“You missed a good game.”
April 10, 2015 6:32 PM   Subscribe

 
For the more savory among you, a single Norco is the equivalent of two Vicodin, while Fentanyl is 20 times more potent than heroin and intended for use by terminal cancer patients. Before interviewing for the job I put four–100 microgram Fentanyl patches on my stomach (four times the prescribed amount) and washed down 16 or 17 Norco (eight times prescribed amount) with some blue Gatorade that looked like Windex.

I don't believe him. I know a lot of people enjoy exaggerating, and there's something about this that makes me think it's another "I took so many drugs this one time look at me!"

Sure, Jason Smith. Get yourself I book deal with some publisher willing to swallow that bs.

Not that I don't think folks don't go to work high or stoned. I know there are people that definitely do. But this dude sounds like he's from Exaggeration City.
posted by discopolo at 6:45 PM on April 10, 2015 [19 favorites]


I can't tell if it's true or not but I liked it anyway.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:45 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's like Dukie and Prez are the same person, like Fight Club meets The Wire.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:49 PM on April 10, 2015


I'm not unskeptical, but daaaaaaaaang.
posted by box at 6:57 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ok, his other writing topics just confirm that he's probably not quite telling the truth. Did he write them when he was high? Is he still high? I can't bring myself to read about his Tijuana adventure but his "guys, this foreign woman stalked me"---all this stuff in a span of a couple of years? Hm.

I don't like the way he writes either, for whatever that's worth. Maybe it's his huge ego or whatever that's making his articles kind of nauseating. He sure thinks everybody thinks a lot of him, and he wants us all to know it. All these kids coming to him and only him with their serious problems---like he's a mix of Mr Turner from Boy Meets World and Ryan Gosling from Half-Nelson.

Right.
posted by discopolo at 6:59 PM on April 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


But this dude sounds like he's from Exaggeration City.

Dude must be high.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:59 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


He should make this into a book. He could call it "A Billion Little Pieces".
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 7:06 PM on April 10, 2015 [53 favorites]


The article's not even really about the drugs. You could get rid of all the references to his being high and it would still be a powerful piece. It makes for an interesting, hard-to-classify piece of writing.
posted by painquale at 7:08 PM on April 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


OK I admit I'm too lazy to actually read the links, but 10x normal dosage is probably not that farfetched if you've built up some tolerance, right?

(Also blue gatorade is funny because it turns your poop green.)
posted by ryanrs at 7:10 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I browsed through some of his other things for Medium, and I'm getting more than a whiff of James Frey off his stuff.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:10 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The parts that ring true to me are the lines about broken recognizing broken and about 26-year-olds not knowing how to comfort older teens. The rest of it sounds truthful but also like a second-hand retelling, like Jason Smith listened very well to baby gays and heroin addicts and teachers in small towns where everyone smiles too much.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:21 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The stories about the kids are interesting, but the narrator seems very self serving and the whole sequence as presented seems conveniently perfect. The title misses the mark because the author, and his addiction, are the least interesting elements.
posted by snofoam at 7:25 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah sure.
Stalker
Mexican Jail
Gay Student
Raped student
Heroin student
All while doing 4-10x suggested dosage for cancer.
Uh Huh.
posted by ITravelMontana at 7:27 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, did he use "savory" when he meant "savvy" or is that a typo?

Or is this article a sneak peek into his next one where he writes about how he beat his drug addiction by becoming a cannibal? Twist!

The parts that ring true to me are the lines about broken recognizing broken and about 26-year-olds not knowing how to comfort older teens.

The Fray's "How to Save a Life" will probably be on the soundtrack to this. Or maybe the author will rewrite that one.
posted by discopolo at 7:32 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


This was interesting to read, but also kind of painful, and frankly, a bit frustrating.

I'm an alcoholic who has been sober for a few years now, so I've heard a lot of stories and told a lot of stories.

Any time I hear a story like this where there is so much mention of quantities of drugs or alcohol used, it always strikes me that even if this person has gotten sober, there is still a part of them stuck in the mindset of using. With very few, if any, exceptions, stories like this don't benefit at all from graphic descriptions of drug amounts. By all means, talk about your actions, talk about your emotions, talk about your experiences, but who cares whether you used two patches or four patches or ten?

I'm sure some people would disagree. Maybe the author felt it was necessary to "set the scene" or whatever. But that kind of detail frequently just distracts from the main narrative, and to me, it always comes off as gratuitous. Frankly, it reminds me of a couple of frat kids talking about how fucked up they got at that party, like:

"Dude, I did twenty shots last night! I'm still drunk!"

"Hey man, I did thirty shots and I drank five beers! I'm going to be drunk until tomorrow!"

I'm trying so hard not to be too judgmental or to shit on this piece, because I am in recovery myself, but the tone of this piece just really rubbed me the wrong way.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:35 PM on April 10, 2015 [46 favorites]


"I remember that morning clearly--I was gnawing on a brick of raw opium while several female students told me how I was the only one who really understood them. My obvious coolness enraged my principal, who shook his fist angrily at me while his monocle popped out and fell to the floor."
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:35 PM on April 10, 2015 [99 favorites]


Wait, did he use "savory" when he meant "savvy" or is that a typo?

I did a double take at that line too, but when I re-read it I decided that maybe he was trying to be clever with the whole idea of an unsavory type of person. I figured he was implying that someone who was "savory" wouldn't know so much about drugs, as opposed to someone "unsavory" like him who does.

