I have had some significant coincidences in my recovery.
When I was a patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital I was being thrown out or discharged because I was found with an empty Bacardi Rum bottle under my sink.
I was in a locked psychiatric ward and after being detoxified for five weeks they, the staff, let me wander to the gift shop.
I snuck out and bought a 1/4 pint of Bacardi. When I snuck back in, I mixed it with some Ginger Ale. Now I bought this bottle from the corner liquor store that had bulletproof glass in downtown Baltimore.
I was wearing a hospital gown with jeans. I had to keep the hospital band on my wrist. I am sure I wasn’t the first patient to sneak out and purchase booze.
Previously, I should say that I had come from Zimbabwe in Africa and been placed in this psychiatric hospital for what was bound to be an unsuccessful attempt to get better, that is, cured, but my cunning mind said that what I wanted was a geographical cure.
The situation that I had left was one of desperation. My Wellconal connection was gone, meaning the two or three doctors I was scamming were not writing me any more scripts, and I had no veins.
Even with a legitimate prescription some of the pharmacies wouldn’t bust my scripts. I went to a most respected doctor, Dr. G., who had previously given me the drug Wellconal for my self-declared diagnosis of Alcoholism. Soon I was asking for more pills than the 30 a month he was giving me. The doctor caught on quickly in spite of his advanced age of 82. He initially stated: what is this drug Wellconal and why do you think it will help you? Well, he cut me off, after I stupidly photocopied his prescription, used someone else’s name, and the Chemist didn’t like the feel of the photocopied script and phoned Dr. G.
At the time I was limping, from a poisonous spider bite, had a black eye from a bouncer in a bar hitting me because I was carrying a fifth of whiskey in my hand, attempting to bring it into the bar and I got belligerent. I ended up in jail. The Chemist gets word from Dr. G., who is 82 years old, that he doesn’t recognize the name on the script but he does know one individual who takes Wellconal. And this individual is an American. The Chemist probably also said the culprit was limping with a cane. Dr. G. put two and two together. He cut me off.
I was being detoxified from all drugs at Phipps, Johns Hopkins. I had sneaked the Bacardi into my room, by my third trip to the liquor store, and I was enjoying my 4:00 p.m. drink, Bacardi mixed with Ginger Ale. Miraculously this turned out to be the last alcoholic drink I have ever taken in my life.
It was May 25, 1983. Patients were coming back from shock treatment not knowing their own names and I was detoxifying with them. I was telling them not to worry about their miserable Depression. In fact, compared to them, I was doing great and life was good. I was sipping my contraband drink. During those six weeks of my hospital stay I avoided all therapy groups because I was sleeping all day and staying up all night. I was given a drug called Serax.
When I first arrived at the hospital, the doctor had his medical students come look at me, as if I were a freak specimen, because I was a junkie with two swollen hands the size of boxing mitts, and two swollen feet. I don’t know how my feet got into my shoes or if I was wearing shoes, and my groin area was also swollen due to my bad injections.
Also in the hospital on our floor besides the depressed patients receiving shock therapy, there was an Anorexic Bulimia ward. These groups of people included one kid who smuggled Marijuana to me, because he was allowed out of the hospital on passes to Winchester for the weekend to visit his family.
My last puff on a Marijuana joint was also in this psychiatric ward, on May 23, 1983, the drug supplied by that anorexic boy. I was very paranoid from the Marijuana high because everyone in the hospital was observing you at all times. I had my own luxurious hospital room equipped with a bathroom and bathroom fan. The reason I am bringing up the Anorexics is because there was this girl who drank two cases of beer a day, my kind of girl, and she was Anorexic.
Why she wasn’t in the Alcoholic ward puzzles me. So I offer this girl whom I fancied hooking up with in the hospital a Bacardi drink. She actually had already been to AA meetings, unlike me. I was somewhat familiar with AA and was Court ordered to attend four years earlier, but never made it to a meeting.
This girl also has a bunch of Anorexic buddies, also in treatment with her on our hospital floor, maybe six or seven, and they are a group. So she is drinking this cocktail concoction that I made for her of Bacardi and Ginger Ale, Ginger Ale being the only mixer available in the hospital. Another member of her Anorexic treatment group grabs her drink and freaks out.
This Anorexic patient squeals and rats out on me. So the Head Nurse searches my hospital room and discovers not only the empty Bacardi bottle, but a syringe I had stashed behind a family picture, an Adrenaline ampoule, and a whole set of hospital keys that I had lifted from the Night Nurse. The hospital staff freaked, assuming I was shooting up Bacardi and Adrenaline. Now I had stolen the syringe to make it easy for when I was discharged, so that when I returned to Zimbabwe I could shoot up the remaining 9 Wellconal tablets I had stashed in my room there, awaiting my return from detox.
My initial plan on leaving Zimbabwe, even though I asked my dad for help, pouring a tall glass of straight bourbon and stating I have a problem, was to admit that I really need help and maybe the Johns Hopkins Hospital that I escaped from in 1976 that diagnosed me as a Manic Depressive may be able to help me. I was homesick for America.
I was a legal Junkie. The doctors gave me Morphine. I was an Alcoholic. I was suicidal and had attempted suicide, almost successfully, a few times. I had no veins. I truly believed I would get drugs, a catheter put in like a diabetic, so I could maintain a Morphine drip at all times. I was sick and I was asking for immediate help. The bourbon on the rocks wasn’t enough.
My dad acted quickly, calling Dr. Noel Galen, an amazing psychiatrist, who had helped me when I had nearly died from a suicide attempt. My heart had stopped briefly while I was being transported to the hospital in an ambulance. I was then in a coma for three days. So my intention in asking for help grew out of complete hopeless desperation, because I was embarrassed by my situation of living at an animalistic level of survival.
I had now been exposed as a junkie, because earlier I had gone to Dr. G’s office, an embassy approved doctor of great respect. I had refused to leave the office until he gave me a prescription for Wellconal. He wouldn’t do it. Dr. Galen then arranged for me to be admitted to Johns Hopkins, in a psychiatric ward. My mother flew back with me to Washington and put me into Johns Hopkins.
