I don't know who Minstrel Boy is, but this makes me want to know him. His testimony is an inspiration. I know a few people too prissy to speak openly of recovery from substance abuse and that is their loss. Maybe this man's testimony can reach one of them.
April 24, 1993
It started, like so many of my days back then, on an airplane. My first memory of the day is that I was sitting on an airplane going home. I was smugly proud of myself because I had only used enough dope to be straight. I wasn't stoned, just functional. That was a lot of my using at this point. I needed a lot to be functional though. A. Lot.
I get to the airport and there's nobody there to meet me. This isn't unusual either. My wife is a dedicated addict herself. (I tend to use the terms addict and alcoholic pretty interchangably. If I'm speaking of being an addict, assume I'm drinking in a pretty dysfunctional manner too.) So, I catch the shuttle from the airport and in about a half an hour I show up at the house. My young kids (there is one older daughter from my first failed marraige but she's an adult in Alaska at this point of the story) are there, and they come running up "Hi Da! Didja bring me anything? What? Cool! Thanks, gotta go!" They really don't care at this point whether or not I'm home. They know that my being home means mainly that their mother and I will be fighting viciously at some point in the very near future.
I go into the house and find lovely wife (even in the throes of addiction she remained lovely in a Kate Moss sort of way) is trying to find a vein. She's been trying since she knew that I was coming home and has been trying hard to get in shape to drive and pick me up. (Scary to think that there are people out there that are incapable of functioning unless they're legally under the influence ain't it?) So, being as good a husband as I ever was (which isn't all that good) I use my experience and skill and get her dose delivered where upon she plants a hello kiss on my cheek and goes about her business. So, here I am. Just got home, after going to all that trouble and expending energy on self control to show up straight and functional rather than stoned and nobody cares.
I know. I'll show them. I dig into my bags and I find a good sized going on stage dose (which at this point involves a 1/2 gram of heroin mixed with a 1/2 gram of cocaine and this is good shit too. The only people that get better dope than musicians are lawyers, judges and narcs) With a minimum of fuss the deed is done and I feel the rush. The problem this time is that even with all this dope on board. Standing there rushing my ass off, I still feel like shit. I know my life is a failure. My kids don't care whether or not I'm home, my wife, once she gets hers really has no use for me.
This is confusing. I have a job that people fantasize about having. I make pantsloads of money doing that job. (for you accountants a pantsload is way more than a shitload approaching the rarified zone of stupid money) I tour the world, playing music, listening to people bang their hands together and shout merely because I deigned to show the fuck up. How can my life suck this bad? I can't escape the fact that it does suck. It. Sucks. Out. Loud.
Now I'm really getting depressed. Refer to the dosages above. It is really impossible at this point to physically get more dope into my body. I'm drinking way more than a bottle a day. Yet, at the upper limits of consumption. Every. Thing. Sucks.
I go and find my lovely wife and tell her that I need to go to the DeTox at the hospital. This isn't unusual behavior on my part either. Generally at the end of a tour I spend a week or two bringing my habit down to managable levels. Not with the idea of living a clean and sober life, but being able to get a buzz off a quarter gram and a double shot of Jameson's.
She takes me, I check in. The journey began. It was the best thing I've ever done. A few days into the detox process, I had a heart attack. If any of you are planning a heart attack I recommend having it while you are actually in the hospital. Survivability is better there.
While they had me at the medical wing of the hospital I got to enjoy lots of disapproving looks and glares from the folks who were trying to do things like find a vein. At one point I finally just said "Want me to do it?" There was also a very earnest young cardiologist who was looking at my readouts. He told me that according to the stuff he was reading this wasn't my first heart attack. I said "I guess speedballs kick the shit outta them."
He didn't even grin. But, you know, a sense of humor is not high on my list of things to look for in a cardiologist. Save that for the shrinks.
Anyway, those little kids have grown up to be pretty damned impressive young adults. I may not be aging all that gracefully, or well for that matter, thing is, since that day sixteen years ago, I've made it a point to be an eyewitness to my own life.