Drug addiction has been kind to Melinda Ferguson – it has given her two highly readable books, albeit the sort that tugs at the heartstrings. Her first warts and all account of her life Smacked gave druggies a [human] face and catapulted her into stardom, and a stint on the road as she gave talks to audiences from corporate clients to schools.
In Hooked: Secrets and Highs of a Sober Addict, Ferguson explores, perhaps, the only thing more difficult than breaking a drug habit. Clean for seven/eight years – going on to 10 – she discovers that it is a constant uphill battle to stay off drugs. There are ‘dangerous places’ where those wishing to steer their lives away from cocaine, heroin and other drugs of choice need to avoid. A bar and nightclub, it would appear, is not the best place for someone trying to conquer alcoholism. She ponders this as she sits in the car in Cape Town with someone called the Critic as they are out to score drugs for the man to snort some lines “off her wrists”.
But this second Ferguson memoir is really a book about what exactly one does with one’s life when one has stopped taking this or that drug. Life can be a sudden drag for one whose circumstances now forces him or her to always order “mineral water, sparkling, one the rocks” each time they go out. Fighting the temptation to relapse is the biggest fight on the hands of an addict trying to stay clean.
What many do with their lives is almost invariably develop another fetish. Ferguson discovers Facebook and, with it, an Australian man called Genix Jesus Silk.
He’s read Smacked, he tells us as they begin their cyber-romance. He’s a druggie on the mend and she makes it her duty to help him come clean; beat the odds. The 9-hour time difference between them doesn’t in the least get in the way of this ‘dating’.
She gets so obsessed with him she fears she’s in love. Her physical love affair suffers as a result as she spends close to eight hours online chatting to Genix and trying to get him to come to rehab in South Africa. Ferguson even gets to exchange emails with Marlene, supposedly Genix’s mom. She buys into the idea of Shaun, as Genix is interchangeably called, coming to SA for help. This is what Ferguson gets to live for – getting Genix here. For treatment or to see her virtual date in the flesh and fall n love?
Then one day, like a puff of smoke, Genix disappears. Ferguson is deleted. Her pain is palpable.
She comes into another Facebook friend – Rocstar, and gets to meet him in the flesh. He plays in a band and invites Ferguson over to his gigs. But their attempt at meeting to please the flesh is a total disaster.
Unlike the addiction in her first book that leads her to being raped and losing her husband and two boys, this addiction to cyberspace is understandable. At least she doesn’t get to screw any man or lose her soul. In a way, as her ‘marriage’ to the screen of her PC and mobile intensifies, it helps her to stay off drugs.
Ferguson’s Hooked: Secrets and Highs of a Sober Addict, is published by Penguin (2011). For anyone battling some conquering evil or addiction, the book is a must-read.
© makatilemedia 10/2011