Drugs: Serving suggestion

2010-02-10 17:43
That's what the makers of Simply Slim must have been thinking when they marketed their weight loss pills as "natural" – as if nature somehow has an advantage over real medicine – and stuffed them with sibutramine, a schedule 5 chemical with a list of side effects that includes sudden death.

I guess that's one way to end the  habit of stuffing your face with cake.

The news took me to my early adulthood, back in the first version of the 1980s, when I finally stopped raiding my dad's booze cabinet and started getting wasted in clubs and bars like a normal, functional member of society. Now back then, we had a major drug problem: we couldn't find any. These days on Long Street in Cape Town you can barely vomit in the gutter without splashing some drug dealer's shoes. Ah, the kids today – they just don't know how lucky they are.

Back in the '80s we had to improvise. I briefly dated a crazy punk who specialised in other people's medicine cabinets. Her life was a druggie version of playing tombola: Neck whatever looks interesting and see where the evening takes you. Another friend could go through two bottles of Tipp-Ex thinners a night. My drug of choice – apart from the ubiquitous booze and weed – was diet pills.

Now if you're thinking that diet pills doesn't sound like much of a drug, it's only because you're not  thinking about enough diet pills. The idea was: when in doubt, go large; to stand teetering on the edge without falling into the abyss of heart failure. Fun.

I'd sit palpitating in the bar, clutching my beer as if it were the only thing preventing me from being sucked into outer space, going "Ohmygodwhatthefuckthisplaceisawesome seethewaythebarman movessof astitlookslikehe'sstandinginwhatplacedoingnothingwhywon'thetakemyorder?!?" Then I'd take the diet pills.


Years later I was mildly surprised to learn that people actually took these things to get thin. Really? And here I was thinking that labelling it "diet pills" was a legal way to sell me some killer speed. Luckily, by the time somebody wised up and they'd removed the fun ingredient from my pill of choice, I'd already discovered the joys of lysergic acid diethylamide (try it, kids!).

Now that you understand my personal background, I am sure you'll see why I believe that banning, recalling or restricting anything is futile. If real drugs are unavailable due to legalities, there's always nutmeg (two or three cloves should do the trick – but don't make any plans that week), glue, if you don't mind looking permanently embarrassed, and eye drops (apparently if you inject it into your bloodstream it's quite a rush – but I wouldn't quote me on that). I also heard when I was in the army that some guys injected mayonnaise into their neck for kicks – but we can't ban mayo! If we do, the terrorists have already won.

We humans can be highly resourceful in the face of adversity, and frankly, if I were a parent, I'd rather catch my kid, say, smoking weed than auto-asphyxiating himself with my favourite belt.

Which is why I sometimes think the world would be a safer place if everything was legal, and the packaging simply carried warning labels saying, "This might very well kill you." That way, we as a society don't have to feel too guilty about morons who choose to murder themselves. Just to be safe, I propose we put warning labels on everything: cotton wool, toasters, paper clips, little Jesus figurines... with a little imagination,  you can kill yourself with any of these things.

Once this system is implemented, we'll find Simply Slim back  on the shelves, somewhere between the heroin and the applicator tampons.

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