How to do the wrong thing right

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I never cease to be amazed by the sheer volume of questions I receive that ask me, basically, the same thing, albeit disguised in variously opaque ways: “Does partaking of [fill in with your addictive narcotic preference of choice] make me, necessarily, an addict, if I’m only using it recreationally?” Well, as Eric Clapton so anesthetically crooned, If your day is gone, and you want to ride on, cocaine/ Don’t forget the fact, you can’t get it back/Cocaine. So let’s just get narcotized (highly anodyne) right to it.

Dear Howard,
Once in a while, if asked, I sometimes, embarrassingly, use “party favors” … only on occasion. If I’m being really truthful, I mean, yes, I do enjoy just a little blow from time to time; like, what gay millennial doesn’t? Sometimes, I’ll smoke a cig — OK, in all honesty, I’ve been accused of lighting up my next menthol Parliament with one still dangling from my lips. And seeing as how I’m being mostly honest with you, Howard, I also enjoy drinking, but just socially, though probably too much… man, I imbibe an awful lot. Sir, if I had to give up just one my vices, which among them would be your preferred suggestion? Honestly, I’m probably not gonna give up any of them — boredom costs a lot of dough, though, you know — and they’re all just so, so expensive! I’d really not enjoy receiving a morality lecture, man, so answer just my baseline question, please? — Ray D’Light

Dear Radiantly Lit,
“Embarrassingly … from time to time … on occasion:” What kind of obviously absolving little Tweety Bird “I think me saw a Puddy Cat!” cartoonery is this shit? You’re preaching to the morally unembarrassed choir here: I know, absolutely, how extraordinarily expensive boredom is; hence, pay very close attention to my answer: For, as you no doubt well know, the recessed filter of Parliaments is perfect for packing just a wee bit of “toot, toot, tootsie, goodbye!” inside it. Nonetheless, putting that aside, of the big three — alcohol, tobacco, cocaine — if you had to give up but one of them, Radella, let’s go with tobacco, which ultimately destroys every user, regardless of whatever other vices they abuse: Tobacco, in the long run, kills all of its partakers way, way too early.

Alcohol, on the other hand, if you can limit yourself to just a couple drinks every day, actually can extend one’s lifespan. As for “plain” cocaine — assuming you can afford it (minus making the fatal error of mixing it, ludicrously, with either other street or prescription pharmaceuticals into various “highball” concoctions) — then, hell, enjoy yourself, Tweets!

I have statistics coming out the wazoo for all three; but, if you ask me — which you did — I’d recommend you start with the elimination of tobacco. I realize, of course, that of the big three Betty Ford bonanzas (booze, blow, prescription drugs) “mere” tobacco-abuse doesn’t even make her clinic’s cut; nevertheless, it’s easily the worst, especially if you’re HIV-positive — a factor you negated mentioning one way or the other; but, just to let you know, HIV plus tobacco use is a lethal combination, whether you’re on protease inhibitors or not.

Dear Howard,
Of the guys I’ve been meeting on Grindr lately, a disproportionate number of them not only sport entirely shaved heads, but their entire bodies — eyelashes downward — are completely hair-free, too. Is this some kind of new, metrosexual trend I’m not aware of? I feel like my grandmother for asking you something
so clueless. — Cody
Dear Codeine,
It’s not so much cluelessness, as it is that you’re, happily, not a devotee of drug “parole” requirements: Apparently, precious, you’ve never spent time in the clink, being “voluntarily” forced to enjoy hairs pulled out of your skin for narcotics’ testing. Stay clean, this way, Cody: You’ll live far longer and make your grandma very proud in the bargain.

Dear Howard,
I think I may be addicted to porn: Most nights, when my early-riser husband’s asleep, I’ll squander two, or even four hours mindlessly surfing “homosexual extreme” pornographic sites — really, really raunchy, perverted, out-there stuff: leather bondage, fisting, W/S, scat, electro-play, vacuum pumping, even barebacking. Can you recommend, maybe, a local therapist for such of a disease? — Judas
Dear Judessa,
“Out-there stuff?” Sweet Jesus, what kind of fundamentalist, American horror story were you raised in? In any case, Girlene, there is no “disease” of addiction to pornography: You are simply mesmerized by what others have absolutely zero shame in doing for general-public viewing, is all. Nothing else comes into play here, whatsoever — that is, dumbfounded, sexually-arousing “astonishment” does not require, in any way, psychiatric therapy.

— Howard Lewis Russell

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.