Haidee and The Heroin Life

I once met an older woman named Haidee who tried to sell me onto the idea of The Heroin Life, and this is what she told me:

“It’s the only thing there is, ” she said, in a tone of extraordinary ecstatic detachment. One could divine an infinite unholy joy derived from it’s own sadness. It was as if she took a morbid pleasure in being something melancholy, something monstrous; there was, in fact, a kind of martyred majesty in her mood.

“You mustn’t expect to get the result at once. You have to be born into it, married with it, and dead from it before you understand it. Different people are different. But it always takes some months at least before you get rid of that stupid nuisance – life. As long as you have animal passions, you are an animal. How disgusting it is to think of eating and loving and all those appetites, like cattle! Breathing itself would be beastly if one knew one were doing it. How intolerable life would be to people of even mediocre refinement if they were always acutely conscious of the process of digestion.

Before I started Heroin, year followed year, and nothing worthwhile happened. It was like a child scribbling in a ledger. Now that I’ve got into the Heroin life, a minute or an hour – I don’t know which and I don’t care – contains more real life than any five years’ period in my unregenerate days. You talk of death. Why shouldn’t you? It’s perfectly all right for you. You animals have got to die, and you know it. But I am very far from sure that I shall ever die; and I’m as indifferent to the idea as I am to any other of your monkey ideas.”

It was after this speech that I took a vow to never touch the stuff. It was after this speech, when she lowered her eyes and spoke no more, that I noticed how entirely filthy her hands were, and how bad she actually smelled. I paid my respects and took my leave.


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