The Life and Times of a Total Loser (Part Six)

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Okie dokie, lets keep this train rolling. We’re about to get to the good stuff. Last time I did one of these, I told you I moved from Northeast Ohio to Central Florida and stayed there for a very uneventful year. Mostly all I did was hang with Dad and play Counter-Strike. If you remember Craig from “The Life and Times (Part Four)” he moved in with us after I’d lived in FL for a bit too. After that, all I did was hang out with Craig and/or Papadukes and play Counter-Strike. I smoked a lot of pot too.

(In case you’re new and don’t know that’s implied)

I’m gonna kick this off during this stint in Florida though, because a momentous occasion of sorts did occur there: My 18th birthday. That’s right muh dudes, I’m all grown up from this point forward in the story!

(Legally, at least. Today I’m in my 30’s and I’m still not an adult in any other regard)

My 18th birthday was pretty uneventful for being such a major event. As soon as the clock struck midnight on my birthday I took off to the gas station to legally purchase a pack of smokes for the first time in my life. They carded me, just like I hoped. It turned out that my I.D. couldn’t be used to buy cigarettes ‘til 6 AM. I was furious that those 6 hours mattered so much in comparison to 18 years that someone decided to write that shit into the legal code. That sorta thing is why I have trouble accepting the concept of laws.

Other than that I just smoked a little more pot than I would on average day, since Citrus County, Florida is a goddamn ghost town devoid of people I could party with. I didn’t know anyone other than my weed dude. You can’t have a “party” if you don’t know people, after all. Technically I party solo nonstop all day, every day. Society has a different idea of “partying” than I do. I might’ve chilled with my weed dude, I doubt it. I wasn’t really fond of his company I just liked his weed.

The way I ended up leaving Florida is a bit of a tale as well. Like I said, where I lived in FL wasn’t very densely populated. I was living in a small town called Homosassa Springs in Citrus County, which is about an hour~ish north of Tampa Bay. Because the gulf coast of Florida is so far off the beaten path, there’s no interstate running parallel to the shoreline the way I-95 does on the other side of the state. Instead there’s only US-19, which serves as Citrus County’s major highway.

One day, I was taking Craig to work and because I’d been out smoking weed, Craig was late. To make up for it, I’d decided to throw some extra-speedy special sauce on my driving technique. Like I just told you, US-19 isn’t an interstate. That means it’s lined with storefronts and restaurants like most non-interstate highways are. A guy was making a left turn out of a restaurant’s parking lot, which from my point of view was on the right side of the road. He was trying to get from the parking lot to the median and then merge over, but another driver pulled into the part of the median he was aiming for and stopped there. That forced him to stop right in the middle of the highway I was speeding down at 70 mph. In case you haven’t done the math yet, that means he stopped directly in my path and I was going to fast to react. I hit his brand new white SUV directly, and our vehicles briefly made a “T” shape before his shiny sports utility vehicle was sent rolling from the force of the collision. I was a little preoccupied with shitting my pants at that exact moment, so I don’t remember the exact number of flips the SUV did, but it was between 2 ½ and 3 ½. The ½ part I’m certain of because when it was all said and done, the dude’s vehicle was upside down, with the wheels on top and sunroof on bottom. I dunno if you know this, but sunroofs don’t function properly in that sort of position.

(The speed limit drops 55 and 45 right around where this all occurred, before you go thinking I’m some kind of lunatic who goes 70 in a 35. Do I seem crazy to you?)

After a brief moment sitting there stunned, testing how far I could get my jaw to drop from “What the fuck, did that really just happen?” type disbelief, I jumped out of my car and ran over to the driver side window to make sure nobody was hurt. I never saw anyone get out, but when I ducked down to look into the window the SUV was totally empty. The utter shock and confusion I was feeling skyrocketed l

as I thought, “Holy shit! The driver was a ghost!” I was relieved that nobody was alive enough in the vehicle for me to have killed them, even though I was still panicked and full of confuzzlement. I stood up then turned back towards my truck so I tell Craig and my other passenger (Mike) all about the spectral aspects of the SUV’s pilot, only to find myself face-to-face with an old man who totally wasn’t the actual driver.

(Except the SUV’s driver was a ghost. The old man was actually driving the vehicle I t-boned)

He wasn’t hurt, and neither was his wife that was in the passenger seat, thank God; he sure was really pissed off though. He told me I was speeding, I just apologized and told him there was nothing I could do. He told me I coulda driven the speed limit. He might have had a point. Some dude pulled us apart and asked me what happened.

