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  • Addiction:  being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)

    I see by the definition they forgot to include internet porn and internet games. Obviously these can't be physically addicting, at least unless you go into some sort of withdrawal seizure from not viewing or playing, but psychologically? Oh yeah. Big time. We'll get to those later.

    I never was much of a boozer, although I did have my bout with scotch when I was in my mid twenties, but it wasn't much. My mom is a recovering alcoholic with many years of sobriety, which happened after I left the house, (the sobriety, that is). Booze was never a big deal to me, and since I saw what it did to my mom, the appeal just wasn't there. Mom was a crying drunk, one of those people who will sit there and tell sad stories and bore the living hell out of you. She didn't get mean, she didn't drive, and she didn't go out and spend the grocery money on booze. But she did manage to convince me that being an alcoholic was not an option.

    I was a child of the 60's and, yeah, I did the pot thing for quite a few years. During that time, I also tried hash, opium, cocaine, snorting heroin on one occasion in Hong Kong, and dropped acid twice. Got introduced to speed when I drove a cab for a couple years, but after a round of 5 days without sleep followed by 3 days of crash, I decided it wasn't all that great. Besides, speed makes me mean.

    Snorting Hong Kong Rock Heroin was the big no-no at the time, so when a buddy brought a baggie up to the hotel room and cut everyone a line, I tried it, then grabbed my new binoculars and decided to take the trolley car up to the top of the hill to look out at the harbor. When I walked back in to the hotel room, my three buddies were freaking out. “Where the hell have you been?” I couldn't understand what the fuss was about, until one of them looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Hey, Fred, did the sun go down?” I thought about it for a moment. It had. Once. Twice. Three times. To this day, I do not know what happened to those three days. I wasn't hurt or dirty, I still had my binoculars and my wallet and my ID. I was hungry and needed a shave. I decided then that was probably not the drug for me.

    So a pot buddy of mine picked up an “Eight ball” of cocaine and cut me a line. I waited for 15 minutes. Nothing. I waited for 30 minutes. Nothing. He was apparently enjoying the experience, with a really stupid “life is beautiful” smile on his face. I asked him, “How much did you pay for this?” $100.00 was the reply. Hmm. It was 45 minutes later, still nothing. I decided that was a waste of money I could be spending on pot.

    Acid was kind of fun. The two times I tried it, Richie and I took the trolley down to the border and wandered in to Tia Juana. No Homeland Security paranoia at the time, and there were plenty of taxis waiting for sailors, marines and college students looking to party. My “trips” were fairly benign, I didn't freak or see any demons, but it was wild to watch people in slow motion in the clubs. After two times, I decided it was okay, but since it lasted at least eight hours, that was just too much time to spend “out of it”. Next time it was offered I said, “No thanks.” and went back to smoking my joint.

    Eventually I got tired of sneaking around to find a joint or a baggie, and decided I could do without it. Once I did, I started to realize exactly how much time and money was involved in pursuing pot.

    If you were by yourself and just smoked a pipe full or a “doobie” and turned on the television, everything was funny. Everything. Debates were funny, the news was funny, serial killers in gory detective movies were funny. The only thing that could draw you away from the funny stuff was the munchies. With pot comes appetite, and I am not talking about salads and fruits and vegetables, I am talking potato chips and ice cream and cookies (lots of cookies) and anything else that can rot your teeth and cause you to gain weight. Pot smokers are not active people.

    When you were with other people, the conversations were deep and intense and life changing. If you could remember what you said. I swear, there were times when I was stoned I could have gathered all the people of the world together and solved all the animosity and hatred and we would have this beautiful glorious world. The only problem was trying to remember what you said so you could do it. I once tried to write down everything I thought of, but when I woke up the next morning, the notes made no sense at all.

    I do recall the conversations about the quality of the pot. Potheads are connoisseurs, or so they think, always looking for the “primo” flavor and high combination in their weed. There are so many varieties. California Sinsamilla, Humbolt Homegrown, Metathuscan Thunderf*ck, Maui Wowee, and so on and so on. Thai Stick was such a sought after commodity many people who had access to the plants were making fake sticks (a branch of pot tied around a sliver of bamboo). And then there were folks who 'laced” their pot with other drugs, like Quaalude, PCP, and the ever popular Cocaine. When I was smoking, I avoided them like the plague. After I had quit, I was glad I did.

    Porn? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. There are only so many combinations of what people can do before it gets really old. Really fast. Now, at least it did for me, but judging from the statistics I've seen, internet porn is one of the fastest growing markets out there. Someone is watching it. I am sure everyone has at some time. As a matter of fact, there are enough people who have watched it and are fighting their addiction that there is a separate twelve step program for porn addicts.

    I know, I left out gambling, but that has never been a problem for me. I can always find another way to use money than to give it away. When I lived in Las Vegas a while back, I would put whatever amount I wanted to use at the casino in my left front pocket. When it was gone, I was done. My game was blackjack, at a table with at least three other players in a casino off the strip called Arizona Charlie's. I always play third base, or the last person to draw a card before the dealer.

    My mother and my wife would get together once or twice a week and decide to play Bingo, which runs continuously throughout the day beginning on the odd hours. Each session was two hours long, so I would plan on playing blackjack for a couple of hours at the $2.00 tables. (Gone the way of the dinosaur, I'm afraid. Last time I was in LV, the minimum bet is $5.00.) By paying careful attention and not really caring whether you win or lose, you can make $20.00 last almost two hours. If you are winning, and I usually did, I would leave the table a few dollars ahead. If not, well, it was money I planned to spend anyway.

    But you see, if you are gambling in Las Vegas, your drinks are on the house, they'll bring you a sandwich, cigarettes or anything you want to keep you sitting at the table. So during my two hours, I would have a couple of drinks, a ham sandwich, and get a complimentary pack of cigarettes, and have enough left over to leave the waitress and the dealer a tip. Not a big one, mind you, but enough of a tip to be remembered. After about the third time in, the waitress would show up with my ham and cheese on rye and a scotch without me having to ask. Cigarettes were always on request, but I never had to tell her the brand.

    So on to my latest addiction, that stupid frigging game in the center of the picture attached to this story. Bejeweled Blitz is the most devious, diabolical, and addicting game I have ever played. Even though the sessions only last a minute, I have literally spent hours playing this idiotic and totally unredeeming waste of time. It may seem innocuous, but it is a device designed to mesmerize you, enthrall you, and keep you playing. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's the fact that stuff on the screen blows up, maybe its the competition (you play against others for high scores, and now you can even have joint games with other players).

    Now the obvious answer is, don't go there. Use the internet for its intended purpose, communicate with your fellows on matters of intellectual growth. Research a paper. Learn about the world in general. Read an uplifting story. Or write one.

    Looking back over the last few paragraphs, I'm not certain how uplifting my story is, but its honest and real, and that's two of the three points Hemingway made about good writing. As to being courageous, Hell, how am I supposed to know that?

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