The King (and Valium) and I

I discovered Valium the other day. I know, I know — where have I been, right? But prescription meds and I don't get along well, so my recreational drug use has mostly been limited to Scotch and the occasional garden-grown cigarette. Prescribed by my charming new dentist to get me through an especially arduous teeth-cleaning (I hadn't had my molars scraped since back when Milli Vanilli was still making records), these tiny blue pills resulted in a day I still have no clear memory of.

Despite my amnesia, I was apparently quite active: I awoke the morning after my trip to the dentist to discover that the antique floor lamp in our dining room had magically returned to us (because I had, according to my checkbook, stopped by the lamp repair shop to pick it up); the dishwasher was working again (because I'd let the appliance repairman in); and my digital audio recorder was filled up with an interview I'd conducted at the Sunnyslope Historical Museum and Cultural Center, where I'd spent more than an hour talking about tuberculosis with the museum's curator.

More alarming than any of that was the discovery that my e-mail in-box was stuffed with urgent notes about upcoming Internet auctions of The King and I memorabilia. I like Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical about the British schoolteacher who falls for the King of Siam just fine, but not enough to want the Yul Brynner doll (with real porcelain hands!), an auction for which was marked "!!ends Tuesday 9am!!" in my e-mail box. Nor do I want the "We Kiss in a Shadow" Edwin Knowles commemorative plate featuring the images of Siamese slaves Tuptim and Lun Tha smooching under a boojum tree, despite the attached drug-induced note to myself: "Limited edition — rarest musical theater dish! Bid late!"

Apparently I, in a Valium stupor, had begun my usual Internet research on a play I was about to review, and had gotten sidetracked, as I so often do, on eBay. Fortunately, the Valium were only 5 milligram tablets, and I only took two; otherwise, I might have actually bid on the Original Hebrew The King and I Cast album ("Exclusively starring Rivka Raz!") or the Princess Ying plush doll, who comes with her own glittery backpack and certificate of authenticity. And while I'm sure there's someone out there who desperately wants the sheet music for the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet accompaniment, it is not I. At least not sober.

I eventually passed out and slept off my Valium high before I could blow 32 "Buy It Now!" dollars (plus $12.95 shipping) on the Subway Kids Meal Anna and the King Plastic Figurine with Real Dance Action. It was a close call, my day on dolls, and I only wish I could come up with a moral to this intoxicated tale. Maybe it's "risk losing teeth rather than life savings" or "hide laptop when doing housewife drugs." Or maybe I should just switch to Miltown.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela