4 Unexpected Things I Learned Smoking Crack Cocaine

#2. Observe the One Day Rule

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As much as I've been struggling to describe the exact feeling a person gets when smoking crack, I can say this -- I knew immediately that it was something I could not do the next day. When people say they were addicted the very first time they tried it, I totally understand why. I'd actually had this thought swishing around in my head the first time I tried it, and because of that, I vowed that no matter how enjoyable it may be, I would not wake up the next day and buy more.

Fortunately, I didn't. I very nearly did, and doing so probably would have altered the course of my life significantly. If you've learned nothing else from my columns, you should at least know that daddy needs his medicine, and it doesn't really matter what kind of medicine it is.

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I would definitely have become a full-blown crackhead if not for that vow to not do it the next day. I knew people who sold it and they lived in close proximity to my apartment. All of the ingredients were in the pot, I just never lit the burner.

Be advised, though -- I'm not saying this to imply that everyone should go out and try crack one time just to see how it feels. No one, under any circumstances, should smoke crack. I was able to fight off becoming a full-on crack addict only because I was able to say no that next day. You might not be so lucky. The thing is, I've never had a problem quitting anything, but only because I've always replaced that something with something else.

Mostly just coffee for this old geezer, these days.

I don't need the next bigger or better high. I just need the wheel in my head to stop spinning long enough for me to focus. Weed and an assortment of prescriptions do that trick just fine.

Not everyone "parties" that way. More often than not, if you're inclined to try crack in the first place, you're going to get addicted to it. So, you know, don't. If you need another reason, consider this ...

#1. Crackheads Attract Chaos

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It dawned on me, literally as I was writing this column, that of the three or four major moves in my life, two of them have been at least indirectly caused by crack cocaine. Well the cause of the first, technically speaking, was a house fire.

I was sharing a house with my sister at time, who's no stranger to crack smokers herself. In fact, one of them was sleeping on our couch at the time. Crackhead Kenny, we called him, because he smoked crack and his name was Kenny. One day, Crackhead Kenny borrowed my sister's car, our household's only means of transportation, so he could find drugs. He found drugs. He traded the car for them.

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"Here I come, crack!"

Kenny was that kind of guy.

But somehow, Kenny heroically recovered from the car drama by recovering the vehicle, and was allowed the continued use of our couch for crashing purposes. At least he had a job and somewhat helped with the bills, amazingly. That job part will be super important a few paragraphs from now, by the way. Keep reading.

One day, I'd woken up early to drive my sister to her job at a gas station a few miles away. It was payday, but I didn't have my check yet. With approximately four dollars to my name, I had a choice: buy cigarettes or buy breakfast. Shockingly, I opted for breakfast and, on top of that, did something I never do, which is hang around to drink coffee and read the newspaper for a bit. I did this time, though, and it's a good thing, too.

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Lots of great coverage of the O.J. trial, for one thing!

As soon as I arrived home, I decided I was going to take a nap, with a brief stop at the bathroom to honor the gods of fast food breakfast in the only way they accept. While doing that, I noticed black smoke pouring in through a vent above my head. Because I'm not disgusting, I got properly cleaned up and then immediately went out into the living room to investigate. All I could see was the couch, the back of which was glowing orange, for some reason. It then dawned on me that on the other side of that couch was a vent leading to a utility room where the washer, dryer and water heater were all kept. I didn't have much more time to think before the smoke was so thick that my only option was to head out the door, which, fortunately, was just a few steps away.

I made it out unscathed, but a lot of things certainly could have gone wrong. For one thing, if I'd opted to buy those cigarettes instead of breakfast, or even if I hadn't decided to bullshit around and read the newspaper after, I most certainly would have been fast asleep when that fire started. I'll give you all a second to solemnly reflect on all the comedy you might have missed if that had been the case.

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What's this thing for?

I added that caption up there for you, the sourpuss who assures me that smoke detectors would have woken me well before smoke inhalation killed me. To that, I say, "Yes, we did have smoke detectors, but we also had a freezer full of Tombstone pizza at all times." Fuck the old west, Tombstone pizzas earned their name by killing functioning smoke detectors. We were probably using ours for a change dish by that point.

So, yes, I very well could have died, thank you very much. Also, I was selling weed at the time, a fact that dawned on me only when firefighters and police officers had arrived to put out the fire and randomly stroll around the house to assess the damage. An arrest is the last thing you want to chase a house fire with, so I made an excuse about having money and a jacket inside that I'd like to grab if they wouldn't mind. This was all true. The money was profit from having just sold an ounce of weed and the jacket had another one ready to be sold in the left pocket.

"Uhhhhh, nooo, you probably wouldn't recognize it, even if I described it to you. Best to grab it myself, officer."

I recovered all of those things, so if nothing else, I had plenty of party supplies. Also, rent was due that day, and it should go without saying that I decided to forego writing the check. So hello way more cash than I usually have! On top of all this, in any house fire, the Salvation Army gives you vouchers for clothes, meals, and hotels. So, still covered in soot, my sister and I spent the next day shopping at shitty department stores and eating a turkey dinner at Perkins. I mentioned that this was Thanksgiving Day, right?

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"Ohhhh, come on, at least the thing about Tombstones killing smoke detectors was funny, right?"

If you're wondering what all of this has to do with Crackhead Kenny, it's simple. Remember that job of his I mentioned? He came home from it and, as one does, immediately placed his work clothes in a Coleman cooler. He then placed that cooler on top of the dryer, at which point it promptly fell behind the appliance. Kenny paid this no mind and went about his day. Eventually, the pilot light on the water heater ignited the clothing inside the cooler, which then itself ignited. We lost everything, thanks to Crackhead Kenny.

Taking this as a sign that a change of environment may be in order, rather than find another place to live in Peoria, my sister and I decided to move to Madison, Wisconsin, where we could stay with mom until we found something else.

And that's the story of how crack chased me out of Illinois.

Adam would like it a whole lot if you'd download the latest episode of his podcast and/or watch him tell jokes at Rooftop Comedy. Then come see him do that in person the first and third Tuesday of every month at Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica. Once you have all of that out of your system, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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