“I dunno man I was driving my buddy to work and then he just pulled into the middle of the road then stopped. After I hit him I…”

The dude cut me off there by saying, “Stop. Right there. That’s all you need to say. Everything else came after the accident, and you could end up making yourself liable adding anything else on. Don’t say anything about you two talking just now; don’t say anything about your speed. Tell your side of the story not his. Exactly what you just said is what you tell the police, because that’s the truth. I saw that whole thing. Nothing here is your fault. That dude stopped in your way like that because he wants an insurance check”

I can’t say whether that last part is true or not, but when we got to court the old dude did work abnormally hard to switch the record so it said I was at fault. He had this big hand drawn diagram hand drawn on a chalkboard showing step-by-step why he HAD to stop in the middle of the road because the median was occupied, so it was my fault due to the fact that I was speeding. The judge told him, “His speed is irrelevant. You can’t just stop right in the middle of 19 like that,” and called it a day.

A month or two later, his insurance company cut me a check to the tune of twenty-five hundred dollars. I bought a gold Ford Escort ZX-2 used for about fifteen hundred dollars almost immediately after I got the check, which meant I had about a G leftover. I decided to use that thousand bucks as startup money to get my own place and set out on my own for the first time in my life. I was an adult now. I was supposed to be out of Mom and Dad’s place once I turned 18. If I was getting my own apartment, it was gonna be an apartment I could party without rules in, and Citrus County was too far out in the boonies for my tastes. That meant my options were Maryland or Ohio

(I already know the complaint my editor is gonna make. $1,000 = “a grand” = “a G” for those unfamiliar with cool-person speak)

I devised a plan with my best friend Larry from L&T (Part Five) that I’d leave Florida and the two of us would get a place somewhere in Summit County Ohio where the two of us met. He grew up there, so before I ever left Citrus he’d already called around and looked at a few places to get an idea about what we could expect as far as startup price. We discussed it and decided I’d need somewhere in the ballpark of $750~ish dollars if I was gonna handle first month’s rent and a deposit. With the $250~ish leftover I’d be able to feed myself while I looked for a job, cover gas for the drive from FL to OH, and since Larry was working he agreed to help me out with pot and other party essentials while I got on my feet.

At first I talked about a similar plan except with my other best friend Craig from L&T (Part Four) as my roommate and my hometown in Maryland, Waldorf, as the setting. I *wanted* to go back to Waldorf where I grew up, but I decided that wasn’t realistic. Craig was basically guaranteed a job at the Taco Bell in Waldorf, so I coulda made this move while reasonably expecting him to fill Larry’s spot. There were some problems with trying all thing in Maryland that made it so Waldorf didn’t seem like a viable option.

The only real job job I’d ever had at that point in my life was restoring properties under-the-table with my step dad’s friend Andy(?). My mom was in the process of divorcing my stepdad, which meant I couldn’t use Andy as a reference. I also dropped out of both high school and college, for those just joining to the L&T series. This meant I’d probably only be able to get minimum wage service-industry jobs. Minimum wage was about equal in both places, but the cost-of-living was considerably higher in Maryland. Plus Mamadukes was in Ohio, which I saw as a nice ripcord I could pull if my poor decision-making skills ever risked leaving me homeless.

(Spoiler Alert: I’ve got really poor decision-making skills)

The plan was more likely to succeed in Ohio, so I packed my computer and all my clothes in my little ZX-2, Craig did the same, and then we set out on the road. Craig was getting dropped off in Waldorf, Maryland where we grew up; I was destined for Akron. Only around a year and a half after I’d left the city promising I’d never go back, too. Not too shabby imo. Honestly, that might be the longest I’ve ever kept a promise

The drive ahead of me was a long one, and I’ve been informed that not all my readers are from the USA so I’m gonna include some details in this next anecdote that I’d normally assume are unspoken.

The trip from Homosassa Springs, Florida (An unknown ghost town in the middle of nowhere that’s been officially dubbed “Manatee Capital of the World”) to Waldorf, Maryland (A suburb of the United State’s capital Washington D.C., I’m unofficially dubbing “The Hometown of Legends”), is about 12-14 hours. Most of that time is spent on the massive interstate superhighway that runs alongside the east coast of the United States, I-95. However, since I-95 is on the east coast of Florida and we were starting out on the gulf coast of Florida, my lifelong friend and I had to first cross the massive swamp of a peninsula known to the world as “The Sunshine State, Florida”.

At one point while we were navigating the mish-mash of state highways we had to use to cross said swamp, Craig and I found ourselves trapped behind a massive build-up of traffic that for some reason was going 35 mph (miles per hour) in a 55 mph zone.

