OK. Alright. OK. I’ve got nothing to say, but if I don’t start saying it again and soon I never will. So, I’ll talk about this week’s experience with addiction. Yeah, I still smoke – but like people say, it’s better than the alternative.
Lou Reed died last Sunday at the age of 71. From his song around 1968:
I’m waiting for my man, twenty-six dollars in my hand.
Up to Lexington and 125, feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive.
I’m waiting for my man.
My man is Omar, but he had to go back to Pakistan about six weeks ago. I’ve smoked Now 100s since 1989 when I failed a Smokenders class. They’re lowest in tar and nicotine on the market, but they’re really hard to find. I ordered them online for a long time; that ended three years ago when the state of Connecticut billed me for $3,400 in unpaid tax (I’m an idiot). Knowing I’d have to start buying them locally, I called around to find a store that would order them for me, and found one in Bristol. I didn’t know Omar at first, but after about a year he was the guy. He ordered the Nows, called me when he’d be away for a few days, gave me Christmas presents, fired a guy who let one of my orders drop. About a year ago, he left the shop in Bristol and moved to his shop in Bloomfield. A few months ago, Omar said I probably should pick up my cigarettes in Bloomfield, because the Bloomfield shop had “a more high-end clientele.” This means that the Bloomfield shop doesn’t sell crack paraphernalia, and has a humidor.
Before Omar left for Pakistan, he called and gave me what turned out to be two pages of note paper with instructions about what to do if I needed Nows before he got back. I had his brother Mohammed’s cell number, and Omar’s cell number in Pakistan. I called Mohammed on Tuesday to order cigarettes. “What’s your address?” Mohammed asked. “Why do you need that? I’m picking them up,” I said. “The shop’s closed,” he said. “You don’t have to come all the way here, I can meet you somewhere” I said. Mohammed said “Do you know the Brass Mill Center in Waterbury?” “Sort of…” I said (I avoid malls at all costs, I thought). “Meet me at the IHOP in the Brass Mill center tomorrow after 1 PM.” “OK, I’ll call you before I leave to be sure you have them.” This exchange took about half an hour, because Mohammed’s English is not as intelligible as Omar’s. I’m not complaining. My Urdu, or Punjabi, or WHATEVER, is not so good either…
Called Mohammed Wednesday around 1PM. “Do you have them?” “Yes. Meet me at the IHOP after three o’clock. The warehouse only had 5 cartons, and you ordered six, and I charged your credit card for six, and I’ll xliegfj (unintelligible).” “OK” I said, “See you around three.” “I won’t be there” Mohammed said, “Ask for my nephew xlfjgadgj.” I asked him to repeat that. He did. I asked him to repeat it. He did. I asked him to spell his nephew’s name. I swear, this is what I wrote down: MOXFIN.
At the mall in Waterbury, I walk the entire length at least four times, no sign of IHOP. Why do they put the up and down escalators separately at the far ends of these malls? And why no stairs, or elevators? So I will have to walk by the same store windows selling things I don’t want and don’t even want to know exist, not one two or three, but at least four times. It’s not the kind of mall that has a J Crew and a Williams Sonoma; I could kill some time in a mall like that, but not in this one with seven kinds of cell phone services, eight jewelry stores and nine fast food joints. I HATE the Brass Mill mall! And what am I doing here? I’m now four people removed from Omar. Who ARE these people anyway? Could getting a hit of heroin be any iffier, any more compromising, any more complicated than this??
I finally find the IHOP, and there’s a guy with an accent talking into a phone behind a desk right inside the entrance, so I figure he’s “the man” today. Just before he hung up, I heard him say “Mosin/moxfin/mo/whatever will be here in about forty-five minutes.” Oh, great, I think to myself, I have to find something to do and come back in forty-five minutes, maybe I could just go home and come back tomorrow, oh god, I don’t like this one bit. The guy (never got his name) said “Table for one?” “No,” I said, “I think I’m looking for that guy whose name you just mentioned on the phone. His uncle’s brother sells me cigarettes in Bloomfield…” “Ah, one moment,” he says, and walks away. He comes back with a brown paper shopping bag with five cartons of Nows in it. I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far, and gone through Omar to Mohammed, to clikajfoaiue to “this guy.” Only thing is, I thought I heard Mohammed say he was going to give me “cash money” for the extra carton, I couldn’t be sure because of the language barrier, but I really thought so…but just getting out of here with ANYTHING was going to have to do. It would be better than anything I’d pictured thus far. But then “the man” puts down the bag, whips out a wad of cash, and peels off one hundred and twelve dollars – five twenties, a ten, and two ones, and I’m free!
Is there a moral to this story? I don’t know. Maybe the moral is that if you have a vice you’re going to have to do some things you’d rather not do. Maybe the moral is that everything works out in the end. Maybe the moral is that Pakistanis are honest and trustworthy. You be the judge. I’m no judge of anything.
About my vice. My mother smoked five packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day, and she abused barbiturates and painkillers. I seem to have inherited her nervous system, so I figure I’m getting off easy.