Anyone aged between thirteen and twenty-one is a moron. I don’t care if you are a member of Mensa or a studying particle physics, you are a so incredibly stupid, it will be a miracle if you will survive these eight years without losing a limb
This isn’t to say that you should even attempt being sensible, being an idiot at this age is your job and you will regret it terribly if you do not take this opportunity while you are still able to get away with it. Some, however, will not survive the idiocy and even worse, some will see it through into adulthood.
I was fairly high up on the idiot scale, a category four to use the rather apt scale designed to describe tornadoes. This means I was fairly likely to get myself into a lot of trouble, but should survive relatively intact. Unfortunately, the curse of being a category four is you know a handful of category fives and these people rarely grow out of it.
One evening, aged around twenty, I attended a spontaneous party at a friend’s flat. Little did I know, this must have been the category five’s AGM. Before the end of the night, one person would die and be resurrected, several will run out of the flat in panic and I will come to the conclusion that I might take my own behaviour down a level. Only one though, there’s no need to overdo it.
So how do you know if you are a category five moron?
Category fives are the people who will always take it one step too far, turning youthful frolics into some bloodied mess. Although it’s usually them bleeding all over the carpet, category fives (as anyone who has survived a tornado will tell you) cause a lot of collateral damage.
I was well on my way to being drunk, probably on my fifth can of some stomach rotting 9% beer in a garish dirty golden tin, the drink of choice for the underage and tramps, when I decided to make my way through the various bodies of drug addled teenagers to look for my then girlfriend. Those on amphetamines were annoying everyone, upping the ante on the drunks who usually win the empty conversation award. Those smoking weed sat cross-legged and preached some hilariously pretentious nonsense, claiming wisdom on things they could not possibly had experienced or have any understanding of, while my fellow drunks, like me, were mostly masking the most dreadful affliction, shyness. One other group were upstairs, doing a category five drug, Heroin.
For those who have never sat in a room with needles and dribbling fuck ups, I would compare it to watching a documentary on insect infestations, your skin crawls and you feel as if you have caught fleas just watching it. My girlfriend (not a user herself), was sat next to my friend and the party’s host, who was unconscious on his girlfriend’s (or more accurately, his fellow addict’s) lap. Seeing him unconscious was not an unusual thing so I sat down next to them and started talking. Seconds later someone noticed his lips were turning blue, something that can end a party faster than the opening bars to “I Will Survive”.
The flat, which had previously held around 30 people, was all but empty in a matter of seconds. Those that were also using, displayed a surprising amount of agility in their quest to get the fuck out the door, leaving a handful of the younger teenagers, showing the kind of “In it together” loyalty that nations and the unscrupulous had exploited for centuries. My girlfriend, myself and the most pretentious of the weed-smoking hippies, who I shall call Seb, also remained.
Downstairs, my girlfriend was negotiating with the emergency services; this was an era before mobile phones became ubiquitous, so she sent one of the underlings, Paul, upstairs with the operator’s questions. I remember his head would appear amusingly at the top of the stairs, babbling like a disembodied ghost, never daring to come any closer for fear of what he might find.
Not knowing what the hell to do with a dying friend on my lap and having seen on television you are supposed to walk someone who has OD’d around the room, I tried picking him up to take him for a stroll, just like we used to do when one of us needed help getting home after too much cider in more innocent times. What television hadn’t told me is that this is impossible to do with the dead (excuse the distasteful pun) weight of an unconscious body, especially after so much cheap beer. We fell to the floor like a newly married couple crossing the threshold after too many drinks at the wedding.
(Un) Fortunately, I was not alone; I had the help of the previously mentioned Seb, who for the first time ever, was animated, being understandably scared. Betraying his carefully cultivated persona, he decided the best way to help would be running back and forth from the bathroom, throwing water in the general direction of my friend’s head.
All this time I’m talking to my dead friend, reminding him of his daughter (category fives breed younger than most) and hoping against hope, he could hear me. I remember the surreal colour of his face, if I saw it in a horror movie I would have thought it exaggerated.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours but could not have been more than a few minutes, his face warmed and lips took on a hue that no longer looked like a sloppy attempt at Goth. Much like when needing to pee, the closer I got to my goal, the more panicked I became, slapping his face and shouting at him. It became clear he was going to live and Seb took this opportunity to regain some composure. Embarrassed by his previous performance, he did the only thing he could, pretended I was the one who had been panicking. “It’s OK man,” he told me in the most pretentious tones, while grinning like the know it all prick I’d always known. There is something unique about hippies; they inspire violent thoughts that are quickly followed by shame, a little like catching yourself imagining punching a spoiled child in a supermarket.
Finally the ambulance crew arrived, hardly to the rescue but I was still glad to hear their footsteps. Even Paul had managed to assemble some courage and his missing body, joining us in what was starting to seem like a poorly judged Carry On film.
Unlike Carry On films however, this one was fairly amusing.
My friend’s electrics were not in the best shape so this whole charade had been performed in the romantic shade of a single lamp, plugged into the corner but stretched into the middle of the room. I knew this, everyone at the party knew this … the ambulance man did not know this. By the time he picked himself off the floor, his equipment scattered across the room, he was struggling to contain his anger. Watching the poor bastard trying not to swear like an infant school teacher who has just shut his thumb in a draw was extremely funny. “Who put that fu… that really shouldn’t be there!”
Unfortunately he had broken the only source of light in the room.
And so I sat back, now exhausted, and watched two ambulance men inspect my friend’s still prostrate body, under the flame of a disposable lighter, wondering why the floor was soaked in water.
My girlfriend and I stayed behind when they took him to the hospital, looking for any illegal substances to dispose of in case the police got involved, but despite the panic, no one had left even a shred. Their host might die but you have to get your priorities straight.
When he returned a few hours later, around six or seven of us shared a few joints as a melancholic tiredness took a hold. He told us when he died he felt nothing, there was just darkness. Junkies don’t go to hell; they leave it in their wake.
Paul ended up an acid casualty; in some ways he became a more wretched figure than my friend. The last time I saw him, a year or so after “Carry On ODing”, he exuded paranoia and darkness, he would have been no older than eighteen.
Seb I saw just a few years ago, hair a little thinner but even from a distance I could tell he was the same prick. Walking in a manner that suggested the soles of his shoes were made from marshmallow, flanked by two much younger girls. I could see him still imparting the wisdom of that suburban rich-kid I knew fifteen years before. Perhaps he had gained some insight in those years, though I doubt it, it’s hard to learn anything when you already know it all.
Soon after that night I cut my friend out of my life, I lost respect for the pleasure he seemed to take from the circus around him. Once in a while I will run into him, he will tell me he is clean but I never believe him, he is always just a few months from the last relapse. His skin resembles a latex mask now, the hallmark of long-term heroin abuse, and he still carries a feint aroma of vomit. Sometimes I wonder how much chaos and pain his surviving has caused.
People are still morons in their early to mid-twenties but decisions you make at that age often have a trajectory which is hard to deviate from. Category five morons at twenty-five are likely to be consistently moronic for the rest of their often shortened lives. Football hooligans are usually men in their forties, most fights in pubs seem to involve middle-aged men, while those that live long enough will continue to poison themselves and loved-one’s lives with heroin or other substances.
It takes a lot of commitment to be a category five and I’ve never been that dedicated. I continued to drink too much for a few years after but with hindsight, that night was the end of an era, as it should have been.
© Copyright Dean Stephenson 2013