Here in America, when a highway moves both ways but only has two lanes, we drive in the lane that’s right-of-center. If I wanted to pass this slow moving semi-roadblock, I had a good 15-20 automobiles to get around. To do so meant crossing a dotted yellow line that signifies people can drive left-of-center in order to pass slow moving roadblocks like this one. I learned from this story that the people who devised that system of highway design intended long lines of traffic like that to be taken piece-by-piece with several separate pass maneuvers rather than all-at-once. I only have that knowledge in retrospect though, and I wouldn’t know it at all if it weren’t for what happened when I went to pass 20 cars all in one move.

About ¾ of the way through executing this oversized pass I found myself facing an 18-wheeler. Craig said “Oh shit” and dropped an F-bomb as my brain switched modes from “Autopilot” to “Execute Panic Maneuvers.” Luckily there was an opening in the line of traffic right next to me in the line of traffic that I could pull into. I actually made it into the gap without a problem, and Craig’s “Oh shit!” was followed by a congratulatory “Nice.” Unfortunately, when my brain switches into “Execute Panic Maneuvers” mode I tend to overcompensate, so mistook that “Nice” as a signal that I needed to drive my car off the road into the muddy roadside drainage ditch.

The car wasn’t damaged and neither of us were hurt, but we needed to call a tow truck because Ford Escorts don’t really handle off-road mudding all that well. The superpass was started with the intention of saving time, but it really added a good two hours onto the trip. To this day, Craig reminds me that I he thought I realized we were safely in the gap, woulda been fine if I just relaxed after I’d made it right-of-center. Here’s the moral of the story: Panicking only makes things worse.

(My life is like Aesop’s Fables!)

There’s actually a couple Aesop’s Fable-like stories over the next few years, but to give you an accurate picture of what life was like for the three years between from I was 18 up until I was 21 I really only need to tell you three different stories: “The First Time I Went to County Jail”, “The Time Socrates Took Over The World”, and “The Waterworks Fiasco”. The watered down Waterworks Fiasco is already in “Well… That Was Definitely An Experience…” but I’ll copy paste it over when the right time comes. I’m gonna put all three tales in order chronologically, which means the time I found myself in Summit County jail comes first.

Anyway I dropped Craig off at a buddy’s place in a Waldorf trailer park, then hung around a couple days partying with some of the “surplus” $250 from my $1,000 starting budget before setting of on the last leg of the journey. Craig was my best friend for most of my life and we were pretty sure we weren’t seeing each other in person again for a while, so I figured using my discretionary funds on weed was alright.

The drive from D.C. to Akron could be covered on a full tank of gas, I still had about $900~ish dollars when Craig and I crossed into Charles County, and I can’t rest peacefully at night unless I know I’ve done something insanely irresponsible. So like I said, when Craig and I got to Fatass’s trailer I decided deviating from my original plan to party with Craig for a few days seemed reasonable. When I showed up at Larry’s place in Cuyahoga Falls four days later, I had about $650.

(That’s $100 short of the budget Larry and I agreed on. So far so good)

That wasn’t a gamebreaker really, it just meant we had to settle for the lower end of the price range we were looking at apartments in. We ended up looking at a place in east Akron that was something like $350 a month, and since everyone knows you immediately take the first apartment you look at without asking around about the neighborhood or comparing it to other options, we agreed we’d take it.

The only question we asked the landlord that other than pricing and rules was, “Why are so many houses on this street boarded up?” Her response was a fun one, because it was cryptic and vague: “You may wanna look into that...” I really love when people make you work for answers like that. I feel like the knowledge sticks better if need *earn* it. Plus, things are to no fun if they’re too easy. Imagine how boring it’d have been if she gave an actual answer like:

“The tenants had meth labs in them that got raided by the police. <State/Federal>(?) laws force the city to condemn former meth labs. Those laws are in place to protect people; living in those houses is hazardous to people’s health due to the toxic chemicals byproducts that’re created when an unskilled chemist synthesizes methamphetamine. Everyone who lives in this dangerous slum knows that, ya silly goose!”

Why would she make things easy on me like? What reason does she ha...

You know I’m gonna break the golden rule of writing and tell you the vague, unclear thing I’ve been beating around the bush about: The apartment we got was a shithole on one of the worst streets in Akron, and I’m fucking dumb for agreeing to spend money on it.

Gotta make bad decisions in order to learn how to make good ones, right?

Within a week, our apartment had been broken into. Good thing we didn’t have much worth taking, so all we lost was a Gamecube and a TV. Luckily, I hadn’t brought my computer in yet. We didn’t have any furniture either. I had a blow-up mattress I kept on threw on the floor but no pillows. I balled up the hoodie I never wore and used that as a pillow instead. No blank either, just a bed sheet to cover myself with at night. At least it was summer so I never got too cold, I guess.

