Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Do you ever glance at something - newsprint, a sign, etc., - and mis-read what is there? This happened to me in Arkansas this weekend.

Driving through Harrison, I glanced at a billboard that said "Meth Makeover" and showed mug-shots of a homely, barfly-type woman in a photo on the left, nothing remarkable, and in the photo to the right was the same woman a year or so later, sunken-cheeked (having lost all her teeth), looking like she should be stirring a cauldron in a swamp somewhere.


(This is not the same sign, but it was very much of the same ilk - I would guess this sign is somewhere in Washington or the Pacific NW area, and I found it on the site over here.)

The point of this ad campaign obviously was that if you dabble with meth, you'll get an extreme makeover that will render you an aged, haggard old crone.

But that's not what I saw. I wondered why the makeover photos were out of order. At first glance what I thought was being advertised was some sort of plastic surgery/makeover clinic where they'd redo your puss after you jellied it up with face-melting hallucinogens.

Well, it is understandable I'd glance and think that, seeing as our culture is all about the quick-fix for problems. There are countless publications and tv shows dedicated to just that subject: the miraculous repair that will fix the whole life and undo the ravages of poor choices, etc. I think what would be tragically telling would be if those shows revisit their ugly ducklings to see if the physical repair did in fact bring along some better choices and a dollop of less hard-luck in its wake... But I seriously doubt there was significant change in the fortunes of most of those made over people.


Anyway. More importantly - great story from my childhood.

High Midnight
Along about the mid-70s, we lived in a town across the Mississippi River from Memphis and across the street from our house was a city park with a pavilion and picnic tables.

Now keep in mind that my family is very clean-cut with no drinking and very few smokers among us. Mom and dad have never drunk socially, though they did concede to taste the champagne (rotten grapes to them!) at my wedding. At 13, I got my mouth washed out with soap for saying the word "butthole" in front of my 4 year old sister, who was delighted to repeat it. (thanks, sis!) In other words, my parents have never been the sort to abide anything with the appearance of impropriety, and be assured they would not sit idly by while nefarious goings-on are conducted in their neighborhood.

A group of teenagers and young adults from the area started convening at the pavilion in the park after dark on summer evenings. Soon after they'd arrive, a sweet cloud of pot smoke would drift the 50 or so yards over to our front door.

Then on the 4th of July these kids and one 35 or 40 year old guy were smoking pot under the pavilion, and firing off bottle rockets that were landing on the houses all along the street, including ours. Big mistake. Dad told them to clear out, and they proceeded to foolishly ignore this.

Dad then took a high-pressure sprayer with trigger-control and got the water hose of a neighbor a few houses down and connected it to our hose, turning it on full-blast. Dragging the hoses along behind him, Dad calmly strode across the street, up to the pavilion, took aim and opened fire, thoroughly dousing the potheads and their little fireworks, too.

Dad said the older guy was apologizing profusely as they cleared out, because I suspect these people were about to pee themselves thinking Dad was really about to drop a knot on each of their heads. He would have, too.

Every neighborhood should be lucky enough to have such a badass Charles-Bronson/no-BS type resident.
Yup. That's my Dad!

13 comments:

Tam said...

I completely missed the word "meth" before "makeover" at first glance and therefore thought "Wow! Bulemia's gotten strangely popular in the heartland if Glamour Shots is pimping it!"

Color me embarassed... :o

phlegmfatale said...

tam - tee hee - that makes me feel much better about my own misinterpretation of the sign!

Fathairybastard said...

Great story. Today he'd probably get shot, or arrested. My sis used to give me shit till I flipped her off or something and then go tattle to mom. Mom went for it every time. She claims I got her once when I innocently asked in a loud voice one morning, "who put a cigarette butt in the toilet?" Siblings. Muh!

David Amulet said...

I misread billboards and ads all the time--it must be a short attention span kind of thing.

-- david

Leazwell said...

Go dad go! My kind of action!

LJ said...

He could into business with that skill. He'd do really well in my neighborhood.
Hell, I'd probably be good for his first six months of employment!

Dick said...

They have one of those signs around here, I just can't remember where, but I have seen one.
Your Dad sounds like he and my dad could be twins, seperated at birth.

Anonymous said...

your welcome butthole. love, sister

Dave MacIntyre said...

Great story!! And so much more effective than Charles Bronson's snub-nosed .38 brand of justice.

Shame about the wet pot though! :D

Kelly said...

So, meth makes your hair look like you use Sun-In? How little I know!

I do love the smell of pot. I do not inhale though. Damn allergies.

nongirlfriend said...

She looked pretty damned bad before.

phlegmfatale said...

fat hairy bastard - great way to get back at a mean sibling!

david- short attention span would go a long way to explaining why it happens to me!

leazwell - Yay, dad!

lj - he could travel with a baseball bat, garden hose and power sprayer!

dick - then I'm absolutely certain I'd love your pop!

dave mcintyre - yeah, it made for a great story! the wet pot was THEIR problem. They probably dried it out and smoked it another day.

kelly - pot DOES smell good, doesnt it? Smoking anything makes me cough my brains out, so , ther eyou have it. I suppose that means I'm allergic, too!

nongirlfriend - yup , she were to' up.

northern_nomad said...

Hi there,
I enjoyed your piece on the anti-Meth billboards. If you're interested, I have a little piece with some photos on these in Saint Paul. It's in the archived section of the first week of my blog.
Cheers,
NN.