So now here I am being expelled from Johns Hopkins and the people in charge phone my parents. Everyone is agreeing that I need Drug Addiction/Alcoholism treatment. I have a plane ticket back to Zimbabwe. All that’s on my mind are the nine pills of Wellconal stashed in my room there. I’m thinking I will fly back, grab my tent and do a Safari in Southern Africa.
I am 25 years old and I am on my own. The hospital and my parents tell me that my only choices are a half-way house, the Drug Rehabilitation Center at Sheppard Pratt Hospital, or AA. Not a return to Zimbabwe. My parents are willing to disown me if I refuse to cooperate. I tell them that I am going to die in the gutter on the streets of Baltimore and it’s all their fault.
The hospital sets up an interview at Sheppard Pratt for the next day. I have only been given two days before being discharged. I stubbornly refuse to hand over my plane ticket to Zimbabwe. That night I am planning on returning to Zimbabwe, and refusing any orders to seek treatment. I am reading an Omni magazine in which there is an article about a clinic in southern England where there is a certain hospital. The treatment regimen there uses a little black box on the head to reproduce endorphin-stimulating electrodes.
Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones used it to detox. So I think I am going to stop by this clinic in London, and walk around with this box stimulating my endorphins. The night Nurse tells me No, it won’t work for you, it’s a scam. You’re detoxed already. You need other alcoholics to help you. The nurse was English, and coincidently she had worked in that same clinic. It blew my mind.
The next day I went for the interview at Sheppard Pratt. A day nurse had heard that I had got busted, and she had some sympathy for me. She deposited some AA literature on my bed.
She knew I was an Alcoholic and she tried to convince me to get help in an Alanon manner, meaning offering me help, but it had to be my choice to take the action. A detached with love attitude. She was pretty much detached emotionally and didn’t discuss my dilemma with me, other than leaving the literature on my bed, some pamphlets about AA, What is an Alcoholic, and even a directory for AA meetings in the Baltimore area.
The Sheppard Pratt interviewer asked me questions about what drugs I used and how often. I had used every drug she mentioned, and I gave her a list of many she had never heard of. This Sheppard Pratt A-7 drug rehab program consisted of 60 days of confrontation. At the time, 1983, this rehabilitation center was one of the best in the world. However, it was a program that required total and complete abstinence from all drugs. The important condition for admission required an honest willingness, a commitment by the participant to be clean and drug free.
In spite of my denial and dishonesty, I was miraculously accepted into the program.
Thank God for the interviewer’s favorable decision. This social worker gave me a chance in spite of myself. She was so tough and could see through my deceptive ways. She herself was recovering but never let anyone know. The two counselors who broke down our denial were recovering addicts. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.
Another coincidence that I can remember was several years ago, maybe five years ago, when I was visited by a girl named Laura at Montgomery General Hospital near Olney, Maryland. Laura had attempted suicide and they put her in a psychiatric ward and later into a detox. She didn’t have insurance to pay for going on to the drug rehab. Laura died from an overdose of Heroin about six months later.
She was half French, wrote in a journal every day, was artistic, and about 28 years old. I wondered why Laura never paid any attention to me and why she didn’t want my attention. She was too consumed by her own self-centered drug addiction, which I believe contributed to her Depression.
I never got a chance to photograph her. She was a free spirit and I suspect my laziness at the time. It was a fleeting three weeks that we were close, and during that time she was hospitalized. Drugs separate you from your emotions and disconnect you from nurturing.
I was driving to visit her during visiting hours the next day, bringing her chocolate, cigarettes, a T-shirt, and some other things. I drove past my high school, Sandy Spring Friends, a Quaker school. It was so weird, because I didn’t recognize anything. I had been so drugged up and manic during my brief stay at the school that I had no recollection of the buildings.
I drove in the gate and got a sick feeling in my stomach because I hadn’t participated in any activities at the school and had no friends. I did sell Marijuana, Bi-Phetamine time release, Cocaine, Hash, Psilocybin mushrooms to a few individuals out in the woods. I was a day student at the boarding school. I ended up in two psychiatric hospitals in the spring. I sadly missed my own High School graduation and ceremony. Two more stories on that later. So I pass the school, feeling weird not recognizing anything. Seeing the soccer field, I am reminded that I wasn’t involved in any athletic sporting activities.
I drive into the parking lot of the hospital and see John, the father of my friend Nancy whom I knew in Zimbabwe. Nancy is the friend I phoned just before making a near fatal suicide attempt. I am having deja vu experiences. John the father is telling me that Nancy is in the psychiatric ward for Schizophrenia. She had a mental breakdown and is being stabilized with some medications.
I tell John, who knows a lot about my own traumatic history from my hospitalizations and my eventual recovery, that they have Nancy in the wrong ward, and that she needs total abstinence, that she is an addict and her problem is addiction.
Nancy also died about two years after that hospitalization from mixing Alcohol with her psychiatric medication. So here I am and two girlfriends are in the hospital, and I believe I know the solution to these girls’ psychiatric problems, that is, complete abstinence from all drugs, based of my own life experience. The deja vu was talking to John in the parking lot about his daughter whom I knew 14 years earlier. Their family and our family are long time best friends.
John is now dying of Leukemia. So here I am going to two different psychiatric wards, visiting these girls and telling them that they should go to a fellowship of recovering addicts, and not take any drugs whatsoever. Both of these girls are dead today, even though they had exposure to recovery. However, the psychiatric medication prevailed.
The coincidence was visiting Laura and seeing John in the parking lot and telling him about my life. He had been my employer for a brief time at USIA in Zimbabwe, when we were having those three-hour booze lunches. He had so surrendered to the fact that his daughter was ill. He was actually numb, because his wife also had Schizophrenia. Nancy had been arrested for a DWI charge from drinking Listerine and knocking over the neighbor’s mailbox with her car. Nancy was such an Alcoholic that if there were no booze or pills around the house she would resort to drinking Listerine.
I also wanted Nancy to write my story about the time that I lived in Zimbabwe, because she could remember the details. Stories that I have no recollection of, or very vague memories of, if that. She told me of a story that I showed up at her house in an Arab outfit with a turban and dark military Rayban sunglasses. And I was telling her I was so disillusioned with life that I didn’t want to hear anything, see anything, or talk about anything. I then rolled a Marijuana joint the size of a tampax and proceeded to smoke it.
