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


Alright muh dudes… This is the point in the story where I just completely run off the rails.


To any newcomers, all you need to know to get up to speed is that at the end of the last chapter my mom lied to the police in order to have me committed to a psych ward because I had been acting out for attention and using drugs and she didn’t know what to do. She thought maybe professional help would set me straight, and the only way to get me in front of a professional was to lie and tell the police I had threatened to kill her.


I don’t hold it against her these days, and I understand completely why she was worried and why she did what she did. Back then though, 17 years ago when this all happened, I was f%^$ing traumatized and furious at her because of it.

That event pushed me from acting out for attention into full-on rejection of society and everything involved with it. I didn’t have trouble with authority, I was against all authority on principle and did everything in my power to resist and undermine people who thought they had it. Nobody could tell me what to do. You could ask me politely to do something, and maybe I’d consider it if I felt like there was something in it for me, but nobody was allowed to tell me what to do.


I wasn’t a rebel without a cause; I had a cause, and that cause was anarchy.

Good and evil didn’t exist to me anymore. Morality was just something the smart used to manipulate the stupid. Etiquette was just part of the act smart people put on to make suckers think they were “good” people. The only thing that was “right” was doing anything in my power to get what I wanted, and it was wrong for me to ever consider another person for any reason other than to get what you wanted from them.


I got out of the psyche ward when my insurance decided they were going to stop paying for inpatient care. It was actually a chain of psych wards but they were all essentially the same deal. By the time my insurance pulled the plug, I had learned to game the system well enough to get downgraded from “psych ward” to “drug rehab” which meant no more sleepytime shots and a little less supervision, but I was still locked in the building and was expected to obey the rules if I ever wanted my freedom back. Had my insurance not backed out, I woulda been in for a lot longer because me and rules didn’t mix well.


From the rehab, I went to live with my dad because I abso-f%&^in-lutely refused to stay with my mom after what she did. All the psych ward did was train me play along and pretend she hadn't lied while I kept my anger secret and pretended to forgive her. Most of the time I didn’t think it was worth the trouble to throw what happened in her face. I knew if I brought it up too much, she would just lie to have me committed again. Despite all that, I was never going to forgive her for what she did and I reminded her of that fact any time I could.


Dad went along with her and didn’t do anything to help me get out, so I was pissed at him too but Mom was the one who actually told the lie. I had to pick a parent to stay with, so I picked the lesser of two evils.


From the very start, things were a constant battle. I was a soldier in a war against society, and society had me surrounded. Me and my dad were constantly arguing. If we weren’t, it was only because he didn’t have the energy or what I had done wasn’t worth the trouble. I had definitely done something he was supposed to discipline me for at any given time, he just understood disciplining me did nothing and didn’t wanna bother with it unless I had overstepped more than usual.


Insurance stopped paying for inpatient care, but they agreed to pay for me to go to an outpatient program. It was 6 hours a day during the day for like three months or something, and if I didn’t behave it got extended. If you read the last chapter, this was essentially the exact same thing as the “school” from the psych ward except I got to home go afterwards.


This van used to pick me up from my house and drive me to the hospital every day, and every day the driver would let me and the other kids all smoke a cigarette before went up. One day about two or three weeks into the program when we got to the hospital he said he was running late and he’d get in trouble if I didn’t head up right away. He had the nerve to tell me I couldn't smoke my cigarette. Nobody tells me what to do.


Now, I think he was expecting that I would understand it wasn’t his call to make and he woulda let me smoke if it wouldn’t cost him his job. I understood that and all, what he didn’t understand is I didn’t give a f%$^ about him, his job being easy, his kids eating, the fact that he had already bent the rules a lot all the other times he had let me smoke, or anything other than doing whatever the f%$# I wanted whenever the f%$# I wanted to do it.