But maybe I'm giving him too much credit, and this was an inadvertent vocabulary mistake.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:38 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


my bullshit alarm was going off so hard so many times for so many things in this that i am utterly baffled that anyone could take it seriously
posted by p3on at 7:45 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


This reads like Chuck Palahniuk fan fiction.

I don't believe like, at least half of it. It's well written i guess, but i also hate Palahniuk everything so it's kind of just a giant eye roll.

At least it's on medium, and not in some actual publication trying to act like it isn't a complete work of fiction.
posted by emptythought at 8:00 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Okay, I guess maybe the other thing that annoyed me about his writing is that I wanted to just shake him by the shoulders and scream, "You're supposed to be an adult!"

I get it. I'm around the age he was when he was doing this teaching job, and I've worked with students in this age range before. First of all, even when I was a college student teaching SAT classes to high school seniors, I still felt significantly older than them, even though only 3 or 4 years separated us. But those few years make a big difference, and being in the position of teacher makes a difference, even if there isn't any age distinction.

It just makes me really sad to hear about these students who came to him with these huge problems, and he kind of blew them off. I know that he did try to do the right thing to a certain extent, and I get that it's overwhelming and scary, and teachers are people too, but still, I just... I can't imagine having a student come to me about being raped, and just immediately dumping this crying student at someone else's doorstep. More to the point, finding out that a kid is abusing heroin, having the parents ask for help, and just sort of walking away seems really wrong.

I know that people are not at their best when they're using, and it seems pretty clear that this guy has some serious arrested development going on, but I just can't wrap my mind around someone who chooses to work with kids and then seems surprised when those kids come to them with problems.

I probably would have felt better if in this article he spent less time talking about handfuls of pills and writing caricatures of other teachers, and devoted more time to the guilt I frankly hope he feels about how his drug use and emotional immaturity affected the kids who relied on him as their teacher.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:02 PM on April 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah sure.
Gay Student
Raped student
Heroin student


I know, what even are the chances of one single high school having a gay person, someone who was raped, and someone who does heroin?
posted by threeants at 8:08 PM on April 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Okay, I keep trying not to be too harsh, and I feel like I'm failing. The last thing I'll say before leaving this thread is that it's painful to think about these kids who came to this guy when they felt like they had no one else to turn to, and he kind of let them down. Being a high school kid going through tough shit like this is so hard because you have so little autonomy, and if you can't trust your family to help you, then your options are very limited. I really hope all the kids in this story managed to find help elsewhere.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:09 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I know, what even are the chances of one single high school having a gay person, someone who was raped, and someone who does heroin?

But they all decided to open up to him and only him on the same day of the pep rally and football game? Same day as he'd stuck on 4 fentanyl patches and washed down two big handfuls of pills?
posted by discopolo at 8:17 PM on April 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm an alcoholic who has been sober for a few years now, so I've heard a lot of stories and told a lot of stories.

They call this sort of story a "drunkalogue."
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:19 PM on April 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm so unsavory I thought he was talking about trading a bicycle for two Vicodin.
posted by Flashman at 8:31 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


For the more savory [sic] among you, a single Norco is the equivalent of two Vicodin, while Fentanyl is 20 times more potent than heroin and intended for use by terminal cancer patients. Before interviewing for the job I put four–100 microgram Fentanyl patches on my stomach (four times the prescribed amount) and washed down 16 or 17 Norco (eight times prescribed amount) with some blue Gatorade that looked like Windex.

Yeah. Sure.

Norco has acetaminophen in it, and 8 times even a prescribed amount of one pill would easily put him at 2600 miligrams of acetaminophen alone, which could be enough to cause serious, you-can't-have-a-resistance-to-it problems.

I think he may be...exaggerating. And lying.

Judging by the distance of the thunder, the storm was right on top of us, crashing the windows of my portable-turned-classroom while I graded essays on my prep period with the Chili Peppers’ Californication turned up loud. Without notice, the door swung open.

“Mr. Smith,” asked a kid named Mike, “can I talk to you for a minute?”

Mike was a good kid, quiet, didn’t say much but was obviously intelligent.

“Yeah,” I said, turning down the haunting intro to “Otherside.”


This is just shitty fiction, basically
posted by clockzero at 8:31 PM on April 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


I actually found this a bit entertaining, but I couldn't help but think -

"God, I can't believe Vice wouldn't print this piece I wrote. I guess I'll just have to shop it to Medium - everybody knows they're pushovers anyway..."
posted by koeselitz at 8:36 PM on April 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm also really, really grossed out by lines like the "Erin, a young, Spanish teacher who carried herself like someone who enjoyed the fact that every teenage boy in the school wanted to fuck her". Assuming you don't believe this is anything but prose, it's pretty gross even if you're supposed to not like this guy. It's just gratuitous and gross.

The last thing I'll say before leaving this thread is that it's painful to think about these kids who came to this guy when they felt like they had no one else to turn to, and he kind of let them down.

It's ok, because none of them exist.
posted by emptythought at 8:37 PM on April 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


How do you even get access to those types of drugs in that kind of quantity?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:43 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Straight white dude turns the stories of a teenage girl who was sexually assaulted, a gay teenager coming out and a young man addicted to heroin into his own personal tragedy.

Nevermind the girl who was raped by football players or the kid addicted to heroin with seemingly absent parents the cool teacher is clearly the important thing here that the author should have chosen to focus on)

There's almost something there it's almost a clever framework to hang how incredibly fucked up high schools are, how fucked up football culture is, how many adults buy into the bullshit high school football culture.