That may have been the night that I fell down the steps of the Himalaya nightclub. This hip night club had these steep steps, about 30 of them straight up, that even if you were not loaded, you would have had trouble negotiating. Wearing this outfit with the turban and the sunglasses, I didn’t have a chance, and I fell down the stairs, however without any injuries.
I would also go to this nightclub called the Inner Circle that required you to bring your own booze. It had a DJ and a cover charge. It was the coolest place to be at in Zimbabwe. So we would go there every Friday without fail. Now I was banned from driving, so I always got a ride from someone, or used this private taxi we would hire. I had been going to this club for a little over a year when these kids from America came to Zimbabwe.
I would tell them that I go to this very cool club every Friday. The problem was I didn’t have a clue as to where it was, or how to get there. It was embarrassing. And they asked me how do you not know where it is, if you go there every Friday? I was so loaded, high, and in a blackout that I was always being driven to the club. I paid no attention to my whereabouts. My only goal was to get as high as possible.
We would hire this private taxicab. Jim, my best friend, I met at the Inner Circle in a blackout. Together we totally corrupted this cab driver. But first I met Jim, because this guy who cut my hair said you have to meet this movie star’s son, he is an American and he hangs out at the Inner Circle.
Another coincidence was that I had this Jail commitment, meaning I was taking a fellowship meeting in to the Cut, a Pre-Release Center of the Jessup, Maryland Jail. The Cut was a jail for career criminals. They made the best coffee and had some transvestites prancing around.
The inmates attending the fellowship meeting were just trying to please the prison officials into giving them a lighter sentence, or time off for good behavior. I would get this amazing rush every time I would leave that prison and enter the free world again. Only one prisoner from the inside called me when he was released. His name was Hollywood. He didn’t stay clean.
The major amazing coincidence of this experience was that the fellowship meeting in the Jessup prison was called the Inner Circle, the name of the bar I frequented in Zimbabwe every Friday night.
I did this gig for a year every Wednesday night. I would feel enlightened because it reminded me every week that I too could have easily been incarcerated for a drug charge. It felt so good that I wasn’t incarcerated for some drug madness. Now, by being clean, it was a miracle that I wasn’t locked up. I had ended up in a few jails but only for a few hours at a time.
We corrupted this cab driver named Tinapa. We would call up the cab company and ask if cab driver number 69 was available. And they would send number 69 to my house. We would arrive at the Inner Circle nightclub in number 69. When we appropriated this taxi, we told Tinapa that we were going to use him for our whole time in Zimbabwe. We ordered him to turn off the meter, saying that we would tip him well.
We would use him all night long and go all over the place with him. We would smoke joints in the cab, drink, drop acid, and have a grand time. We also turned the cab driver on to Ephedrine, which you could buy over the counter in the pharmacies. Tinapa could now be our driver for all hours of the night. He was also happy because he said he could drive to the airport and feel so energetic.
Another coincidence occurred in 1983. I was maybe about 5 months clean the first time as I relapsed on my six-month anniversary. I eventually got clean for good, for the long haul, on 12/28/83. This must have been in October 1983. I was asked to lead a meeting, to share my story at this group in Baltimore, Maryland, to which I commuted from Washington DC. I got clean initially in Baltimore, having first been exposed to recovery through the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital.
I’d like to tell a story about Maryann, who committed suicide by hanging herself in her bathroom. Maryann about a year earlier has sliced her neck with a razor blade in an attempt to kill herself. She was a beautiful woman, who at one time had been a Playboy bunny.
She had very wealthy boyfriends, but her Depression and Alcoholism got the better of her. Anyway she sliced her neck and stayed in Suburban Hospital for a short period, not having any health insurance to finance her treatment. I drove her to Sheppard Pratt in an attempt to get her admitted for Drug Addiction, Suicidal Ideation, or Major Depression.
If Maryann had been a Quaker we could possibly have got her admitted for free. The sad thing is we were not successful, whether it was Maryann’s lack of willingness, or the lack of insurance, or the lack of bed space. I do have lots of photographs from the experience. Maryann stayed clean on her own for about ninety days, but soon dove into active addiction, and eventually killed herself successfully by hanging herself. She couldn’t face life, couldn’t ask for help, and gave up altogether.
I was leading this meeting in Baltimore with five months clean and giving my drug-a-log as I didn’t have much recovery to talk about. I was sharing my experiences with smoking as much Ugandan Bhanghi (Potent Marijuana-Cannabis Sativa) as I could get my hands on. I was bragging about doing this in eighth grade, saying that I could get a shopping bag full for about 10 cents an ounce.
And that with my good fortune I proceeded to consume a lifetime’s worth, because I knew it wasn’t going to last when I eventually left the paradise rainforest of Uganda. It rained every day for about half an hour with two seasons, the not so rainy season and the rainy season. I remember chasing monkeys in my back yard and getting high in a Mango tree. When one got the munchies you didn’t have to reach far.
So I tell a hair-raising story, talking about my misadventures all over the world, focusing on all the drugs, and the madness that leads to jails, institutions, and death. It was a miracle I was alive and now able to share my personal story.
This skinny, artistic Charles Manson looking dude with a scraggly beard comes up to me and says: Do you remember the kid who kept trying to burn down the Lincoln School, setting fires all over the place? The Lincoln School was our American school in Kampala, Uganda for grades 4 through 12, with a student population of about 38.
Chris (that was this guy’s name) went on to state that at that school all the older kids would pick on him and kick him hard on the soccer field, causing him enormous pain. His way of getting back was to cause havoc and continual sabotage with the fires he set. Now that blew my mind, that here in Baltimore was this same dude whom we had picked on in Kampala, Uganda in 1972. He must have had two years clean. I asked him to be my sponsor a short time later.
That American antisocial kid with conduct disorder has stayed clean and is now a technical genius working in the higher echelons for Nikon Camera. The gentleman whom Chris replaced as my sponsor was an African American Heroin addict named JR. JR had dreadlocks in 1983, before they were fashionable.
He traveled with Cindy, who was a biker chick from the Baltimore ghetto. JR didn’t stay clean and died from a Heroin overdose in 2000. JR was the kindest, gentlest man I had come across. He could only speak in a whisper because he had poked his vocal cords while hitting a vein in his neck attempting to get a shot of dope into his bloodstream.
