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I watched nervously as he arranged the white powder into neat little lines on a small mirror in his bedroom. Strangely enough the whole entire time that he was dicing the booger sugar with a razor blade he was discussing how annoyed he was with one of the girls that he partied with for wasting lines of the precious drug in a accident that she feigned in order to get out of snorting the stuff without looking like a wuss. Then he held the tray out for me as casually as he would a platter of Pixy Stix.

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A little while after Dad graduated high school, he was partying in a secluded house in Saticoy when the drummer of his new band offered him heroin. Dad was already drunk and high on weed, as were most of the people at the party. No one bothered them all the way out in the Saticoy house which is why they “practiced” there. The guy offered Henry Vicuna heroin also as he waited for Dad’s response.

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The first band that Dad had put together in high school had been moderately successful after the talent show (which was actually at Santa Clara High School and not Saint Anthony’s as was written in the previous post, “The Band”). They did a few parties here and there, and a battle of the bands, but they also expanded their membership to 12 people. Dad had just learned how to actually play chords on guitar, but now he had two other guys who wanted to play guitar and no one to play bass; so Dad started learning the bass. Unfortunately, 12 members was a little too much band for a few high school-aged kids to coordinate especially after they all graduated. There is no specific reason for why the band broke up, but they did. This experience got my dad hooked; he has been involved in music in one way or another ever since.

The next band that my dad put together (my dad’s life can be told through the making and breaking of bands) was called “Random”. Random consisted of Dad, Henry, and a few guys that they knew from Ventura College. Dad took a few music classes at Ventura College, but he mostly played foosball and chased a particular guapa who wouldn’t give him the time of day.

“We had a really good guitar player,” Dad said about Random. “He went on to become a very accomplished jazz guitarist. We also had a really good harmonica player.” So it was back to bass for Dad.

It was Random that also had a drummer who’s mother was one of the biggest drug pushers in Colonia. This meant free drugs for him and by association, the rest of the band. Hence, the parties/practices in distant Saticoy. Hence, the constant substance abuse at said “practices”.

“Around that time Cheech and Chong began to become popular,” Dad said. “And that was the life we were living…smoked weed all day.”

Mug shot of my old man from Folsom. Just kidding! He never served time. I think?
Mug shot of my old man from Folsom. Just kidding! He never served time. I think?

A few of Dad’s friends were also becoming heroin addicts at these parties, but it was happening in increments. First, there was always weed and alcohol available so people usually started with that. Then they would start experimenting with pills; Quaaludes to bring them down and wires or bennies or beans to hype them up again. Then they would inject a small amount of heroin under their skin to give themselves a little taste. Joy-popping is what they called it.

“When they tried that,” Dad said, “they always graduated to mainline…”

Mainline was when they injected heroin directly into their veins which is what this drummer with the drug dealing mother wanted Dad and his best friend to do. Why? More customers for the family business? Because no one likes to get high alone? Because misery loves company? Who knows. All I care about is that Dad and Henry said, “No,” just as I refused the cocaine that was offered to me when I was 12 years old. Where would my family be if Dad had said yes? Where would I be if I had? It is only by the grace of God that I’m here now. It is only by the grace of God that I have a dad to write about at all.

One night as Random was jamming out, stoned out of their minds, they decided to record themselves. As they laid down some sick tracks they all boasted about how brilliant they were musically. The bad thing about recordings though is that they don’t lie. They next day Henry and Dad went to the Saticoy house to get ready for another party. After a little clean-up they decided to listen to the amazing songs that they had recorded. What they heard with sober ears were not the sounds of musical prodigies, but they klutzy clamoring of wasted amateurs. In that moment, Dad and Henry looked at each other.

“Hey. Do you like doing this?” Dad said meaning the party scene, getting wasted, and not giving their best performances because of said wastedness.

“No,” Henry said.

“Let’s get out of here,” Dad said.

That was a major turning point and they did it together. From that day on, Dad and Henry began to leave the party scene behind them. What if Dad didn’t have his best friend there ready to leave with him? Who knows how different their lives would have been? Who knows how different my life would have been for that matter?


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