Popular wisdom says a blog must have a niche, or a focused theme, and today I found it — anxiety.  I walked into Walgreen’s, headed straight for the pretty Vietnamese pharmacist with the sour face, and without hesitation or shame, handed her a presciption for Buspar.

“It’s a mild anti-anxiety medication,” I said.

“I know what Buspar is.  I’m a pharmacist,” she replied, sourly.

I know my mother is going to call me in ten minutes and tell me NOT to take this pill.  She is so fearful of pills that she would be booted out of BlogHer today for being a bad mother to me when I was a child. When I had the flu, she would give me less than the suggested dose of any medication.  If it was a fever, she would cut the aspirin and give me half.  If I was coughing endlessly, she would give me a teaspoon of cough medicine.

“Mom, Robitussin says to give me a TABLESPOON, not a TEASPOON. Cough Cough Cough.”

I was an avid reader at an early age, and was fond of reading cereal boxes and cough medicine bottles.

“You don’t need a full tablespoon. You can get HOOKED on this and then you will be in the street, drinking cough syrup.”

“Yuch.  It’s too sweet. It’s like the Manischevitz wine at Passover that no one likes.  Who is going to get hooked on cough syrup?”

“That’s what they ALL say before it starts to become a problem.   Just drink more tea and honey.  That will make you better.”

My mother was like a Jewish version of a Jehovah’s Witness/Scientologist, who didn’t believe in modern pills.  It was always tea and honey.  And chicken soup, the cure-all.  I’m lucky I never broke a leg.

“Here, put some chicken soup on your leg.”

Her anxiety over medications became my anxiety over medications.

And drugs.

Remember when everyone laughed at Bill Clinton when he said he smoked pot, but never inhaled?  I never laughed.  I did that ALL the time when I was thirteen years old, hanging out with Scott and Phillip in Phillip’s room after school, when his mother was still at work.  Phillip would take out his nickel bag hat he bought from his older sister and then crank up Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on his expensive, wood-grained Sherwood stereo that he saved up for by working at his father’s store.

“This album is the fucking best!” announced Scott.

He always said that, just as “Money” started to play.  And yes, Pink Floyd nuts, I realize that “Money” is the first song on the B-side, but Phillip always played the second side first.  That’s how we rolled in Flushing, Queens.

I like Pink Floyd now.  But I didn’t like them at all when I was thirteen.  I found “The Dark Side of the Moon,” one of the best-selling albums ever,  slow and depressing. I secretly listened to the more upbeat, funkier, Commodores back at home, but never mentioned it to anyone else.

“Pink Floyd rocks!” I would say as Phillip would turn the bass up so high that it distorted the sound.

Note:  I made up that last quote where I say, “Pink Floyd rocks!”  Recently, there was a scandal where a blogger was caught making up details about his life, and I feel the need to kowtow to the pressure to be authentic.  I don’t really remember what I said in Phillip’s  during those good ol’ days, but I am positive that peer pressure had an even bigger effect on me back then, which would have forced me to say that I liked this album more than I did. (Albums, ha ha! How quaint! One day, I will talk about how important it was to have the right speakers and stereo system. We used to talk about it like kids talk about smartphones today.)

Money, get away
Get a good job with more pay
And your O.K.

Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands
And make a stash

New car, caviar, four star daydream
Think I’ll buy me a football team

Money get back
I’m all right Jack
Keep your hands off my stack

Money, it’s a hit
Don’t give me that
Do goody good bullshit

I’m in the hi-fidelity
First class traveling set
And I think I need a Lear jet

Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly
But don’t take a slice of my pie

Having just recalled the lyrics to “Money,” it doesn’t surprise me at all that my pot smoking friend ended up working on WALL STREET, rolling in the dough,  while I’m still lulling away the hours, fantasizing about the woman extolled by the Commodores in — (take it Lionel Richie)

She’s a brick—-house
Mighty mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out
She’s a brick—-house
The lady’s stacked and that’s a fact,
ain’t holding nothing back.

If you are a parent, watch what your children listen to when they are thirteen years old. It will determine their future more than what fancy school they attend.

Back to the pot.  I loved the smell of pot.  But I was my mother’s son.  I was afraid of getting lung cancer at age thirteen.  Why risk it just to get high?

“You can’t get lung cancer from pot,” said Phillip.

I researched this in the library, and Phillip was right.  But again, why take the chance?

I was not anti-marijuana.   I laughed when they had that school assembly where they brought in that former drug addict who told us that pot was his “gateway drug” to heroin. The “potheads” that I knew in school seemed way too lazy to go out and buy a needle.

I faked smoking pot with Phillip and Scott.   Of course, sometimes the smoke would get into my lungs.  It took some skill to fake smoking pot, because you were supposed to hold it in for what seemed like ten minutes to get the “full effect.”  At one point, Scott bought a bong, which always seemed to me like a Mr. Coffee for potheads.

Phillip and Scott would get high, grooving to Pink Floyd.  I never could understand how his parents never figured out what we were doing after school.  The entire room smelled of pot.  Perhaps they smoked pot themselves?

It was never much fun being the one friend who wasn’t high.    Phillip and Scott found everything funny, and there is nothing less funny than people who think they are funny.

Phillip: “If you reflect a magnifying glass just right, you can get this rainbow effect like on the album cover.”

Scott: “I love this album cover.”

Phillip: “You going to get the new Kiss album?”

Scott: “Kiss is for faggots.”

Phillip: “Yeah.  Ha Ha Ha.”

Scott: “Imagine kissing Shari Diamond.”

Phillip: “Oh yeah!

Scott: “Call her. Tell her to come over.”

Phillip: “Look at the wall! It’s like vibrating.”

Scott: “Fuck.”

I know I might seem like a wallflower, but I wasn’t.  I would participate in the conversation, too.

Neil: “Do you think the social studies test is going to be hard on Friday?”

Phillip: “What are you talking about, Neil?”

Scott: “Mellow out, Neil. Look at the wall.”

Neil:  “OK.”

Phillip:  “You see it?”

Neil:  “Yeah.  Cool.  (to self) Morons.”

2012, many years later.  Scott is on Facebook.   Phillip is missing.  My musical taste has not improved (see Kelly Clarkson?!)  And sadly, my anxiety remains.  Lately, I haven’t been myself.  I’ve been having trouble dealing with work and money and divorce and whether or not to make new business cards for BlogHer.

“Why don’t you take some Buspar?” said Dr. Fish, my primary care doctor who I went to because I had a pain in my shoulder.  Diagnosis: Tendonitis.

“I don’t need it.”

“Sophia said it might be good for you?”


I remembered that we had the same doctor and Sophia had just gone to Dr. Fish two days earlier for her yearly checkup.  I felt like I was being pushed into something I didn’t want to do.

“I don’t like pills.”

“It’s not a big deal. You take it.  If you don’t like it, you stop.”

“I’m not sure I have “real” anxiety.  It’s just a temporary thing.  I’m not afraid of people.”

“Not all anxieties are the same.”

“Well, come to think of it, I AM afraid of most people.  But I’m not crazy or anything.”


Mom, are you calling me now?

“Don’t take it, Neil.” I can hear her saying.   “Don’t take pills.   Finish this divorce already, and you will be OK.”

But I am an adult.  I need to stop listening to Sophia, Dr. Fish, AND my mother, and do what is best for my mental health.

The package of Buspar is sitting on the desk, next to the computer.  I’m still a little scared of taking one. Will I become a Stepford zombie? Will my penis shrink?

Maybe I should download some Pink Floyd on iTunes so I can create the right mood.