(EDITOR’S NOTE: Tampa News Force does not condone or endorse the misuse of drugs or medicines, even for the purposes of investigative journalism. To see other, less-drug intensive material from Chris Coon, click here)
Sudafed. It’s a nasal decongestant with a rich variety of street names. “Suda pop.” “The ‘Fed.” “Dog Poison.” “Suganda.” “Sudies.” “Sudies nuts,” “Holy Shit I Can’t Believe He Just Wrote That Down,” and “Suganda Mai-balls.” A spontaneous peal of tenacious laughter prevented us from gathering any more street names.
Teens everywhere are getting in on it. Teens in Tampa Bay in particular, though. That’s the focus of our piece. A teen in the sinner’s city of Port Charlotte could have his face meat stripped away by a gaggle of rabid hawks and you would not see it discussed in this fine newspaper.
We sent Tampa Bay’s #8 highest ranked Investigative Poison Tester, Chris Coon, to see if Sudafed is lethal, whether it makes you trans, or if, God forbid, it’s ‘a smoothly smackin’ righteous good time.’
We tracked down a supplier of the drug known on the streets as “CVS.” They didn’t say much on the phone but our source did let us know that the menu options on their automated phone system had recently changed. This resembled a clue. As if they were signaling something in the sequence of the departments. But if it was a code, I couldn’t crack it. We had to investigate in person.
We got word that there was a clerk who would sell it to you at the CVS, if you were cool. We knew the drug dealer rules: The first one’s always free. But actually, it wasn’t free and we had to pay for it instead, which honestly blew chunks. And they don’t even take Food Stamps as payment. Unless of course, you [redacted].
Journalistically, I approached the counter and said to our contact from the phonecall, “Hello. My name is Chris Coon and I would like to purchase some Sudafed, please.” She immediately asked to see my state-issued ID. I mean, this might have been due to some law or something, but a clerk immediately demanding my ID upon hearing my b-tier racial slur last name is actually reasonably frequent for me.
We didn’t know where to find any local ‘Fed-hopping teens so we tracked down our foremost teen-knowing correspondent Sylvester Cerovisio, a local 23-year-old Christian Rock Drummer, and went through his contact list. Just as we’d hoped: teenager after teenager after teenager. We called from his phone. Only one contact answered, and he hung up just as quickly, saying “Sylvie, I haven’t gotten to the latest Euphoria yet, don’t ruin it for me. Goodbye.” Euphoria. Jackpot. One of the primary symptoms of Pseudoephedrine abuse. We were getting close.
We wanted to get to the center of the universe of this cruel drug trade, so we went to the Center Of the Universe Party, or COUP, at New College of Florida. New College Florida is a tiny gay public liberal arts college in Sarasota, currently under a hostile takeover by Ron DeSantis for being really cool and fun and gay. Like unfathomably gay. The kind of place that would kick you out of their improv group for joking ”New College is so gay that lesbians go there to experiment with straight men.” The kind of place that dolphin-fuckers write books about.
COUP at New College, also slanged as Palm court Party (PCP), is a once in a semester campus-wide event where all the gay drug addicts turn the homo junkie stuff up an even further notch. The theme for the party? Dionysian Love. Just the kind of place to find a Sugandan.
I thought contemplatively, sagely, even rubbing my temple to make sure my thoughts were extra good, “To find a pill-head fiend, you have to think like a pill-head fiend. But how can you get into that kind of twisted mind?” My mind felt wracked with the thoughtful inner workings of philosopher-kings.
After 18 minutes of perfectly still contemplation, I realized, “Oh yeah, I could get into that mindset by just taking a loosey goosey handful of pills.” I went with like fourish? 480 mg. They slipped forebodingly past my news-chewing teeth and right down the journalism hatch.
Our teen-knowing correspondent Sylvester called back about 30 minutes into my trip. I picked up thinking he had called about a tip for the Sudafed case but actually he asked me for an HBO Max password because “his friends kicked him off the account after they allegedly received ‘a threatening series of cryptic voicemails they got from his phone number.” Kids these days, huh? Gen Z says the darnedest things.
