The Hatboro Blues

To the memory of friends  The first thing I remember thinking about what we now call “the opioid crisis” is that it was making everything really boring. It was 2010, I was in eleventh grade and at a house party about which I had been excited all week. I had with me a wingman in the form of my buddy Curt, and a fresh pack of smokes, and — please don’t think less of me — 750 milliliters of Absolut blueberry vodka. In short, all that was needed for a good night. And yet the party was a bust. It seemed that every third kid was “dipped out,” as we called those in drug-induced comas, lit cigarettes still dangling from their lips. Even the terrible rap music wasn’t enough to wake them. Nobody was fighting, nobody was fornicating, nobody was doing much of anything. There was nothing about this sorry shindig that set it apart from many others just like it which were still to come, but it sticks in my mind now for a melancholy reason: It was the point at which I realized that something was very wrong. What follows is not some hardcore Requiem for a Dream kind of yarn. Different movies apply. My high school experience was plenty Dazed and Confused, but with shades of Trainspotting and maybe a flash of Drugstore Cowboy. It was like The Breakfast Club, if Claire had carried Percocet in her purse and the dope in Bender’s locker had been white, not green. This is a story about how a kid who enters high school as a Led Zeppelin-loving pothead can leave four years later with a needle sticking out of his arm. (Or not leave at all). It is a tale of a town and a generation held hostage by

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