"This reminds me of the reason I went into rehab."
Those were the last words Greg Giraldo said to me.
It was in July of 2008 after I'd been removed from the green room of a show at the Montreal Comedy Festival. I'd had an argument with the cunty little man that ran the event - or, rather, he had an argument with me and I calmly - if drunkenly - stood my ground that essentially he treated comics like migrant lettuce pickers. Becoming increasingly frustrated at missing on all points, he had a large Negro physically remove me.
Hey, he started it. I was just having cocktails backstage with Ron White. And you will never appear correct in an argument if you are the drunk one. 2 plus 2 equals nothing if you're saying 4 with a tilt and a slur.
By the time I ran into Giraldo and a couple other comics on the street, I was a stumbling wreck; one of those drunks that hits too quick and affects all of your motor skills while leaving your brain
intact, a cerebral palsy-type of hammered or the "Muhammad Ali" if you will.
My story about being ejected from the venue came out of the corner of my mouth like stammering drool and that's when Greg made his rehab remark. I was a bit insulted as drunks tend to be when their point is over-looked because of their staggering.
And I was quite relieved when someone emailed not long afterwards that they'd seen Greg perform so shit-faced that he barely made sentences. It's nice to know that you aren't the only comedian left with a cocktail in your hand.
Prescription drugs are also a constant for me and it's bothersome when people die from them because you are never given the specific doses or combinations involved and that is information that can really be useful to other users. A heroin overdose tells you nothing since the potency or purity of the heroin can vary wildly. Prescription drugs aren't cut with baby laxative. You know exactly what strength you are taking so you can regulate with far more accuracy.
I first took Xanax at an ecstasy party in Alaska somewhere in the late 1990s. We were all coming down and someone gave me a blue (1mg) and told me it would help me sleep. Shortly afterwards, somebody else gave me another making it a full bar of Xanax where .5 mg would have been plenty.
Long story short, I pissed the couch I was sleeping on and woke up convinced (for a short time) that someone had pissed on me in my sleep. Those were the kind of friends I did drugs with - that'd be the kind of thing they might do.
But since then I've taken Xanax more and more, occasionally at first and then regularly to sleep. I have a prescription for flight anxiety. I didn't tell my doctor that a lot of that fear comes in the form of flying in my dreams which is far scarier because you have no airplane when you fly in your dreams, just your body sailing through the air giving the finger to an angry mob of violent assholes chasing you on the ground. My regular flight anxiety as involved with traveling is mostly the fear of having some dullard next to me try to strike up conversation. Xanax and ear plugs work for that as well.
I also have a prescription for Ambien which I use less often and which can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol in that you can do really weird shit and not remember any of it. I can give you countless stories that I've heard from other people - taking it with a few whiskeys on his couch and waking up on someones lawn in a strange neighborhood - but I can't tell you stories of my own because I wouldn't remember them.
Once I took an Ambien (6.25 mg I believe) at home when my manager was at the house and I thought that I was relatively sober and went to bed. But not long after, I got back out of bed and had long business conversations with Brian who said that I was completely lucid and alert and was dumb-struck when I told him that I had no recollection of it whatsoever.
Scary - but not "die in your sleep" scary.
That's why it would nice to know what kind of pills, dosages and
combination you scrip-heads are taking generally and what mixture killed you.
Right now I rotate between Xanax ( usually 1mg, never more than 2), Ambien (6.25 mg - I don't think I've ever taken more than one) and the hugely under-rated over-the-counter nighttime sleep aid (2 pills.) I only take this shit to sleep and that supermarket stuff knocks your dick into your sleep-number bed as good as any of em. I've combined in small does - say .5 mg Xanax with an OTC or an Ambien but nothing risky.
I'll add that this is always with some amount of alcohol, from a couple drinks to a shitload. So add that into the equation and play at your own risk.
I also do a very occasional bump of coke (usually in Florida or Texas where it seems to be saturated) or ecstasy (usually in Florida or Alaska or Texas where it seems to be rampant) and sometimes acid or mushrooms if I have days off and a safe and comfortable environment.
But I don't do a lot of (illegal) drugs. It might seem like I do
because I talk about drug use a lot. If I do some coke before a show, I will invariably say that I've done coke so people will understand why I might be somewhat more erratic in my train of thought - the same as a singer might explain that they've been fighting a cold so the crowd understands why they are avoiding high notes. I also thinks it's important in that it shows that the majority of people can use drugs socially and recreationally without becoming raving addicts and lunatics.
Prescription drugs are a different animal and an openness about how people are using them would make them a hell of a lot safer for the people who use them for reasons other than prescribed. If you tell me you drank three shots of Jager and four pints of Guinness, I have a good idea how drunk you are. If you tell me you took three Klonopin and four Oxycodone, I have no idea if you'll sleep like a princess or die in your own sick.
Greg Giraldo was - as someone pointed out to me on Facebook - smarter and funnier than I'll ever be. I didn't know him well but I was a huge fan.
The last time we spoke he said I looked like the reason he went to rehab. The last thing I would have said to him would have been "Just take two of these. Two of these things is more than plenty."
The worst he'd have done is pissed the couch.