My friend, Vinnie the Drug Dealer
I was having dinner the other night with some friends and we were talking about a mutual friend of ours who we are worried might have a drug problem. We talked about how we didn't want to be enablers to our friend, and also how sitting on the sidelines and not doing anything at least to try to help wasn't really a good option, either.
That conversation made me think of a story from long ago that involved a somewhat similar situation.
I was about 19 years old and had just started modeling in New York. I met a girl who was 18 who was also modeling and we began dating. She was drop dead gorgeous, had all kinds of potential, and probably could have been a supermodel.
One day -- I can't remember exactly how -- she revealed to me that she had done cocaine. Now understand, back in those days -- these were the Studio 54 days -- we would often find ourselves in clubs or other places where coke was being passed around quite freely. In fact, it was often free, too!
I never tried coke myself, not a single time. Not because I was prudish, but because I knew that I was out at these parties four times a week where people were trying to push it on you, and I was afraid that if I were to try it and like it, I would be potentially getting myself into a bad situation pretty quickly.
She told me she had done it and even though I was only a year older than her I felt obligated to try to advise her against doing it. She said it was only once in a while and only for fun, but I told her I had to insist that she not ever do coke when she was with me, or we couldn't keep going out.
Then I got her to make a deal with me. I told her that if she ever did coke when she was out with me, then she'd have to admit that she had a problem and would go for help. And she agreed to the deal. I knew, of course, that I wouldn't be able to know for sure if we were out and she happened to go to the ladies room and do it. But I felt like this was a good idea and perhaps could be a way to help her.
Some time after that a childhood friend of mine was getting married, and I took her to the wedding. My best friend growing up, Vinnie, was going to be there with his wife, and so I told him of a plan I had.
I told him I wanted to try to entrap this girl I was dating into attempting to do coke while she was with me so I could make her get help. I told him that I was going to tell her that he was a drug dealer. I should note, my friend had never done any drugs in his life! But in this scenario he was going to be a drug dealer, and when she met him I was going to go to the bathroom and he was going to ask her if she wanted to do coke. If she said yes, then I'd talk to her afterwards and tell her I knew, and she'd have to get help as that had been our deal.
Like I say, Vinnie never did drugs or knew the first thing about drugs. But when I introduced him to her, he suddenly went into this routine straight out of Scarface. It was hilarious.
He wiped his nose with his finger, sniffed a couple of times, and said, "Hey... I'm Vinnie!"
Anyhow, I then went to the restroom as we had planned, he asked her if she wanted to do coke. He told me later he said "I got a couple of 'keys' in the car," meaning kilos. It was totally overboard.
She said yes to his offer, but explained to him how they couldn't let me know about it. He then told her that when we sat down for dinner for her to say she was going to the restroom. He'd then leave and meet her outside and they'd do some coke.
Soon we sat down and she left for the restroom as they had planned, and of course she goes outside to wait for Vinnie but he's not going out there. Meanwhile Vinnie's wife doesn't know anything about this.
About five or six minutes go by, and finally she sticks her head in the door and gives Vinnie a look like "Hey, come on... what are you doing?" Vinnie's wife sees this, and she's like "What the eff is Chad's date calling to you for?"
Vinnie and I are now cracking up at the whole scene, and through our laughter we explain what's going on to Vinnie's wife.
Later that night I took my date home and I explained to her how Vinnie wasn't a drug dealer at all and that I'd asked him to help me because I wanted to try to help her. I could see she was going down a path of self-destruction, and now since we'd made the deal she had to go for help. She declined to do so, and as we'd also agreed I had to tell her I couldn't see her anymore.
Unfortunately my effort to try to help her didn't work out, and about a year later she wound up getting dropped from the modeling agency. I ran into her again a couple of years after that and could see right away the wear and tear on her at such a young age. She'd basically not only thrown her career away, but her future, too.
I know a lot of us in the poker community have friends who we know abuse some substance, and I think a lot of us may feel like "Hey, my friend is an adult... what can I do?" But it is possible to help people in that situation. There is a friend of mine in the poker community, in fact, who with my help and his girlfriend's help was able to quit using cocaine, and when he stopped he never went back. He actually says he's alive today because of the effort his girlfriend and I made to intervene.
So to those out there who do have friends going down a dark path, I think it's the right thing to do to try to help. It may not work, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
I don't, however, necessarily recommend getting my friend Vinnie to play the part of a drug dealer when you do. Unless you want a good laugh, that is.
Chad Brown is a member of Team PokerStars Pro