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Opinion: I Don’t Huff Paint to Get High, I Do It for the Sense of Community It Provides

Some of you know me as the guy from the viral mugshot photo that features my insane smile encircled by a thick ring of gold paint. Others of you know me as the guy being wrestled to the ground almost daily by store security in the Rust-Oleum aisle of Walmart. Either way, you know me. And that’s what I love even more than massacring my brain cells on concentrated paint fumes; the community that sprouts up around it.

Take it from me, there are many reasons a high-school dropout might decide to exhale his last available Whip-It and start inhaling the spray-paint tantalizing him from his dickhead-stepdad’s workbench. Conceivably it’s to temporarily ignore a lifelong sense of not fitting in. Perhaps it’s to quiet a never-ending loop of self-criticism, especially while peeing or taking a shower or seeing himself naked in the mirror or comparing his penis against penises he sees on the internet. And possibly it’s done to get higher than an astronaut’s fart. But maybe, just maybe, a person takes shotgun-blasts of Krylon to the skull in order to embrace the community that reluctantly forms to deal with this increasingly sad addiction. Guilty on all counts!

They say a circle has no beginning and no end. But the circle of paint around my mouth begins with bouncing in and out of your open garage when you’re mowing your back yard and ends with me, several seconds later, leaning helplessly against your mailbox — eyes rolled back in my head, mouth agape, bladder super relaxed — after huffing your spray-paint out of a brown paper bag. I couldn’t do this without your spray-paint, or your mailbox to lean against, or your paper grocery bags from your recycling bin. No man is an island.

I don’t think of myself as a guy with a very serious and very sad drug abuse problem. I consider myself an artist, and the inside of my lungs is my paintbrush and my brain is my canvas and my spray paint is the paint I spray onto my paintbrush and my brain-canvas. I want to share my art with the world, not just keep it to myself only for it to be discovered after I’m gone by the coroner when they scope my bright-gold esophagus.

So the next time you see me looking like I just sucked off an exploding dye pack, keep in mind I’m somebody’s leach-of-a-son, somebody’s future Narcotics Anonymous sponseer, some state’s recidivist probationer. I’m not just some huff-head spray-braining myself into a stupor, I’m a member of a community of my own creation — and even if I’ll never remember it, don’t you forget it.

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