We also had no hot water, because we never got the gas turned on. The tub didn’t have a shower head either. That meant cold baths for Dave. I’m incredibly irresponsible with money, and never went grocery shopping; instead I ate fast food. I also spent way too much money on pot. That meant Larry and I never had enough money to get furniture. Well… we bought a $20 couch from Salvation Army but we didn’t measure hallways and doors first, so when we got it home we found out we couldn’t get the thing into the house. The worst part was there was no A/C and it was the middle of summer.

I got a job like Larry and I planned though. I delivered pizzas for a corporate chain that prides itself on a narcissistic view on the quality of their ingredients and it’s paternal qualities. That was cool, except people don’t tip for shit in the hood. I had to constantly be on guard about being robbed on every run too. If I’d kept the job for any length of time, I inevitably would been eventually. I know that tip thing sounds greedy, but the commission I got for gas on each run didn’t actually cover the gas I’d use, and so I had to pay a small bit of my own earnings into gas. Plus working with your meth dealer at a job where you regularly have loose cash in the form of tips gets *really* difficult, because meth dealers use wizard magic to drain money.

OH YEAH! Larry and I got addicted to meth too. He was always telling me about how awesome it was when he was addicted to it before we met, and in case you haven’t noticed I have an open-minded approach to drug use. One day we met this shady fucker named Joey through a friend of Larry’s sister, and he ended up having a line on the stuff, which ended in us all doing lines of the stuff. I’ve talked about this in another memoir though, and the meth isn’t how I ended up in jail. I was just setting the scene and introducing the characters “Joey” and “Joey’s younger brother” because they’re part of the sequence of events.

(I know… lots of complex writer jargon in this chapter. It’s part of an effort to be more professional about my writing)

So Joey was a dude who played middleman to help me get meth when the meth dealer at my work was all dried up. We also hung out on occasion due to it being mutually beneficial. There’s an unspoken agreement between certain sociopaths that even though we have no respect for each other, we tolerate the fact that we can’t stand each other if there’s a benefit that makes it self-serving enough. Basically, we disagreed on the best way to be shady. I believed in being fauxgood to trick people into dropping their guard. He believed in boring, uninventive shadiness. However, he knew a girl who was just my type though. I forgot her name, so let’s name her “Homegirl”.

Homegirl was grimy as fuck. I mean she didn’t take advantage of me; she got me high as much as I did her. We actually lightweight competed to put each other into debt with the things. It was true sociopath-love. What I say “Homegirl was grimy” I mean she had really loose morals, she was highly manipulative, and she used the fact that she was perfectly molded to society’s blue-eyed, blonde-haired standard of beauty to rob suckers blind.

A true catch like Homegirl changed the situation enough so that I’d tolerate Joey hanging to get the free drugs I’d try impressing Homegirl, and in return he’d used his connection to Homegirl to put her and I in the same room. I’m not going to go into gruesome details, but the machiavellian triangle paid out on the investment acceptably enough. Me and homegirl weren’t dating or anything, but it wasn’t a total waste of effort either.

She was shady as fuck though, and so was everyone she knew. She lived across the street from a gas station, which is important because one day she and I stepped out front to see one of her shady-as-all-hell associates walking up to us with two cases of beer saying “Quick you gotta let me inside!” I didn’t know this dude, but she did, which I took as good enough reason not to trust dude. Also he was being chased by a geriatric security guard who really wanted his autograph for some reason. I guess Homegirl’s friend was famous in the security community or something?

The point is Homegirl knew the dude, which meant neither of us trusted him just running up into the house to avoid handing out autographs. Me and my morally-deficient friend wordlessly communicated this thought to each other, “Fuck that. it’s his own dumbass fault for stealing beer. This isn’t our problem,” with some eyerolls and shrugs and went inside without finishing out smokes. I forgot if she gave him an excuse; if she did it was a shitty one I’m sure. Beerthief wouldn’t take a hint though. He kept knocking on the door and yelling pointless things like “C’mon, I need help! Please?!?” and “I thought I was your friend!” in through the window as he led OldFart Asset Protection in circles around the house. I dunno why he thought we needed those useless pieces of trivia about him. He eventually figured out the secret code that made me give a shit when he yelled “Whoever’s got this gold piece of shit out here, he’s writing down your license plate #!”

(I mean I know he was upset he was upset because he couldn’t outrun a senior citizen, but did he really need to describe my piece of shit car truthfully by calling it “gold”? That hurt)

Now, even though dude insulted me by accurately describing my car, the security guard represented the hand of authority and when the hand of authority starts writing down my plate number for no reason, I start verbally assaulting that hand. Back in these day, I lived by a motto: “Fuck ‘authority’ right in its dickhole. They can authorize deez nuts.”

