The Ultimate Drug

By Art Hoppe

Reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 1986

It was inevitable. With so many inventive drug designers turning out so many designer drugs each year, the perfect drug simply had to be produced sooner or later. Its name was simethylene-amitrate-metabolyxite or, as it came to be known, Sam. Here is its story.

It was a dark and stormy night in the designer laboratories of Yves St. Blass. As lightning blazed against the mullioned windows, the great designer druggist held up a small, white pill. "Here, Igor, try this," he said to his assistant.

Igor obediently swallowed the pill. In seconds, a smile suffused his dour features and the hump on his back seemed to shrink. "Man," said Igor, "that's the real stuff!"

"At last, I have created a drug that will make everyone happy," said Yves confidently.

* * *

At first, it seemed Yves was incontestably right. In case after case, without exception, Sam made the user feel not only happy, scintillating and sexy, but it also improved his or her backhand -- all without any aftereffects whatsoever.

Unlike alcohol, Sam had no calories. Unlike heroin, Sam required no nasty needles. Unlike pot, Sam didn't smell up the house. And unlike cocaine, Sam didn't destroy the nasal pasages or induce self-immolation. Sam required no boiling, mixing, sorting, chilling, diluting or dangerous matches. Moreover, Sam tasted good and thereby appealed to dogs and small children -- a quality that radically reduced the national incidence of ankle biting.

But best of all, Sam was absolutely legal and therefore incredibly cheap. In no time, Sam pills were being sold three for a dime in 7-Eleven stores of for a nickle a piece in sidewalk bubble gum dispensers. Surveys showed that 8 out of 10 people and 7 out of 10 dogs were now swallowing Sam. It appeared the human race was embarked on a new era of happiness.

Then -- oh, so gradually -- a reaction began to set in. People would laugh happily at some little joke and then look at each other guiltily. One would say something like: "You know, it doesn't seem quite right to be this happy this easily." And the nagging feeling prevailed that something that made you feel so good couldn't be good for you.

* * *

So people began swearing off Sam. In six months, scarcely 1 in 10 was still taking the stuff. But that was still too many for the Good Christians to abide. "If the Good Lord had meant for people to be happy," their preachers thundered from their televised pulpits, "he wouldn't have given us frown muscles."

Politicians were quick to go along. Congress speedily declared Sam to be immoral, indecent and illegal. The Mafia immediately moved into corrupt law enforcement officials; smugglers brought in tons of simethylene, amitrate and metabolyxite from Colombia, Bolivia and Cosa Nostra, respectively, and Congress was forced to appropriate $13.2 billion to confiscate 1.3 percent of this illicit trade.

The price of Sam soared to $10 for a quarter of a pill in a back alley. The media made it clear that gulping Sam was the rage at all the fashionable parties. Overnight, Sam became expensive, dangerous and glamorous. Soon, Sam was as popular as it had ever been.

"At last everybody's happy," said Yves St. Blass proudly. "Those who don't take Sam are happy that they can now lock up those who do in the slammer, and those who do are just plain happy."

"It's a miracle, Master," said Igor.

"Well," said Yves modestly, "I couldn't have done it without the Good Christians and Congress.


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