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sick and dirty, more dead than alive

I have never tried heroin. No, this is not in response to a deluge of questions on the subject. No one has ever come up to me and asked, Richard, have you ever tried heroin? -- all I'm saying is that if they did ask the question, the answer would be no.

Come to think of it, no one has ever come up to me and asked a question about any kind of drug use whatsoever. Not even my kids. Parenting mags offer all sorts of advice on how to answer those awkward teen questions that begin, Dad when you were my age did you ever ... But my kids don't want to know about my reckless youth. Maybe they know it was was pretty darn reckful. Maybe they don't care.

Anyway, my point today is that I have had the scary addictive-drug-type experience. I have, that is, found myself "hooked" very quickly (indeed, after one shot) on a cheap product.

No, not rice cakes -- I can give them up any time. No, not coffee -- it's not cheap.

I'm talking about apple cider -- the kind you buy at a county fair in a big plastic jug. Last weekend we were at such a fair, and there was a booth selling cider (actually there were only a few booths not selling cider, and they were all selling barbecue sauce. There may have been a bylaw where everyone had to sell some kind of rust-coloured liquid). When Ed said he wanted to try cider I said, unthinkingly, Sure. Ed tends to be a gustatory conservative, and I was pleased to see him reaching for a new flavour.

When we got home we cracked the jug, and, well, that was it. I was gone. Hey this is great, I said. Isn't this great, Ed. What do you think, Imo? Great eh? Have a glass. Drink up. Don't like it? That's okay, I'll finish yours. Twenty minutes later, I was still at the table, and the level in the jug was sinking fast. Another glass. And then another. The kids left but I stayed up all night. I couldn't get enough. The jug is gone now, and I'm a wreck, counting the hours to the weekend. I've tried to come down with apple juice, but it's not the same (I guess it's like methadone for us cider junkies).

Tomorrow is Saturday. I'll be heading back out into the country. I feel like Lou Reed (now there's a line I've never used before) waiting for my man, twenty-six dollars in my hand. Lou's man is all dressed in black and mine wears a red checked lumberjacket, but they both wear a straw hat.

And they both give that sweet taste. Ahhh!

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