And then he basically just keeps turning it into how it's All About Him

(I hate this story, I hate it so much)
posted by FritoKAL at 8:55 PM on April 10, 2015 [23 favorites]


I think savory is correctly used here (though a little weird), as opposed to unsavory people which would be more likely to know what Norco and Fentanyl are and how they stack up to other drugs. The word savvy would not make sense in a sentence constructed like that. The more savvy among us don't need the explanation.

But, that said, the rest of this is utter horseshit.
posted by axiom at 9:02 PM on April 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't believe him. I know a lot of people enjoy exaggerating, and there's something about this that makes me think it's another "I took so many drugs this one time look at me!"

Especially combined with the brags about how great he was at holding it together. I've known a fair number of people (and okay yeah been the person) who thought they were holding it together pretty well through periods of heavy substance abuse and by the metrics of not fucking up bad enough to get fired or kill anyone, I guess you could say we all did, and in some cases excelled by some external standard--but I don't know anyone who didn't, after gaining some sober distance, realize that they weren't holding it together nearly as well as they thought.
posted by kagredon at 9:12 PM on April 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


There's also something very high school creative writing assignment about how each character just openly states, in one sentence, what they're bringing to his room. "I'm gay" "I was raped". It's so formulaic and simple. It's like something someone who's just learning to write and form a narrative would do. It's almost like a placeholder. Lazy.
posted by emptythought at 9:13 PM on April 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was thinking my own experience as a teacher in some pretty troubled damn environments was coloring my opinion of this piece, so I'm glad to see many of my opinions reflected above.
posted by absalom at 9:25 PM on April 10, 2015


Bull. Shit.

HATE.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:26 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am all like, Just last night we watched a 50-year-old reporter tell us about how great the high school football game was and I was like, this is basically the saddest job in the history of the world, he went to college and is spending his life recapping high school games.

So basically this.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:32 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I put four–100 microgram Fentanyl patches on my stomach (four times the prescribed amount) and washed down 16 or 17 Norco (eight times prescribed amount) with some blue Gatorade that looked like Windex.

I don't believe it's possible to build up a "tolerance" against the respiratory depression that dosage would cause.
posted by sourwookie at 9:32 PM on April 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh yeah? I was so high in my college history 101 class, that even my drug -addled prof said "Man! That dude is high!"
posted by rankfreudlite at 9:34 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I know, what even are the chances of one single high school having a gay person, someone who was raped, and someone who does heroin?

Well if Degrassi is any indication, you'll run into at least one of each every 30 minutes.
posted by zachlipton at 9:38 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I will say this, though: as a gen-xer, I was suddenly shocked and filled with sympathy for millennials. All I had to deal with was old, bored, uselessly incompetent teachers. Imagine the horror of waiting a few years and having the worst of the people in my generation, drug-addled idiots who dreamed of being just like Bukowski, teaching you. Ugh.
posted by koeselitz at 9:41 PM on April 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


Sourwookie is correct. 4x100 ug fent patches would knock anyone out and potentially kill them. There's no chance in hell that he is going about his daily business in that situation.

I lived with someone with MS for 2 years and she would be incapacitated after applying 1x100 ug patch; note: this was someone who had been taking heavy doses of opiates for close to a decade and had a tolerance through the roof.
posted by Redgrendel2001 at 9:45 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The dose he describes is equivalent to 1040 mg of morphine. Wikipedia says high-tolerance addicts can handle 2000-3000 mg/day. It's also 5200 mg of acetaminophen, well above the 4000 mg max daily dose. The liver won't last long at those levels.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:53 PM on April 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Half Nelson is a pretty good movie with Ryan Gosling in it.
posted by Corinth at 9:54 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


In other words, the narcotic dose is believable for a severe addict.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:54 PM on April 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


And then 10-20 norcos, yea, there's just no fucking way.
posted by emptythought at 9:55 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's including the Norcos.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:56 PM on April 10, 2015


I will say this, though: as a gen-xer, I was suddenly shocked and filled with sympathy for millennials. All I had to deal with was old, bored, uselessly incompetent teachers. Imagine the horror of waiting a few years and having the worst of the people in my generation, drug-addled idiots who dreamed of being just like Bukowski, teaching you. Ugh.

My teachers were old, bored, uselessly incompetent AND drug-addled! Listening to their endless tautological ax grinding could only be ameliorated by plunging sharpened #2 pencils deeply into our cerebellums. It's a wonder that we can even thinkifie our branez. I like big butts. 🍟
posted by rankfreudlite at 9:58 PM on April 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Am I the only person who had some outstanding high school teachers? One of them was as good as anyone I had in college, and there were two others almost that good. That was a public school, too. Maybe I really was lucky.
posted by thelonius at 10:01 PM on April 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


wow.

School districts are soo messed up. They care so much about football, and can't be bothered to pay or suppot a drug-abusing teacher (who was better than the other applicants) that must have skipped the one day in college where personal issues and mandatory reporting was covered, because he was clueless (yet the only person students trust). I can't believe a coworker chided him for missing a pep-rally he volunteered for, when he was busy coping with the fact that his students use more drugs than him.

I'd say more, but I closed the page and walked away as soon as I confirmed he didn't try to buy drugs from his next plot device. Unfortunately, I couldn't bleach my brain, and have been fuming over the way he used legitimate issues encountered within schools for personal gratification.

The worst part for me was his treatment of the rape. First, he's broadcasting his caution and fear of false accusations (because students may accuse and peers may misunderstand!), before responding to her revelation with abject horror (he was contaminated by association!) and urgency to dump the problem on another female. Of course, he had to tell the principal, and to show how extra bad football (& her rape) is, he named the entire team. Also, it creates a scandalous cover-up. His horror, of course, is a far better reaction than the apathetic female, or football obsessed boss.

