Answer the Question – The Kenny Incident

There is a story from my past which I am not too sure how the details go. However, for this entry I will do my best to be as true to the story as I can be.
The story takes place in a typical suburban neighborhood on Long Island where a young man looked to gain his reputation as an all-out gangster.
For this entry, I think we are going to call him Kenny. Just to be clear, this was not his name and to be even more clear, names, places and tiny details of this story will be altered to protect the less-than innocent. 

I’d like to prepare you for a story that is absolutely idiotic. I’d also like to accentuate the obvious here and that before we get going; yes, karma is real and so is karmic debt.
I’d also like to be clear that I do not endorse or promote the coolness of the drug culture – and I certainly do not want to promote the business aspect.
In no way am I making light of the drug culture or crime.
More to the point, this is an outline that both details and defines a common response to teenage insecurity as well as explains why some teens find themselves caught up in a certain mentality..

Kenny wanted to be a tough guy. He was somewhat plump or a little pudgy. Although Kenny placed himself together quite well, his insecurity always led him to be somewhat of a story teller.
Or, in Kenny’s case, this led him to be a big story teller.
Kenny’s tales of family connections and mob ties were certainly false. But again, Kenny was not altogether small either. He was somewhat of a bully and an asshole to the younger kids. I say this because the older kids from the town and the kids at Kenny’s age were not afraid of him.
In all, Kenny did manage to keep a few friends and to them, Kenny was somewhat of an ongoing joke.
He was the older person in a younger crowd.
Kenny started selling marijuana which became a decent business for him. More accurately, this allowed Kenny a sense of importance. He was wanted. He was needed. He had a beeper or pager which, of course, is an outdated and antiquated thing from the past.
As the momentum of Kenny’s life began to mature, so did the branches of Kenny’s business which eventually led him to the sale of cocaine. Now he was a star.
The only problem was Kenny was too obvious. He bragged and he boasted and the bigger his business became, the more Kenny believed in his own lies. 

Eventually, Kenny found a connection that was bigger than his previous one. The connection, however, was a person who was being watched. As luck would have it, Kenny was followed and eventually arrested. 
This was real now.
There was no way for Kenny to get out of this. This meant that Kenny would have to face the judge. This also meant that Kenny might have to fight if he went to jail.
No one would have believed his lies in jail. No one would have been afraid of Kenny.
There was no one in jail who would have cared who Kenny was or who his so-called connections were. On top of this, Kenny was about to find himself in the company of dangerous men.
Real, capable and dangerous men.
But Kenny wasn’t dangerous. He was just a kid trying to pass himself off as a gangster.

Since this was his first arrest and since Kenny’s parents were afraid of seeing their son in jail, the district attorney’s office offered a deal. Kenny was given a free ride in exchange for some helpful information. 
That’s right.
Kenny, who claimed to be a gangster, who claimed to be “about that life” and who claimed to be a ride or die trooper, and who swore how he would never be a bitch was about to sing like a canary. 
Kenny chose to become an informant.
To his friends, Kenny became a rat.

Kenny moved into a different neighborhood after this.
However, there’s a saying: Wherever you go, there you are.
That means an asshole is still an asshole no matter what town they live in. 

Kenny found himself back in the mix. His insecurities and need to feel important or wanted were too much for him.
So, what happened to Kenny?
Well, Kenny told a few young people in his new neighborhood that he was connected. He had the language down and he was able to master his look.
Eventually Kenny was able to put together a little crew. And you guessed it; once more, Kenny found himself in a position of power. People were calling him. People were looking to hang around him.
He was cool again. Right?
Wrong . . . 

Kenny and a few of his friends heard a story about a local eatery – as the story goes, this was where the owner of the establishment stored some of his cash.

Now, I want to pause here and be clear and as honest as possible. This story is not my story.
I only know what happened to some degree.
But more than the story itself, my reason for posting this entry is to offer an answer to the ongoing question.

So, where were we?
Oh yes. Kenny.
Kenny and three others were able to get through the window. They snuck around until Kenny found the jackpot. 
There are stories that Kenny found $25,000 and some that say he only found $5,000 and others swore that there was only a few hundred – but either way, Kenny had another reason to brag.

A few nights later, Kenny and his crew were out at a club and there he was Kenny . . .
He was trying to impress a girl.
In an effort to impress her with his snazzy gangster charm, Kenny told the girl about a score he and his friends made while breaking in the basement of a local restaurant.
It turns out this girl knew the place. It also turned out that the girl was very close friends with the owner’s daughter. 

Kenny gave the girl his number. Only, it wasn’t the girl who called him back.
Nope, this was not going to be good for Kenny.
Not good at all.
They brought him in.
However, Kenny thought he knew what to do. But without the benefit of an attorney, Kenny just decided to sing. He began to offer up as much information as possible. Kenny told them everything.

Okay, said Kenny.
How are we going to work this out?
You’re going to jail is what the detective said.
But I told you everything . . .
It turns out the owner of the restaurant had a lot of friends . . . .
Unlike Kenny, his connections were real.

Later that night, Kenny was placed in the holding cell while awaiting his time before the judge. One by one, each of Kenny’s friends and codefendants were escorted down the hallway and passed Kenny’s cell to which, of course, the guards made sure to point Kenny out to his friends. 

I don’t know what happened after this; however, I’m sure that Kenny was not too popular the next morning when he and all of his “friends” were together in a big cage awaiting their arraignments.

Throughout my life I have seen what insecurity does to people. I’ve seen the quick satisfaction of instant gratification and how this gives a false sense of importance.
There is something to this. I have seen young teenage kids find themselves on a path of trouble because of an image they thought they could hide behind.

No one wants to be the fat kid or the pudgy kid. No one wants to be picked on.
I know that Kenny didn’t.
Nobody wants to be the person who’s picked last or not even picked at all.
No one wants to be excluded or never invited to parties. The need to have a social draw is very real.

However, there’s a lie that comes with the drug trade. There’s a quick buck and a fast life that comes with this too and it’s enough to get the adrenaline pumping. This is true.
It’s also true that it seems cool when people know your name. It’s cool when everyone invites you or wants you around – even if they only want you around because they’re using you. It sure as hell beats sitting home alone on a Friday night and wishing you had a social life.

There’s a jail movie which is absolutely awful (and I say this after watching it at least a dozen times) but I have to admit the movie is really bad. The acting is completely horrible and the forced accents are a joke. But . . .
there was something said in this move that stood out to me, “Have you ever met an old drug dealer?”
“No, because there aren’t any.”

Who knows, maybe Kenny learned to turn his life around.
Maybe he cleaned up his act.

But as for the question, what the hell were you thinking?
I’d really like to know what Kenny was thinking when the guards paraded his friends by Kenny’s holding cell and said, “Yeah, that’s your friend right there. He’s the reason why you’re in here.”

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