(Good mantra)

After getting into it with Senior Citizen Security for a good 15 or 20 minutes, I went back inside and talked to Homegirl. I told her to distract the old fucker while Beerthief and I hopped in my car in got the fuck outta there. I was out of drugs, so she was looking for a way to get rid of me, and I’m sure the Beerthief/Octogenarian situation was annoying her, so she went out in front of the house and pulled the security guards attention, and we made our escape. Ezpz. I dropped Beerthief off at what I’m assuming was a crack house and he gave me a couple brews for my trouble.

You may be wondering how I ended up in jail if I got away clean like this. Well, when I was 18 I was essentially a different person. My cousin Vinny (yes, real name) used call me “The smartest dumbass on the planet,” and that’s a fairly accurate description. Once major problem was how horny I was. Like many (re: all) 18 year olds all I really cared about was shaboinkin’ and I knew the beer I’d just acquired could be used to help solve that problem if placed into the right hands. I figured Homegirl’s hands were the right ones. The problem was, when I got to her house the police were there questioning her.

Another major problem was I had a chip on my shoulder, and I bucked authority any chance I got. I figured showing Homegirl this talent might help with the first problem, so I parked right in her driveway and got out like nothing happened, more than ready to play dumb. Homegirl didn’t look impressed, even though her eyes went wide as she huffed and stomped her foot. I dunno what that was all about, but I don’t think she realized I had a plan and I was an expert.

The cop was about my height, but a good 20 pounds heavier with a bullet proof vest on and black hair. He looked at me and gave me a big smile. Real friendly guy. You could tell he was a people person because he a took a real interest in me by asking questions like “What’s your full name?”, “Is this your car?”, and “Where’s the Beerthief?”.

I won’t drag this out: I thought I was gonna be slick and just play dumb while I denied everything, the security guard had already told him my plate number before I showed up and he’d called it out on the radio so he had proof of it, and the fact that I kept cussing out the police while telling him he held no authority over me made him wanna prove me otherwise. You may remember that I’d been in lock down facilities before so I knew what not having my freedom was like. A mental hospital and a rehab intended for minors was an entirely different beast from the Summit County jail though.

I don’t know who the fuck I thought I was or why I thought I was special, but I’d never walk into a county jail with the sense of entitlement I had on this stint.

This was all 13 years ago, so a lot of it is a fog, but I remember pulling into a garage where some cop demanded my cigarettes. I had the nerve to ask him why they weren’t going with the rest of my property:

“We throw them away. We have a problem with C.O.s (Corrections Officers) sneaking them to trustees. Even if I let you keep ‘em, they wouldn’t be waiting when you got out.”

“Well fuck you they’re mine you can’t just throw away shit I paid good money for!!!”

“Who the do you think you are kid? I dunno what rights you think you have, but you’re a criminal so you’re not entitled to shit. Give ‘em up or I’m tazing you for resisting”

“Fuckin’ taze me then pri…”

The arresting officer slammed me against the wall, pulled my cigarettes out of my pocket, handed them over, and then marched me to the drunk tank. For hours I constantly pestered them telling them they needed to do their jobs and get me to my room so I could sleep. I needed a lawyer, the drunk tank was out of toilet paper, it was 2AM now but they hadn’t brought me anything to sleep on, and yada yada yada.

The reason I wouldn’t go into a county jail with this attitude today is because I realize the reason my paperwork took so long and the reason none of my requests were getting filled is because I was shitting in their coffee, so they were shitting in mine back. It was a long time before I realized that though. At this point I time, I didn’t know how to work the jail system at all, and I was the absolute worst there ever was. A person couldn’t possibly suck at going to jail more than I did at 18. Here’s what I didn’t realize back then:

When you buck the system, the system bucks back.

So I sat in the drunk tank all night. Not only did my behavior piss off the C.O.’s, it pissed off the inmates. Eventually I shut up, but I had to be threatened with violence a few times before I did so.

At one point in that middle of the a night, a giant of man got brought in drunk as a skunk. He looked around the room and saw a bunch of experienced criminal acting how you’re supposed to act in that situation (aka. just chillin’), saw me sitting there all indignant about these imaginary things called “rights” I thought I had, and told me he needed my seat.

I knew he basically said “I can tell you’re green, that means I can treat you any type of way.” I also knew the correct answer was no. I still fuggin’ froze for a second before hesitantly shaking my head “no?” He let out a heavy grunt and seemed like he took the spirit of a bull as he half-turned to wind up a punch, or just make a show like he was gonna. My plan was to let him, and just dodge the haymaker so he ended up dumping his weight into a concrete wall. He decided his plan didn’t seem so great at the last second instead of firing off the hurricane blast. I don’t wanna make myself seem like a badass. I was just aware that letting him scare me outta my seat held consequences comparable to getting my jaw broke, and couldn’t decide whether I wanted my face shattered or my reputation. Luckily he thought better of it, so I didn’t need to.