I'm comforted by the fact that I don't believe a word of what he wrote. Still I'm beyond disgusted that he used this violent scenario. It's not just the rape though- even without it, he essentially used every person mentioned for his gain alone. Maybe it gets worse, or he makes an attempt at redemption, but I just couldn't handle reading more.

There is a need for continuing discussion about issues impacting schools, including teachers behaving inappropriately. However, it needs to be done in a way that centers around the humanity of the people involved, not caricatures to advance someone's plot.
posted by bindr at 11:08 PM on April 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


What high school is going to let a new teacher choose two different textbooks for his class and approve the budget for that? I can't see a conservative district buying several dozen copies of the People's History.
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:10 PM on April 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


Any time I hear a story like this where there is so much mention of quantities of drugs or alcohol used, it always strikes me that even if this person has gotten sober, there is still a part of them stuck in the mindset of using. With very few, if any, exceptions, stories like this don't benefit at all from graphic descriptions of drug amounts. By all means, talk about your actions, talk about your emotions, talk about your experiences, but who cares whether you used two patches or four patches or ten?

Yeah, it's part of the drunkalogue-as-humblebrag, in the same way as, even with all his problems, he's still The Cool Teacher That All The Troubled Kids Can Talk To. Again, very much like A Million Little Pieces: I Did Way More Drugs Than Anybody, Yet I'm Still The Coolest Guy In The Room.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:13 PM on April 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


thelonious: "Am I the only person who had some outstanding high school teachers?"

Oh - yes, I don't want to give the wrong impression. I meant the bad teachers I had were just old and boring, not cracked-out young nutcases like is guy is describing himself as. (And I prefer the old and boring to the young and stupid.) But the good teachers I had in high school - few, but wonderful folks they were, who meant and mean a good deal to me.
posted by koeselitz at 12:14 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


he essentially used every person mentioned for his gain alone

like some kind of goddam drug addict
posted by Sebmojo at 2:18 AM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


The author is the only genuine adult in his world. He's not the crazy one, everyone else is. Only he sees the world the way it truly is. Everyone around him just just so phony and fake.

It's a short form retelling of Catcher in the Rye. I didn't like Holden Caulfield as a character either.
posted by sbutler at 3:00 AM on April 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


I also swear I've read that "broken recognizes broken" line before somewhere. For some reason Stephen King jumps to mind. But Google and my poorly indexed brain can't place it right now.
posted by sbutler at 3:01 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a short form retelling of Catcher in the Rye

I wonder if he also has a brother who's a movie producer?
posted by thelonius at 3:47 AM on April 11, 2015


Uh, yeah people who are acclimatized to large amounts of opiates can take "heroic" doses and just get on with their day. What, is everybody here completely new to the subject? And I'd much rather have a teacher on opiates than some of the drunks whose classes I suffered through.
posted by telstar at 3:54 AM on April 11, 2015


Mike was a good kid, quiet, didn’t say much but was obviously intelligent.

Kid didn't exist. Writer has been busted.
posted by colie at 4:16 AM on April 11, 2015


A million little fleeces.
posted by spitbull at 4:31 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the terms that gets tossed around a lot in recovery circles is terminal uniqueness. It's along the lines of the "snowflake" characterization. Essentially, you believe that you're so special and no one has ever gone through what you're going through and couldn't possibly understand your experience. There is also the explicit corollary that this belief is one of the things that makes people resistant to participating in recovery programs and helps keep a person locked into the cycle of using.

My point is that this guy seems to be suffering from a major case of terminal uniqueness.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:32 AM on April 11, 2015 [19 favorites]


It's also 5200 mg of acetaminophen, well above the 4000 mg max daily dose. The liver won't last long at those levels

Plus he claims to have done that three times a day, so more like 15,600mg of acetaminophen. It's one thing to have a tolerance to narcotics. That much acetaminophen is basically like a suicidal Tylenol OD. More than an entire bottle.
posted by aydeejones at 4:44 AM on April 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


> Uh, yeah people who are acclimatized to large amounts of opiates can take "heroic" doses and just get on with their day.

That doesn't seem to get around the liver damage from all that acetaminophen.
posted by ardgedee at 4:45 AM on April 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


And the reality is, without being totally loaded or having a criminal syndicate on your good side, those sorts of "medical grade" narcotic doses are unsustainably expensive which is a huge source of heroin addicts. That's the modern day Midwest story of heroic addiction. Pharmaceuticals are too fucking expensive in the long run, nobody can sustain it once they are addicted truly and then they switch to heroin
posted by aydeejones at 4:48 AM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I kept hoping for Mugwumps.
posted by Abon Sapi at 4:54 AM on April 11, 2015


how did that guy not die. wow.
posted by IwishIwasFordMaddoxFord at 5:08 AM on April 11, 2015


It's some real Interzone shit alright.
posted by Abon Sapi at 5:13 AM on April 11, 2015


"... and then I woke up on my kitchen floor, the three fentanyl patches still on my stomach. I'd nodded off and dreamt the whole thing -- the gay student, the rape, the addict -- and now I had to get up and go to work, an hour late.

Worst of all, I still had that fucking football game to go to."
posted by panglos at 5:27 AM on April 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


I know, what even are the chances of one single high school having a gay person, someone who was raped, and someone who does heroin?

That's not the part that's hard to believe. It's the part where they all come to this dingus for help.

