You've undoubtedly at one time or another found yourself standing next to a convenience store point-of-sale bong display and smirked at the absurd "For Tobacco Use Only!" signs that generally accompany this blatant skirting of your community's drug laws. You know what those glass pipes are really for, because you know the streets.
Except not really. Obvious marijuana-smoking devices are just the tip of the drug paraphernalia iceberg floating around the shady aisles of your local convenience store. You know what those are for, but you might be surprised to know the real reason that every sketchy bodega and market in America sells ...
#5. Roses in Glass Tubes
Have you ever wondered what kind of awful husband buys his wife one of those cheesy fake roses in a glass tube? They're such lame gifts, but you see them everywhere. If stores keep stocking them, someone must be buying them, right? What kind of relationship transgression can be fixed with a $1 gas station purchase? Failure to DVR the right television show usually requires more apology effort than that.
If you've had suspicions similar to those just expressed, which I highly doubt you have until now, I'm glad to report that they are not unfounded. There is in fact only one occasion when buying your woman a rose in a glass tube is appropriate, and that, of course, is if you're going to smoke crack together, which, in turn, means you're probably dating Courtney Love.
That's the only reason anyone buys those otherwise useless trinkets.
It's at this point that some especially observant types will point out that you can also smoke meth, heroin, and any number of other drugs with those rose pipes. Those people know way too much. Do not trust them around your medicine cabinet.
The manufacturer isn't always subtle about the real reason the product exists, either. Check out this batch of glass roses, which are available online at wholesale savings!
Without the roses, those are nothing but standard-issue drug pipes. The added fanciness of the flower allows shady manufacturers to market them as novelty gifts and less scrupulous shop owners to sell them freely as such in areas where drug paraphernalia laws are particularly strict. It's the exact same reason "bath salts" are called "bath salts" and labeled "not for human consumption" when what they really are is some kind of monster synthetic hybrid of cocaine and methamphetamine that is completely useless unless it's being consumed by humans (who then consume other humans).
On the bright side, if some lunkhead fella does buy one of you lucky ladies one of these someday and genuinely doesn't realize what they're used for, rest easy knowing that he's probably never smoked crack before. That's as close to a keeper as you're liable to get these days.
#4. Athletic Socks
Here is a tip you can actually use: If you're ever out on the town and, for whatever reason, find yourself in need of a fresh pair of socks in a pinch, set your sights on the nearest sketchy-looking convenience store you can find. There's a strong chance that, for reasons that will be completely lost on you, they will indeed have a display of socks. Like at this place, for example:
Your one-stop shop for terrible life choices!
That picture was taken at a convenience store not far from the Cracked office. If a better photographer (meaning not me) had taken it, you'd see the upper shelves of that display case and, as a result, pretty much all of the items on this list. For the purposes of this entry, though, just direct your attention to the lower left-hand corner, where you'll see stacks of white socks. While a pair or two are probably sold to tourists with aching feet throughout the year, the terrifying real reason those socks are there is because people use them to huff spray paint. In lieu of anything resembling an official source to back up that statement, just enjoy this screenshot of Charlie from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia putting a convenience store sock to its intended use.
It looks about this terrifying in real life, too.
Basically, desperate druggies empty the contents of a spray paint can into the sock, then inhale the fumes by placing their mouth and nose inside. That's why people who get arrested for huffing paint always have those embarrassing silver or gold faces (for the record, those colors are thought to have more solvent, which makes for a "better" high -- they aren't just being fancy). Like this guy!
Am I insane, or did he kind of look worse before he started huffing paint? Whatever the case, it's a safe bet that he's done a fair amount of his paint huffing through a sock, just like those you see for absolutely no other reason at your local convenience store. And they aren't the only footwear-related item that you'll find there for less than legal reasons.
Here's a fun thing to try. Walk out your door right now, with no prior planning, and go find somewhere other than a shoe store that will sell you a pair of shoelaces. It's going to be harder than you think, as this firsthand account of someone who unexpectedly had to do it in the Washington, D.C., area will confirm. That makes sense though, right? It's not like a shoelace emergency is a common thing. When was the last time you wore a pair of shoes long enough to snap a shoelace? Still, you'd think plenty of stores would just stock them and keep them around in the event that someone ever needed to buy a pair. What's the harm in that?
The problem with that logic is that it fails to take into account that the primary market for replacement shoelaces is, sadly, intravenous drug users. Shooting drugs into your veins requires you to tie off your arm, which makes veins bulge and therefore easier to find. Using a belt or some sort of elastic band is obviously an option, but lacking any of that, a shoelace is usually the method of choice. That's why so many parent resource type sites point to loose shoestrings in pockets as one of the less obvious warning signs that a kid might be hitting the hard stuff.
Just like dreadlocks are a sure sign that your kid is an asshole.
This presents a problem for retailers because, unless you're in a popular band, chances are you hit rock bottom right around the time you decided that injecting drugs directly into your bloodstream was the only way you could still get high. And hitting rock bottom is usually accompanied by a severe lack of available cash. If you've spent all of your money on heroin, but still have no way to tie your arm off, stealing a pair of shoelaces to finish the job is not a huge risk. Remember that display case picture from the previous entry? Here it is again, this time with the shoelaces highlighted.
If you're curious, the stuff in the little red canisters is synthetic weed, which I wrote about a long time ago.
If you doubt that laces are a highly shoplifted item, tell me why they're kept in a locked case with all of the other covert drug paraphernalia. That's hard to explain away once you accept that the only people actively shopping for shoelaces anymore are those with severe drug problems.
So, if you're ever out late one night and find yourself in need of a fresh pair of shoelaces, don't overreact and drive 75 miles to your nearest 24-hour Foot Locker. Instead, just head to the neighborhood where you normally purchase your heroin and locate a convenience store.