As someone who graduated DARE with only a cool t-shirt and a starter list of drugs that sounded fun to show for my drug prevention education, I had long assumed I was impervious to anti-drug messaging. Or, worse still, destined to have an adverse reaction to it that causes an even stronger craving for edibles. But I now know that I simply wasn’t provided the right message. Now that I’ve seen Melania Trump’s Be Best By Doing Sobriety PSA, I see that all I needed in the fifth grade to be all set for a life of sobriety was to hear that drugs are bad from the motionless left half of someone’s face while two eyes, glinting like melting glaciers, bored into to my soul. Because why would I bother searching out chemical highs when I could just pummel my brain into a state of awed submission by watching this over and over.
Listening to Melania Trump claim that her Be Best initiative was somehow about drugs this whole time (wasn’t it about cyberbullying at some point or was that a hallucination?) as I simultaneously watch her smizing eyeballs darting across a teleprompter message she is perhaps seeing for the first time captures the same uncanny valley feeling as ingesting a hallucinogen an hour before listening to Dark Side of the Moon in a planetarium.
My ears can hear her robotically dulcet voice making the words, “The goal of Be Best is to encourage children to practice healthy habits.” And my eyes can see her frosted mouth moving while the rest of her face, neck, hair, and upper torso remains statuary, presenting only a waning crescent sliver of her body to the ring light like a projection that seems unsettlingly both corporeal and artificial. But it’s the colorful, lightning-quick misfirings my brain produces in an effort to connect the sound to the image that fuels the real feel of a genuine trip. And then, much like those youthful planetarium adventures, I suddenly lose interest in the white man’s voice (this time it’s someone from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy) as my brain, untethered from the physical world, just drifts for a while before finally orienting myself on the ever-fixed mark of Melania’s single cheekbone and unwavering smize, at once hypnotized and hypnotic, as the disconnected voice tells us she will be doing this once a week for the next month. I will fiendishly await the microdoses.