Poor, poor methamphetamine. It’s the Tourism of the drug world – condemned, stigmatised, and used by the dregs of society. Despite a vast array of fresh-faced, apple-cheeked ambassadors, including the Luftwaffe, Antonie Dixon, and that dilapidated whore from Breaking Bad, it’s been an uphill battle for P’s hard-working PR people – one that shows no signs of abating.
But has this all been a big mistake? Have we written off the underdog too early? Sure, crack doesn’t have the glamour of coke, the lovey-dovey-omfgness of MDMA, or the inimitable Edinburgian bleakness of heroin. But it is locally made and distributed, so every time you buy a gram, you’re showing everyone that you Buy New Zealand Made. And ultimately it’s just speed – if you’ve taken a few pingers you’re certain to have unknowingly consumed it. So why has P/crack/meth/gear been so demonised in the media that any harried stuff.co.nz reader could be forgiven for thinking that a single hit will see them, too, immediately moving to Pipiroa and ordering a samurai sword on Ebay? This alarmist conception of meth is ridiculous (and therefore perfect Stuff Nation fodder), but admittedly ye olde cracke does have a disturbing tendency to, like, ruin lives and shit.
So what is crack all about, really? I could rattle off a list of statistics or provide some apocryphal mug shots of scabby meth fiend faces, but I strongly believe that, like semen and vag juice, drugs can only be truly understood when you have personally consumed them. With this in mind, and conveniently located in West Auckland for the summer, I decided to smoke some crack.
WHEREFORE ART THOU, CRACKEO?
The first challenge of my quest to understand the drug was simply acquiring the crack. Not having a vast network of contacts in the depths of Papatoetoe, I asked around among my “Auckland friends” – a phrase which here means “pampered, smug, insipid ex-Dio/Kings wankers with whom I maintain contact only to ensure I am not completely friendless on my occasional visits back to Auckland.” The general reaction was to look at me with the disgusted expression they normally reserve for non-Caucasians and say “ew, what the fuck is wrong with you? Oh, by the way, did you hear about that awesome new MDMA that’s just come in from Holland?”
Evidently this hypocritical wankpit was not my target market. Clearly I needed to go much, much seedier than this. I needed to go lowest com denom. I needed to go West or South. I needed to go true bogan. But where to find such a creature? I pillaged my Facebook friends list to find a suitable candidate. There were a few from my high school who almost certainly sucked the glass dick on the reg, but sadly three of the four were now incarcerated, and the fourth’s lavish album devoted to his collection of kitchen and hunting knives was worrying. So I turned to the social networking website that showcases the true tragedy and ugliness of humanity like no other; the website which is the last resort of New Zealand’s saddest, most desperate men; the website whose pink-and-goldenrod Web 2.0 stylings stand in ironic contrast to the abject despair on display …
Yes, I created an account on NZDating.
From then on, it was disgustingly easy. I received a barrage of messages asking if I wanted to “puff and play,” which I assumed meant crack would be provided for sexual services in a smooth and perhaps even mutually beneficial transaction. After sifting through the options, most of whom were totally repulsive, I settled on “Dan” and “James,” who appeared only mildly repulsive. Efficient as ever, I double-booked them for some serious crack smoking on a sunny Thursday. Dan had the 2-5 slot, James the 6-? slot. I was excited. After years of sucking dick of the human persuasion, I was finally going to graduate to glass.
THE ALTERNATIVE CRACKHEAD
After enduring a solid two days of borderline illiterate texting, I met my first suitor in person. 32-year-old Dan, a “self-employed Sparkie” (read: unemployed electrician), lived with his parents in the black abyss of humanity that is Papakura. With his parents’ house not an option for “chuffing,” he suggested meeting at an inappropriately family-friendly beach in Auckland’s Eastern Suburbs. The plan was to find a secluded spot in a nearby park or similar to smoke. Or, as Dan eloquently put it in an earlier text, “lets go sumwere wit nota shitload of ppl.”
He collected me in his cyan-blue, painstakingly restored 1996 Mazda Rotary Blahwhatever, which was apparently a treasured possession but to me looked like a noisy and embarrassingly gaudy pile of junk. The man himself resembled an underfed North American Elk. Papery skin with a dusting of caramel-coloured lanugo stretched over each limb, unimpeded by any suggestion of fat or muscle. His thinness was horribly emphasised by his outfit: baggy blue argyle boardshorts, heart-rendingly counterfeit “Versase” wraparound sunglasses, and an oversized DC T-shirt with a burn mark on it from an earlier smoking session. Earlier that day he had texted me saying he was “smoking his breakfast :)” – I couldn’t help but feel that a protein shake would have been the wiser choice.