When I was an inpatient in the A.7 drug rehabilitation program at Sheppard Pratt, I asked JR to be my sponsor. There were thirteen of us in this sixty-day rehabilitation center. I was an ambassador’s son. Another patient was a Mafia lawyer’s son named Brad, who committed suicide about two months after discharge. Out of my group of thirteen, I am the only one who remained clean.
The rest are dead, incarcerated, missing, or possibly in another nut ward. Quinton, the Chicago Bulls center, was also there. He was shocked that I didn’t know who he was. I had come from Zimbabwe, where we had a household of servants, and I didn’t know how to iron my shirt properly. Quinton humbled himself by ironing my shirt for me. Quinton also had some rape and assault charges.
Anther dude was an artist from New York City. He was the artist for John Lennon’s Double Fantasy album. He would constantly check his voicemail with a device that would send a beep to his answering machine. High technology in those days, May 1983. He never got clean or recovered from his Paranoia. He was a freebase and opium addict.
Another patient was a street whore Methadone addict from Baltimore named Barbara. Her ass was so good looking with tight jeans, and long blonde hair and baby blue eyes. I had a crush on her and couldn’t focus on my recovery. Another kid was this guy who stole all his neighbors’ silver and credit cards, from a fancy neighborhood in Baltimore. His father owned a computer software company and was loaded. The son was a disgrace because he had ravaged the neighborhood and got caught because not only was he buying drugs, Cocaine specifically, but designer clothes as well.
David was his name, and I remember exchanging shirts with him because he felt guilty about wearing the clothes in the rehab that he had obtained with ill-gotten means. I remember this hideous preppy striped Lacoste shirt that I received from him, by trading a ratty shirt of mine. That week during the group on family night he had to admit in front of his mother that he was an addict. His father was too angry to attend the family group. David also didn’t stay clean and went to prison for credit card fraud. He used around ten victims’ credit cards stolen from his neighborhood.
At this rehabilitation center we had to have a sponsor before we left treatment and mine was JR. The recommendation for me was to get accepted at a halfway house in York, Pennsylvania called the Colonial House. JR and Cindy charged me $40 for the ride to the halfway house from Towson, Maryland to York, Pennsylvania. This turned me off, but I had no other way to get there, as I was being discharged from the rehabilitation center. I was extremely grateful that my dad was paying the $60 a day the halfway house wanted up front. It saved my life.
At Sheppard Pratt, in the rehabilitation center, I was assigned to the same room as a Baltimore Narcotics Officer who had turned bad. His name was Roy. I was very paranoid, and my biggest resentment was against all cops. I hated them, feared them, and couldn’t fathom that maybe this was legitimate, that I would have a police narcotics officer roommate in drug rehab.
After Roy told me some of his war stories I believed that he too was an addict needing help. Roy would steal a drug dealer’s Cocaine and not turn it in. He had Cocaine cut in his trunk and would weaken, dilute, and substitute for the Cocaine some powdery substance he carried in his trunk. He kept a scale in his trunk to make it the same weight as what he had confiscated. He was the first Narcotics Officer at most crime scenes and made it a habit to get to the busts first.
He was strung out on Cocaine and used Placidils to come down. When he told me about Placidils, I was thinking discreetly in my mind where can I get some? Placidils are similar to Tuinals and Quaaludes. Anyway, Roy took too many Placidils and fell asleep at the wheel of his police cruiser.
He crashed and they discovered Cocaine, Cocaine cut, and a scale in his trunk. He was busted and two and two started coming together with all the discrepancies at the Narcotics Squad. To this day I haven’t heard anything about Roy. But I was having nightmares having as a roomie a Baltimore narcotics officer.
Another series of coincidences occurred when I returned from Mauritius in 1978, and again when I was a resident of the Colonial halfway house in York, Pennsylvania. Can you imagine leaving the high life in Zimbabwe and ending up in rural Pennsylvania?
I probably stayed clean because I never wanted to end up in York, Pennsylvania again. The highlight of a Friday or Saturday night would be to drive up and down the Queen (Main) Street or the King (Broad) Street at a crawl. One street goes one way and the other loops around causing bumper-to-bumper traffic with people gawking at each other.
When I was a senior at Sandy Spring Friends School I was involved in a drug culture. I had purchased something like a thousand Bi-Phetamine time releases. I would spend hours obsessively separating the little brown pellets from the white ones. I sold the pills for 10 cents apiece, not making any profit. I sold weed the same way at a dollar a gram. I was like a hippie Abbie Hoffman Robin Hood, providing people a product at cost.
When this one dealer was cutting Cocaine with baby formula, I jumped up and down, lecturing him on the immorality of it all. I sold this one girl from school about ten Bi-Phetamine pills. These were similar to the Dexedrine Black Beauties, except with the time-release component, the little brown balls. This girl drove to school in a Citroen, which made us have something in common because my dad owned a succession of Citroens.
Anyway, this girl gives the pills to her mother, and her mother gets physically addicted. The girl freaks out and threatens to turn me in for causing her mother to become addicted. I was shocked that someone could turn on you for his or her own problem. We are talking about one dollar worth of speed. I, however, became addicted and hardly ate or slept for two weeks. Every day at school people would tell me: You look terrible, what’s wrong?
During this period I ended up in a psychiatric hospital and never made it to graduation. I am not too sure what happened, but I was in a lot of trouble and was out of control. I was a day student at the school. During my lunch break I would drive to my dealer’s, Peter in Rockville, Maryland. In those days Rockville was known as the Dust Capital of the world.
My PCP experience is another story. At lunch time I would drive to Peter’s house/apartment and party. I turned him on to my Cocaine connection, the same dude I got the time-release Bi-Phetamines from. But I was a terrible businessman and never made any money or profit from my deals. I was basically giving everything away at cost, and if I was the middleman I was just there for the party.
I would go to Peter’s from school, I would drink beer, get my weed at one dollar a gram, whatever the quantity, so I would buy two or three dollars worth. He had these Amyl Nitrate ampoules crushed in a champagne bottle that I would take hits from and get the rush. I also got the Psilocybin at 10 dollars a gram, a luxurious item because that wasn’t cheap in those days for a high school student. So I would party every day at his house.