Other than that the night was uneventful up until they strung 5 or 6 of us together with a series of chains and belts into what’s called “A Chain Fanclub” and marched us to court. Now, I was but a humble boy at this time, so I knew the proper way to handle the situation was to go into the courtroom, and before I was even called in front of the judge, demand my immediate release, like, 5 minutes ago.

When I finally got in front of the judge, she was so infuriated with how disruptive I’d been that I was removed and told I’d be allowed to enter my plea when I calmed down. No matter what I fought every single inch of the way, and when they got me in the holding cell and went to slam the door, I used ninja magic to quickly get my hand between the latch on the door and the receiver on the wall. The other dude in the cell was shocked that I’d stopped them from locking the door like that without them noticing. I knew better than to turn it into an escape charge by stepping out of the cell.

Eventually they took back in front of the judge under the condition that I’d *pretend* I wasn’t in charge. I agreed to be nice and let them have their way. The judge, the prosecutor, and myself all worked out something called a “Plea Deal” where they’d stop disobeying my will and release me if I said this word “Guilty” at the right time then lied and said I wasn’t promised anything to say it. Now, courts are weird, so you probably don’t understand any of that. The legal code assumes words are magical, and me saying that magic word “Guilty” would somehow make me unable to disobey the courts orders. I let them have their spell, then the officers who were working for me put us back in the “Chain Unit” and marched us back to the jail. I got ‘em to let me go though. That’s what I call a victory for “Not kneeling for the system.”

Except when we got back to the jail they finally booked me in and assigned me a pod. They swore they were just waiting for the release paperwork to come over from the court. The two buildings were connect so how long could it take? The drunk tank I was in all night was full though so they had to put me up on the pod while I waited. Long story short, don’t piss off the cops when you’re in jail, especially not on a Friday, because if they accidentally “lose” your paperwork then you’re sitting all weekend, and if you piss em off that paperwork is getting lost.

Looking back, that little ragebot thing I was doing coulda gotten me seriously hurt, or locked up for way longer than a 3-day weekend. (Columbus Day) Fuckin’ around with the C.O.s coulda gotten me charged with assaulting an officer if I pissed them off enough. I coulda triggered some violent felon just by annoying him. I had absolutely no clue how dangerous the place I was actually was back then, and I thought it was some sorta game. Dad eventually talked me down by saying “They have the keys and I don’t, otherwise you’d be out kiddo.” Pops always knew what to say.

Tuesday morning I was released, and I marched my happy ass from the jail to Homegirl’s where my car was parked. I was fucking dumb and left the keys with her, so my car ended up with Joey and his little brother. When I finally tracked the fucker down, the interior looked like they’d been living in it, my stereo was gone, all my CD’s were scratched because they were doing meth off them, and somehow nobody knew how all this shit happened.

I floated around Akron for a few more weeks before pulling that ripcord I mentioned earlier and goin’ to live with Mamadukes in the Cleveland area. At first we were in a 2-bedroom apartment, then Mommy bought a nice house in this fantasy place called Berea, Ohio where the idealized “American Dream” middle-class suburbia portrayed on TV is actually real and also I have a decade long criminal record and the majority of those legal debts in L&T Part One are owed.

This was before Berea Courts knew me, but they got to know me real quick. I walked into a gas station and asked for a pack of smokes. They asked for I.D. I gladly obliged. They put the cigarettes on the counter and asked for money. I used my five-finger discount and sprinted out the door. Mechanics working in that gas station’s auto repair shop chased me. I was drunk. I’m not very athletic. Again, marched into Berea jail like I owned the place, spent the whole time I was there battling cops, and made my life much much more difficult than it needed to be. Most of my trouble with Berea has been similar dumbassery resulting in “Public Intox” and “Disorderly Conduct”. There’s a couple weed charges. Still, Berea is the closest I’ve got to a hometown in OH. So that means Berea is where I was when Socrates took over the world.

Now that I’m thinking back, my memory is fuzzy on exactly how everything played out, but before I get there I’m gonna remind of you my essay “Well… That Was Definitely An Experience…” where I had a buddy named “Luke”. The way I met Luke was by sitting in Mom’s basement playing Counter-Strike. Larry and I were putting together a team, and we gave a tryout to some dude named “Droopy”. After a few scrims (practice matches) we decided we were clicking with the kid, so we asked where he lived to see if he could compete at LAN tournaments with us. As it turned out, he lived about 15 minutes from me.