I don't know, maybe he really is a great teacher, or puts up a good front, or the rest of their teachers are all talking soda machines or something.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:43 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


stuffthatdidnthappen.txt
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:47 AM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I googled "broken finds broken." Not really original, it turns out.
posted by discopolo at 5:53 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Faking Bad.
posted by spitbull at 5:59 AM on April 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's funny. I don't know enough about dosages to do anything but roll my eyes at the dose-bragging. It's the crisis after crisis thing with the students that brought me up into No Way Land. Yes, kids have crises. Yes, kids come to you if you're the young "cool" teacher. And yes, that teacher might respond in some sort of vague management pass-the-buck sort of way. (Pretty standard, actually. Which sucks yes. But a lot of teachers would do just what he did.) However, they don't all come to you in the same week. That there's some bullshit.

I worked in a school with BD kids who were in crisis all the fucking time. Way more than a normal school. But no way would all this happen in just a few days. Maybe in the course of a full year. Maaaaybe.
posted by RedEmma at 5:59 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I googled "broken recognizes broken" (the actual line, my bad) as well and that is also not original.
posted by discopolo at 5:59 AM on April 11, 2015


I think everyone can agree the bloke is a massive massive arsehole.
posted by fullerine at 6:05 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good god, did anyone read the part where everyone got down on their knees and sucked his cock?

By which I mean the comments?
posted by dozo at 6:09 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


The unbelievable part to me was where was he getting the money to sustain that habit. Unless he was stealing them from an actual cancer patient, which would explain why he doesn't explain since it would mess with his contrived I Am The Only Real Person motif.
posted by winna at 6:12 AM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I haven't finished this yet - I am hooked though. (I am at the part where he has just heard Kyle is hooked on heroin and is waiting to talk to him.) I need to know a spoiler though: did he go to the football game on Friday?

Also, he's highly functional for an addict. That does happen, and yeah - he can still be good at his job and do the right thing by people and still be fucked by addiction in his personal life. Those things aren't mutually exclusive.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:59 AM on April 11, 2015


I don't believe a single fucking word of this.

1) Queer kids don't generally just walk up to teachers and say I R GAY. Based on my experience and people I've known, it's usually a much more circuitous conversation because you have to work your way up to it.

2) Likewise, "I was raped." I find it difficult to believe that a young girl who was raped would go to a man and say this. Maybe if he was gay? Even then.

3) "Kyle's hooked on heroin" just fuck off

This assbag should be slapped in the face with a million little books.

Am I the only person who had some outstanding high school teachers?

Nope, I had mostly truly spectacular ones, from kindergarten on up. The odd useless layabout, who were noteworthy for being unusual. Maybe I was lucky.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 AM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


"broken recognizes broken"

I believe it's pretty close to a conversation Vonnegut's Mother Night, though probably not in that exact phrasing. If memory serves, it's when Campbell and Kraft exchange stories, and Kraft opines that they both belong to an invisible society of broken people that are only recognized by other broken people. Or something?

It's not one of his best books, but it has some of his best lines. Another one actually is not totally off base:

"We are who we pretend to be, so we must be very careful who we pretend to be."
posted by absalom at 7:51 AM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also: As above, nothing original under the sun. Doubly true for this piece. The internet generation learned all the wrong lessons from Hunter S' style.
posted by absalom at 7:54 AM on April 11, 2015


Omg, I can't get through this piece the author wrote on how a gorgeous, decade older than him, Italian woman practically begs the 19 yr old author to have an FWB relationship with her. Begs a 19 yr old to be her friends with benefits.

Gorgeous Italian woman, a gorgeous 29 yr old woman, wants this 19 yr old boy, for an FWB.

This guy needs help. For more than just the drugs or whatever he's on. He's totally living in a fantasy world 24/7.

(The worst part is not just the way he writes, but that he puts all her statements IN CAPS and spelled phonetically. I can't finish it. Is there a term for feeling so embarrassed for a person that you wish you could melt into the grounded unsee it? It's painful. I can't even hate him. He's clearly not living in anything that smacks of reality. )


posted by discopolo at 8:03 AM on April 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thanks Metafilter, for spoiling everything, even the Italian sex piece!
posted by sneebler at 8:04 AM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


discopolo: "Is there a term for feeling so embarrassed for a person that you wish you could melt into the grounded unsee it? It's painful. "

Vicarious embarrassment, or fremdscham
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:09 AM on April 11, 2015 [27 favorites]


Oh my god, I finally have a name for why I can't endure sitcoms. Thank you, Eyebrows!
posted by ocherdraco at 8:19 AM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I admit I was taken in by some of the scenarios he describes, because I felt them myself: being a new, young teacher that feels closer (in age and mentality) to his students than the jaded 'lifer' teachers, the shocking amount of CYA bullshit among administration, the years-later confirmation that a sizable percentage of teachers really DON'T know shit, and really are petty tyrants who forgot they graduated 15 years prior, and the angry bit about 'my secrets are more shameful than theirs'-

But I'm not going to share it, because the dosages he reports are a bit much, and everything feels a bit 'just-so'. Shame that.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:25 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee, I am fremdschamming to death here. I'm crying, laughing, I'm ashamed, I may never read again because I meant to look at the comments and ended up skimming the last paragraph and I feel like I need a) to take a very hot shower and, b) beg someone to write hideous fan fiction based on it called "Italian Sex School."

Who the hell encouraged this guy to be a writer? Jesus Christ almighty. I'm a huge supporter of being creative and written expression but holy crap there are people who shouldn't write. Or maybe he needs to write more. I don't know what's happening anymore.

Please someone call this guy and get him to admit he's trolling everybody. Someone who can talk without starting to fremdscham/cry/laugh, someone who can explain to me later how it is that this guy doesn't see how ridiculous his articles sound?

