Dear Honest Teachers,

I’m not a teacher.  I just graduated high school and I’m about to leave for college.  If you look at my life everything seems perfect and it is.  There is only one problem and I needed to get it off my chest before I leave in the fall.  The simple fact is, I’m a drug dealer and I got busted.  I thought this would be the end of everything and it almost was.  I live in a well off county outside of Atlanta.  My parents are both successful and my siblings are all older than me as well as more responsible than me.  I wanted to be an actor, not a drug dealer.  There is a lot of work around Atlanta as the movie and TV industry move out here for the warm weather and tax breaks.

I got into acting when I was in 5th grade.  Two of the kids in my class were talking about spots they had on a TV show.  I knew then that was what I wanted to do.  It took less than 6 months of harassment before my parents gave in.  After the first audition I was cast as an extra for a birthday party scene for a crappy kids’ show I never watched.  There was a rewrite on the set that landed me a line on the show.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time but it was a huge break.

While I was busy telling a famous child actor that his pretend birthday party was lame my mother was getting equally hooked on the idea of me being a star.  My older sister hated me for my instant success and my brothers made fun of me for being on a show they’d heard me make fun of.  My father didn’t care because I left him alone and was actually making money.  He joked about cutting off my allowance but the truth is I didn’t make much at first.  My mom was the one who went nuts.  Before I knew it I was signed up for classes and learning all sorts of new things to be more marketable; I had to be a triple threat.

It wasn’t long before my bright idea to be an actor because it sounded easy turned into more work than I’d thought legal.  I wasn’t too worried about school because my mom would harass my teachers about my grades to keep them up.  I got good grades because they didn’t want to deal with my mom’s emails and phone calls.  I think so at least, do teachers do that? Oh well, I did okay in school but I spent every night practicing with one coach or another.  I spent some school days and every weekend auditioning for parts I wasn’t even remotely eligible for.  I met a lot of stars and important producers.  I worked on a lot of shows and even a movie.  Once I got a part things got a bit easier but my mom never backed off.  It went on like this for years.

By the time I made it to high school I had been to a few parties and had even gained a reputation for being a potential star.  It’s amazing how being on a few crappy TV shows and one movie make you super popular.  I never really thought about it because it just happened.  I always had friends but things changed after I got that first speaking part.  Kids think I could make them famous just by hanging out with them.  In a way I did but I also abused that idea as well.  I dated a lot of girls.

All the practice and stress was taking its toll on me by sophomore year.  I had made enough money to pay for tuition to a college in LA that I wanted to go to and my mom couldn’t stop telling people that.  I hadn’t been accepted but it was still early, I was only a sophomore.  It was around spring break that things changed.  I spent my spring break on a set that was made to look like Victorian England.  Wardrobe had me dressed in a wool coat.  It was hot as shit out and I was dying in a wool coat.  My friends were off having awesome spring break adventures and I was 20 minutes from home in a fucking wool coat.  I’m sorry, can I swear?  Delete that if I can’t.

We finished shooting that day and I was at the craft services trailer trying not to overheat.  One of the PAs snuck me a beer in a paper coffee cup with a lid.  A PA is a production assistant, they are usually college kids who want to work in movies and do all the shit jobs on set for no pay, if they’re lucky they get a free hat.  They’re always complaining about the job but the companies always seem to have enough standing around so it must be good.  I’m sitting there drinking my beer coffee and talking to the PA.  I’m hoping I can talk him into getting me more beer to sneak home so I can have a party with a few friends who haven’t left town.  This guy’s been on this set for a while and my part is minor but steady enough that I’m on set a lot.  I’m lucky to get a line every other episode.

So, we’re hanging out behind the craft service trailer and we are both complaining about how we’re so tired all the time but can’t sleep.  The PA, Hector, he tells me that he’s been taking these pills to calm himself at night so he can sleep; he says they work like a charm and feel great. I ask if I can try it out and he gives me three pills but tells me not to take more than half of one.  I’ve tried some stuff already and I know not to be a dumbass so that night I take half a pill like Hector says.  It works perfectly and I sleep like a baby.  Now I know what you’re thinking, I became some junkie or whatever; I didn’t.  I took the rest of the pills but it took me a month to use them all.  I wasn’t hooked and I took them when I needed them for years but never got hooked.  It just never happened.

So, it’s the end of the year and my friends are freaked out about finals.  They are stressed out and I mention to one of my friends that I felt great but I had half of one of Hector’s pills.  She immediately wants one as well and she was too cute to say no to.  It isn’t long before some other friends ask.  I go back to Hector and ask him for some more pills.  I’ve bought some off him before and I think nothing of it.  He gets mad and asks if I’m trying to sell his shit.  I hadn’t even thought of charging my friends for the pills.  I always have enough money so I just figured I’d buy some to hand out for finals.  I told Hector that I wasn’t going to sell his pills.  He got real quiet about it but said I was a smart kid and if I wanted to sell his cotton, that’s what he called the pills, if I wanted to sell it I’d have to pay a little more because it would cost more for him to get extras.

