Excerpt from Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny
It took me a long time to realize that the things my parents did were not exactly normal. I was about 7 years old, and it was the tail end of the 1950s, when it started to dawn on me that they were . . . well, let’s just say they were different. For instance: my friends and I got shots when we went to the doctor and we hated them. But my parents stabbed themselves with needles almost every day, and seemed to enjoy it. Weird.
Most of my friends’ parents sounded like the adults in school or on TV when they talked. People understood them. My parents, on the other hand, had their own language, laced with a flowery slang that I picked up the same way the Puerto Rican kids could speak English at school and Spanish at home with their abuelas.
And then there was the matter of how they talked. My parents and their friends spoke this exotic language very slowly. There were other odd things. For instance, they often slept standing up, and this group narcolepsy could strike right in the middle of the most dynamic conversation. Someone would start a sentence: “Those ofay cats bopping out on the stoop are blowin’ like Birrr . . . ” and suddenly the words would begin to come out slower. And. Slower. Soon they wouldn’t be speaking at all. Eventually our living room would be filled with black and white hipsters suspended in time and space, while I ran through the petrified forest of their legs. My favorite game was waiting to see if the ashes from their cigarettes would ever drop. Somehow they almost never did.
I can still remember the day when I finally realized that there was a name for this unusual lifestyle. My parents were junkies! And their slow-motion thing was called nodding out. read more here