“Little Women” and Heroin

It’s an arresting title, yes, but I’m not after shock value here beyond what the topic itself forces. The deluge of heroin and other opiates that is washing away American communities leaves me speechless. There is no word for how I feel about my country, in this aspect, right now. Heroin deaths outnumber deaths in traffic accidents?

Inconceivable – and as we all know from “The Princess Bride,” that word does not mean what you think it means.

It’s happening, whether you can conceive it or not. And not for the first time in America, dammit. But THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT OKAY. As one of my daughters said, “It’s fuckin’ scary.”

Damn right it is. So is how we drape it in gauze and set flowers in its windows.
Have you read “Little Women”? If you’re an American white woman older than 40, probably. It’s a classic, and it has more in it than most people know.

Take Beth. The dove of the quartet. Kind, shy, virginal, musically gifted Beth. She faded away in true Victorian style over the course of the first two-thirds (I’m working from memory here, so maybe three-fifths) of “Little Women,” and finally died a lovely death that is elegized in a tear-jerker of a poem, within the book. You have to read the unabridged version to get the whole story – but it revolves around belladonna.
Yeah. Beth was an addict.

to be continued …


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