Friday, March 20, 2009

Dope-Dealing Secretaries

The Mexican drug wars have taken over the headlines today. Mexico is "closed" to American tourists -- the smart ones anyhow. Hideous atrocities -- what's up with beheading anyhow?

Back in the '60s "Drugs!" were a scandal to the jaybirds -- "Our Children are Smoking Pot!" "LSD Victim Goes Blind After Staring at the Sun!" "Meth Addict Up For 7 Full Days; says 'I couldn't help it.'"

But by the '70s, things had mellowed out considerably. In re-thinking that time period, I suddenly realized that I and all of the other secretaies on the 18th floor of a Century City office building were drug dealers.

You betcha! Typical scene in the break room: "I've got a date tonight --(wail) My dress is too tight! I'll never get into it (picking morosely at her yogurt, looks up) Anybody got a water pills?" ("Water pill" = Lasix (furosemide.) Or: "My boss is driving me crazy! Get this! He made me write to the Wall Street Journal demanding a 50-cent refund because they didn't deliver his paper for two days! (sigh) Anybody got a Valium?" (Valium = diazepam.)*

We all knew about Valium - it took only 15 minutes for a 5mg pill to smooth us out like an iceberg. "No worries!" as we hustled coffee, typed letters, took dictation and answered phones. I have no idea how long that tiny dosage lasted, but it didn't matter. The immediate crisis (nervous breakdown/up for Man One) had been resolved. There's a reason the Rolling Stones wrote "Mother's Little Helper" back in December, 1965 -- housewives (!) had beaten us to it!

As for us, we all thrived, waxing thin or fat in season and were quite calm. None of us wound up under a street light wearing fishnet stockings and micro-mini skirts soliciting johns. Why should we? Our ob/gyns wrote scrip for these drugs like handing out glasses of water at a marathon. Life was, if not good (low pay, high rent) at least quite comfortable. For long moments at a time.

* True story. It was my former boss, a petty satrap if ever there was one.

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