I was 14 years of age and that my name was Robert Garth. But to my friends, I was just Rob. At that time in my life the people who I considered to be my friends, I considered them to be the coolest and most trusting of friends. Then again, being 14 what the fuck did I know?
It was a summer night, I’m unsure of the exact date, that I realized the importance of social circles and the pressures that follow. It was that night that I found myself standing in the bathroom of my friend James’ house as he and a friend of his held me up against a wall and dangled a joint 2 inches from my face.
The words they spoke to try and convince me to take a drag and embark on the so called magical mystery tour with them were nothing short of poetic and would have felt right at home within the lyrics of a Jefferson Airplane song or a slogan from the LSD movement of the 1960’s. Their words felt like bittersweet razor blades invading and slicing my eardrums. Burrowing their way into my mind and procured up the question I promised I’d never ask myself in that kind of situation, ‘What’s the harm’?
If ever there was an out of body experience for me to have it would have been that one. I looked down on myself within the confines of that crowded bathroom and watched myself place my lips around the butt and inhale my first ever cloud of Mary Jane.
Music played in the other room. Some old obscure 60’s
funk band I was unfamiliar with. The music pounded through on the carpeted floor, and bounced and thudded on the bathroom tiles. Then, all began to feel sleepy and hot like a desert sun had eclipsed the night that everyone kept telling me had just begun.
In my hand was a bottle of beer out of the six pack that I had requested be bought for me. I washed down the unfamiliar taste of the joint with a large slug. My first slug. Of my first beer. The beer went down easier than the weed I have no shame in admitting. But the rest of the evening was a blueprint for things that would later come, and later there wouldn’t always be friends around when it was happening.
I spent the rest of that night sat around the kitchen table in James’ house. There were seven of us. Four of us were in a band in which James sang and played guitar and I played lead guitar. The other three were James’ girlfriend, his friend whom I had not met previously and his girlfriend.
James and his girlfriend were the first couple I had ever seen who looked truly happy. But their happiness was a cloud. A faint cloud that was filled with nothing but a road map to the next high and finding it together. Looking back I can count on one hand how many times I had seen them sober of the three years they were in my life. Many a Sunday myself and the others would meet up and practice for a gig or just for the fun of it, and James and his better half would show up out of their minds on pretty much anything you could imagine. Weed, pills, alcohol, and even on some occasions James’ mothers painkillers when no one was selling or they just couldn’t cop.
But that night, the night of the bathroom and my first encounter with drugs and beer, they projected an imagine on to my wants and what I thought I needed. The simple thought I found myself thinking when I looked briefly at them, ‘ I want to find someone and be that happy’.
The rest of the night that was spent around that bottle, can and ashtray littered table is foggy in memory and tough for me to recollect. However I do remember that I got through three bottles of beer before the weed took over and made me green which was the height of amusement for everyone at the table for they later told me I fell out of my chair and didn’t wake up until the next morning.
If there ever was a great introduction to the world of drugs and being a teenager, that was it. And that was mine.
And that was just the start of it.
The things that were most important in my life when I turned 15: Guns N’ Roses, Jack Daniels, the poetry of Jim Morrison, any film by Quentin Tarantino, Marlboro red cigarettes, my bashed up piece of shit electric guitar that I claimed to be my pride and joy, the horror writing and the non-fiction work of Stephen King, but most of all, the idea in my head of finding something more.
Now I’m not talking about seeking enlightenment or a better way to live, I was fucking 15 years old…
…what I wanted, what I really wanted, was to get as fucked up as I possibly could.
I found myself to be a walking cliché of all teenage and pubescent kind. The type of kid who had just started to grow facial hair and discovered the intoxicating scent of girls and alcohol. And like a junkie in need of a fix, I chased that forever setting sun on the horizon and left a whiskey stained trail behind me that drowned all the fabled memories of home life over the last few years and alienation that I found such solace in.
A topic such as my home life around and leading up this time is an inevitable avenue to explore for a tale such as this.
And a grim tale it is.
I was born into a household that I neither felt love or acceptance in. I was brought into this world like everyone else, by their mother as their father either stood there in the delivery room or in the hall outside. I truly do believe that once upon a time my parents loved each other, but it would grow to be a side of them that my adjusting blue eyes would never see.
Not to take anything away from them as parents, I had a normal enough childhood. It wasn’t until I was 5 that I realized the depth of their unhappiness.
The sum it up in a sentence the relationship I saw my parents share was nothing short of Hitler spewing orders at a soldier or, more fittingly, a prisoner in a concentration camp. Even at such a young age, I grew to recognise the typical routine. He would go to work and she would struggle to grasp her sanity while alone in the house with me. He would come home from work and expect
dinner at the ready which my mother, if she knew what was good for her, would have prepared. Then he would rip open a can of beer and drink as if he were just taking the first sup of water after a week-long journey through the albatross under the heat of satan’s sun.
Then the fun would arrive to town.
The evening usually climaxed with a broken glass or plate or two. Followed by a door slam and eventually a fist slam right into the side of the jaw while my mother crawled and backed away into the corner like a cretin of the night awaiting the first rising of the morning sun.
All the while I stand in the corner of the room watching the first fight scene from Rocky be re-enacted before my young eyes.
*Next instalment of this story will be published 9th of March in next issue*