That was good for me, because as a newcomer to Cuyahoga County I was having trouble setting up that first magical connect that opened the doors to the drug underground. I asked Droopy if he’d be willing to commit a crime on the illegal drug black market, he gave me directions to his crib, about 15~ish mins later I was letting some high school kid a few years younger than me hop in my car. Droopy told me his real name was “Luke”, and like that I met one of the best friends I’ve ever had. At the time, I didn’t know that’s how it was gonna pan out.

The couple years were a cycle of smoking pot in Mom’s basement, doing magic mushrooms and LSD with Larry, Luke, and a couple of Luke’s friends, and occasionally arguing with Mom until I got my dumb ass arrested. When I left Akron and moved to Berea, I was still 18, but I’ve pretty much told you the story of the next 3 years because no truly major events except for two (maybe three) major manic episodes that got me hospitalized for my own safety.

“When Socrates Took Over The World” was the most interesting of these. I remember Mom and my younger brother Pat had gone outta town somewhere for a week, and I had the whole house to myself. I was smoking extra pot to celebrate, playing Counter-Strike, and surfing the web in the downtime between scrims.

Back in these days, I was really superstitious. Everything was a mysterious sign from the great beyond. I’d watch a Youtube video, which would trigger a thought, and then HOLY SHIT that idea I just had randomly and not suggested to me by a Youtube video suddenly had a video about it in the sidebar! Synchronicity! Signs From God! Wait… if I get signs from God… that means I’m a prophet! OR A SAINT! OR A SAINT PROPHET! OR FUCK IT I’M GOD HIMSELF LET’S START SEARCHING THE WEB FOR APOCALYPSE CONSPIRACY THEORIES!!!!!!

A lack of proper critical thinking skills combined with ultra-high self-confidence from a manic phase that had come on, and I was unable to see when something I’d thought up was batshit. On top of that, I intentionally sought out content from the side of the web that tells you “The ‘truth’ that ‘The Man’ doesn’t want you to hear.” For those of you new to the web, that means it’s the phony propaganda that some man does want you to hear, so you’ll buy his book. It was at this time that I became a fan of Alex Jones. That isn’t a joke. Any conspiracy bullshit I could glue my eyes to and accept unquestioningly, I was accepting it and acting insulted at the idea that it could be considered questionable. This was mixed with apocalyptic-type God conspiracies woven into that section of the internet. With about a half week between me and icky responsible Mommy having contact, these shitty ideas had plenty of time to brew.

By the time Mom got home I was sure I was a prophet, and that “God” was actually a race of aliens in outer-spice who’d created mankind with gene splicing so they could use us to mine Earth’s rare minerals. Also, there was a code written into the Bible, and if a person could decode it, “God” (as in the race of Reptilian aliens) would beam that person up to their space station behind jupiter that they used to regulate the solar system. Also they had a machine they could use to beam thoughts into my head, and one such thought was that I was their chosen champion on Earth. The also beamed the thought that most of the people in my life were handlers trying to stop me from figuring the codes to get onto the space castle, but that if I figured out said code I would be treated as an untouchable piece of divinity in space.

Make sense, right?

So first I told my Mom the I’d figured out the code by using the code, of course. She said “Huh what?” which was obviously more code, and I fucktard-dribbled more gibberish onto her thinking it was a code to get into space. Even the things I said which would’ve demonstrated I still had some grasp of rreality had to be translated into this allegorical code, according to the transmissions beamed into my head by “God”.

(And I can’t stress this enough: that was race of Reptilians according to what I believed at this moment)

After a lot of sneaky testing from my Mom, nurses, a physician, some financial aid lady, and probably a few other reptilian agents, I finally ended up at the final boss who was gonna get me into outer space: The psychiatrist. I forget exactly how the conversation when, but the moment where I was sure I was at the final line of the test, the psychiatrist asked me a question to which I knew there was only one obvious answer if all this reptogod spacebiblecode stuff were true. I proudly belted, “BECAUSE SOCRATES RULES THE WORLD!!!”.

K so. Another one of those. Some court ordered psychiatrist visits, constant battling with my Mom over taking meds because I thought my bipolar wasn’t a disorder and those psychotic breaks were “spiritual” experiences where I’d attained enlightenment (nope) and that’s the 18-21 days. Oh yeah, lots of weed, counter-strike, and psychedelics too.

I promised you guys a third story, “The Waterworks Fiasco” to characterize the psychedelia, but in reality that memoir is scheduled for next week. However, a very abbreviated spoiler version of the story is already in Well… That Was Definitely An Experience… so I’m gonna copypaste that over just in case you’re curious.

