Corruptors of Youth

Some of us don’t have a chance for normalcy. I was given my first line of meth by my brother and my first hit on a crack pipe by my best friend’s mom when I was thirteen and as an adult looking back now, it blows my mind and pisses me off when I look back to my early teen years and realize just how many grown people were involved in corrupting the youth back then! Particularly me!

Not just people in their 20s; you expect them to still want to hang out with teenagers, the male ones at least. I’m talking people in their thirties, forties and beyond. Wayyy too old to want to be “friends” with obviously damaged, highly vulnerable fifteen year old girls and boys, you know? And they were always around, supplying the goods or giving a ride to a concert or providing a safe house for us to go party. It seemed like a sport in the 80s to cross boundaries and the adults I knew all seemed completely fixated on themselves and getting either high, drunk or both.

Meth was really taking hold at that time and you could smell it cooking as you walked the streets and neighborhoods of Manteca. The odor was very distinct and I knew it well as I had smelled it up close, having been exposed to drug dealers, manufacturers and all manner of petty and not-so-petty criminals. As a freshman in high school I would walk to school and on the way I could smell at least two or three meth labs.

Our high school was a magnet for all of these middle aged corrupters of youth and usually one would spot me and offer a ride along the way, which I happily took. Hell, my oldest sister was still hitchhiking from town to town like the wannabe hippy she still was even though by the mid 80s we kinda knew that made you a target for a serial killer (and California was breeding as many of those as perverted narcissists it seemed).

We literally didn’t care. All five of us kids had a death wish of sorts, it seemed, we just sought it in slightly different ways. She liked to hook up with as many random strangers as she could because sex was her drug of choice. Meth and weed were mine, just like my older brother who I practically worshiped despite him being one of my worst abusers.

It was easy to overlook the abuse when the convenience of getting your fix meant your drug dealer lived in the same house as you, slept two doors down the hall and didn’t always notice when my sticky fingers dipped into his stash when he wasn’t around. I always tried to get in and out of his bedroom though because it was the scariest corner of the cave to me. His walls were covered in naked people doing all sorts of weird things, his collection of knives and bullets and brass knuckles and all manner of weapons of mass destruction scared me even more, but the smell made it feel like going into a gas chamber. I can still smell it if I try.

The smell was so strong, especially if he had skunk weed, that I knew when he was home regardless of the time of day or night because the moment he cracked the seal to that door, the entire house reeked of weed and teenage boy. This was on top of the overwhelming odor of cigarettes and cat shit which already made our cave smell so pungent!

Still, in a weird way I loved him even though it was just like having Sid from Toy Story as an older brother. Out of the entire clan he was the only one I had fond feelings for, but that was probably because he took me places and hooked me up with lots of drugs. He also had hot friends I enjoyed the company of and a reputation for being a bad ass that I benefited from as his little sister. He wasn’t my only brother, but he was the only one who seemed to enjoy my company as long as I was bringing my friends over to buy dimebags and quarters from him, so I did my best to tolerate his personality “quirks” when they were aimed at me.

Though there was that one unfortunate incident when I had to pull a butcher knife on him after he knocked his pit bull out cold in front of me and then turned and came after me in a fit of rage, but eventually we got past that. Plus, he wasn’t the only one corrupting me whenever he had the chance. My oldest sister, the free-love loving hippy wannabe was also into that, but she didn’t use drugs. Unless you count sex as a drug.

All of them were or should have been old enough to know better. At the age of thirteen, I didn’t realize it was wrong of them but by the time I was an older teen, especially by the time I was married and having my first child just before my 20th birthday, I KNEW what they had done was wrong and I was already determined not to be like them or to tolerate any adults around me wanting to corrupt the youth.