One day I took this semi-girlfriend to his house. Her name was Tierney, from my school. She was at Peter’s house only one time. But as I said, I don’t have a great recollection as to what happened. Peter gives me a couple of ounces of Cocaine to hold, because he cannot stop using, and maybe he thinks I can sell it at school.
Who knows? This was during the time that I hadn’t slept for a week. I show up at school. I have spring fever. I tell everyone hanging out in the woods that the school year is over. I offer Cocaine to anyone who wants some. I use so much that I end up giving John about three ounces. I tell John that I can’t stop using, and he should hold on to the coke for me. I take off all my clothes and run around the woods with no clothes on.
After school I go back to Peter’s house in Rockville. I never got home. My parents missed me and started calling phone numbers they found on a drug payment contact/connection debt sheet in my room. I had made a list of all my drug contacts meticulously recorded from the speed I had been taking.
My parents found Tierney’s phone number and called her. I suspect everyone was worried about me. Tierney had been to Peter’s house with me one time during a lunch break. I guess Tierney suggested I might be at Peter’s house.
In fact I was at Peter’s house. I had flipped out because Peter and David were cutting the Cocaine. I thought this to be unethical. They were using the scale that I stole from the school my first day at the school. I had walked into the science lab and lifted the scale. David was shooting the Cocaine into his veins, and I believe he gave me a shot. I don’t remember anything after that. I have a vague recollection about a police officer living above Peter’s apartment and my paranoia about that. Peter also had some shotguns he showed me in case anyone got ideas about robbing him.
My parents and Tierney arrived there with an ambulance. I have never asked my parents their version, as I am embarrassed to this day about this incident. The end result was that they took me to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. I was admitted to the psychiatric ward.
A quick note. Two years later when I returned to the United States after spending a year and a half partying on the Island of Mauritius and am living in my parents’ house, I discover Peter living with Tierney in the basement of our next door neighbors’ house. Peter was friends with my next door neighbor, which is how I met him in the first place. How Peter hooked up with Tierney is bizarre, as the only connection was from my manic hospitalization from when she showed my parents where my dealer’s house was.
I did run into Tierney around Dupont Circle on a Sunday. She was getting help for an Alcohol Addiction in 1983, and she said that Peter had married a model and got divorced. He then moved in with a successful architect in Boston. Peter was a computer genius who studied Russian at Georgetown University. When David overdosed and died in my parent’s house, Peter was there with another drug addict named Harris.
I ran into Harris at the Adams Morgan Day celebration twelve years later. Harris had a child with a woman and she tested positive for Cocaine. They were ordered into drug treatment. However Harris didn’t respond to the intervention or treatment. Harris is a house painter and a vegetarian.
The last I heard and witnessed is that Tierney is a mess these days and is addicted to Valium and Alcohol. She asked me for help about 8 years ago. She’s married to an illustrator named Steve. She didn’t follow up on my recommendations.
Back to why I mentioned John. I was in this halfway house in York, Pennsylvania called the Colonial House. About a week into it, a new client comes in. He is a drug addict and he had just spent a year in Tibet as a Buddhist monk with his head shaved.
Well it appears that he got into some trouble with drugs and caught a charge of some kind. He looks at me and says well the last time I saw you about seven years ago, you told me watch out because I cannot stop using this Cocaine, you better hold on to it for me and I’ll get it back from you later.
I had given John, my friend from high school, the same Buddhist guy who had traveled to Tibet, the 3 or 4 ounces of Cocaine before I disappeared off into the woods of my high school Sandy Spring Friends. I had completely forgotten the incident, because I was in a drug induced blackout and ended up in two psychiatric hospitals: first Suburban Hospital, and then a few days later my first stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Now, John was at the same Colonial halfway house with me seven years later.
I was diagnosed as a Manic Depressive with psychotic symptoms and I was put on numerous medications including Thorazine, Lithium, and eventually even Haladol. I was hallucinating and couldn’t distinguish between reality and dreams. I thought my German doctor was Peter, and I was on a psychedelic mission. As my parents were taking me for an evaluation at Johns Hopkins Hospital, I kicked out the windshield of my father’s Audi and ran away from the Beltway, ending up back at my parent’s house.
I drank about a fifth of Vodka. This Alcohol mixed lethally with the concoction of the psychiatric medications that had been in my system from the hospitalization caused me go into a near death comatose state. I was found in vomit in my bedroom and the medics and ambulance had no trouble transporting me to Johns Hopkins that night.
I do recall my father chasing me around the yard earlier in the day. It was a mess. I stayed in Johns Hopkins, in the Phipps ward, for about three months when I escaped three days before my father’s posting as Ambassador to the paradise island country of Mauritius.
When I returned to the United States from Kampala, Uganda, I had to have a complete health physical at the State Department. When the lab tests came back they wanted me to come in for more blood work, because my white-cell blood count was way low or wacky. Now I didn’t tell the nurse or doctor that I smoked Marijuana every day. I did make the mistake of disclosing that I had tried Marijuana, which resulted in me having to talk to a psychologist of some kind. They took more tests with the same wacky results and the outcome was basically we don’t know what’s wrong. It did frighten me, but it didn’t stop me from smoking pot everyday. I was fourteen.
When I was sixteen, in Princeton, New Jersey, I was arrested with six other youths for having several pounds of low quality Mexican weed. My sister, who had no connection with the event, felt guilty and somewhat responsible for telling my parents that both of us smoked weed and that we both had smuggled weed from Uganda.
She wanted to prepare my parents for the responsibility that she felt being the older sibling. I had been expelled from my boarding school, Northfield Mount Hermon, right after Christmas break in the ninth grade.
I was expelled for stealing food from the cafeteria, having a hash pipe in a carved out Bible in my room, and being found in a homemade lean-to in the woods by the Headmaster, who arrived there on cross-country skies. Little did I know they would search my room while I was vacationing in Uganda. I started the school year three weeks late from having been evacuated from Uganda and the perils of Idi Amin Dada.
So that’s how I ended up at Princeton High School for the later part of my freshman year. I was a ninth grader dealer to the older students. I hung out with these guys, like Chucky, who had an orange Afro like Mitch Mitchell and Jimmie Hendrix. His father was English and he made Chucky play the violin. Chucky turned me on to Cocaine for the first time. There was Peter, and this other guy whose name escapes me but he was like a large Jiminy Cricket. I was already boozing during school hours.