"The Waterworks Fiasco"

(Shitbag McDouchernose = My best friend Larry)

In this one, I was with Luke and a our friend "Shitbag McDouchernose-Supreme" (Love ya, bud) in a giant public park in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio called "Waterworks". We'd each dropped 8 hits of acid and went to see a movie called “Across the Universe”. It's a musical made from Beatles covers that's set to to trippy ass visuals. Great trip movie; never seen it sober.

The problem is, acid lasts longer than the runtime of a movie. We ended up walking around this massive public park to kill time. We had so much fuggin fun. Wish I had time to tell the tale. All night I kept asking Shitbag and Luke “What if cops come?!?!?” They told me if the cops came they'd say not to be in the park after dark and send us home. I sitll wouldn't let the paranoia die.

Eventually, a cop car did catch site of us crossing a road within the parks, and as soon as I saw those lights turn on my paranoia triggered and I started running. Luke and Shitbag split up; I had just forced them to run.

I was running on the edge of the road scared shitless when I had a genius thought: “Don’t run on the road, stupid! Cars drive on roads!” I ran into the clearing I was alongside, towards a nearby pavilion. I'd forgotten crucial information: Cars also drive on grass. The cop clipped my hip going about 10 mph, hopped out of the cruiser, dropped all his weight onto my back, and cuffed me.

It'd been raining on and off all night an my body got pressed into mud while he cuffed; then he pulled me over to the pavilion and started interrogating. I told him hold on let me catch my breath.Only if I had I.D. and I bought a second to breathe for the price of one Ohio driver's license.

Luke and Shitbag McDouchernose-Supreme were gone at this point and I'd honestly forgotten them. I was sittin' a bench/table combos parks have under with my back leaned against table, starin' at the ground. The pattern in the concrete was incredibly vivid and it pulsed with my pounding heart. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I retraced my steps tryin' to remember where I was.

Suddenly out of nowhere I hear, “Hey… My bad… I’m with this guy... He’s my ride. I don’t know where I am right now. All I know is it’s a 45 minute drive. Here’s my I.D.” and then Luke plops down on the bench next to me. The cop just wanted to know why we ran and who the other dude was. I kept givin’ him the first name “Shitbag” but I swore I didn’t know his last name. Luke said he didn’t know anymore than I did.

Eventually the cop called Luke’s parents. It was just before his 18th birthday and he was still technically a minor, so this was a curfew problem mostly. They said Luke wouldn’t be in trouble as long as he headed directly home. The cop decided to lemme go too since I was Luke’s transportation. I couldn't believe I wasn’t heading to jail. I'd never walked away from a police encounter that blasted out of my mind; my adrenaline was still pumping. I could still see my heartbeat in all the patterns in my view.

I let out a sigh of relief as he uncuffed me, and as the cop's uncuffing Luke he says, “You know if you hadn’t run I’d probably just tell you that you’re not allowed in the park after dark?” I felt like such a fuckwit 'cause Shitbag and Luke both told me those exact words over and over that night. I should've listened to when cooler heads told me to chill.

As me and Luke start walking towards my car the cop yells out:

“Oh ya, Just for my report: What was Shitbag’s last name again?”

So I answered, “McDouchernose-Supreme.”

“HAH! I knew you knew it… Alright, I got it from there; have a nice night!”

Homeboy straight Jedi mind-tricked me. I couldn't fuggin' believe it.

Shitbag ended up getting a trespassing charge 'cause I was weak in the ways of the force. He still busts my balls over it to this day.

I fuggin’ love "Shitbag", though. I gave him that pseudonym instead of something boring like "Barry" or "Tom" purely out of love for the dude. He may be the most supreme shitbag I’ve ever met, but I couldn't picture my life without him. He’s been my best friend forever; 15 years now runnin'. Through it all he’s stood with my dumb ass and gotten dragged in on lots of unnecessary bullshit (Like the time he caught a trespassing charge from the Waterworks fiasco, for example). He's more my brother than my real older brother.

Speaking of the legend himself, Shitbag just read the essay and he pointed out that this story only qualifies as a bad trip because I'm an idiot. I didn't get to include the amazing hours spent wandering Waterworks, but they were just the bee's knees. This trip was one of the best of our lives and all three of us still reminisce on the epic levels of fun we had between the park and the movie.

Luke is the fuggin' man too. We've had some really wild times, and he's helped me through a whole metric fuckton, especially after my Dad passed away. He's one of the few people who genuinely cared about me that stuck around during the darkest chapter of my life.

Both these dudes are motherfuggin' legends.

Trust your friends, kiddos, especially when your friends are a supersoldiers from the future sent back in time to beat asses, get pussy, and do drugs but only pot and psychedelics cause supersoldiers from the future know the cool drugs.

Hope you had a nice trip!

Dave BarlettaComment