As the last post stated, I've fallen off the wagon. Or, since I never really considered quitting smoking cigarettes altogether, I should say I've gotten a little farther from getting on the wagon than I was. I couldn't stay at home forever, so going out to the bars was inevitable, hence my reluctance to use the word 'quit' in the first place. Spending ten to twenty bucks a month on tobacco is still better than fifty or a hundred, right? But now I've found a new, probably regular connection to a certain other vice that goes very well with cigarettes. Don't give up hope for me yet, though. My hard core stoner days are past, I think, and I haven't had the urge to buy another carton of Marlboros. Yet.
It happened as it always does for me; completely unforeseen. Last month, I went to Oklahoma to attend my sister Barbara's wedding and had only a single cig the whole trip. After I got back, however, I could only stay at home for so long before the call of the coeds became too strong and I gravitated back to the University Pub. A drink here, a puff there, that's how it goes. I didn't go completely apeshit, but it quickly became clear that cold turkey just isn't going to exist for me unless I'm miraculously transported to a cigless planet. In addition, at the Pub was a fellow nerd who has been trying to get me to see his home computer lab for over a year. Little did I know that among his Froggy buddies lurked a few locals who have a good working relationship with Bob Green.
My friend, the same semi-Scotsman I spoke of before who I'm calling Jack, turns out to live in a place I've been before. Longtime a rental space for TCU students, the garage apartment where I'd once attended a kegger, his abode is none other than what had been referred to by at least two separate former residents as "Parmer's Crack". It can't be seen from the street and is most often reached from its back door, which opens upon a long, partly shaded alley. This, my friends, is the Fort Worth underground. No mailbox, rent paid in cash, couches abundantly furnished for those nights when not everyone can make it home. And that's most nights. The moment I saw the beer bottles and the ubiquitous next door neighbor nonchalantly rolling a blunt in the courtyard, I knew this wasn't going to be a one-time event.
I'd like to think that I can hang with any group once, and I haven't felt like backing out of too many situations since high school; but there's one kind of group I feel right at home with, and this is it. The main reason I feel comfortable in such anti-establishments isn't their chronic temptations, though, but the hard-won and generally inconceivable truth that this is the kind of people I can trust. I've written before how, in my particularly innocuous position, most people treat me as a friend from the get-go or, at worst, a guest. Well, me droogs, between the rich dilettantes, city fathers, gang members, policemen, soccer moms, redneck farmers, pastors, urban cowgirls, and hobos I've met here in our fair Cowtown, only the hometown hippies have never talked down to me or kissed my ass for attention. Oh, they're not perfect, of course, but they know me as one of them. As long as I stay out of their wallets (which I don't have to worry about, fortunately) and their girlfriends' pussies (which isn't a problem, unfortunately), I've got no enemies in the underground. You can say what you will about potheads, but they take care of me.
If this all sounds selfish and egotistical, I'm fine with that, too. I don't screw people over, and can prove to be quite resourceful. I tend to take the long view, which often makes me the best prepared person in the circle. Why shouldn't they consider me a friend? I know the limitations of such tenuous relationships, however. I hedge my bets. If or when the Big Drama comes to blow Jack's smoke ring away, I won't be in the middle when it happens. The only time I've been the center of attention for more than ten minutes was when I was flat on my back in intensive care, so I'm comfortable enough staying on the side.
I'm not saying my newfound circle is bound to break up. I've met at least a dozen among them who seem to be close enough to one another, if the ties between are not all direct, but change comes nevertheless. I've been in and out of at least five such groups since high school, and all have eventually derezzed, either quietly or disastrously. If I'm allowed, I'll probably stick with this one as long as I can, be it for a month, a year, or a decade. Then again, if I find that I'm sliding too quickly back into those couches, I might just shine it on early. After all, I've done my experimenting, and cigarettes aren't getting any cheaper.
So, if I don't post much for the rest of the summer, you'll know I'm in Parmer's Crack, drinking beer and smoking. And smoking. Don't worry about me, though, I've been there before.