

It's commonly said that the pressures of the presidency cause the occupants of the office to age prematurely. For example Bill Clinton entered the White House at the peak of a boyish middle-age and left needing heart by-pass surgery. A similar aging has occurred to President Bush. Here is the official photo of Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.

This picture was taken last month.

Last night a small snowstorm crept through the Valley. Around dawn the temperature rose and turned the snow into rain. The result was pretty to the eye but treacherous to the foot, as I discovered as I walked to the bus stop in Northampton.

The situation was no better when I arrived in downtown Amherst.

Along the sidewalk I spotted this Valentine someone had lost which had been trampled in the snow and ice.

There's a metaphor of my love life in their somewhere, but I don't want to think about it.

I thought I might drop in on Miss Emily to photograph how the icestorm had transformed her gravesite, but found that the gate had been blocked by the snow plows.

It was just as well that I did not do too much walking, as my classic Conz with their rubber soles were slip sliding all over the place.

However, I made it safely to UMass and have survived to blog again. Today my topic is my latest raid on the public treasury in the form of some expensive dental work that will soon be done. It looks like I'm going to lose the last of my real teeth and finally go fully to dentures. Since the taxpayers will be paying for this, I want the dentures molded out of white gold.

Just kidding. Actually I am very grateful for all the welfare benefits I am receiving and will try to repay them someway, at the very least through becoming a productive member of society again and paying taxes. I used to frown on all welfare, arrogantly thinking that it was something that I would never need, but God has rightly slapped me down to teach me a needed lesson in humility.

Anyway, dental work always means pain, and as a recovering drug addict this presents special issues for me. For example, it may be dangerous for me to take common pain medications.

Years ago I was addicted to Percocet (above) as a result of pain arising from one of the car accidents I had on my way to losing my license to drive. At first it had little effect on me except to relieve the pain.

One pill makes you larger
and one pill makes you small,
but the ones that mother gives you
don't do anything at all.

Over time however I found that the little white pills would erupt in my consciousness like softly exploding pillows whose beautiful feathers would settle to calm and conceal all that concerned me. I became very mellow and wanted to sit around all day. Everything seemed interesting no matter how banal. William Burroughs once claimed to have spent an entire day staring at the toe of his shoe. Anyone who has had experience with opiates understands perfectly why he did that.

Real trouble developed when my prescriptions ran out and I had to get more. Thank God I have a fear of needles or I might have slipped into the horror show world of the blood rituals. Still I wanted more opiates, and became quite desperate for it, unwilling to listen to those who were advising me to just endure the withdrawals and be done with it.

And if you go chasing rabbits
And they say you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking character
has given you
The Call.
He called Alice, when she was quite small.

The pills were available on the black market but were very expensive. This was in the 1980's and I was living in Northampton. As part of trying to score the illegal pills I became aware of a weird scene that surrounded the parking lot of the bus station. There were men, all older guys, who used to sit there in the cars and just wait. What they were waiting for was for young guys like me to go up to them and get in their cars. If you let them go down on you, they would pay you. You didn't have to do anything else, just sit there, let them suck you off, take their money and leave. It was possible to make a lot of money that way.

Strangely enough the guys who got paid that way did not consider themselves gay. In fact they had nothing but contempt for the guys who paid them, they just considered it part of what you had to do to get the drugs you need. The whole thing struck me as totally pathetic, and I refused to have anything to do with it. But just the fact that my affair with Percocet was leading me to come into contact with such a scene was the warning I needed to get out of that addiction before I found myself trapped into selling myself in the bus station parking lot. After a miserable few days of withdrawal, I was free of the Percocets.

Since then I've gotten painkillers for various things, mostly dental work, and never again did I become endangered with getting hooked. But my recent misfortunes make me more wary and distrustful of my own addictive tendencies, and my inability to control them, so I've made up my mind.

When the time comes during my dental work for the dentist to write me up a script, I'm gonna say, "No thanks Doc, just make mine Tylenol."


GeneH said...

I was prescribed low dosage Percocet after a motorcycle accident this summer. I always knew I was hyper-sensitive to OTC painkillers, and Percocet followed the pattern. They made me quite giddy, and my antics were pretty entertaining to my boss and I. It was only when the pain started subsiding that I had a moment where I realized I was reaching for the pill bottle for the wrong reason. That may seem like the tiniest bit of self-reflection/control, but for me it went a long way towards helping mentally prepare myself for some of the taxing past few months I've had. I know I can't speak from the vantage of someone who's gone through a complete cycle of addiction, but I certainly hope that what you and others have written help people stop at that first step.

I am a bit jealous though; during my years of nasty dental work, I never even got offered any of the good stuff! Good luck, I don't wish a bloody-gauze-filled mouth on even my worst enemies.

Tim said...


Those before and after pictures of Bush are amazing. That recent one is just terrible. He looks in need of a shave and it looks like sleep as well. They almost remind me of mug shots I've seen of addicts who progressively get more hideous looking. Still though, having just turned 50, I'm not a big fan of digging out pictures of myself 10 yrs. ago either. Nothing good can come from that.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting new Dentures. Welcome to old age!

My Father got his at 21 yrs old. Uppers out one day, lowers the next. He also had Rickets. (Rickets is usually the result of a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is consumed through a proper diet and produced by the body with adequate exposure to sunlight) I used to tell him he was in the dark about a lot of things!

But I still have 6 teeth of my own. 5 on the bottom, one upper. I'm on my 3rd set of dentures and I went to an "Illegal Lab" for them. $350.00, not the $2,500.00 the Dentist wanted. I just tell the guy to make sure they are "Dishwasher Safe". (Just kidding) But you won't have anymore toothaches. That's a blessing. And you can bite into icecream without pain. And I'm sure you have thought of a good reason of your own that I don't need to explain!

And I really don't think anyone will hold it against you for Welfare. That's what it is for, temporary help. Not 3rd generation Career Welfare recipients. And besides, it's Massachusetts! With the cost of living there, more than less will be using it soon. Like the State Lottery that was supposed to be the "Cure All" of all Fiscal woes, now the Devil will be looking at the Casino's in the same light. But use it. That's what it's there for.

I read with interest about your use of Percoset. My Dr writes Prescriptions of Vallium & Vicoden for 100 each! Vicoden has one refill, Vallium zero. But she will write me a new script anytime I ask. There have been times because of my Arthritis pain that I need both to fall asleep. 7.50 of Vicidin, 15 mgs of Vallium, a Lyrica for Restless leg syndrome, and there are times I lie there for another hour. So most of the time I don't bother to take anything but Lyrica, because my legs drive me crazy. I seem to be immuned to pain killers. Usually around 3 Am if I'm still awake I'll take a couple Vallium. Good thing I don't get addicted easily, because my Dr sure makes it as easy as she can for me. But the last time I asked for a refill, I brought her the outdated pills, most still in the bottle. So she trusts me. Boy could I make money on these meds if I was foolish enough to risk it.

I'm glad your Brother John is doing so well. He has had some really bad luck lately and deserves something positive for a change. Take care, glad to see you have chosen the right road, the one to recovery. Stay strong, life can be tough enough even when you do the right thing.