Nancy Reagan, Regina Morrow, and goodie-goodieism

A few years ago I was at Grumpy’s talking with a writer friend of mine (intentionally vague to protect the debaucherous) about drugs. She was regaling me with stories about all the drugs she took in the 70s when she was an impulsive and rambunctious teen.

I was aghast and a little envious. Here she was an intelligent woman, with full use of her brain, a healthy and happy family, a career, a writing hobby — I felt totally ripped off.

“I never tried drugs,” I told her. “I smoked pot in college but didn’t really like it. Mostly I was just too worried about my brain.” (This, of course, does not explain the ridiculous amounts of alcohol I consumed in my 20s, but we’ll just let that slide for now).
She gave me a look that said, “I had no idea you were such a goodie-goodie.”
“I blame Nancy Reagan and Regina Morrow.”
This garnered me a look of horror that said, “Oh my, you are a total goodie-goodie.”

I am. I’m a goodie-goodie. And while it’s not all Nancy and Regina’s fault, a good chunk of the blame lands squarely on their shoulders. I don’t like drugs — even the legal kind. Except for one, which I will get to in a minute. I have three reasons for my poo-poohing of drugs.

1. I came of age in the Just Say No 80s
When Nancy Reagan became first lady she picked the “War on Drugs” as her pet project. This was in 1982 when I was ten. This must be a pretty impressionable age, or I’m pretty swayed by commercials. But that “this is your brain on drugs” egg in a frying pan commercial scared me straight.

Even at that young age I knew I was smart and I didn’t want to do anything to but you brian in jeopardy. So I always said no to drugs. Or I would have, had they ever been offered to me. I was a nerd with nerdy friends and drugs weren’t really all that readily available, at least not to my knowledge.

2. Regina Morrow died from trying cocaine in Sweet Valley High #40 On the Edge
According to my Googling (because I am much too lazy to go upstairs and check the original source, my copy of SVH#40) this book came out in September, 1987. I would have been 15 and still quite impressionable.

In this book Bruce Patman dumps Regina (the beautiful, used to be deaf rich girl he had been dating) to date Amy Sutton. Regina falls in with a bad crowd, does cocaine at a party one night, and pretty much dies instantly. Instantly! Someone in Sweet Valley died. Dead. From drugs.

I don’t think I had been so devastated by the death of a fictional character since Johnny died in The Outsiders. I probably vowed right then to never, ever, ever, ever, ever do cocaine ever lest my heart explode right in chest.

3. The more pain killers you take the more you need
Now, I think I read this. I’m not sure and cannot verify the veracity of the claim but I buy it. It makes sense. The more Tylenol, Advil, Alleve, or Pain Killer of Choice you take the more you need, because these drugs kill off your body’s natural pain killers or ability to fight pain or something like that.

While I am not sure if it’s actually true, I have wholly convinced myself of its truth. Though, I must admit, I once wholly convinced myself and Wendy that you can slowly kill someone by feeding them their own fingernails. This is not true at all, but for a long time I believed it was.

These are the reasons I usually give for eschewing drugs of any kind. That is until allergy season rears it’s ugly, sinus-aching head. The minute I feel that twinge behind my eyes, I know what’s coming and I down some Claritin-D as fast as I can.

But I was out of my drug of choice when my sinuses struck and my head filled with so much pressure I thought it was going to explode. Which is why I was in the parking lot of Walgreens, sitting in the front-seat of Ruby, squinty-eyed, and using my teeth to open that frustrating plastic and foil sarcophagus to get to my sweet, sweet drugs.

So even though I generally just say no, I totally no what a junkie might feel like when she needs a fix.

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  1. Lori 17.Apr.11 at 3:33 pm

    Ok, so I took your advice and nominated The Giant’s House as our first book club read, and I’m about 80+ pages into it. For the first time in a LONG time, a book made me squirm. Literally, physically react to a sentence. And it’s not even an impressive sentence, but it struck me.

    My parents were in love with each other, and that is a blow that no child can recover from.

    That’s it. That’s the line that made me wriggle around in my own bed with physical discomfort. I’m sure it means something profound about me psychologically. What … I don’t know. Just wanted to share that. Back to reading now.

  2. NBFB 20.Apr.11 at 11:38 am

    I came of age during the same, “just say no” era as you, and look how I turned out? Multiple trips to rehab worthless druggie…

    I’ve never read a word of Sweet Valley High though.

    And that whole, the more you take the more you need business – that really only applies to opiates. With Tylenol it’s more like, the more you take the more you die, since that stuff is so toxic.


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