O I WENT TO THIS SCHOOL CALLED KENT. You’ve probably heard of it; it’s one of those fancy New England prep schools where rich teenage hippies snort Ritalin and listen to The Grateful Dead.
So there we were: basking in the black light snorting Ritalin off dormitory desktops with the edges of our textbooks and an overturned porcelain egg stolen from the antique store in town, strawberry kiwi Snapple bottles full of vodka, razorblades and school-issued debit cards with our faces in the top corner caked with white powder, lips packed with Skoal Straight, listening to Phish bootlegs on cassettes, spitting into a soda can with the top broken open.
Pretentious brats and WASP English teachers wearing bowties would hand out fancy Norton Anthology textbooks, but students merely ripped out the waxy pages and rolled spliffs from them, smoking them as they hiked up Mount Algo.
We would retrieve the “spitters” from the trash cans in the hallways, digging through our lives like degenerates on a collective twenty-five thousand dollar binge. We were blowing smoke into a window fan duct-taped for extra security through a gas mask without the mask part (The filter would kill the smoke better than any paper towel dispenser stuffed with Bounce fabric softener and a rubber band).
As an added bonus, the black attachment to the mask was an innocuous inanimate object, so we would leave it in plain sight. We didn't need to dig it deep into secret compartments behind the tapestries in the wall. We had tunnels leading to secret dungeons. We still do.
Panels that open up into other worlds.
The dorm masters and deans could destroy every room, search it for drugs, and still not know what leads down below. They would listen to the chapel bell ringing at midnight; kick out a kid for excessive demerits, and have no idea about a kid getting his mattress flipped against a cement wall in the middle of the night. He’d wake up with a broken jaw and a bloody nose and say nothing.
He’s another brick in the wall.
If you tear down those walls beneath the boys’ bathroom vents, you will discover a quarter million dollars’ worth of drugs and paraphernalia plummeted three stories below.
My roommate would sleep naked and listen to the "ribbits" of frogs. The English building had his name on it. It still does.
Pretentious brats and WASP English teachers wearing bowties would hand out fancy Norton Anthology
textbooks, but students merely ripped out the waxy pages and rolled spliffs
from them, smoking them as they hiked up Mount Algo
, overlooking the town below.
Some students would get raped, others would get expelled, and others would overdose. I was forbidden from ever returning to the 1200 acre campus, for any reason, because I “kidnapped” another student who was about to get booted. It was a consensual affair. We were in love. If I'd had more money in my pocket at the time, I’d still be running away, forgotten, dust in the wind of a Kent School demerit slip stolen from the deans' mailbox in the faculty mailroom across from the headmaster’s study.
One evening during study hall, a third former (freshman) stole some Ritalin from the student infirmary. He memorized the safe combination and sprinted into our room with the prescription bottle. The nurses would watch like hawks to make sure we swallowed our meds. We never did. We “lipped” them, crushed them into fine powder in our dorm rooms, then snorted lines and pyramids up our noses.
Nobody knows this yet. Nobody wants to write about these things.
Oh how the deans tore apart dorm rooms and, guaranteed, right now somebody is snorting lines of Ritalin. I know it. I can see it. I can taste it. Maybe I supplied it? Have I said too much? Are my nostrils bleeding? Are they crimson? Am I sniffing? Do I really have a cold? Can you see me spinning that single-edged razorblade in circles on the tip of my tongue? Why is that plastic Bic pen hollowed out? Can you taste my premature death on your fancy antique deans’ office desk?
I haven’t even begun to exercise my first amendment rights. You better hope I’m dead before my prep school memoir gets published. It’s even better than the novel. Kent School: you’ve killed enough students. I’m putting my fist down on the desk and swiping the powder.
Since 1906, until my blood runs cold,
forever yours: The Ritalin Diary.