In my youth, a group of us used to hang out, spending our days and nights getting together, traipsing throughout the town, hanging out in the local park to throw a ball around, going to friend’s places for movie night, or to enjoy a barbecue, the typical things teenage kids do.
We all didn’t come from the best side of the tracks, but most of us lived with normal families, who did normal things together, and carried on with their normal day-to-day lives, like most people do. When we graduated out of high school, most of the gang had already taken jobs, beginning their ascension into adulthood. As was the case, we were becoming productive, active, tax-paying members of society.
She was a good kid in retrospect; a free-soul with a penchant for dancing and singing, and was a genuinely nice person. She was a lovely young woman, and had her fair share of boyfriends, plenty of suitors in her groups of friends. She fell for a boy who seemed to be The One; eventually they wound up conceiving a child. The boy was a child himself, and the news of this event caused him to basically leave, not to be seen or heard from again.
Many of her friends were spending their weekdays pursuing various careers. She wasn’t employed at the time; she was a mother now, raising a baby girl at her parent’s home, no time for a paying job when parenthood becomes a career in itself. Jobs were scarce for the youth in those days; our country was undergoing another typical economic downturn, so she was one of the unfortunate ones who couldn’t land a job that worked with the timetable of her parental responsibilities.
Her only escape from the responsibility of her life became weekends with friends. Still, she was still enjoying her youth, spending her days with her child, enjoying the summers together or tobogganing in the cooler weather, along with other parents.
We all knew of the local ‘sub-culture’ around town, and our ranks were not immune from its influences. One night someone suggested smoking a ‘joint,’ a marijuana cigarette. She took to it immediately, as did others. The old adage that one thing leads to another was the case here, as time marched on tastes in ‘social drugs’ can tend to graduate from smoking ‘dope,’ to crack cocaine, amphetamines, and Timothy Leary’s drug of choice, LSD, all available throughout the town, in spite of the police force’s best efforts to quash those responsible for the organized crime factions behind its production, packaging, and distribution.
The time came where there were no friends around to smoke up, no free lines, no tabs of acid. Drug dealers are shrewd enough to know that young girls who like doing drugs are apt to want to continue with their vices; she was no exception. He suggested that she didn’t need to purchase her ‘fix’ with money, he was sure they could work out some sort of arrangement. She proceeded down a path in life she had never expected to find herself in.
Who knows what was going on in her head, the events from that day spiraled out of control; all the drugs she wanted, to escape the life she never planned, never wanted, never asked for. All she had to do was endure emotionless, unsatisfying time with strangers who pretended to be friends. Eventually, the last bastions of her normal life were destroyed, her parent’s raised her daughter themselves. The gang she used to hang out with were gone, replaced with the sub-culture; a new group of people always willing to exploit her vulnerabilities, her lack of self-worth, her disgust with the way her life was proceeding. Alcohol and drugs ravaged her life, her family’s life, her child’s life, and there was nothing to be done about it.
I know of the plight she endures to this day. I have a friend who wrote a song about drug addiction, a song that hits home every time I hear it. I still saw her around town, literally years later. The last time we met I was stopped at a light, saw her and offered a lift in my car. She fit the bill in terms of looks; a notably toothless smile crowned by soulless, empty eyes encased in a thin, frail body that was obviously sick from lack of nutrition and sleep. She offered me a free bout of her specialty in exchange for a lift across town. I declined and gave her a ride to the bus terminal. I missed city council that night; just the same, someone was probably there complaining about something, anyway.
What started as a beautiful, vibrant, loving young girl, ended up in this condition. I had to wonder if she felt like an old woman before her time, filled with regret, waiting to die. In the previous municipal election one candidate opposed a drug treatment facility in their neighbourhood, a mistake that may have cost them the election. Many of us view these people as damaged, useless drags on our society. Most of us, however, know the true stories of these unfortunate victims; victims of a decadent and brutal world where cruelty and exploitation are the norm.
I was never disgusted with my friend, I feel sorrow for her, as I know many people do when they are dealing with their friends, family members, who have ‘slipped through the cracks’ of society. The mark of a true friend is to help; we all want to help the less fortunate, and we all have our ways of doing it. The first step is not to shy away from the problem; the first step is to acknowledge it, to accept it, and to do what we can to help. In my case it’s to bring the problem to print; to tell a tale to those sheltered from the harsher realities of life, people not really aware or believing of our world’s ‘hidden culture’ that permeates throughout society, causing havoc in it’s wake. From this, perhaps, one person out there will have the ability to help someone else save themselves, and I will have done my job.
The other night as I was heading home, I pulled up to a stop sign downtown. One of my friend’s latest ‘apprentices’ saddled up to my driver’s window. She was about my daughter’s age, pretty enough to turn heads, looking to meet new friends. I gave her cigarette a light, and smiled to her as I departed her company, turning the corner to head home.
What’s old is new.
The title of this article reflects a derogatory and spiteful attitude of those who are unaware of a cold reality many of our society face every day; it is this ignorance of perception that needs addressing, in order to provide more assistance to one of humanity’s most helpless demographics. There’s more to a ‘crack whore’ then meets the eye, and we as a society have not done enough to help them, yet.