The Gentleman’s Guide to High School Drug Dealer Shit

Addie is all style and no substance which is why, I think, I like it so damn much. In a 30 mg extended release capsule (and if you’re doing less you’re doing it wrong, let’s be real here) you’ve got four different pharmaceutical salts rolled up into, I dunno, a metric shitload of yea big coral beads bouncing around in what is just a fucking sexy capsule — real aesthetically pleasing — with my favorite touch being that one half is see-through gelatin, brandishing the beads fully, while the other half is just Orange: pure, solid orange, oranger than the beads themselves, and darkly opaque like it’s hiding something big. Something that’s not just more salts rolled up into more beads. Then you’ve got, what, thirty of those per prescription and maybe a handful of prescriptions kicking around too — what I’m trying to say is, you walk into first period with all that kicking around your bookbag and no one’s gonna bother you for a pencil. It’s like a better Apple phone, Ray Ban shades, Yeezy Boost, Canada Goose. If you’re ADHD, Adderall is God. If you’re not, it’s designer meth. Take my word, the latter’s where it’s at.

This was the type of shit I’d think about in the car between drops while Rugged would freestyle over the Ten Crack Commandments only despite the striking somatic resemblance he was no Biggie. As it turns out, simply being elephantine does not the greatest rapper of all time make, especially when, rather than a poor Jamaican kid/standout English student from Brooklyn, you’re the son of a dentist in idyllic New England and can’t get out a word let alone a bar without quarts of spit spurting out of your mouth. To clarify: that last sentence applied to us both.

call me persian rug
im a fucking thug

(Persian) Rugg was shit and he knew it so he’d pass the metaphorical mic off to me and I’d spit, rather literally, a lyric from earlier that day, scribbled into my Geopolitics notebook while conducting a terse text exchange with Lax over how much he owed me (spoiler alert: a lot) —

(ahem) push poison in a pill bottle
like an apothecary, scary how ya still swallow

All very Pusha T shit. Rugged thought it was dope. I agreed.

The first time I met Rugged he was… well, okay he was ass-naked save for a mariachi sombrero standing (in only the loosest sense) on a keg in D-Slay’s basement. But the first time I really met Rugged he was offering me a ride in his beat El Camino, bumping Asher Roth’s Greenhouse Effect and hiding his bloodshot eyes behind a trucker hat and tie-dyed shutter shades. He was as aesthetically inclined as myself — his fashion, tastes, vices, hell even his way of speaking all fit into one, like, unified image. And even though we were spectrally opposite in sensibilities (and even though you’d never catch me dead in a trucker hat), we still hit it off, probably due to a shared taste in sativa and, of course, music.

He was the first hip hop head I met, though when that particular first is a tawny white kid with the physique of a professional bowler or perhaps just a bowling ball you’re probably doing something wrong. Granted, at Academy there was exactly one black kid and exactly one adopted kid and that Venn diagram was just a circle. So most of our hip hop culture boiled down to us congregating in the hallway to belt Kanye’s Paris verse and (YG’s) My Hitta. Some of us abstained from the chorus. Some of them didn’t.

I was always more of a Biggie or Hova or Pusha T type of guy, personally. What they were saying was more interesting to me, and not just interesting but, like, kaleidoscopic; it resonated on an almost ornamental level. Venn diagram kid and I got along because of that, I think, and because I maybe saw a little bit more to it all than just a culture I wanted cause I couldn’t have it. Of course, that’s because the medium to me was less wish fulfillment than wish realization: a way to formalize my story and mix my palette of aesthetics into one fucking dope picture. I never told him that though.

He was a good kind, probably way too good to be hanging around with me. We were the smoke-and-rap-and-chill-type, not the philosophize-and-analyze-Kendrick-Lamar-lyrics-type. I don’t think he really got how problematic my whole thing with hip-hop was. I knew all the lyrics to Backseat Freestyle and that was enough for him.

He invited me to that Hoodie March at one point. I didn’t go. I sorta kept my distance from him after that, honestly. It was better for him, I think, not to fuck up his moralist aesthetic by hanging with someone sleeping on the cause.

Better for me, too.

The supply chain of Adderall is, I imagine, significantly less complex than the supply chain of, say, crack cocaine in NYC circa 1997. Replacing the middle management kingpins and underground crack houses were stolen prescription pads and ADD friends, and replacing the corner boys like Biggie were Rugged and I, whipping my junk heap Civic from mansion to mansion when we weren’t just passing shit out at the caf or some house party. We’d freestyle, hustle, smoke, eat, rinse, repeat, all the while narrating our daring escapades in braggadocio form over top shelf beats.

One afternoon we were doing just that — passing shit out in the cafeteria that is — during that weird not-exactly-lunch-but-everyone-still-eats-during-it free period that made the plush parents bitch about us not having a designated lunchtime and the faculty bitch that nobody used it productively. Rug and I had nothing to bitch about. We liked it just fine.

