This is a tale of addiction and loss.
Of decline and fall.
But also of redemption, of growth, of wisdom accrued through suffering.
It all started one Sunday afternoon a little over a month ago, when I got back from a long weekend away and opening the fridge in the relaxed perfunctory manner of a man who hadn’t done a shop in recent memory, spied a glowing sun nestling behind a couple of non-alcoholic beers and a Jazz apple, imbuing its cold environs with a golden warmth.
Almond milk was a mystery to me. The dregs of this carton formed part of my flatmate’s smug plans to make the ultimate bircher muesli. He wasn’t around, and last time I checked he was abroad somewhere, being smug, the kind of place where almond milk flows untapped from bountiful almond springs.
So I thought what the hell.
I took a sip. And as the liquid washed over my tongue, past my palate and cliff-dropped into my stomach, something happened. Sadly all three drops in there meant that not enough of it happened. I threw the carton in the bin, thinking not much more of it. But that night, vivid dreams of diving Scrooge McDuck style into pools of golden almonds and torrents of milky rivers flooded my somnolent brain.
I woke up in the morning sodden, and wandering over to the kitchen, froze, mid nut-scratch, as the carton of Almond Milk sat there staring back at me from the kitchen counter.
Weird, I thought.
These guys aren’t easy to locate. But the following Wednesday I went into my local Health Shop, the kind of place you have to stumble over two crates of chia seeds just to get through the door. Browsing constellations of products I’d never before laid eyes on, I finally located the right shelf, and with the self-satisfied grin of a man just texted back by his dealer, took the plunge.
I brought one back home, locked the door, stripped down into something more comfortable, took it, shook it, twisted the cap and long-armed half the carton.
Most people describe their first heroin experience as nothing particularly incredible. No obvious upperlike coke, no love-surge like pills or God-delusion like meth. Just a mellow life is okay after all moment. I wouldn’t know, but having taken my first hit of almond milk I’d say scratch that I definitely do.
I hit it again. And again. And before I knew it the carton was done, and I was legging it down the road in my Y-fronts to score some more.
When it comes to drugs there are gateway theories.
The idea is that weed leads to LSD or pills, onto coke, crack and then heroin. Something like that. But my own personal descent into hell went something like this.
Worrying amounts of almond milk.
At around three quid a pop my new habit didn’t come cheap and greenbacks don’t grow on trees, so like all men who love a bargain but refuse to compromise on quality, I hit up M&S. I scoured the shelves, but no almond milk was to be found.
I did find… Oat Drink.
Jackpot. I real lingering semi-sweet but not quite aftertaste, and with it the delusion it was a little bit good for you. What drug does that.
M&S Oat Drink was good. So I decided to sample more of their shit.
Just like these two cats I’ve fallen foul of the allure of Coconut water in my time.
Could coconut milk do the same? I had to say I was worried about the coke to crack effect.
My fears were unfounded, Coconut milk is disgusting. It’s an embarrassment to the whole non-milk milk scene. I’m not sure I took more than one sip before head-butting the carton in a show of raw uncut contempt. It exploded all over my face and dripped down into a huge puddle of coconut milk which began seeping across the supermarket floor.
But M&S did have… Rice Drink.
That’s when things got really weird.
That’s when I stopped seeing people.
I took Keith Richard’s advice about the purity of the drugs you take, sacked off M&S and went back to the Mother Ship. Rude Health. Accept no substitutes. As fiercely addictive as Brown Rice Drink is, it’s more of a party drug rather than an every day thing. And so I kept coming back to Almond. On heavier sessions I’d hit the Almond for hours, and then straight arm a Brown Rice to take the edge off.
Once I’d bought out the entire stock of E8, I made the mistake of straying into E5 one day and picked up a carton of this.
Don’t ever fuck with a milk product that has both Arabic and Chinese on it and expires in December 2027.
I decided to stock-pile with a view to dealing, to even up the books. But dealer’s discipline is learnt the hard way, and I spent the next 18 hours getting high on my own supply. The next four days passed by in a blur. Until finally, I came to, buttnaked, on the floor of my own bathroom, squealing like a newborn.
I was 4 stone heavier. I mean, last time I checked I wasn’t drinking six litres of full-fat milk a day.
This is as much a warning to others, as a sorry tale of loss of personal wealth and dignity. Steer well clear of these non-dairy milk substitutes. We’ve been milking cows for millennia, stick to the classics. Besides, I missed the most glaringly obvious point of all. They’re far too sweet anyway.
Hey, at least I can say I finally understand all of Pulp Fiction.
That thing right there, seeping out of the left-hand corner of her mouth…
… I always wondered what that was.