29 yr old, gorgeous, sexy Italian women begging for the virgin jock of a 19 yr, perpetually lazy, disinterested, unemotional virgin American college guy with a bad back. She spend weeks teaching him about sex. Weeks. Weeks...Weeks.

Good Lord.
posted by discopolo at 8:30 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Omg, I can't get through this piece the author wrote on how a gorgeous, decade older than him, Italian woman practically begs the 19 yr old author to have an FWB relationship with her. Begs a 19 yr old to be her friends with benefits.

You forgot the bonus of the perfect professor taking him under his wing while demanding only Absolut in his vodka tonics.

Fuck this asshole right in the ear.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:32 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fuck this asshole right in the ear.

Then he'd really have something to write about.
posted by discopolo at 8:34 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


fremdscham

a.k.a. the Costanza effect. I can't watch Seinfeld because of this.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:35 AM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Vicarious embarrassment

That article describes vicarious embarrassment as the opposite of schadenfreude, but how is that true? They're completely unlike each other (by which I don't mean that they are different endpoints on a spectrum).

Lisa Simpson's analysis of the opposite of schadenfreude was much more perceptive.
posted by painquale at 8:40 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]



I don't believe him. I know a lot of people enjoy exaggerating, and there's something about this that makes me think it's another "I took so many drugs this one time look at me!"


These kinds of desperate pseudo-edgy cool yarns bore me. Nothing screams "selfish nerd who did not get enough love as a child" than something as unoriginal and uninspired as this dreck. Do nothing productive, yet try to steal the attention you did not earn by overplaying your hand. Yawn.

Reading this equals waste of life...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:43 AM on April 11, 2015


I dunno, I think they're on the same spectrum. To be embarrassed is to suffer, in some way. And most of the time when people feel schadenfreude, I think, it's because someone else has been embarrassed. So taking joy in seeing it, or wincing for them, seem to be pretty related concepts to me.

Sour grapes is the thing that's not even related to schadenfreude, to me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:43 AM on April 11, 2015


Also: As above, nothing original under the sun. Doubly true for this piece. The internet generation learned all the wrong lessons from Hunter S' style.

Hey, almost everybody learned all the wrong lessons from HST.

Who the hell encouraged this guy to be a writer? Jesus Christ almighty. I'm a huge supporter of being creative and written expression but holy crap there are people who shouldn't write.

Yeah, my high school journalism teacher read a story I wrote and called me a "Closet Columnist." I asked him what that meant. He said that means you should go into a dark closet, close the door and turn off the lights before attempting to read your column. Oh well, I was the art director of the school paper, not a writer. And I am probably still a Closet Columnist.

BTW my teacher and I were both fans of HST who was still just hitting his peak after writing Fear and Loathing. We both went to an HST appearance on his college book tour.. and we walked out after about 30 minutes.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:46 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sour grapes is the thing that's not even related to schadenfreude, to me.

One's taking pleasure in another's pain; the other's taking pain in another's pleasure.

Vicarious embarrassment most often happens when the other person doesn't feel embarrassment (if they did, they'd correct their embarrassing behavior and not dig into it further like Larry David does). So even if schadenfreude were restricted to pleasure in another's embarrassment, there's still a disanalogy, because schadenfreude has the other person's embarrassment as its object but vicarious embarrassment does not.
posted by painquale at 9:32 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


How come he doesn’t mention how/where he got his drugs, and how he managed to afford them, on his meager teacher’s salary?
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 9:35 AM on April 11, 2015


probably because he's not a teacher and doesn't do drugs
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:42 AM on April 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


From an interview online and his Italian sex story, all I can piece together is that he went to UC Davis on a football scholarship (~1999), majored in history, and lost scholarship after injuring his back and then he got addicted to painkillers from that injury, shrug again. He taught (shrug another time). He became a writer after walking into some town newspaper office and pitching a 3 part story on heroin. At some point he went to rehab. Shrug more.

Again, I think he exaggerates greatly about the meds and events because he never mentions the state of his liver, with all the narcotics and I'm guessing he probably didn't abstain from alcohol.
posted by discopolo at 9:51 AM on April 11, 2015


I mean, I expect most memoir/creative non-fiction type writing to have some rearrangement/combination of events for effect, so I'm less bothered by, say, the factual plausibility of the all-three-students-in-one-week thing. But yeah, the writing itself seems to lack much in the way of deeper...truth? Insight? The only thing I really find myself curious about is whether his cliched, over-romanticized view of drug use is because he's still heavy in the mindset of using ("terminal uniqueness" is absolutely right, and this thread's worth it for learning that alone), or if he never was even there and it's all wholesale fabricated. But it's nothing that hasn't been done before and better.

It was psychologically excruciating and to make matters worse I wasn’t even sure what “it” was, or where “it” came from. I wanted out of my skin so badly that between TESL classes I would take a razor blade to my inner-thigh, in a spot high up, where the seam of the pants would hide the blood, in the hopes that something — anything — would be released.