Eventually the Elk and I settled on a quiet corner of a nearby park as a crack-smoking location, electing to ignore the adjacent wholesome scene of a Mr. Whippy van, four busloads of Japanese tourists, and two small girls flying kites as their flaxen hair rippled in the breeze. The Elk produced a glass pipe, his “favourite,” and proceeded to roll up a $5 note, scoop up a couple of tiny crystals and put them in the bowl. He heated the meth with a Bic lighter until it melted and sucked in the translucent white smoke, constantly rotating the bowl to stop the smoke escaping. He breathed out the smoke in a thick white plume and handed me the pipe.
So, this was it. This was my big moment, the loss of my crack virginity. Except it really wasn’t a big moment because I just heated and swirled and inhaled and exhaled, and then I was done. Except I wasn’t really done, because for three hours we sat in the junk-pile car and watched children gambol and smoked rather a lot of crack and enjoyed the juxtaposition of the wholesome and the sordid. Totes subversive.
For my first few hits I felt almost nothing. Heart rate up, body temp up, the usual stimulant side effects, but I was expecting more. My dopamine receptors were weeping in disappointment. But the next round of hits was different. A bit tingly, a bit rushy, and suddenly the Elk’s tales of his upbringing in Manukau (“Yeah gurl, I woz tha getaaway dryva when my sista robbed tha corna deery”) seemed almost engaging. The grass was lurid Astroturf green, the sun sparkled like Edward Cullen, and my peripheral vision widened by at least 20 degrees. It’s a hideous tweaker cliché but I suppose I “felt like I could do anything” or whatever. I did another, very substantial hit. As the tingling spread from my scalp to my toes, I clicked my jaw and smeared the sweat from my palms onto my jeans.
Now that the Elk and I had established a chemical-induced rapport of sorts, I asked him how often he smoked.
“Oh, one night once a week or so.”
“But you smoked this morning.”
“Yeah, but that was an exception.”
“You smoked yesterday too. And the day before. AND the day before that. You told me in your text.”
“Oh, yah. Well, that was an exception as well. You know, when you wake up and can’t be bothered going to work … beats coffee.”
Clearly the gulf between what the Elk perceived as his level of dependency and his actual level of addiction was bigger than the gaping chasm between Tori Spelling’s tits. It would have been sobering if I weren’t high as a kite. As it was, I shrugged and had another hit. My mind felt clear and focused, like when you’re doing an assignment or exam and get “in the zone,” but this was constant zonage. So much zonage that the Elk’s weak chat was insufficient for my zonage needs, and apparently so little self-awareness that I was actually using the words “chat” and “zonage” in a non-ironic context. Fuck. Clearly this drug delivered. It was time to meet Suitor #2.
Ready to escape, I mumbled something about having to give my parents’ Staffordshire Bull Terrier her medication, and the Elk amiably dropped me back to my car. I said I had fun, which was true I guess, and cringed as I waited for the imminent cracky-Elky goodbye kiss. Strangely (but mercifully), it never came. I got out and he waved goodbye cheerily and drove off, revving the rotary in a wretched attempt at hyper-masculinity.
Later I received a text. “It’s ok if your not interested in that way hun, woz kool just hangin out and chattin with no pressure, we shud do it again.”
Oh, the poor Elk. Sweet and simple, he is a different type of crackhead; a lonely creature, long ago separated from his herd, simply seeking a companion to smoke some gear and shoot the shit with. The tragically ilk-less Elk is a simple mammal with simple needs — a glass pipe, a good mate, a Bic lighter and some high-quality crystal methamphetamine.
THE FUNCTIONAL CRACKHEAD
After the Elk departed, I set off to meet Suitor #2, high on both crack and the fact that that I had managed to pull off the “puff” without even a semblance of “play” with the Elk. My high diminished slightly when James suggested we meet in the Royal Oak Warehouse carpark, which I felt was not the most auspicious location for a first meeting. Still, I drove there with intense concentration, dumped my car, and jumped into his Nissan sedan for my second round of passenger seat pipe-sucking of the day.
Shockingly, James was actually somewhat attractive, a word which here means “not immediately presenting as an anthropomorphic ruminant.” About six foot, of average build, clad in skinny jeans, and with the slightly bulbous, unrefined features typical of the rurally-bred New Zealand male, James hailed from Porirua, which amply explained the crack habit. As we drove, my rapidly intensifying paranoia about life in general was worsened by the fact that we appeared to be heading straight for rural Mangere, “because it’s the only really safe place for a session.”
We parked up on a gravel road between paddocks. As we headed to the bottom of the road, we passed a corpulent older man in a suit sitting ostensibly alone in the driver’s seat. The sweaty pobbling of his neck fat suggested that oral pleasure was being administered by one of Manukau’s finest streetwalkers. I reflected that, technically, the only difference between Sherlii or whoever and myself was that I was being paid in crack. Genuine crack whore.