We would party in the Unitarian Church woods. We would get high and climb up in these pine trees, purposely falling out and landing on the pine needles. We decided to pool our cash and buy several pounds of weed. As we were distributing the weed, I was sitting in a rubber tire and the others were sitting around me. So when the undercover detectives arrived they found the weed closest to me.
Because I was sitting in the tire, it made me look like the kingpin. I was shocked that these cops could just show up in the woods like that and bust us. I was sixteen. The cops had been tailing these two juvenile delinquents who were truant from school. Real bad kids. One was a disillusioned American Indian kid who I felt got all the breaks at school because he was Native American and received special treatment and didn’t have to follow all the rules.
I went to court in Trenton, New Jersey with the six other youths. They divided the weed charges amongst us and I got 6 months probation. I went to court with a quarter pound on me because I didn’t know where I was going to end up.
I forgot to say that I had taken my share home and then gone back to the scene of the crime before the cops arrived, so the weed confiscated was none of mine. But because of where I was sitting, closest to the weed, I was charged along with the others and of course we were all observed by the cops getting high.
A few years later when we were being posted to Harare, Zimbabwe in 1980, I had to take the same type of physical at the State Department. I was not aware that I had to do this and my mother says, Come on, we are going to the State Department for our physicals. I had previously, about half an hour earlier, shot up some Heroin and was fearful about what my blood work would produce. I declined to admit to any drug use because my previous experience of being interrogated by the psychologist had turned me off. I didn’t want to be required to attend some type of counseling.
My addiction had progressed pretty badly by this point. I had lost my driving privileges some three or four years earlier. I didn’t even make it past a learner’s permit before I received two driving while intoxicated offenses and one driving after revocation. I totaled three cars in a matter of a few weeks. Anyway, now that I wasn’t driving, it supposedly didn’t matter what kind of condition I would end up in.
Though I was grounded, that didn’t stop me. While my mother was playing bridge with some ladies at lunchtime in our home, I would sneak into her purse and steal money to buy Dilaudid, Bam (Preludin) diet pills, or even Heroin, if I was lucky. I would also sneak into her purse, and take her car keys and drive downtown to 12th and U Streets NW, which was a good half hour trip. This was really bold, but I never got caught.
One time a street hustler wanted my money without giving me any drugs in return. I refused to hand over the cash. He grabbed the car keys out of the ignition and fled. There I was stuck in the cop zone, with my mother’s car and no keys. So I had the car towed back to our house on Livingston Street and pushed the car back into the garage.
I then went to a Chinese laundry to copy another set of car and house keys. I don’t recall how I got around the key tag or holder, but to this day my mother has no clue of me borrowing her car in those days. Another time a drug dealer refused to get out of the car and wanted me to trade the car for drugs. I was lucky the dope he had was so strong that when he fixed he nodded out, and I pushed him out of the car. Again this was a time when I needed to return the car during my mother’s bridge game.
During this period, if I didn’t have very much money I would settle for Bam, which is Preludin, diet pills for obese people. I believe the drug is banned today. I would shoot this Bam, and then decide to clean the garage and then paint the basement, wash all the cars, in addition to other obsessive tasks. I would carve the sugarcoated pills, made of hideous orange chalk.
I taught myself most of these drug habits, but as I progressed down the path of degradation and dereliction, I learned new tricks from the street hustlers. For instance one day there wasn’t any Dilaudid on the streets and I hooked up with this Bam addict, who showed me that I didn’t have to carve the orange sugar cover of the casing of the Bam pill, that all I needed to do was put the pill under steaming hot water and the coating would peel right off. I had no appetite and would have to throw away my meals so no one would know. It is amazing because I was only going to smoke Marijuana. I ended up using all these hard drugs that I preached against.
I have a vague memory of my first experience of Marijuana. I was about 13 years old. We were in the Catskill Mountains, staying at my grandmother’s house. Dr. R. had been renting my grandfather’s fishing lodge. He had a son Michael. Michael built a cabin in the woods. I was already addicted to cigarettes.
One night as we were sitting around the campfire, Michael and his buddy, whose name I can’t remember, made us promise not to tell and they would share with us something special. So they break out a corncob pipe with some Marijuana.
Michael explains that the weed is going to make us laugh, give us the munchies and make us scared, but that it will give us a good feeling. Now some people don’t get high the first time they smoke. I got high and extremely paranoid, because we were in the woods, which were pitch black. The Catskills have a deep forest. The spirits in the mountains spooked even the Native American Indians so that they never settled in the Catskill Mountains.
Michael would tell us ghost stories, like the story of the Midnight Rambler, the Rolling Stones song about a murderer that took place in the Catskills. Also stories of spirits in our house and the haunted house on Red Hill. Also the story of the headless horseman.
The friend of Michael was from Pelham, New York, and told these stories of being sent to a halfway house for drug addiction. He mentioned that one task was to scream so loud that you would have to break a light bulb and another of wearing degrading signs. I didn’t understand any of this, and never imagined that Marijuana could be that bad. I was also already indulging in a little Alcohol use, and actually huffed glue.
We promised never to tell anyone about the Marijuana and vowed secrecy. By the time I got to seventh grade I was smoking Marijuana daily at Princeton Junior High. I have some stories to tell about the time in Princeton, but now I am getting memories of Uganda, where my addiction progressed to full time Marijuana use.
In Uganda I had a Swedish friend, Esbjorn, who was about a year and a half older, but was placed in our grade at the Lincoln School. Esbijorn had no father and a liberal mother. He also had this Ugandan kid deliver shopping bags of weed to the school, as well as a giant Chameleon that looked like a prehistoric animal. We would find regular sized chameleons on the coffee trees after a good rain.
I remember Esbjorn had this Frank Zappa poster in his room Zappa Crappa. I was listening to the Grateful Dead Anthem of the Sun, American Beauty, Steppenwolf, Credence Clearwater Revival, Iron Butterfly and Santana.
So Esbjorn was my best friend, and I got high with him. Every weekend we would go to this hotel nightclub and drink Waragi, which was Ugandan Rum, and mix it with coke. I was spinning because I would consume about four drinks, each having about 4 ounces of alcohol, at this hotel.