It didn’t take long before I was selling cotton like candy.  Word spread quickly that I had magic pills and people would come up to me at parties asking for them.  At first I was dumb and open about it but I quickly caught on to what I was doing and chilled out a bit.  The money came in fast and was more than I made acting.  I didn’t think about it.  I didn’t need the money because my family is rich.  I knew that but it was something to do and having extra money never hurt.  By the end of the summer some other people I knew through friends were selling cotton as well.  I didn’t care because I didn’t really think it was a big deal.

Throughout my junior year I had a handful of people who’d buy regular from me.  Hector wasn’t on set anymore because the show had ended.  I don’t know what he was working on but I had his number and would drop by his apartment whenever I needed some more pills.  He said I was doing good work and that I was smart about business.  I thought I was like my dad and was proud.  There were a few close calls.  Once the school had drug dogs search the building but they didn’t catch the pills in my locker.  They caught a bunch of kids with weed but I didn’t care; I wasn’t in trouble.  That must have contributed to my belief that I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

The summer before senior year was amazing.  I’d gone out to LA to work and see the university I’d be attending next year.  Before I left I packed all my pills but I got afraid at the airport.  The stupid thing is that I’d gotten them through security but freaked out thinking everyone was an FBI agent just waiting to get me.  I dumped my pills in the airport toilet and the rest of the trip was great.  I made friends in LA and couldn’t wait to move out there.  I came home a week before school started.  That’s when things changed.

While I was gone one of the kids I usually sold to bought cotton from one of the other guys selling it.  I didn’t think anything of it but the kid had bought a stronger pill.  I guess he didn’t know or whatever but he had a bad reaction.  I guess he took it at home, passed out and had a seizure.  It sounded pretty nasty but I wasn’t too worried when I heard about it.  That was a mistake but I didn’t know it until later that night.

While I was out meeting back up with all of my people my dad was explaining to my mom what happened.  I guess when the kid OD’d one of his friends said I had sold him the cotton when the cops asked.  There was a drug task force at the house and they searched the place.  My dad was crazy pissed but he hadn’t told my mom until we got home.  I guess I was lucky, when the cops searched the place they didn’t find anything other than some weed in the garage that one of my brothers must have forgotten about.  I had taken the pills I had with me but I’d flushed them in the airport.  There was nothing to prove I’d done anything wrong.  The only thing the cops had to seize was the cash I’d been hiding away.  It wasn’t a lot but it was way more than some high school kid should have had in the closet.

That night my parents interrogated me for hours.  They must not have thought about all those acting classes they’d paid for.   I should have won an award for playing dumb that night.  My dad didn’t believe me but he couldn’t break a hole in my defense.  They decided that I would go to the police station the next day and answer questions.  My dad called his lawyer and we all met up there.  The lawyer seemed out of his element but he was a lawyer so I guess he knew what he was doing.  Mostly I sat there and the lawyer explained I didn’t know anything.  I stayed quiet and looked scared.  Looking scared was easy because the cops kept threatening me.  They told me they busted Hector and he had turned me in.  They said that between Hector and the cash they had enough to put me away for life.  I wanted to start talking when one cop told me he understood this was all a misunderstanding and if we cleared it up he wouldn’t let it ruin my chance at college.  I almost did but the lawyer got pissed off before I could say anything and we left.  I tried to tell him I could explain it all but he wouldn’t let me go back.

I was never arrested but I guess it cost my dad a lot of money to get the cops to give up.  He said the lawyers cost more than my college.  I never saw the money the cops took.  I asked my dad about it but he said it would cost more to get it back than the money was worth.  He also said he didn’t think I’d gotten that much from him and it was better the money was gone.  Nothing happened after that.

By the end of the school year most of the truth had come out. The kid who OD’d came back in the second semester and was fine.  Some of the other guys selling cotton got busted.  Two of them went to jail.  One of the guys was too young and he got community service and rehab even though he never took the pills.  No one really talked about it to me and I didn’t really care when I noticed I wasn’t as popular as I used to be.  I still had plenty of friends but some people stopped hanging out with me.  I felt bad but I didn’t realize how much damage I caused until I found out about Hector.

It turned out Hector didn’t have a rich dad to pay for lawyers.  The cops took his money too and he didn’t have anything to pay for a lawyer.  He went to court for a while but he eventually pled guilty to get a charge dropped.  He ended up getting over 20 years in jail for selling cotton.  I guess he’d been taking it from his wife who had a prescription for the pain after she had a baby.  Hector’s wife and kid are totally screwed and Hector is gone for 20 years.  I didn’t go to his trials and I’ll probably never see him.  I get sick every time I see an episode of the show I was on when I met him.

I feel bad, I’m about to go to my dream university, I have a bright career as an actor ahead of me, my family is fine, and nobody cares that I was a drug dealer that got a bunch of the kids in my school hooked on OxyContin.  Some of the kids had a hard time getting off the stuff after the dealers got busted.  I realize now that the difference between my life and Hectors is that I had a rich family to pay my way out of trouble and he didn’t.  We were both drug dealers, we both knew what we were doing was illegal, we both got busted, and I’m living the dream life because I could afford to beat the system.  I think I hate myself.

Thanks for listening,

Jay T