James parked. “So, you want some gear?”
What followed was effectively Summer School Special Topic 5: Crack Smoking 101 – a refreshingly hands-on counterpoint to LAWS476: Issues in Contract Law. James taught me to keep the lighter low so the very top of the flame just touches the pipe; to suck softly, not drag like a cigarette; how to coax the last remnants of the crystal into the stem.
Then he started thinking disturbingly long-term.
“When you start doing this, make sure you eat. And when you start doing this often, don’t stay up for more than three days. And you should never pay more than $650 for a gram in Auckland.”
“Whatever you say, Sensei.”
“Patience, glasshopper. You will learn when you are ready.”
“So how often do you smoke this, anyway?”
“Once a fortnight on payday.”
“But you’ve smoked 3 days this week already.”
“It’s been a busy week at work. It really makes me on the ball, it makes me alert. I do start talking to myself a lot, but people just know that’s something that I do.”
“Ohh … um, yeah.”
James relished every methamphetamine-related question I had for him, at one point describing in detail how a couple of trips to Mitre 10 Mega for some rubber tubing could even allow one to smoke while driving. As someone who for many years drove straight through stop signs and red lights to avoid hill starts, I sensed I was not quite up to this advanced level of multi-tasking, but still. The more you know.
So I sat in the crappy sedan and smoked crack on the outskirts of Mangere. It was pure scum. It was fucking great. James’s product seemed infinitely superior to the Elk’s. Every hit was deliciously tingly but strangely relaxing at the same time. As I rolled the silky smoke around my mouth I realised with grim resignation that I actually really liked this drug. I liked P, meth, crack, whatever, and I liked it a lot. I grabbed James and blew smoke into his mouth and we banged in the back seat of the car.
I am reluctant to add this final part of the story, but in the interests of completeness, I drove home blasting NWA and Dr Dre to nurture both my God-given and drug-induced megalomania. The moment I got home I was overwhelmed with the urge to clean my room. It is now spotless. The transition from vaguely functional person to neurotic tweaker has been a swift one.
I wrote most of this article from 7-9am the day after the crack bender. I had my last hit at 4am. I had not slept, obviously. Unidentifiable power ballads were playing torturously quietly in every corner of the room, and shadow people ducked in and out of the curtains. My muscles were so weak I could barely stand up. Still, I felt that it was totally worth it, if only because I weighed myself in the morning and I was down two full kilos of hydration, general colon contents,
It is now three days later. I still can’t eat, I can barely sleep, and I am more irritable than a pre-UMAT Health Sci. My mental and physical desolation is so complete that I would attend
Dunedin Feminist Collective meeting if it would deliver me from this state. And at this point, there’s only one thing capable of blasting away this Chris Kahui of comedowns in a cashmere-soft cloud of white smoke.
This is the real problem with crack. When you’re so physically dilapidated that even Lionel Hutz couldn’t slap a “For Sale” sign on you and call you rustic, it’s too tempting to redose just to get through the day. Then again that night, then again the next morning, then you’ve been up for four days and attempting to execute a poorly-conceived scheme to rob your local Bendon Outlet.
Even setting aside the potential of finding yourself standing in a tangled mess of Elle Macpherson Intimates lingerie, wielding a bolt cutter at the terrified Bendon bra fitter as she opens the till, crack has other unpleasant side effects. When you’re on it everything you’re doing is Important and Interesting, kinda like you’re granted a direct portal into Brooke Howard-Smith’s mind for the duration of the hit. Unfortunately, immediately subsequent normal levels of megalomania resume, and you realise just how banal the same activities actually were.
While I was high the conversation with James seemed genuinely compelling, or at least engaging enough to invite James’s penis inside to make it a three-way repartee. Now I can barely remember a single snippet of the discussion that didn’t in some way pertain to crack. Personality-wise, James was about as evolved as a freshly aborted zygote – presumably he had some sort of job or something, but his extra-curricular interests were limited entirely to gear. Even his features were indistinct, as if obscured by a permanent pall of freshly exhaled vapour.
But crack is also really fun, in that special sweaty, dilated-pupilly way. And smoking it is like inhaling liquefied chinchilla. And it turns people into total fucking kinky freaks. And the paraphernalia are kind of fun and ritualistic. And it has the potential to get rid of the Fresher Five in a single bender. And if you exercise a little bit of sense and sleep and eat you will not find yourself creating “puff and play” accounts on NZDating at 3am on a Wednesday. Um, probably. Just be careful. I am reluctant to admit it, but it probably is quite addictive. As I write this a few days later, I find myself constantly distracted by thoughts of how all this work would be so much easier if I just had a little bit of crack.