Friday, October 12, 2012

A Cautionary Tale

     We have all heard and read about the poor souls who are hooked on meth or on crack.  We see the photos of their drug-ravaged faces and wonder just how anybody, in this day and age, could possibly take up the consumption of such notoriously addictive, ruinous substances.  Hadn't these people ever heard about the horrific effects these drugs have?  Why on earth would somebody knowingly take these notorious drugs in the first place?   How does one start on such a path?  Possibly it begins as described in the scenario that follows.

     At a cocktail party in a well-to-do suburb one man approached his friend and related to him a singular occurrence.
     "I say, Wentworth, I came across a rather shabbily dressed gentleman this evening as I was leaving my lodgings. He accosted me and asked me to give him some money to pay the fare on the local omnibus.  I gave the man a stern talking-to and sent him on his way.  As he scurried off, this item fell from his pocket."  He took out a small clear plastic bag and showed his friend.
     " By gad, Jasper," said the other, "I do believe that is what is referred to as 'crack'."
     "Crack?"  responded Jasper.  "What on earth is crack?"  Wentworth looked askance at Jasper, incredulous as to his apparent ignorance of the drug and its insidious effects on the user.
     "It is a highly addictive form of the drug cocaine.  It is smoked by the user, producing an intense feeling of euphoria lasting five to ten minutes, followed by a feeling of depression when the drug wears off.  Often the user immediately desires to produce the euphoria, or 'high,' once again and smokes another rock."
     " Rock?" asked Jasper, his curiosity aroused.  Wentworth explained.
     " As you can see, the substance resembles a small rock, which the user then burns in a pipe, or pipe-like apparatus.  He inhales the fumes thereby and is rewarded with the high he so desperately craves." 
     Jasper thought for a moment, turning over in his mind this most interesting data.  He needed additional information.
     "Look here, Wentworth, what you say is quite interesting indeed.  But surely there is more to this crack than you have told me.  You said, I believe, that it is highly addictive.  Is that problematic?  Cannot one simply purchase a new 'rock' and in that way satisfy his addiction to the drug?  If one can afford such a habit, why not indulge oneself in it?  It must be fairly inexpensive, as the shabby fellow who importuned me is able to afford it."
      "Certainly it is, my friend.  But its effects on the body and mind are pernicious indeed.  One who smokes this drug comes to feel quite obsessed, desiring only its intoxicating effects, which become less and less pronounced upon repeated usage of the drug.  The poor dope fiend often turns paranoid, cannot sleep, is restless and irritable.  Some of these individuals suffer from the delusion that their skin is crawling with parasites."
     "How awful!" interjected Jasper.
     "Awful indeed," answered his friend.  He continued, "Their heart rate increases; often the drug produces scarring on the lungs. The addict becomes emotionally unstable, erratic.  He may resort to stealing and other petty crimes to obtain money to pay for his habit.  Often, the person addicted becomes violent.  Penury, isolation and early death are very often the end result."
     "Good heavens, sir!  How awful it all is,"  cried Jasper.
    "How right you are, my friend," replied Wentworth.  He looked at the bag containing the rock.  He glanced up at Jasper's ashen face.  "You know, Jasper, I do have a pipe upstairs.  Would you care to partake of this rock with me?"
      "Capital idea, old Wenty!" retorted his friend.  "Let us excuse ourselves and embark on a chemically induced adventure."
      "Yes.  And it didn't cost us a cent, my good man.  Say, do you think you can locate the shabby gentleman again?"

     At that, the two gentlemen took their leave of the assembled company and went upstairs. 

How many Jaspers and Wentworths are there out there now, reading this cautionary tale?  Turn back before it is too late.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Fellow Named Othello

I recently tried out for a part in Othello. I haven't heard from the director yet whether or not I have gotten it. I have been sleeping in his front yard for a week now, yet he avoids the question whenever I yell it at him. In researching the play, I read it for the first time. Yes, folks, I had never read Othello before, have you? It is a fine play. This Shakespeare fellow really knew what he was doing. It wasn't as funny as some of his other comedies, but hey, who am I to criticize a pillar of Western Literature?

I must say one thing though.  This Othello, the Moor, was one gullible rube. All it took was a couple of clever lies and a little falsified circumstantial evidence from Iago, and Othello goes from honored general and lovestruck newlywed to maniacally jealous wife murderer and tragic suicide victim (I told you it isn't very funny). I would have to classify this guy as a credulous dunce. Had he never had anyone try to con him before? If somebody had tried, they would have found a lucrative source of continuous revenue in separating Othello from his money. Can you imagine what he would have done if some Nigerian prince had sent him an email asking for his bank account number? He would lose everything. What if a local candidate's TV ad warned him that voting for the other guy would be the death knell for senior citizens? Big-hearted lug that he was, he would have voted for this charlatan and thereby contributed to his society's demise. 

Sometimes I think Shakespeare just made stuff up as he went along, perhaps trying to meet a deadline.  I wonder if some of the peeps in his entourage ever pointed out the flaws in his plays' characters or plots.  Or maybe, like readers today, they had some difficulty understanding his complicated Elizabethan writing style (this was long before Cliff's Notes, as I understand.)

The preceding blog was written in the summer of 2011 and never posted due to a thumb cramp.  I never did get the part in the play.  All I got from the director was a restraining order.  But not having to do Othello freed me up for other projects.  In fact, I've done five plays and two film projects since being passed over for the part.  I am now somewhat of a celebrity here in northeast Ohio to the point where several of my co-workers now recognize me with very little prompting.  How funny life is.

I am one of these guys in one of the plays I did recently.