I dropped my backpack down on the table while Lax rubbed his clammy hands together enthusiastically and Critter rapped A$AP Rocky’s whole Fuckin Problems verse, ill-advisedly uncensored. One of them, forget who, reached into my bag and whipped out a brown paper doggie bag (we kept it all wrapped up in a brown paper doggie bag so we wouldn’t look sketch divvying them out) just to empty the contents and examine the bottle. He was confused.

who the fuck is zack bradley

fuck if i know, some ADD kid i guess

not too ADD apparently

We all thought that was real funny for some reason. It was the ideal afternoon, mud season just springing up but enough snow left to ski on; patagonia fleece weather, you know what I’m saying. The kind that assigns the adjective good ol’ to the noun days. The kind that only gets soured by the last sentence you ever want to hear spoken over an intercom —

dunce to the deans office, dunce to the deans

My father warned me away from drugs on the basis that addictive personalities ran in his family. Funny, it never seemed that way to me. I’d show up to class absolutely obliterated for a week in a row and then not smoke for a month if I forgot to. Addicting just wasn’t how I’d describe it.

Now, compelling — there might be something there. That covers it, well as any word can. I can’t remember quite how far back I found this shit compelling but I could trace it to fifth grade maybe, when I called myself the Cazpin of Crime (fashioned after the Spider-Man villain from those ’90s cartoons that somewhere along the line became a meme) and managed illicit under-the-table food trades at lunch time. Or further back, even, when I made my mom design a Jabba the Hutt cake for my sixth birthday. And the first R-rated movie I ever saw was The Godfather… you get the picture. I had a thing for kings and pins.

Their image, for lack of a better word, fit. And just as I wanted people to see my stylish hair and modelesque clothes and pretty little (read: not little) chin, I wanted people to see all that in me, too. I remember one time when that massive white blanket had fallen over the Vermont countryside and each schoolboy’s morning ritual suddenly required twenty minutes of stuffing into snowpants and a plow had created a giant crescent tower of snow in the middle of the recreation building playground and keep in mind this was all at the height of the Cazpin’s power, too. I sat at the top and clapped little golf claps amusedly while, at our bidding, a few fourth graders kicked the shit out of each other in the ring below. We called it a Shadowmatch. Don’t ask me why. And one of those fourth graders, Dagan, who actually was a few days older than me as we’d found out earlier that year, was offended by the golf claps or maybe by the foot he’d taken to the face a second earlier or something. Dagan was offended by a lot of things. ADD about them, too.

what the HECK makes you think you can do this man

The Cazpin of Crime did not take lip like that.

its simple actually — im smarter and stronger than you

I remember that last line too clearly, mostly because of his utterly idiotic response. He scoffed, then yelled defiantly —

im TEN times smarter and TEN times stronger than you

— and so I grabbed Dagan by his skinny but surprisingly muscular neck, spun him around, and shoved him off the sheer wall that was the back of the tower. He rocketed down like one of those aerodynamic sleds that everyone buys but no one likes to ride because they move too damn fast and no one can hold on. He got up, crying, and I felt a tinge of joy, of control when I saw his eyes; it wasn’t the tears or anger but the respect or maybe fear or my own reflection or all of the above. I was sure he would tell on me but he didn’t. He looked up to me a bit, I think.

There are commandments to addie, just like crack; rules to pushing at prep school, not just on a Brooklyn corner. Never sell on school property. Always carry a prescription bottle with your own name. Never take off your backpack, even when you’re sitting down. Thing is, like most rules, I never really followed them. As for Biggie’s rules — money and blood // never get high off your own supply — I never really followed those either. And best believe I’d let about everyone know just how much dough I hold.

The reason that song’s so great (and got so many repeats/freestyles/sing-a-long seshes on my shitty Civic speakers while we meandered around between drops) is that it’s all style and substance. The production is on point, don’t let anyone tell you differently, but there’s real desperation in his delivery too and when the Notorious B.I.G. tells you to follow his rules or find yourself in serious shit, best believe it to be true.

My own lyrics got less derivative and more clean-cut over the years and when Rugged and I fucked around and jacked the talent show mic to spit —

mama worked at the hospital
prescription pads put these pills thru they nostrils

— I’m pretty sure they believed that too. But as hard as I tried I never could match Big’s delivery or desperation or substance and I think it was just because there was no serious shit for a rich white male adderall plug to find himself in. And for a rich white male adderall plug, getting caught in the act didn’t mean 24 years on the wakeup but rather a legal slap on the wrist and a dunce cap detention.

Yeah, okay, so: the dean’s visit didn’t go as bad as I thought. I remember afterwards, kicking it with Rugged by the flagpole, freestyling as usual, my backpack now acutely lighter, even if just by a few grams. I spit the line I’d been working on in the dean’s office, eyes glazed over, looking through that goddamn stereotypical stuffed eagle he kept mounted over his desk while he scolded me, not like a cop would to a perp but like a secondary school disciplinarian would to a kid who just fucked up. I wasn’t paying much attention, though. I was working on the line. And wondering why, if you were the dean of a typical elite New England school, the fuck would you actually get a stuffed eagle mounted over your desk. Some things I’ll never understand.

the teachers laughin, they aint know that they next
dry clean pill money all my shit is j pressed

All very Pusha T shit. Rugged thought it was dope. But I wasn’t so sure.

It wasn’t as good as I remembered it being.