We would hang out at the hotels during the week too and get high on the roof. These nightclubs had cabaret acts like fire-eaters, sword swallowers, drumming, and dancers. We were kids in ecstasy because we were under age behaving like adults. The poverty and discrepancy in wages made us think we were big time, because we could afford these drinks as kids. We could also fire up joints with no one paying any attention.
I remember sabotaging the pay phones in the main hotel, because one of the four phones had a broken lock. You could slide out the tray that had the cash in it. So I disabled all the phones except the broken one with the tray catching all the money by unscrewing the earpiece, unplugging it so no dial tone was audible.
This enabled me to have a little spending money. About two weeks into this scheme Esbjorn was pulling out the tray to catch our loot and the tray was so full that many of the coins fell onto the lobby floor, making such a noise that it drew the attention of the bell captain. We were busted and banned from the hotel.
One day we were on the roof, and President for Life Idi Amin was swimming in the Olympic pool below, and I was dared to throw my Yo-Yo and make it into the pool from the roof. I tossed the yo-yo and it hit the bar. I was an idiot because the barman and the pool staff knew it was my yo-yo because no one else had a yo-yo like it. I was banned from the pool, which was embarrassing because we went to this pool as a family and my parents had no idea of my activities.
There was an American family that was also staying at the hotel and they had been living with the Pygmies. The boy was about puberty age and he had long hair. The Pygmy boys were going through a circumcision rite of passage. The boys would stay in the woods without clothing or food for two weeks before they would be circumcised.
The American kid was in great fear because he was partially circumcised and the witchdoctor wanted to make sure he was a boy and if he was, he would be required to go with the other boys into the woods. Now they couldn’t show the witchdoctor that indeed this boy was a boy, because he was only partially circumcised and the witchdoctor wanted to finish the job. I found this fascinating because I was impressed by the fact that his parents, anthropologists living with the Pygmies, were also smoking Marijuana with the Pygmies.
I also encountered my first hippies in Uganda. This was 1971-1973. I remember this one hippie whom I bought a first class movie ticket for to see the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or Shaft, or Little Big Man. Not sure which. But this hippie was so high and I gave him a joint.
This particular hippie had long waist length red hair with a beard and sandals. I know I blew his mind, being a 14-year-old punk with some powerful weed and being an American myself. He was probably wandering to the East African paradise coast of Malindi, where a famous known hippie community was being established on the Island of Lamu.
I believe the hippies were kicked out of the caves on Crete in Greece and ended up there in Kenya and in Goa in India. Now I could buy already rolled joints for 10 cents a piece and they were the size of a large cigar. It also wasn’t cleaned weed, just rolled from straight buds, seeds and all. One person couldn’t finish one of these bombs.
The kid with the pygmies also turned me on to cloroxing jeans, meaning putting Clorox on jeans, thus making them white. I however didn’t dilute the Clorox, and when I came back I had shreds with a button and zipper. The Clorox ate away my prized jeans.
Also in Uganda, you got ten dollars to one, meaning that if you had US dollars, since the local currency wasn’t worth anything, on the black market you could trade your US dollar in and get 10 dollars worth of Ugandan shillings. I didn’t have any dollars that I wasn’t given but it was good to know, as I was fascinated with the criminal aspects of life.
One of my funnier experiences was when I ended up in the Borrowdale jail, the morning after attending a party thrown by a very wealthy Rhodesian. My friends said you have to go to this party. This party is one of the coolest parties of the year and hundreds of people will be there. I had attended the same party previously and was better prepared for it the previous time.
The previous time, I didn’t get very far, being shy and I had a cooler with the only available booze that I could lift from my parents house which at the time happened to be my least favorite drink, Gin and Tonics. Gin was my least favorite alcoholic beverage. All I remember is sitting on the lawn with the cooler amongst hundreds of people. I felt very accomplished because I had ice, lemons, limes, tonic, a fifth of Tanqueray gin and a healthy supply of Camel cigarettes.
The next time I heard about this party, I was told that there would be a cash bar, and the band Klunk playing at the party. This party was supposed to be the happening thing. Being a latecomer to the news, I arrive at the party unprepared, meaning no cash for the cash bar, and no booze.
I don’t even recall how I arrived to the party, but I knew that I would have a few friends in attendance. Cars were parked all over the place. This house had a huge yard, several acres. Being the resourceful drunk that I was, I managed to get myself a volunteered job as bar tender, and bar tender’s assistant with drinking privileges at this party.
Now I was definitely already drunk, high and crazy before I got to the party. I had quite a lot of experience bartending for my parents’ diplomatic functions so I functioned pretty well. I was opening beer bottles with my teeth, using other beer bottles to open beers, pouring drinks and having a grand time. My teeth are suffering today because I have cracked them from using my teeth as a bottle opener. Not a very bright thing, mimicking the Africans I saw doing the same thing.
Sometime during the night I cut my hand without noticing that blood was getting everywhere. I even had on a maroon shirt. I was splotched in blood. But I also had on a white shirt that was covered with blood, and my copper colored Jeans were stained too in blood, looking like I had just come from a crime scene.
I did a good job bartending until the sun came up. I also took some Obex pills, supplied by my friend who received them, claiming she needed a diet. Two Obex pills and you’d be up all night. The party ended and I never met the host or hostess.
The sun came up. The party was over, no friends left to give me a ride home. I didn’t even know where I was because I hadn’t paid attention when getting to the party. I only knew that it was in a few townships away. I lived in Highlands and this was Borrowdale, maybe 30 minutes from my house. I possibly could walk it. I had a wicked hangover, and was suffering immensely. The street that had been lined with cars had only a few cars left on it. The purple Jacaranda trees were in full bloom, giving a very surreal look to the neighborhood, and it was a Sunday morning.
I see an old car like a Model-T with cardboard license tags parked on the street. I check the door and it’s unlocked. So I crawl into the car and fall asleep. It was a little chilly outside and I have this wicked hangover from partying like 18 hours straight.
I am awakened by this tap-tap-tap on the window. I look up and it’s a Borrowdale policeman equipped with a bicycle and a Billy club. He had no gun, but wore a blue and black uniform with a shiny badge.