I mean, that would be circled with a "needs more work" scribbled next to it by any creative writing teacher worth her salt.
posted by kagredon at 10:11 AM on April 11, 2015


I don't believe anything this guy wrote, and am not sure that his real name is Jason Smith, since he gave a Dragnet-style disclaimer at the beginning of the teaching story. But it's kind of coincidental that an RN named Jason Smtih got arrested last October for stealing large amounts of Fentanyl from the hospital where he worked.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:14 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Practically every line of this screamed "bullshit" to me, but putting that aside, I've gotten really weary of "stuff I did while an addict" stories. They are so cookie-cutter, so indistinguishable from one another. It's either stories of Genius/Saint Who Hides His Demons Until He Can't Anymore, or Can You Handle How Much Of An Asshole I Was? or some quasi-spiritual twaddle about despair and redemption. I am utterly bored of hearing these self-serving war stories. It's no wonder it's a subgenre that seems to attract the biggest narcissists on the planet.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:21 AM on April 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Ugh. I knew I should have quit reading as soon as I got to "The identities of the guilty are protected by default."
posted by queensissy at 10:23 AM on April 11, 2015


Wait, did he use "savory" when he meant "savvy" or is that a typo?

I did a double take at that line too, but when I re-read it I decided that maybe he was trying to be clever with the whole idea of an unsavory type of person. I figured he was implying that someone who was "savory" wouldn't know so much about drugs, as opposed to someone "unsavory" like him who does.


Of course, there's nothing that's actually unsavory about knowledge of drugs, especially legal drugs; nurses, physicians' assistants, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and of course doctors would all have knowledge like that, for example, acquired in a completely neutral way. And that's setting aside for a moment that calling someone "savory" is not actually an idiom, because "unsavory" most nearly means "distasteful," so savory doesn't mean law-abiding. He's just an idiot either way.
posted by clockzero at 10:52 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gorgeous Italian woman, a gorgeous 29 yr old woman, wants this 19 yr old boy, for an FWB.

The scenario itself doesn't seem that unlikely to me. I've certainly known women who were obsessed with younger men, even children. It seems to pop up in the news quite often these days, unfortunately.
posted by callistus at 11:48 AM on April 11, 2015


Narco IS Vicodin w/ less acetaminophen. A Narco 5 is 5mg Hydrocodone with 325 mg acetaminophen. A Vicodin 5 is 5mg Hydrocodone w/ 500 mg acetaminophen.
Upon advisory by the United States Food and Drug Administration, drug manufacturers have been asked to limit the strength of acetaminophen in prescription drugs to 325mg acetaminophen, This advisory includes acetaminophen combination products containing opiates such as Vicodin. Narco has replaced Vicodin to adhere to the new standard.
posted by shockingbluamp at 12:14 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was high - so high! - but it is America that is really the high one.
posted by naju at 12:22 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I stopped here:

I realize that “drug addicted high school teacher” sounds scary, but trust me, if you saw my paycheck you’d know that they got exactly what they paid for.

Really, you're going to blame this on your low salary? If they paid more, you would've been a better teacher?
posted by salvia at 12:58 PM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


It cracked me up that he chose to set his story during 3 days of rain (and thunder! How ominous!) Has he been to Northern California lately?
posted by jamaro at 1:20 PM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Narco IS Vicodin w/ less acetaminophen. A Narco 5 is 5mg Hydrocodone with 325 mg acetaminophen. A Vicodin 5 is 5mg Hydrocodone w/ 500 mg acetaminophen.
Upon advisory by the United States Food and Drug Administration, drug manufacturers have been asked to limit the strength of acetaminophen in prescription drugs to 325mg acetaminophen, This advisory includes acetaminophen combination products containing opiates such as Vicodin. Narco has replaced Vicodin to adhere to the new standard.
posted by shockingbluamp at 12:14 PM on April 11 [+] [!]


Acetaminophen limitations are fairly recent--2011. He's 35-36 now, he was 26 when teaching, so the advisory didn't affect the content of acetaminophenin these drugs until just 4 years ago.

But again, I don't know that a drug abuser would abstain from alcohol use. Alcohol and acetaminophen---never do that to your liver.
posted by discopolo at 1:24 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only person I've known to have a problem with abusing prescription pain meds used a cold water extraction to filter out the acetaminophen. This was 14 or 15 years ago, he knew back then that the acetaminophen was the most harmful aspect of his habit.
posted by peeedro at 3:19 PM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Imagine the horror of waiting a few years and having the worst of the people in my generation, drug-addled idiots who dreamed of being just like Bukowski, teaching you.

"I drink a little!"
"Yeah!"
"I've smoked pot!"
"Yeah!"
"I've tried heroin!"
"..."
"A few times, yeah..."

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:20 PM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Seconding peeedro. Had a friend who used to buy packs of 20 tablets that were 500mg acetaminophen/10mg codeine (which at the time you could get over the counter) and use cold water extraction, and a giant syringe packed with cotton to pour out his shitty buzz.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:43 PM on April 11, 2015


I assumed Smith was a pseudonym. Guess not. Author's website: www.authorjasonsmith.com

His upcoming book is "self-deprecatingly dark at times, light-hearted confessional [sic] in [sic] others" and "does not revel in the abyss of opiate addiction" and so I think what we have here is a failure to communicate.
posted by sylvanshine at 6:14 PM on April 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


The acetaminophen thing definitely made me wonder about the veracity of this.
posted by limeonaire at 7:22 PM on April 11, 2015


Wait, wait, just wait, goddammit, wait. It is coming to me...Very shadowy, very much like a ghost from the past. Somehow, it is all clear now. I attended high school every day, stoned and drunk, dipping into mom's over prescribed Valium, the pink ones. The occasional micro dot acid somehow enabled me to see clearly my special talents playing the clarinet. While tripping on window pane, I was interrogated by my parents at the dinner table. Why were we driving in the middle of a snow storm, just before that road maintainer sliced our car in half? Oh, High School, now I remember, and it is not that special.
posted by breadbox at 8:43 PM on April 11, 2015


Fuck this asshole right in the ear.

