Hey Michael Phelps, Let’s Party!

Everyone does it.  Well, I didn’t.

I never thought I would be able to say that I could do anything that Michael Phelps could not, but today I realize that I can do something that he can never do.  I can say that I have never done drugs.  He, obviously, cannot.

I have made some mistakes I my life.  I remember drinking a few times when I was in high school.  I remember driving recklessly on some occasions, and regrettably I remember doing both on a couple of occasions.  I remember bullying one kid a little, and I regret that also, but for the most part I was a good kid.

I had lots of friends, and tons of acquaintances.  As a result, during my junior and senior years I was invited to several parties.  At these, there would always be alcohol, and occasionally the stakes were higher.

I remember one night several of my friends did something pretty stupid.  There were five of us.  We had just purchased food at the local Taco Bell, and we were about to get into the car to leave when a car full of hot girls pulled up and started to talk to us.  No lie.  It was like a scene out of Porky’s or something.  They were leaning and yelling out of the windows of the car, “Hey, do you guys want to go to a party?”  As God is my witness, it happened just like that.  Of course, if we had taken just a moment to analyze the situation, we would have noticed that: 1) no of us were the studs of our high school (though we were not horribly disfigured), 2) these girls were really nice looking, 3) and they looked a little older than us.  No, we did not consider any of this, because we were 16 year old boys full of hormones.

So, we hopped in the car and followed them.  We drove to an apartment out by Lewisville Lake, and followed them into it.  Several things were instantly apparent.  First, this was no sorority bash.  All of the girls had boyfriends there, and the boyfriends did look older than us.  Second, we were not prepared for a party in any way.  We had no alcohol of any kind, and the partiers were not offering any.  And third, these people were doing a lot more than drinking.  There were several couples engaging in what was sure to become sex at some point, and the smell of pot was in the air.  I was confused at first, not knowing what to do, then a girl offered me a pill.  It was ecstasy.  I was not prepared, but since I had decided long before that I did not want to ever do drugs, I was able to fall back on my default answer, “No thanks.”  A friend and I sat with our backs near the door for a while watching what was going on and feeling uncomfortable.  Finally I suggested that we leave which we did.  Honestly, these kinds of stupid decisions are how people end up in 55 gallon barrels at the bottom of a lake.  We had no idea where these girls were taking us or what would happen when we got there.

On another occasion, I went to a party with some friends at a house where a member of the quasi-successful local area band ESFM (the Electric Sheep Farming Method- no lie) had the house to himself (no parents) for the weekend.  This time I was in a place where I knew all of the people, and they liked me.  I had brought some alcohol, and was drunk before long.

There were about two dozen people at the party, and after a while, I noticed that they were all taking turns stepping out into the backyard.  They were smoking pot, and after a few minutes, one of my friends asked me if I wanted some.  This was my big opportunity, and it was the situation where most kids fall.  I was with friends, and they were having a good time.  All I had to do was say, ‘yes,’ but I was faced with my own reasons that I had determined long before that day.  I knew that some things could limit you and your future possibilities in life, and pot was one of those things.  Since I did not know exactly what I wanted to be in life, I reasoned that I shouldn’t do anything that would limit my possibilities.  So, I said, “No, that’s OK.”

I was expecting a scene out of Reefer Madness or some after school special to unfold in which they all surrounded me and ritualistically ostracized me from the group while baiting me into taking the drugs at the same time.  It did not happen.  In fact, they were extremely nice about it.  Honestly, at the time I believed that they were actually going outside to smoke for my benefit.  In retrospect, it seems more likely that they did not want pot smell to permeate the house for the parents of the guy who lived there to smell when they returned.  I stayed at the party and enjoyed myself with my friend late into the evening.

These little victories were important in a teen ager’s battle not to partake in what everyone else was doing, and they made me feel good about myself, and stronger if I should have had to face the same thing again.  I thought that I was the only one, but I still have a friend that I met about a year later who also says that he never did drugs, and I’m sure that he had opportunities (being in a band well into his late twenties).

This brings me to the Michael Phelps situation.  It’s a real shame.  Here we had a young man that could have been the poster-boy for clean, positive, American achievement, and he lost it all when he put his mouth on a bong like everyone else at the party was doing.  It can’t be undone, and the pictures can’t be unseen.  In so many ways, Michael Phelps proved how different and stronger he was that the average human being.  His discipline can probably be only matched by a few people in the world.  However, he knew what the consequences of smoking pot were for him.  His handlers had warned him over and over, but he chose to do so anyway.  He chose to be just like everyone else, average.  And now, his incredible Olympic legacy will forever be tainted by a picture of him with dumb-face toking on a bong.  Sad.

One Response

  1. Can’t argue there. You make very good points and I am also one of those few who have gone my whole life without using drugs. But I have drank my share and it can be argued that that is the same as taking a hit off a bong. So I can’t be judgemental. However your post is very well written and I agree with you in your last paragraph. I don’t begrudge Phelps his youth, but its unfortunate that he didn’t take a second and make a better decision when this came along. But he did what he did and he will probably never live it down…

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