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Bronco Busters

If you, or perhaps someone you are acquainted with or care about, is currently on the fence about a life spent doing drugs — either taking a pro-position on the issue or actively engaging in the "lifestyle" (I'm not sure I would style it a "life") — then allow me, as a public service, to clarify the matter by saying: there are many very compelling reasons not to be a drug addict. You've heard this before, surely; the prevailing literature is solidly anti and the drug culture doesn't bother with public relations. They don't need to; the product sells itself. Although, wouldn't it be fun if they did, and the Fair Practices Act extended to public service announcements, and for every frying-egg-brain spot there were commercials featuring fashionably attired junkies lounging and laughing on the decks of pleasure boats? Fun to think about, anyway.

But compulsively and continually seeking and ingesting drugs, in particular a couple of especially virulent and attractive models, will make you ugly, stupid, broke, humorless, imprisoned, and dead.

If there is a unifying theme for the preceding list, it is that none of these attributes are attractive to the opposite sex and isn't that really what it's all about? (Hint: it is.)

Taken from last to first, we see that necrophiliacs represent a statistically insignificant segment of the population and even if your corpse should be fortunate enough to wind up in the proximity of one of these deviants, the lack of functioning nerve endings on the part of the deceased makes it a fairly one-sided proposition.

If you're in prison, the odds of you getting to have the kind of sex you want to have are effectively nil. Yes, there are people who actively seek out relationships with prisoners. There are also good reasons why someone would forgo literally millions of viable options for a male in favor of a demonstrably flawed and potentially dangerous partner they can neither see nor touch.

Losing your sense of humor is a dealbreaker for most attractive, well-adjusted people. If there is a single universal quality desired by all male-seekers, it's a good sense of humor, even if its place at the forefront of the list of desired qualities in online profiles is predicated on givens of solvency and physical attractiveness.

Moving on to broke, people want partners who will buy them nice things and provide for them and their children. Simple.

As to stupid, the only time it is not a factor is when you are very, very good looking and regardless of what abundance of gifts you have in that area, drugs will ultimately render you hideous. All the specific points on attractiveness checklists — hair, skin, eyes, teeth, musculature, various convexities in the general human morphology — are targeted, attacked, and decimated, the upshot being that as a stupid, ugly, broke, surly, dope-seeker, eventually your only sexual/romantic recourse will be others of your ilk, and that — need I even say it? — is just gross.

Not only will no viable, worthwhile person want to have children with you, but you don't even get to hang out with normal people. If there is one topic of conversation that most everyone finds tiresome and pointless, it's how the illuminati and the NSA are colluding with the neighbor's dog to implant a tracking device in your brain. You can try to explain to someone how it doesn't really make financial sense to mobilize spy satellites and black helicopters to catch a guy peddling $20 bags of garbage crank to homeless people, but he won't listen. The only person interested in the ravings of a paranoiac is another one, and when you double down you don't get twice the paranoia; the increase is exponential and generally leads to fears of alien intelligence and foreign governments mustering all their considerable resources to catch a couple of utterly inconsequential tweakers whose nickel and dime shenanigans are barely of interest to the local police.

Viewed from my current perspective and with the relative calm and clarity of six years of sobriety, the saddest and most troubling aspect of my own adventures in addiction was the complete diminution of focus and loss of any other interests. At the time it didn't seem all that all worrisome, and really kind of the point: the mission is to get and stay high, and the gratification was so thorough in attaining that goal that it seemed to justify the single-mindedness necessary to achieve it.

If you were to ask me right now what my interests are, I would bore you with a long list of interesting people, artistic endeavors, scholarly pursuits and scientific disciplines. Really, I am just flat-out interested. Curious, you might say, and lucky enough, as a thoughtful and receptive human being, to be able to assimilate and enjoy and criticize and utilize lots of different information and stimuli.

"Knowledge is power," it has been said, but I kind of disagree, although I suppose it depends on how you wield it. To me, knowledge is comfort and confidence and security. Its pursuit and acquisition is truly its own reward.

Climb into the Wayback machine, though, to a time when I was fully emerged in the game, and you would see — you needn't even ask — that I had precisely one interest, the accumulation and ingestion of enough toxic chemicals to render the world meaningless and once in awhile the reality — and uncertainty — of that would be suddenly and shockingly thrust in my face, as in the following vignette.

It was a grim February day in 2006, although you couldn't have proven it by me. I probably could have nailed down my location and gotten the year within one or two, but forget about anything more specific than that. I knew it was daytime, late afternoon, as it turned out, and I was on my single-minded way to empty my pockets and a purveyor of my chosen chemical raison d’etre. When I arrived at Marcus’s house — who, incidentally, has since taken the final step in the above list of undesirable consequences and Oxycontined himself into a condition of decomposition — he and several others were gathered around a television.

"Whatcha watchin’," I said as I sat down, not caring in the least — only concerned that the room's attention was focused on the idiot box and not me and my immediate and pressing needs.

"Uh, the Super Bowl?" someone said in a “duh” tone.

That managed to penetrate. My selfish desires were momentarily shelved as I considered the moment of that snide response. What this meant was that I — sports fan, football fan, watcher of games, monitor of standings, chronicler and memorizor of stats and arcana, hater of Raiders, and, most significantly, lifelong, diehard fan of one particular NFL team — had allowed an entire football season to pass completely unnoticed: The preseason Opening Day when all things are possible. The entire grueling 16 game slog. The playoffs. I missed it all.

And now, it's the third quarter of the Super Bowl and the Steelers are beating the — WTF? What in the hell are the Seahawks doing in the Super Bowl? I felt like Rip van Winkle. "Does anyone know how the Broncos did this season?" I asked.

"Dude, they went 13 and 3, won the West, and lost the AFC championship to the Steelers," Marcus said.

My heart sank. But at the same time I thought: it's just as well. If I’d looked at the TV and seen the Broncos playing, my only recourse would be an honorable death and I'd have gone immediately to the beach and disemboweled myself with a samurai sword.

I sat there, just shy of seppuku, the hot shame of my betrayal coloring my pallid junkie face. My fault, I thought, completely irrationally. If my voice and support had been lent to the team's effort, it would be the orange and blue in there stomping the Seahawks into submission.

For 32 seasons I had hitched my emotions to the Broncos’ season. I (seriously) celebrate John Elway’s birthday every year. Being a Broncos fan, through thick and thin, good news and bad, is as much a part of my personality as being an insufferable smart ass. For an entire season I had paid exactly as much attention to the NFL as I did the Dow Jones and I assure you I have never given that thing a moment’s notice, high or not. I felt disoriented, unmoored, and bereft, which gave way to shock and awe at the power of my problem. I'd been an avid consumer of intoxicants for nearly as long as I'd been bleeding blue and orange and the two passions had always managed to peacefully coexist, even on occasion complementing one another harmoniously. Mrs. Jones, she is a jealous mistress.

The Broncos did get a chance to play the Seahawks in Superbowl XLVII and suffered the second most humiliating defeat in the institution’s history which is why I will no longer patronize Starbucks or listen to Pearl Jam. The most humiliating (gnosh, gnarl) defeat was also a Broncos’ loss and is why, despite my love of the city and of the baseball Giants, the 49ers and that sumbitch Montana will be forever anathema to me.

I guess you could say, if you wanted to simplify things, that the ultimate cost of addiction is the loss of yourself and everything you love. Only worth it though, right? No worries about career or family or mortgage or retirement or anything, really, beyond that one little thing.

Go Broncos!

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