Of course he's had it in the ear before -- gotta lust for life.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:09 AM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought it was a good and largely believable story, but compressed. I can very easily imagine these events happening over the course of a year, but putting them all in the span of three days reads better.

And yes, the story is all about him, despite the real problems of the kids around him. But, when you're an addict, everything is always all about you.

He may have read too much William S. Burroughs and be trying to cast himself in Junkie 2. His writing does suffer for it a bit. But I do not for a second understand all the hate in this thread.
posted by 256 at 6:26 AM on April 12, 2015


> I can very easily imagine these events happening over the course of a year, but putting them all in the span of three days reads better.

If that’s true, then it should be disclosed. He already has a disclaimer at the top of the article (“Names have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent.”) so it would be easy for him to also mention that he has played with the timeline a bit.

But he doesn’t mention this, which suggests to me that I should not give him the benefit of the doubt. And even if he did mention it, the fact that he thinks he can’t make these three anecdotes compelling unless he pretends they all happened on the same day would make me question his storytelling ability.

I remember this argument in the Mike Daisey thread from a few years ago. Some people thought it was OK that Daisey took a few liberties because, after all, nobody thinks that everything David Sedaris writes is literally true. Whereas others felt that, because he was trying to get people to act about a political problem (labor conditions in China), he should be held to a higher standard.

Here, all we’ve got is an anecdote, so the author is more like Sedaris than Daisey. And I think if the author were as good a writer as Sedaris you wouldn’t hear as many complaints. I am not claiming that there are clear lines for this sort of thing.
posted by savetheclocktower at 8:12 AM on April 12, 2015


Please don't compare this guy to David Sedaris. It's killing me that you are linking the two.

Sedaris is more than just anecdotal humor. Even compare Sedaris writing about his crystal meth addiction to whatever the hell Jason Smith is trying to do. Sedaris is not only funny, he's insightful, reflective, self-deprecating, genuinely interested in people outside of himself, has great characters, and isn't a lazy writer trying to use shock alone to captivate the reader.

Here's a link to just a page of Sedaris writing about his crystal meth addiction (and discovery of conceptual art).

Hilarious Sedaris quote re his addiction
After a few months in my parents' basement, I took an apartment near the state university, where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these things are dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations.
posted by discopolo at 12:19 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


also, it's not just the difference in writing skills, it's differences in attitude towards the world and intelligence and ego and personality and...I don't know, plain old understanding other people or wanting to understand others, rather than just lumbering around writing really poor stories that can't even inspire terrible after school specials from the early 80s anymore.
posted by discopolo at 12:28 PM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


What we have here is a failure to communicate.
According to the bio on the author's website:
Jason currently lives in Auburn, California, raising a family with his wife Megan and their two children, Isabella and Jaden.
Keeping two families is hard, especially on a writer's salary. At least he's able to call on his wife and two children for help in raising the other family.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:55 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ah, modifier-error pedantry. How I love thee.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:42 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gorgeous Italian woman, a gorgeous 29 yr old woman, wants this 19 yr old boy, for an FWB.

Assuming he's okay looking and reasonably charming, why not?
posted by Sebmojo at 8:32 PM on April 14, 2015


like some kind of goddam drug addict

Oh is that what addicts are? Subhumans? I guarantee you know several very pleasant and likable people that you don't know also happen to be drug addicts. They don't get tattoos on their foreheads, "DRUG ADDICT, JUDGE ME".
posted by Brocktoon at 7:59 PM on April 15, 2015


Oh is that what addicts are? Subhumans? I guarantee you know several very pleasant and likable people that you don't know also happen to be drug addicts. They don't get tattoos on their foreheads, "DRUG ADDICT, JUDGE ME".

That... isn't what that post came off as at all to me? It was just snark, and i think pretty apt snark because even assuming this is all fiction, it's written in a complete drunkalogue and addict thinking way. All the self aggrandizing, woe is me, only i get it sort of thought and speech demonstrated here is exactly what anyone whose ever lived with, been around, or had family who were addicts knows all too well. No one said anything "subhuman" here, just that this guy(or the character he's created) sounds almost like the platonic ideal of an addict.

Assuming he's okay looking and reasonably charming, why not?

I think that detail shouldn't have been so laser focused in on. It's more the way he talks about it. It reminds me of when i(oh god) tried to convince my friends in freshmen year of highschool that i'd had a three way with a couple girls who spent the night at my house(to play games, and do nerdy stuff). The premise isn't unbelievable, but the way he talks about it is so very teenage "yea and then we stole 10 fifths! and did donuts in the football field in gregs moms car! and i took like twenty bong hits man! Nick saw me do it! and then that girl from band class 69ed with me under the stands!"

It's written in a livejournal, braggart way that a young teenager or... yea, an emotionally stunted addict would write.

I have a lot of experience with people like this. I grew up with them. A lot of them aren't like this anymore, but a few are, and it absolutely REEKS of that. No single detail is implausible by itself, it's the narrative and presentation that are suspect. He sounds like an older version of that kid everyone knew in middle school whose uncle worked at nintendo, and lent him a nintendo 65 to play with for the weekend.*


*One of the funniest moments of my adolescence was that my dad actually did some work for a guy who was an executive in NOA marketing when i was in middle school. I got a gameboy advance on the japanese launch day when it didn't come out in the US for months because it was my birthday the same day. The stupid kid who always told stories like that poured soda in it and broke it because he was mad i actually had one. The look on his face the first time he saw it, after lying and making up so much shit, is one of my favorite childhood moments though.
posted by emptythought at 8:24 PM on April 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


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