Sunday, April 23, 2006

Teaching Case

78 year old guy who has a 50 year heroin habit (quit for last 5 years). I've met some people with long habits before, just not ones who've quit on their own volitition. He had just finished telling me about helping to build skyscrapers in NYC, so I ask him, eyebrows raised in some amount of disbelief, "You built skyscrapers while using heroin?"

"Yep." He looked pleased with himself.

"Well, how did you do that?"

"Carefully. Very carefully."

There's a lot to learn from that.

This guy goes into my "toughest guys I've known" category. First of all, anyone who survives a 50 year heroin habit is nails tough. Sure, luck plays into it, but 50 years starts to negate luck. Second of all, he looks tough. This guy is 78 and although he looks it (even his face is grisled), he's the sort of guy that, even now, I wouldn't particularly want to get into a fight with. He's fireplug strong looking. His blunt face has a Roman nose that looks to be broken a few times. Scar tissue covers both eyebrows. His arms have jail tattoos, which have their own tough stories. Well, let's hope they've stopped making his destructive model, but I can't help but admire the way it was put together. Like seeing one of those old F150s with 500000 miles.


Blogger echrai said...

I really truly love this post. There are so many different sorts of people in this world and it's the people who seem almost as if they shouldn't exist who are the most fascinating. He sounds like the sort of person who has a million and one stories and who has seen more than most of us can imagine. I wish there were more memoires of such individuals - stop with the celebrity biographies and give me the biographies of everyday men and women.

10:20 AM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

People like this man fascinate me. One because I'm very curious about heroin addicts to begin with and two because he's a living legend to be a junkie for 50 years and then get off it. I think somehow they're bodies change so they become this hardened band of flesh and gore; the way you described this man's physical being is exactly how long-time junkies look; all of them. I'm with you, I wouldn't want to mess with someone like that either but how interesting to have him walk thru your door.

PS. we're not going to the Getty this time. Last time we were here we went to the new one. Have you been to it? It's an incredible space and still free. Just need to make a reservation to park.

10:52 AM  

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