I was a child of the eighties and I can say, without hesitation, that there were three lessons to be learned in that decade:
1. Just say no to drugs!
2. Everyone is special and gets a ribbon, even if they’re uncoordinated and awkward and the ribbon just says “participant.” (I totally wore this ribbon pinned to my neon star sweatshirt all day long. I was so proud. It went into my Ziggy memory box. Yay for half-assed indoor gymnastics participation and a false sense of accomplishment)!
3. Stay off the train tracks or you gonna get your fool ass killed. (OK, so maybe this was just at my school. One of CN rail’s main lines ran right through our neighbourhood – not a bridge, a la Stand By Me, but at ground level. Since Walkmans – Walkmen?- were popular at the time, all the schools in the area were perpetually afraid that a kid would put on their headphones, crank their Rick Astley tape and wander in front of a 350,000 pound locomotive. To combat this potential tragedy, we all had train safety assemblies. The take home message was ‘trains are big and kill-y. Don’t try to fight a train. If you fight a train, you gonna lose.’ We all wanted our Elmer the Safety Elephant stickers, so we did our best not to get ourselves killed).
Today, I’d like to address point number one: just say no to drugs.
Living in a rough neighbourhood, I remember going to various anti-drug assemblies. I don’t remember the specific contents of said school meet ups, other than ‘drugs are bad, don’t do them’, but apparently eight-year-old Jess absorbed quite a bit more information. Let’s revisit an entry from my school journal at the time.
How did I know about LSD, you ask? Well, I mentioned this entry to my mother and she just nodded and said, “Of course! I told you all about that.” When I questioned the age-appropriateness of the information, she said, “You never did LSD, did you?”
Touché, mom. Touché.
Now let’s read all about how mom did drugs.
OK, so according to my mom, my eight-year-old brain garbled this story pretty badly. She doesn’t want everyone thinking she’s some kind of junkie, so here’s her version:
* Mom had a neck spasm.
* She went to the emergency room on her own volition.
* They gave her Valium.
* She went home and sat, stupefied.
* She decided to be productive and wash the windows, but couldn’t figure out how.
To which I said, “Dude! Valium messed you up that much?!” and then mom went on and on about being sensitive to drugs and “That’s why I never did them!” (unspoken message: “And neither should you!”).
I’m sure the girl was, like, 15. Or 31. Re-reading this entry, I’m not sure how factually sound it is.
Keep in mind that the person reading all this was my sixty-something grade three teacher, Mrs. Matheson. She was such a lovely lady and I’m sure she wasn’t into any kind of illicit substance BEFORE reading this entry. In unrelated news, she retired at the end of the year.
And now, Bonus Drug Story #1:
This story is quasi-disturbing, I know. Why would you crush up Rockets? They’re perfectly good in their whole form! Oh, and the ten-year-olds creating and wearing cocaine necklaces. All bad! (*Also, I was not a bad ass, despite what you might’ve heard).
Bonus Drug Story #2!
I would still smoke bubble-gum cigarettes today, but my “loveably kooky” meter is full, and adding a bubble-gum cigarette habit would tip the scales to “downright weird.”
And now, for one final drug story. I didn’t realize I had so many when I started.
My teacher noticed I was eating something. And that I smelled like Pledge.
* This is one of the many, many, maaaany reasons I would’ve made a terrible gang member. “You’re looking for Fred? He’s right over there, officer. Let me lead you to him.”
Poor Mr. Denny. I’m sure he thought I was on something a lot stronger than lemon Vick’s. Again, why six-year-old Jess had the presence of mind to want to hide the stash, I don’t know.
And that’s why we should all remember:
“Drugs, drugs, which are good, which are bad?
Drugs, drugs, ask your mom (if you want nightmares forever), ask your dad!”
Drugs: only fun sometimes.
I mean, just say no.