Rehab Tales and Lessons Learned Pt. 1
So in 2008 I was living in a huge plantation-like house in central MA that went by the name Spectrum House. Spectrum was a 65-person co-ed drug and alcohol rehabilitation program with a strict set of rules enforced by yr fellow peers. If someone saw you sneaking a cigarette during a designated work time, for instance, it was up to his or her discretion whether or not to issue you a “pull-up” at the daily closing meeting. Sometimes it was just acknowledged that you made a mistake and that was that and other times, if it was serious enough, there would be consequences. Punishments were usually nothing more than getting up in front of the whole house and explaining what it was that you screwed up, followed by an apology. As you may have figured though, some people in the house were real Nazis about these things and would relish in the glow of a good disciplining. To make matters worse, the dude who ran this place, Glenn Gravline, was a prime asshole like I’d never come across in all my days and lived for the throbbing hard-on he’d cultivate when a major infraction was deemed anti-social enough to be brought to his attention. Wouldn’t you know it, my act wasn’t one of Mr. Gravline’s favorites, go figure eh?
One afternoon I was in a session with my counselor and we were interrupted by a quick knock/opening of the door and there was Glenn, in all his glory, standing there slightly out of breath holding a bag of microwave popcorn like a lantern on a dark night. My counselor and I both looked at him and waited for him to speak but he just stood there with that stupid bag of kernels, wearing the worst “gotcha” face he could muster. Finally I just said “What?” and laughed right in his face. I mean really, what did he expect? Was I supposed to collapse in a heap cursing the air and screaming how I knew someday my past would catch up to me but I never expected it to be like this? Not likely, Glenn, not bloody likely. So he starts doing the rooster (I dubbed this mannerism “the rooster” because it looked like he was pecking the air when he yelled and paced around) while channeling some bad cop movie from the 70’s. “This was found in yr drawer under yr clothes! What was it doing there!?” I didn’t even care to answer him, let alone come up with an excuse, and I already knew he had me dead to rights so I let him dance. “There will be consequences for this” and he let that sink in. It was awkward enough to have a grown man frothing at the mouth over some fucking popcorn in an underwear drawer but now I was going to have to indulge this pecker by feigning regret. How long, oh lord, how long?
Did I mention this was a Friday? Well, it was and Glenn left for the weekend, designating a counselor named Denise to give me my consequences. When I read what they were I remember actually saying out loud, “Is this guy high?” He felt it was in my best interest to write a 500 word “essay” detailing why I felt as if I didn’t have to follow the same rules as everybody else. Piece of cake. I could write that while masturbating and still have spare time to actually pop the stupid popcorn. Hahaha, dick.
So the next day I got by myself in the computer room while everyone else was watching The Departed and started typing this joke with ham-fists. Blah, blah, blah. I made it halfway through the first page when the urge started to, excuse the pun, pop up. I fought it for another page until I began to break out in a cold sweat. “Who am I kidding?” I thought and with that I erased it all and started from scratch. If I was going to participate in something as pointless as writing about hidden Pop Secret I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t do it my way. I am, after all, only human.
So here’s the essay that I put in Mr. Gravline’s mailbox later that night, after it was circulated through the whole house of course. This is the infamous essay that started a chain of events that ended with me stuffing all my belongings into the trunk of a taxi and leaving the white house Richard Nixon style. Enjoy. It was worth it.
Why I Shouldn’t Have Food In My Room
By Johnny R.
Yesterday afternoon around 2:00 PM staff uncovered a stashed package of un-popped Pop Secret “Movie Theater Butter” microwaveable popcorn from my wardrobe. It was brought to my attention by a Mr. Glenn Gravline and a woman I’d only known as “Denise.” I was informed that this was a violation of Spectrum Residential rules and that I would be writing a five hundred word essay as penance for the matter at hand. At first, I was hesitant to say the least, but thought to myself “Just get it over with and don’t bring food up to yr chambers ever again.” This notion came and went as my thoughts soon morphed from acceptance to fear and loathing. To be perfectly frank, I thought there was no chance in heck that I could come up with the lingo to satisfy Denise’s craving for a five hundred word written document of my blatant disregard for the rules. Then, much to my chagrin, I found myself overcome with an almost superhuman stubbornness towards this weird assignment. Like an old man trying to return soup at the deli, I was going to put up a fight. Hell, I was ready to take it to the streets like they did back in the day. This is where my account takes a most unusual hard right. While returning to my quarters for some much needed rest and contemplation, I suddenly found myself at one with this consequence. Yes friends, all was right with the world for this brief wrinkle in time. I slept sound and awoke stoic with a determination to, pardon the slang, “bang out” this once feared essay. Alas, I’m sorry to say that this was yet another violent swing of my ever-changing, unpredictable demeanor. Once again I was overwhelmed by those old familiar feelings of regret and dare I say, annoyance, not only towards the fact that I made a bad decision but that I now had to spill my guts instead of filling them like I’d grown accustomed to with my hidden stash of secret snacks – which had, after all, gotten me into this mess in the first place.
So here I sit, a broken man. I’m at a loss for words for the first time since my mother forced me to wear spandex shorts to the beach. I feel foolish for my initial reaction to this most unfortunate kernel discovery. I toyed with the excuse that since the bag was in its un-popped state that it wasn’t technically “food” but now I can honestly say, with little to no hesitation, that I was wrong. Dead wrong. I’m not going to give an excuse. I guess the Pop wasn’t so secret after all, eh? I can feel the obsession to snack after hours being lifted but I have to admit, the hunger remains. All I can do is work on denying my habit the pleasure of the ever-popular midnight snack and by doing so I hope to remain diligent against relapse. Please rest assured that my room will remain food free as it was meant to be by those who starved before us. Those men and women who paid the ultimate toll so that I may someday find my own peace outside a bag of chips, popcorn or whatever the case may be. I’ll continue to hold strong against the temptation to take back my will with actions that could eventually foil my efforts at sobriety.
In closing, I wanted to briefly touch on the point that snacks like mine, when introduced into a dorm setting, not only cause jealousy in the have-nots but also attract a whole smorgasbord of insects who, not unlike myself, are driven out of hunger to search out and even stash food for their own survival. Now I know what yr thinking and don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I was driven by some instinctual thread in my DNA. Quite the contrary. I just want to drive the point home that snacks should stay where they are most comfortable, in the dining area and in the stomachs of the staff and clients. Thanks so much for yr concern and trust that from now on the only place I’ll keep it poppin’ is in the designated dining room.
So friends… after finally finishing this I couldn’t help but proudly pass it around to my bored brethren who in turn made sure it was read aloud to anyone who would listen because as far as anyone guessed this wide-margin go fuck yrself was a fly by night affair. “Yr not seriously gonna hand this in are you?” I remember one of my friends asking. “I think I’m going to” was my reply. By this time I couldn’t not hand the bastard in. Whatever was to happen had to happen because I would never be able to look myself in the eyes in the mirror again if I didn’t submit this for review and guaranteed disdain. I knew what was going to happen as a result and I was prepared to ride the wave of repercussion ashore. Story o’ my life.
Que Sera, Sera