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Fumbling Towards Forty: Drugs

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When I went to college for journalism we were told at one point if we wanted to secure a good job you have to scrub your social media accounts. Employers will find your photos. I lost a lot of good photos of myself due to that.

Fumbling Towards Forty: Prologue
Fumbling Towards Forty: The Internet
F
umbling Towards Forty: Camping

For some reason, I don’t really know what it was, I wasn’t interested in drugs as a kid. Any of them. Maybe it was being around a mother and father who smoked indoors, and all of their friends smoked indoors, and pretty much everyone growing up smoked indoors. Maybe it was how my father went to rehab in the 1980s for alcohol, something I was too young for.

Alcohol

I used to say my body was a temple and I wouldn’t get into it. The first time I had alcohol was stealing my mom’s Kahlua mudslides. In eighth grade we went to Mike’s house to drink beers and pretended we were feeling it. I remember for New Years Eve 1999 there was a bottle of champagne and I decided to drink it alone because if the world was going to end I might as well try alcohol now. It sucked. I did get a little buzzed. I was 14.

I had a birthday party for turning 16 where I invited a bunch of friends to an empty room at a hockey arena in Chatham and I had someone buy alcohol for me. One of my friends Brad (rest in peace) drank pretty much all of my alcohol on me. Happy Birthday to me. I think I had one cooler. I remember I invited this older girl from a different high school and she showed up with her friends paper bagging their alcohol.

Patrick O’Ryan’s around 2006

I went to some parties but I really didn’t drink like other teenagers did. It wasn’t until I turned 19 and I finished high school I started drinking regularly. It was due to working at Wal-Mart. Working in the receiving area, we worked a shift where we got off at midnight. I think the shift was 3:30-12:00. One night they asked if I wanted to go to The Golden Tap. Yes, it was called The Golden Tap. We made urine jokes don’t worry. It was like a Wednesday night and I said okay.

This also ended up being my first time singing karaoke. They told me how singing talent didn’t matter just go up and sing. They told me to get a few drinks in me first. I went with Smirnoff Ice because it tasted better than draft beer. They told me whatever you do, do NOT sing Guns N Roses. I said fuck that. I sang Welcome to the Jungle. Terribly. But I can do the Axl Rose dance (which is actually the Davy Jones dance) and people cheered me on. Thus began a relationship with alcohol and karaoke.

At the time my ADHD was undiagnosed. It would go undiagnosed for another 11 years. My brain was an absolute mess, I had a ton of energy in my head and no way to really channel it. Getting drunk was a way to not think. I remember there was a club called Metro in Chatham (before there was a grocery store called Metro) and I remember getting wasted one night and dancing and at one point realizing, hey, I’m not thinking any thoughts right now. My brain is clean wiped. This feels nice.

Like many men in their early 20s I spent a lot of time drinking. I was broke and I had friends in university so I wanted to be around them as much as possible. There was a time I had no money in the Irish bar Patrick O’Ryans in Windsor and someone suggested I jig for money. I literally danced to the Irish music until I had enough money tossed at me to buy a pint of Alexander Keith’s. That’s what you do when you’re broke.

Drinking doesn’t just help you think less. It can also make you more interesting. Or at least it did for me. There’s a good video from College Humor about drinking personalities. It’s 100% correct for me on Cool Guy and Comedian. When I had the right amount of alcohol in me I could bat way above my hitting level.

The Loop on Halloween.

It’s kind of funny to me when random anonymous people on the internet yell at me that I’m a virgin since I’m now at the age where I could have accidentally been their father. I spent my 20s getting drunk, a lot, and blacking out, a lot, and waking up in strange beds, a lot.

My blackouts only started due to The LooP. The LooP. The best club Windsor ever had. I wrote a farewell to The Loop back in 2015. That Double Mud/Pure Mud made me black out many a weekend. I used to not think I had any drinking issues because I really only drank on the weekend. I would just go about my life all week, not even casually drink, and then Saturday hit it so hard I would wake up in random places.