I told him no dice. No dice on the Max. Well, I told him indirectly. I said “dominoes” and led him down a long rabbit hole about the history of dominoes in Italy as a synonym for ‘no dice,’ since Dominoes were introduced originally as a replacement for dice. My words flowed like wet sticky Italian prison history vomited from downstairs from a balcony. Oh wow. I am talkative. This is starting to feel nice.
About 12 minutes into my dominoes story, Sylvester tapped out, “Chris I can’t handle one more goddamn narrated fun fact. Anyway, what’s the toxicity for the pills you just downed without measure or thought?”
Oh yeah. Good idea. Probably should have looked at that earlier. Chirs, this is why you’re still Number Eight. Chirs is my nickname for myself. You gotta have a nickname for yourself to let yourself know you’re not mad.
According to Webster’s dictionary, Sudafed Toxicity starts at 5 miligrams of sudafed for every kilogram of body weight.
Well actually, it was a veterinary dog poison website, not Webster’s. So that’s the canine toxicity, at least. 5 milligrams per kilo of dog. They seem pretty tight-fisted about the figures for Man. Whence the censorship? Maybe Sudafed is like chocolate or grapes, you know?—toxic to dogs, but fun on a charcuterie board.
But I felt mighty confident about that figure, since in that moment, I knew I could honorably fight any dog. Like I could manage to battle any dog at least to a draw. I might not win but we’d have a respect like the fighter pilots of WWI. But I mean I would have beaten the shit out of Snoopy. So as long as I take under a dog poison amount, I’ll probably be fine probably.
I’ve gotta calculate the rates at which “The ‘Fed” would ruin me forever. Like the SBF of CVS—a veritable Sam Dankman FrieD (SDFD).
Let’s run the figures: Chris is 150 Kg of cheddar cheese and woven steel so I can most likely tolerate 6 pills before it starts to poison me at all! Kick-ass!!!(As long as I have dog-liver)
45 minutes in.
Oh Golly Gee Willikers this is starting to hit me. It is time to go dancing.
Oh this is nice. Pills, baby! I am decongested as shit!!! It’s like my nose can see the future. Clean, sleek, elegant. Ferrari and prosecco. That’s my nasal mucus membranes, baby. It’s like adderall but more upbeat and laidback. Like Adderall’s cooler cousin that makes Thanksgiving fun. Like the cousin you smirkingly lock eyes with when your grandmother tells another story about how the woke mob is trying to cancel “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The Dionysus to Adderall’s Apollo, as Nietzsche might say, if he were also a bisexual drug addict who had just kissed 4 of his friends.
“How is this marketed a nasal decongestant?” I pondered inwardly over audible cardiac thumps. I suppose my nose was clear indeed, but raw elation trumped my nasal clarity. I was attentive and slutty and in the groove. I’m singing the entire lyrics of songs I don’t know! I’m in denial of sweating and I will not let it break my stride. Side note: why does everybody always bring up Chris Farley to me whenever they see me have a good time?
90 minutes in.
The Suda Pop has a subtle but reserved flirtation against the Grape flavored 14% Four Loko in my system. Like the female part in the Christmas Classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Like the only opportunity to feel comfortably slutty that my grandmother ever allowed herself. This evening has beeen so veeeery nice.
Jesus Christ there’s no way meth is THIS good. Better than this? Meth-making is a tragedy. A toxic and unnecessary process that no doubt ruins the amazing vibe of the original. Like the Fascist takeover of New College of Florida by Meatball Ron. Hey Meatball Ron, I kissed 4 of my cool homo friends on Johnny Taxpayer’s dime! Ride that, you greasy hog!
“5 milos per kilo before it gets real-o. Tell all your friends who are junkies the deal-o. 5 migs of sudie per kilo of booty: past that is worse than a case of the cooties. 5 milly of pilly’s enough to get silly but any beyond that could possibly kill me.” I thought repeatedly.
120 minutes in
Oh shitt!!!! There’s live music around the corner so you KNOW Papa’s gotta mozy! The amphitheater at Z dorm is an outdoor 100 seat hemispherical concrete performance space behind an avant-garde college dorm. Well technically it’s only half an amphitheater—a theater—but the beautiful delicious Dog Poison has cured me of the need to let others know that I know that fun fact. What a substance!
When I get there, there’s a groove a-happening. A nearly all-trans band wearing togas is slamming out a killer melody. Something pop-punk/folk. They’re playing an anti-racist protest song in an exclusively white genre.
We’re all cheering and singing. My identity disappears into the crowd and we are all one in that moment. A pulsing whole. We feel fully that we are at perhaps the last great COUP in the last perfect moment before the hull of New College culture is punctured by tearing along the oncoming iceberg of Meatball Ron. One crowd breathing, moving, and chanting together, as if dancing on the deck of that doomed elegant ocean liner. It’s too bad 9/11 doesn’t have a similar opportunity for Romantic Tragedy, but trust me, the vibe was a lot cooler than an office building on a Tuesday morning.
After about two minutes and thirty-four seconds of being one with everyone I think to myself, “Hey Chirs, being one with everyone is great and all but I don’t think anyone here is considering what a special boy you are.”
I gotta bother the guy who’s running the stage into letting me do standup between music sets.” I did not sign up to do a set but Papa’s got a heart full of dreams, a booty full of sudies and a nose full of nothing. I am decongested as shit.
I gotta find the guy. The venue man. There he is. There’s the man. He’s slippery. Like an eel. He’s trying to dodge me but the Dog Poison makes me quick. There’s a dancing we’re doing, him sauntering aimlessly as I dodge and weave through the crowd. I feel the ecstasy that figure skater Elena Berezhnaya must have felt while using Sudafed to cheat for the Gold back in ‘92. As I pursued him through the crowd, Elena and I shared a timeless kinship: “Sure the Ruble collapsed; sure, my home has been forever reorganized into a politics I don’t understand, but tonight I am a beautiful star, and a winner full of Dog Poison. I’m like the wind. Eternal in my ephemerality. I’m the wind and eternal and soon to be disqualified.”
I shifted through this crowd of hot entogaed homos and I got him dead to rights. I sweatily attempt to wangle a set out of him. My eyes are allegedly saucers. He eyes me anxiously. He’s got that exact look in his eye when you don’t want to give a microphone to a sweaty stranger who you might have just overheard claiming that ‘Dog Poison’ makes him feel like a beautiful star. You know the look. He had that kind of look in his eye.
Apprehensive, he concedes. I get on the mic right as the band finishes up. Baby boy forgot to record the audio on his stupid phone. But I’m under the impression I’m up there jazzing out my quips and anecdotes. I felt groovy. I don’t even care if I was doing that well, if I can reliably get that impression from my stand up, this is the greatest drug of all time.
A few jokes in we settle into a comedy show. We’re riding. Smooth. Like drunk driving home down a backwoods midnight highway. Perfectly feeling the routine impact of the lane dividing beacons on the tires. Thump thump. Thump thump. And it’s getting faster. Oh you know what? Nevermind that’s actually my heart.
During my set of mostly bi jokes, someone somewhere brought up Sudafed and how bluesy-jazzy-beautiful it feels and looking back, given the odds, it was probably me. As I was getting started into the jokes-free impromptu Sudafed use advocacy section of my set, my mic was cut. The guy was mad. He had a real time-out expression on his face. A real ‘I knew I heard him say he was high on dog poison’ kind of look. So I put the mic back in the stand.
Some comedians will tell you to ‘respect the venue who gave you a spot as a favor,’ or that you ‘shouldn’t rile up the audience to boo the venue because you’re mad,’ or that you ‘shouldn’t then also encourage 20 audience members to leave the show to hear your closer in the courtyard because you didn’t feel finished yet,’ but those comedians aren’t sweetly overmedicated on the world’s greatest behind-the-counter nasal decongestant.
So naturally, right where they cut the mic, I continued my set almost uninterrupted, telling my ‘stealing the baby Jesus on acid’ closer at full oratory voice booming in an outdoor amphitheater full of togas. Hands free of the microphone, I gesticulated wildly to signify The Grinch and My mom and The Baby Jesus, until I had to be escorted away from the outdoor venue, beckoning the crowd to follow. And 20 of them followed. My one-time-only loyal crew. I was like an orator in the forum. I felt like Cicero. On the losing but righteous side of history, fighting off the very fasces of the Republic he loved so much. And I don’t think there was a single fucking booger in my entire ass nose.