Fashion may not be just for losers anymore

( 1,011 words, posted September 20, 1996; not to be read before September 20, 1999)


I'd started with nothing, and now I was losing even that -- though all the meters and graphs and digital readouts said I wasn't.

Even my heads-up display was quiet where, normally, it would've blipped on some short-range, short-term, corrective, instructional video, had any one of my key parameters started to slip outside acceptable bounds.


So I sat down at my terminal and desperately ran through the whole history of world drug abuse, from the beginning of time, to far into the distant future (assuming there was either).

Then, once I'd finished and still wasn't stoned enough, I went out and got on a cross-town tram.

No one on it said anything. They all knew they'd blown it badly, and that, with each passing moment, they were continuing to blow it even more.

got off the tram into a crowd that was still forming. Its members were growing more pissed by the minute -- because the big scene they'd gathered for had already come and gone before they'd even arrived.

There was some general pushing and shoving, and people were reduced to talking to each other.

Somebody said, "Fuck. If actors can make it -- if athletes can make it -- if singers can make it -- then -- anybody can make it -- no matter how stupid they are."

But, of course, he just didn't get it. Did he.


Eventually, despite the crowd, the Police spotted me anyway and made me go to the Rehab unit where they treated you for either Flavor-of-the-Month or Fuck-Up-of-the-Week -- whichever was currently considered to be worse.

When I resisted, they had to drag me up the 8 flights of stairs crying and kicking and screaming.

"Please! Please!" I begged, "Not rehab! Please, anything! The gas chamber! The Chair! Lethal Injection. Even hanging. Even firing squad. But not rehab! Please. Anything but rehab!"

We took the stairs because the elevators had never been completed and the survival rate in them was less than 50%.

Similarly, one whole face of the rehab building was unfinished and open to the elements. This was where most of the squatters hung out during the day, with their legs dangling over the edge.


hen we got to the 8th floor, a small crowd at the open side of the building was gathered watching an American refugee trying to blow small bubbles made only of saliva, off the end of his tongue.

Usually these just popped right away, but occasionally, one snapped out whole, into the air, and then wafted slowly down, just beyond the edge of the building where, floor by floor in its slow descent, it set off small bursts of cheering from the crowds gathered on each one, anxiously waiting and hoping for and, now, genuinely moved by the actual occurrence of such confirmation of the resilience of the human spirit -- or of spit. Whichever.


We took a right turn off the main corridor where the rehab unit was supposed to be.

A phone in the hall rang, and I picked it up.

"I need drugs!" I said into the receiver, without regard to what was on the other end. "I'm out of drugs, and this cosmos sucks! It's bad enough with drugs!"

I hung up and was led into one of the offices.

"I want drugs," I said, "This time I'm not fucking around."

But, just as I said this, something I'd taken earlier in the day, in place of drugs, started to kick in.


"To help them decide how much rehab I needed, they gave me the elevator test.

"I was placed in one of the incomplete elevators and the 'up' button pressed. A floor later, a woman got on."