When I was seven, I was really into the whole “arts and crafts” thing. I didn’t really have much talent or many ideas, but I liked cutting pictures out of magazines and making colleges and decorating it with yarn and glitter. I had any number of projects on the go at once, and I would usually work on my art before bed. I didn’t have a desk, so I would pile my supplies on or under any surface handy.
I could have turned my talents for glitter/yarn art into something spectacular – this generation’s Warhol or Mapplethorpe – but because of my suspicious, insane mother, I never got the chance to blossom.
She did, however, introduce me to a world of mind-altering substances.
All my playful arts and crafts came to a screeching halt one day when my mother, just looking for something to fly off the handle about, found my stash of supplies “hidden” under the small table next to my bed. Everything was in plain sight – the yarn, the construction paper, the vials of glitter, and the bottle of Elmer’s glue. Ignoring the obvious conclusion a sane person would come to after analyzing the items under my table, she immediately assumed the worst: that I was a 7-year-old freebasing heroin addict selling my (barely) pre-pubescent body on the corner of Suburbia and Little League for my next hit.
My mother snatched up the bottle of Elmer’s glue – the old school kind; white and thick in a white bottle with a red twisty cap – and shoved it in front of my face.
“ARE YOU SNIFFING GLUE?????”, she shrieked.
Until that very moment, I was blissfully unaware that glue COULD be sniffed – and at only seven years old, exactly WHY you would do that was still several years beyond my understanding. I had no idea why my mother was so angry and accusatory, and why she would think I was doing something so stupid. The part of me that would grow into the jaded cynical busty husk of a creature also spoke up (wisely in the depths of my head only) to think “is she fucking stupid? Does she not SEE the glitter and yarn and magazines?” but it was no use. Convinced I was sniffing glue to achieve some sort of nascent high that would undoubtedly lead to reefer madness and a life on the streets, she confiscated all my art supplies and wouldn’t let me have them back.
My burgeoning career as a textile artist was over before my 8th birthday.
I could have been a fantastic artist. I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody instead of a bum which is what I am, let’s face it. I could have been Marlon Brando.
To this date, I have never sniffed glue. The closest I ever came to sniffing illicit substances was with those smelly markers, the ones that smelled like watermelon and root beer and licorice. Those were awesome, but didn’t make you high.
If I had done even a tenth of the things I have been accused of over the years, I would have had one hell of a life.