Archive for April, 2008

Reality imitates fiction

Friday, April 25th, 2008

If you’ve read Glitter Gold, a short story on this site, you’ll see the relevance immediately (and if not, consider clicking that link above for two free short stories):

Experts say gold and silver spray paints are preferred by “huffers.” They say the propellants in the cans for those color are stronger. ^

I’ve never had any desire to huff paint, but it is fascinating, perhaps because it is the most obviously self-destructive chemical habit I’ve seen. It’s the act of desperate people caught in the grips of motivational entropy.

A long time ago, I wrote a story called Glitter Gold about those who huff paint and what it does to them. In it, one detail was that gold paint gets paint huffers the most intoxicated. Ever since then, reality has been imitating fiction:

According to a Bellaire Police Department report, Tribett’s pupils were constricted and he replied slowly to their questions. Oh, and “officers observed the paint on face and hands,” as can be seen in the below mug shot. ^

One point of the story was that humans had to make life hopeless for paint huffing to seem attractive (as is the case with many intoxicants). You don’t need an escape valve until you so screw up the situation that people are desperate for escape. They don’t even want to enjoy life — they just want to check out.

In surveying the park, the officer noticed a man sitting in a lawn chair outside of a residence. He asked if the man had been huffing paint and the man said no.

However, when the officer approached and shined his flashlight toward the man, he noticed what appeared to be “fresh, gold-colored paint clinging to his nose and cheeks.” The officer also noticed paint in the man’s facial hair. ^

One disturbing aspect of checking out is that once you’ve been out, you don’t want to be back in. Literally, you’ve seen a world where you don’t care about a damn thing except your bag full of paint. Why would you go back, to mortality, wars, corruption, pollution, Schadenfreude and bad TV? Inhale. Check out. Repeat.

In June 2006, Wheeling police said they found Tribett on 16th and Main Streets intoxicated and covered in paint. He was charged with public intoxication.

A week prior to that arrest, police found Tribett huffing paint under the Interstate 470 bridge. Police said when they found him, Tribett looked right at them but continued huffing. ^

As much as the story shows its age, or rather my lack of experience at the time in getting said what I needed to say, its premise still rings true. People lock themselves into mazes of “can’ts” and the messy control issues of others, and finally, it all culminates in either total checkout or a conflagration.