I’ve told people before, but one time I woke up and I was in someone’s house. There were no photos of people in the house. There was also nobody else in the house. The front door was locked, the backscreen door was not. And there I was just randomly in this person’s home. I don’t know who I slept with. I don’t know how I got there. The walk home was over an hour. This is a story I feel good enough to share.

I eventually realized the blackouts were a bad thing and tried to minimize them by drinking more water. Would I call myself an alcoholic back then, even though I was only drinking one day a week? I would say yes, even if I controlled it without help. I was going too far and needed to back up.

The last time I blacked out was maybe a year or two ago. I wasn’t just drunk but on some other stuff as well. I ended up saying something really offensive to someone and it wasn’t one of those, “Your true feelings revealed” but something I didn’t even believe at all. That’s made me a bit weary of ever getting that drunk again outside of say a camping trip.

Mimosa Club

Chevrolet ad outside of Cliff Bells

Around 2014/2015 my friend Joel and I started The Mimosa Club. It was thanks to the show You’re The Worst and their Sunday Funday where they get drunk on a Sunday afternoon with mimosas. We found out that in Detroit there was a jazz bar called Cliff Bells that had unlimited mimosas for around $11 US. I would create a Facebook event group and we’d invite people and have to set up reservations. This led to some of the most entertaining drunk experiences of my life. We’d drink like idiots in this dark jazz club and walk outside and feel like vampires seeing the sun. We’d hit up the variety store to buy a cheap bottle of vodka then drop it all into a giant Slurpee from 7-11 and then just wander Detroit as dumb drunks. These are some of my favourite times with friends.

At one point the staff at Cliff Bell’s started calling us THE CANADIANS as in they knew when I called for the reservation that THE CANADIANS were coming and were going to drink a lot of Mimosas. There was two occasions where they gave up pouring us the drinks and just put two giant pitchers on our table. They once ran out of orange juice because of us. We took that unlimited deal to the limit.

Every time we left the bar was when the real mess happened. Whether it’s wandering neighbourhoods in Detroit and being invited to cookouts or going to Steve’s (rest in peace) or just paper bagging it and meeting the locals. We still always got back to Canada and sometimes kept drinking.

Some of these photos are really special to me. I’m not friends with all of these people anymore. A lot of them I’m still friends but not as close. Some I don’t talk to at all. But we shared this and there will always be a place in my heart for them that they did.

Unfortunately, setting up parties like this can be a headache. Eventually it became too hard to get people to commit to the experience and we stopped hosting them. Also it would get messy with couples and exes and all of that. The other issue is it turned out all you can drink mimosas was illegal and just nobody enforced it in Detroit. I believe we hosted around 20 of them, plus a couple birthdays where people would just bring a bottle of orange juice or prosecco and we’d mix them ourselves.

Cigarettes

When I got to high school my mom told me that she bought cigarettes for my sister so if I wanted cigarettes instead of getting it from someone in school she’d just buy it for me. I asked her if she could buy me a carton of cigarettes but I was going to sell them instead.

Thus began my time as a drug dealer selling cigarettes to minors. While being a minor.

In the ninth grade I ended up knowing a lot of people. Not because everyone liked me and I was the coolest. It was because I sold cigarettes. My high school was a Catholic high school and I think due to uniforms we didn’t have a split of jocks and preps and goths and geeks and so on. We had those, but it wasn’t as prevalent. The real split was smokers and non-smokers.

All of the smokers knew me because I would sell cigarettes. I think I would buy a carton of 10 back then for $40 and sell each pack for $5 to make a $1 profit. Every carton I made $10 basically. This was back when older kids would try to sell the niners (ninth graders) a cigarette a quarter a piece. So I ended up doing decent business for a while.

Eventually I gave it up because people tried to just owe me when they didn’t have the money. It wasn’t worth the hassle anymore. Besides, selling burned copies of videogames and movies was more lucrative.

I should back it up. How about me smoking? I did once. It was Carol’s birthday party in eighth grade and Rico handed me a cigarette on the porch. I thought hey everyone in my family smokes I might as well start. And I sucked the whole fucker down. I think there was maybe a stub left. I coughed my lungs out for two weeks after that. It was like I did my own smoking punishment to myself. I never smoked after that. Maybe I did blacked out but I have no memory any other time of smoking a cigarette.

