Drugstore Caballero

Page 4 of 4

Having exhausted the conversational possibilities of pharmaceutical-comparison shopping, we face the inevitable and head back toward the border. On the way, Neil suggests a stop at a gift store to buy some Kahlua, a belt, trinkets--anything so we don't have to pass through customs carrying only prescriptions.

I'm freaked. If what we're doing is so legal, why the subterfuge?
"It just looks better," Neil mumbles under his breath.
The theme from Midnight Express reeling through the tortured corridors of my mind, I step up to the inspector's desk.

To call my passage through customs "anticlimactic" would be overstating the case. There were no drug-sniffing dogs. No drawn guns. Not even a rubber glove.

Instead, the uninterested inspector simply flipped open the bag I was carrying, hardly bothering to look inside before waving me through.

A few days later, Neil and I rehash our adventure. After a few minutes of chitchat, he asks whether I was up for another "Halcion holiday."

I tell him I'll pass. Although there's certainly an element of fantasy about walking into a drugstore and writing your own ticket, the reality of the situation had been downright depressing. Add to that the inconvenience of spending seven hours in a van and the gain simply wasn't worth the pain--or the painkiller.

To my surprise, Neil--Senor Pill Popper himself--agrees. In fact, he even seems relieved when I tell him I'm not interested in making a return trip.

"The travel is a hassle," he concedes. Reluctantly, he also admits that "there is some truth to the story that when you have all these pills lying around, you take 'em."

He tells me how Oscar had become so dependent on Valium that he'd take three ten-milligram tabs each morning just to start the day.

And Neil himself? Well, there was that little problem with the amphetamines.
"After I discovered those diet pills, I could understand why chubby moms are so eager to get their hands on them," explains Neil. "Within 15 minutes, you are finding new uses for those vacuum-cleaner attachments. You have the drapery tool out and you are 16 again."

He sighs. "The good news is I went down three pant sizes. The bad news is I just couldn't stop vacuuming. I guess the trick is learning that you must respect these drugs."

But that lesson is apparently taking a little while to sink in.
Before signing off, Neil adds, "Hey, if you decide to run down to Nogales again, be sure to let me know, okay?"

I promise him he'll be the first to know.

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Dewey Webb