I lit up my cigarette told him to do something to stop me or shut the f%^$ up and wait. He told me to wait there while he went and got security. I was dumbfounded by this. At no point since the night I first got taken from my home and sent to the psych ward had I been left unsupervised in public. This dude f^%$ed up by bad… like… really really bad. I dunno what happened to him after this, but it woulda been a whole lot better for his employment situation if he had just bit the bullet and let me smoke my cigarette.


As soon as I saw him start opening that door to go inside my heart started pounding. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Immediately I started forming a plan while I smoked my cigarette and watched.


I knew that about a half mile down the road there was a shopping center with a grocery store, a gas station, and a few other little shops. Getting to that parking lot became my main goal. Sprinting for the treeline was the play, I was sure of it.


Dude was almost down the first hall and around the corner when I settled on my plan. He kept looking back to check I was there, I kept flipping him the bird. As soon as he reached the end of that hall and turned the corner, I had decided I was making a run for it.


I can almost remember my exact thoughts while I was watching him walk down that hall:


“Does this douchecanoe really expect me to stay put while he gets security? There’s no way he’s really that stupid. Nobody is that f%$&ing stupid. This has gotta be a dream. It’s gotta be a setup. They didn’t put him in charge of kids from the psych ward without telling him to never leave us unsupervised... He’s really actually thinks I’m gonna stand here waiting, for real. This has gotta be the stupidest human being I have ever encountered in my life. C’mon s%^$wit three more steps. He’s probably gonna look back one last time before he turns the corner... yup, there it is… give him the finger one last time.... annndddd… BYE DUMB DUMB.”


I bolted without a second thought.


I ran across the little drainage ravine that kept stormwater from flooding the place, up the hill on the other side of it, and into the woods before anyone even realized I was gone. The hill I sprinted up definitely wasn’t intended to be climbed on foot, it was way too steep for that. I was up that thing without ever breaking stride or slowing down all the same. I knew I had to keep moving until I hit that shopping center parking lot. I didn’t stop running until my feet hit the blacktop, and when they did I immediately saw the flaw in my plan:


I had absolutely no f%^$ing clue how I was going to get home and I didn’t know anybody who lived anywhere near here. I knew the roads the van would take to get me home, but it was still an hour drive from my house. This was before everyone and their mother had a cellphone, and nobody I knew could drive even if I could call people.


I went into the gas station, stole a bottle of coke, a candy bar, and a few snack cakes, and then started hitchhiking. I walked for four hours before someone picked me up and took me back to my neighborhood.


What did I do with this hard earned freedom of mine? Went inside my Dad’s house and started playing video games. I coulda been home playing video games in about the same amount of time if I had just gone into the outpatient program. I gained absolutely nothing. I actually made my day a lot harder than it would have been if I had just listened. It wasn’t about getting anything though, it was about making a point: Nobody was gonna tell me what to do.


Amazingly, all this led to a major victory in my war against authority. My parents were tired of trying to force me to do all this psych ward rehabilitation garbage. They were finally going to let me go back to school and have my freedom back.


I started attending the high school closest to my Dad’s house, and if my parents thought I meant any of that bulls$%# I had spit to them about attending class, they hadn’t been paying attention. I had been acting out for attention before this little psych ward escapade. Now I was in active rebellion. Like I said before, I was in a war against society, and society had me surrounded.


I didn’t go to class and cuss out the teacher for attention anymore. I went to first period to be marked as there on attendance, slept through the entire thing, and then left school immediately. During the school hours, if I couldn’t find someone to hang out with I’d wander the woods alone starting fires and seeing how big they’d get before they either burnt out or the fire department came.


If that got boring, I’d find someone else’s house to hang out at. A friend of mine had a stepdad who would get me drunk, that became a favorite spot of mine. Another friend of mine sold pot and would smoke with me if I brought him customers. There were a few other stoner kids I’d skip with. A few of them even sold pot, and they became my new best friends. My daily routine consisted of meeting up with these dudes and making our plans to ditch, getting really baked at one of their houses, and then going home and fighting with my dad over something I had done. Dad eventually stopped bothering to even wake me up for school.


The dude I ended up hanging out with the most was a guy named Craig. He was a neighborhood kid the same age as my older brother. The thing that made Craig cool was he had a driver’s license and a vehicle.


My house became one of the biggest hangout spots for our little crew of juvenile delinquents. My dad had high-speed cable internet, which wasn’t as common back then. Craig brought his computer over, my dad had two computers we could use, and we’d play a shooter game called Counter-Strike 6-7 hours a day. The only downside was I couldn't be there during school hours. No big deal, there were always plenty of woods to set on fire and kids who would let me hang out at their house if I had pot.


So much s%$^ happened that isn’t normally included in someone’s high school memories. One of the pot dealing friend of mine shot a dude and homeboy crawled a half mile to his house to call 9-1-1 leaving a giant trail of blood around my neighborhood. My friend went into hiding for a week before coming to my house and turning himself in.


For a good three or for months straight I stole a bottle of Robitussin for me and Craig every single day and we robotripped at his house till school let out, then we’d head to my place to smoke pot and play CS.


I discovered that one of my Dad’s medications called “Oxycontin” was a valuable street drug, and I started selling those and pot mostly to support my own drug habit. The pills were pretty fun to take, too. I see why they had street value.


My dad kicked the s^$% out of me for stealing his pills so many times or cussing him out when he confronted me about something I had done, it’s a miracle child protective services didn’t take me out of the home. They did get called, they just decided the ass-whippings were “Isolated incidents” and let me stay in the home.


My Dad would force me to come along to AA meetings a few nights a week, but we both knew I wasn't getting sober. He tried so hard to get me to see the error of my ways, and I just refused to on principle. Nobody was gonna tell me what to do.


The whole time I was stealing anything I could get my hands on. If you had something, and I wanted it, that meant it was mine and you just hadn’t figured it out yet. If I asked for something it was only to save myself the trouble of figuring out how to steal it. The only things that stopped me from taking something were it being physically impossible to do so or it just not being worth the trouble.


Life just kinda bounced along in absolute chaos like this for about a year and a half till eventually I got into legal trouble. Some dudes drove me to get a bag of weed, and an undercover cop saw it go down. They followed us around the neighborhood a bit before trumping up some reason to pull us over. I had a pipe that I carried with me to smoke pot out of, they found it, and I got a paraphernalia charge.


That wouldn’t have been too bad, except I also didn’t show up to court because I was skipping school that day and Dad couldn’t find me. I got house arrest, the other dudes in the car just got 8 hours community service. House arrest wouldn’t have been too bad either, since my house was the hangout spot, except I kept failing piss tests.


Eventually, the courts sent me to the exact same locked-door rehab I had been in when my insurance stopped paying for inpatient care. I actually got into it, and decided I'd take a shot at turning my life around. After I finished my two months there, the courts ordered me to go live with my Mom in Akron, OH.


By this time I was 16 and legally allowed to dropout of high school, so that’s exactly what I did. I had a genius plan where I would drop out, get my GED, and start college two years early. I figured dropping out and going to college while I attended AA meetings and stayed sober would give me the freedom I wanted while still letting me say I turned my life around.


I f%$^ing crushed the GED without even putting in effort. I scored 100% perfect on all sections of the pre-GED and they gave me a special waiver to take the real test for free. I was in the 95th percentile or higher in every subject. When it came time for the college entry exams, I didn’t study or prepare in any way other than staying up the night before so I could teach myself trigonometry. Without studying or sleeping I got a 29 on the ACT. I promise it would have been higher if I had actually studied, slept, and ate something. Basically, what I’m saying is I killed the test taking game like I knew I would, and started at the University of Akron in January of ‘04 a little before my 17th birthday.

I’m what happens when you live by the motto ‘Live Fast, Die Young’ then you fuck up and survive
— A Total Loser
Dave BarlettaComment