Marijuana

The summer before we went to high school, Randy and Dorian had this weed plant and they wanted to smoke it. They asked if I wanted to as well. Hey sure. The problem was the plant was wet. So we went to Dorian’s house and we microwaved it.

I want you to read what I just wrote and know that 100% of it is true. And what is also true is that we smoked it. It did nothing for me. After that I didn’t care to ever smoke weed.

I’ve had friends and family members and love interests who all smoked weed. One time someone gave me their weed to hold and then left the bar in an angry huff. They also didn’t tip the waitress. I tipped the waitress on his behalf and that made her like me. She asked me if I had any pot. Why yes I got some, you can have it. Remember what I said about cool guy after a few drinks? I was smooth that night. The guy never asked me about the weed he gave me either.

I have on multiple occasions (and only one I remember) smoked weed just because a girl I liked was smoking it and wanted me to smoke with her. It has never made me want to smoke more.

Marijuana has absolutely zero appeal to me. I’m glad it’s legal. Tax that shit and let people smoke up in peace. But it will never be my thing.

One might say that’s proof that marijuana isn’t habit forming but I can tell you that I know so many people who claim they could quit any day but then also say they gotta smoke to drive, they gotta smoke after waking up, they gotta smoke to calm down, and so on. I do agree the government was stupid about the reality of it for years, but stop pretending it isn’t habit forming or addictive. Anything can be addictive. Videogames can be addictive. Social media can be addictive. Your weed is not special.

Other Drugs

I started this talking about how we were told to be careful about what photos we have online because employers could see it. So it might be a risk for me to talk about the things I’ve done in the past beyond legal government regulated substances. I would like to keep working.

There are also people who hear about some drugs and react to it and judge you as a person because you did it. So it’s really not fit for a blog like this.

But I’ve tried most things. Not heroin due to a fear of needles. But mostly everything else. Some I liked. Some I didn’t like. I have no need for any of them in my life going forward, but some would be fun in the right occasion.

I will say this. In this photo? I am not sober. My mind is in another place. And it was great.

My Body is No Longer a Temple

I wonder what 19 year old me before I finished high school who never got drunk or considered doing other drugs would say about 39 year old me. I used to think my nose was too big to do cocaine and that I’d instantly overdosed if I tried. What would he say about me now other than dude how did you gain 50lbs and how did we keep our hair when everyone else didn’t?

I don’t know. I think the alcohol wouldn’t surprise him. I bet not smoking weed or cigarettes maybe would. I think back then I still thought it would just be a matter of time, especially to ensure I didn’t lose the social aspect. That said, I think the blackouts would disappoint him. I watched friends of mine at 15 years old get too drunk and basically have alcohol poisoning at parties. Ending up like that later in life he wouldn’t really appreciate.

It’s kind of funny to think about how much I drank in my 20s compared to my teens. What was I waiting for? I don’t know. I guess I needed a shove and karaoke ended up being it.

That said, it does feel like a lot of my hard partying days are actually in their twilight. I say twilight and not over because I plan to go to New Orleans for my 40th birthday and you can bet I’ll be just as drunk there as I was in 2018. I haven’t been to Put-in-Bay, Ohio since the pandemic and I absolutely loved it my two times there. I really need to go back and when I do I am passing out in a hotel room.

But my Double Mudd days are over. My Mimosa Club days are over. And most of my experimentation days are over. I actually do a little more casual drinking now, often to take the edge off of a shift of work. I don’t really like doing it, and I found it I only do it if I work more than four days consecutively. I would rather not to. I love the taste of a Moscow Mule but it’s too expensive to drink without a purpose. It’s also not why I drank. I drank to socialize. I drank to sing. Drugs were always social for me and never about being alone. I’d like to keep it that way.

And if there’s a photo of us partying back in the day that doesn’t have me tagged? Tag me on it. Would love to see it again.

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AWAW Aaron Wrotkowski 2024