Moments I recall that are all–must be?–part of today’s #americant opioid problem galore (see links below). The funny thing about this little list of recollections is that all the parties involved had something to do with Vegas. …I think.
While drinking a beer and waiting for an international flight at PHL a few years back I’m sitting between Cutie and Young Gun at a pub. Cutie asks if I’ve got any Speed because she doesn’t want to fall asleep on the plane before she arrives in Vegas.
“Speed?” I ask. “The last time I heard someone your age use that term I was working post production on the movie Vanishing Point?”
There is a pregnant pause while Young Gun on my other side rummages around in his shoulder bag and Cutie frivolously contemplates my response by turning her head to the side like a pug.
Cutie can’t be more than thirty-five and is dressed in expensive clothes that look as though they might come from Über-GAP. She’s thin, tight and probably walks on heels as though they are tennis shoes. She’s got a beautiful leather shoulder bag and one of those small Tumi rolling suitcases that’s glossy black. Since I’m on an evening flight to Europe I’m wondering why, with a five hour flight to Vegas, that will put her there in the early evening, she needs to be awake. Nomatter.
The pause is over and so is my mix with Cutie. Young Gun answers her question.
“I’ve got some Ritalin,” Young Gun says.
Cutie smiles and, as if I’m not even there, reaches across my face, the hair of her forearm is thicker than mine, and takes two pills out of Young Guns right palm. The pills have a dove engraving on one side and a sideways 8 on the other.
While visiting family in rural Virginia I’m out grocery shopping for the family dinner. I’m having a hard time finding wet mozzarella cheese in the huuuuugeness of the store. I make my over to the deli counter and stand in front of the glass next to a few people hoping I could get some answers and/or directions to what I’m looking for. Three clerks are desperately slicing and packing deli stuff behind the counter when I over hear two people waiting in line next to me, who obviously haven’t seen each other in quite a while, chit-chat.
Pseudo-Friend 1: It’s good you’ve been well. You look great.
Pseudo-Friend 2: Yeah, not always the case. But thanks.
Pseudo-Friend 1: Say, do you still have any of that… (I can’t make out what she says).
Pseudo-Friend 2: Sure. Got some right here. You want?
Pseudo-Friend 1: Oh. You’re a doll-baby. This is my day!
One of the clerks is talking to a customer she just gave sliced honeyed ham and mentions how she, unlike most people in the store that she is obviously referring to, isn’t gonna inherit anything like everybody else is. I can’t help but catch a glimpse of the clerks rotting teeth as she talks to much making other customers wait. I think to myself, this is 2015 America! Who has teeth here like our dentally challenged inbred cousins in Engaland? Deli clerks do. Obviously. Oh my. Should rotten teeth be in/around deli meats?
It’s Pseudo-Friend 2’s time to order. While rummaging through her purse she belts out the ounces for honeyed-ham, spiced turkey, salami and a few others. When she’s done ordering and the rotten teeth clerk goes about gathering it all, she finds what she’s looking for in her purse but before she takes it out she turns to me.
Pseudo-Friend 2: Bit nosey today, eh mister good-lookin.
Smiling at me she pulls a small plastic pouch out of her purse that is sealed with a twist tie. The pouch is filled with what looks like white crumbs mixed with powder. She then notices her error.
Pseudo-Friend 2: Oh wait. Wrong one.
She returns to rummaging in her purse but then pauses and puts one hand on the shoulder of Pseudo-Friend 1.
Pseudo-Friend 2: Don’t worry, I’ve got it. By the way, when were you last in Vegas?
Pseudo-Friend 1: Funny you should ask. I’ll be there tomorrow afternoon. I’m just buying my kids some supplies for the weekend. They just love the ham from this deli.
I notice Pseudo-Friend 1’s shopping cart is full of chips, frozen hamburger patties, paper plates, hotdog buns, relish, frozen pizzas, pickles, plastic containers full of potato salad, ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc., etc. Her cart alone is a fourteen year old’s dream. I guess.
Pseudo-Friend 2 removes another plastic pouch with a different colour twist tie. The pouch is full of at least twenty or so green pills. She hands the pouch to her pseudo-friend and then turns to me again.
Pseudo-Friend 2: What’s the matter, good-lookin, never seen the white rabbit before.
Pseudo-Friend 1 holds up the pouch for a few seconds so that I could inspect it. The pills all have the indentation of a rabbit.
Friends of my mother are having a family crisis. Because of an illness their son has been transferred to a hospital in Baltimore. When I hear them say that they are afraid to make the drive (they are very old) I volunteer to drive them. They are grateful. After I drop them off the hospital I park the car and proceed to take a walk around the city. I eventually find a coffee shop (yea, you know which one) and order a double espresso, a bottle of fizzy water and an oatmeal cookie. I find a window seat where I hope to take in the scenery of my beloved #americant and the vibrance I’ve been missing since becoming an expat a quarter century ago.
Within moments of sitting down, just after my first sip of espresso, two young people (mid-twenties maybe) sit at a table near me. They both have über large paper cups of what I guess are lattés. One of them has brought the sugar dispenser from the condiments table with him, including three or four wooden stirrers. One guy grabs the sugar dispenser and begins to fill his über-cup as though there is no tomorrow. The other takes one of the stirrers and stirs his latté with the same vehemance. The guy with the sugar has filled his cup so much that the frothy milk begins to overflow, dripping onto the table. I’m waiting for the other guy to grab the sugar dispenser but he doesn’t. He just stirs and stirs and stirs.
Sugar: You need to be there for brunch on Sunday.
Stirrer: I told you. There are no more flights. I’m on standby but you know how it is with Vegas on the weekends.
Sugar: Why didn’t you book earlier?
Stirrer: Come on. I’ll get there. I’m leaving for Miami tonight. I should get there Saturday evening. Worse case, I’ll arrive Sunday morning and rush to the hotel.
Sugar: Yea, right.
Stirrer: By the way, how’d it go the other night. You like the new mix?
Sugar: It was good. I’m not sure I noticed much of a difference to last time. But it was good. You got anymore?
Stirrer puts a small pink envelope in front of Sugar. Sugar looks in it. Sugar smiles.
Links that motivated this post: