Well, folks. Much like my 21 Jump Street Pilot Episode post, this is going to be almost entirely from my memory! That’s largely because all of the YouTube episodes entitled “In the Heat of the Night: Crackdown” are wrong and this episode isn’t available on Amazon or iTunes. So, all I have is the Youtube clip below and the searing affect this episode had on my 11 year old mind to guide me.
Watch the clip below and join me won’t you?
If you didn’t recognize her from the clip above, that’s Audrey from National Lampoon’s Vacation. So, I first saw this episode when I was about 11 years old. You know, right at that point in time when all of the counselors at school are trying to scare you about drugs before you become a teenager. So this episode had a profound effect on me.
I don’t know if this is still the case, but WGN used to air In the Heat of the Night reruns in the middle of the day for like 3 hours at a time. I think I caught this episode on summer break at my grandfather’s house (prime In the Heat of the Night watching time). The whole world of boys and parties was so mystical to me then. And the looming threat of casual drug use felt terrifying and inevitable.
Now, let me just say for the record (or really just for my mother as she reads this post), I have never been offered crack cocaine. Not even once. But at 11, when I watched this episode, I was sure I would one day be peer pressured into heavy drug use. I also was sure that someone was going to try to get me to smoke a cigarette at gun point. But then I grew up and can honestly say that no one has ever offered me a cigarette. Plenty of people have tried to bum smokes that I didn’t have or ask for a light, but if any of the chain-smoking theater kids I went to college with offered me a cigarette, it was such a rarity that I can’t even remember it now. (TL;DR: A lot of people in my childhood told me that big tobacco were “drug dealers” and I took this very literally.)
I also tended to over identify with “hard hitting” topics on TV (and now I have this great blog because of it!)
So when 11-year old me saw “Crackdown” here is what I thought:
- I will be a shy girl at a party one day.
- A cute boy will approach me.
- IF I TALK TO THE CUTE BOY: He will offer me a thing to smoke. What am I smoking? What is this? Is this crack? You SMOKE crack?
- IF I SMOKE THE CRACK: I will become a crack addict.
- IF I BECOME A CRACK ADDICT: I will pawn all of my family’s prized possessions.
- IF I PAWN ALL OF MY FAMILY’S PRIZED POSSESSIONS: I will welcome the attention of a friendly cop who gets way too involved in my case on a personal level and only wants to see me succeed.
- IF I IGNORE THE ADVICE OF THE FRIENDLY COP: I will die.
And here is how 11-year old me planned to avoid the situation above:
- I will never go to unsupervised parties.
- IF I END UP AT AN UNSUPERVISED PARTY: I will not talk to any boys.
- IF I AM FORCED INTO SPEAKING TO A BOY: I will not speak to him privately and I will not inhale anything.
- IF I SEE A CRACK PIPE: I will pretend to faint and then crawl my way to freedom when no one is paying attention.
- IF I PRETEND TO FAINT AND THEN CRAWL MY WAY TO FREEDOM: I will die alone and friendless and that will be just fine.
And here is the very special lesson I wis that 11-year old me had known:
- I will one day be a shy girl at a party.
- A cute boy will approach me.
- If that cute boy offers me crack cocaine, I will say to myself, “Hm I don’t think this is the kind of person I want to start a relationship with.”
- I will tell the cute boy, “I have to go to the bathroom. Bye.”
- I will have fun at the party with my friends and never do crack cocaine.
But I didn’t know that and I was a very sensitive child. So I spent the rest of the afternoon very sad for Audrey from Vacation and also had the oddly empowered feeling that comes from being “scared straight.” Hah-ha, I said! I will never allow this to happen to me! And that’s what I said every time I watched a lifetime movie for the next to years. And now I get to share all of this with you 🙂