He asks me to get out of the car, which I do, and he asks me for the registration for the car. I say I don’t know where it is, that it is not my car. He asks me what are the cardboard license plates about, and I say I have no idea, that I just crawled into the car for a nap. The policeman politely asks me to push the car to the police station while he follows me to the station.
I try to argue with the policeman that this is ridiculous, that I was only taking a nap in a car that was parked on the street. He looks at me in my blood-covered outfit and I have no identification, and the car has no registration.
So I push this car about six suburban blocks. Luckily it wasn’t that hilly and we end up at the police station. I am locked up in a jail cell with a hangover. I don’t want to tell the police that I am the son of the United States Ambassador because that would alert my parents to my bad behavior and it could cause a scandal.
Now I am in the jail cell, and to pass the time I just happen to have my Cosmic Wimp Out dice. This game was one of Jerry Garcia’s favorite games but it takes two to play. The Jailer is not amused and is annoyed by the noise of the dice and he eventually confiscates the dice. I had called my one friend John to bail me out and he is laughing so hard because he can’t imagine what I have been charged with.
Meanwhile the owners of the car, who were at the party, were too drunk to drive the car and are sleeping their drunkenness off. When they get back to where the car is parked, and discover it missing, they phone the Borrowdale police to say that their antique Ford Model T automobile is missing and has been stolen.
The Police tell the chaps that the police have the car and the thief is at the station, and to bring papers proving ownership. Now it’s about 4:00 p.m. and I have been in the jail cell since noon going through the Delirium Tremens because I need a drink.
The dudes arrive, prove ownership of the car, but deny any knowledge of the cardboard license tags. Now the Police are asking me about the cardboard tags and I say all I did was crawl into the car to take a nap, I know nothing about the bogus tags. The two Rhodesian dudes are smiling and drive away in their car.
I ask the jailer for my Cosmic Wimp Out dice and wish him a good afternoon. My friend John Martin knows where to get a cold beer on a Sunday in Borrowdale, and proceeds to take me there, complaining that he is also going to have to finance my beer too.
In tenth grade I ended back up in Washington D C. I attended Wilson High School. I didn’t fit in and dropped out after several months. The school phoned my mother two days before the end of the year to tell her that I hadn’t been attending for the past three months. I dropped out when I got accepted to the Barlow School for the eleventh grade.
My excuse that I told my mother was that gang members were threatening my life. What had happened was that I was dealing opiated Hashish and some punks from the junior high tried to rip me off, unsuccessfully. I squealed and they got thrown out of our school. Most of the thugs liked me because I was smoking hash in the bathroom and got them wasted.
Instead of going to school I would sneak next door to my idol Steven’s house and get high there. One day when I was at home getting high in my attic room on the third floor, I had the music cranked up so loud I couldn’t hear my mother screaming. I was taking a bong with a clear Plexiglas bong, and I look up to the horror of my mother. I stash the bong and turn down the music. My room was situated so that you could not directly enter the room. It was like a maze just for this purpose.
So my mother asks what am I doing and I say I came home for lunch. I get back home about 8:00 p.m. that night, and my father asks me what am I doing, your mother tells me that you were inhaling a fluorescent light bulb. I say What, oh no, it was a water pipe. He says let’s see the water pipe, and I say, oh it doesn’t belong to me. I try to get my sister to explain what a bong is, and that it indeed is not a fluorescent light bulb.
At the time I was hanging out with some dealers and a dude from California who had imported all these multi-colored Plexiglas bong kits. I could get one for a dollar or six for five. Now in the head shops a bong may cost five or ten dollars, and nothing in the colors I was getting. I had them all displayed in my room and my mission was to turn everybody on to these bongs. I wasn’t a good businessman, so I basically was selling them at a dollar a piece, bragging about what great connections I had.
I think my mother thought these were harmless water pipes by this point. Another time I sliced my hand with a hash oil pipe, and I told my mother that I cut my hand on this pinball machine glass panel. I had this pinball machine glass pane tilted at an angle to clean Marijuana so that the seeds would roll down, leaving the Marijuana on the glass. It was an ingenious idea that I picked up from my next-door neighbor Steve, who was going to M.I.T. with High Honors. He had perfect SAT scores even though he got high every day like me.
He taught me the game of Ultimate Frisbee, and I in turn was a founding member of the Ultimate Frisbee club at the American University, before I got thrown out. My next-door neighbor also turned me on to bongs, so I would walk around the neighborhood with this four-foot Bamboo bong. Steve had metal pipe that he converted with a little shotgun hole that he called Klong and that was more portable. It could be used as a weapon if necessary.
I was notorious for spilling the bong on the T.’s living room Persian rug on a daily basis. The T. house was so cool because the refrigerator was always stocked with cheap beer, Yeungling brand beer. All you had to do was leave a quarter in this little cup, like on the honor system.
We made a habit of going to the Mr. Henry’s bar every night just in time for last call. So we would arrive about 1:30 a.m., and watch the highlight of the evening. We were just as toasted as the people who had been at the bar all night. We were regulars. I started with Tequila Sunrises and ended with Zombies.
One year Steve was dating a girl named Valerie and he threw a party at his parents’ place in West Virginia. He had directions to the place and after every turn or signpost, the clever map said “take bong.” And at the final destination was a Belgian flag that Steve had absconded with when he visited Valerie at her father’s posting as Ambassador to Belgium or the UN or something. Steve had the Belgian flag with some Marijuana plants hanging upside down drying and the red flag for where the party was located.
I lost my virginity at this party. I was sixteen and it was with this blonde girl about three years older than me. All I remember is losing at poker, that we had a keg of Heineken, Pabst Blue Ribbon, lots of Tequila, weed, and that the Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick was playing over and over again.
I was accepted amongst these older kids because I could party. I also had smuggled very potent Ugandan weed, which helped my status instantly. I also could play poker loaded. As far as conversing, I didn’t talk much. I was clumsy as hell, spilling my beers, knocking over bongs.
By hanging with Steve I was cool because he had tons of friends and everything revolved around his house, which was next-door to mine. We would drive around in Steve’s VW convertible bug or his friend Danny’s VW bus. We were as hippie as you could get. Long hair, barefoot, flower shirts, jeans with patches, cowboy hats. Steve was also into Estes rockets and we would send a few of them up. We would listen to the Allman brothers.
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