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Turnip Feature Story: Expo Marker Sniffer

Thomas Winzeler, Assistant Editor

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John Wilson returned to the public after spending five months in a rehab camp on August 5. Since then, he’s been clean from his addiction.

“It was tough, but I’m free from my addiction and it feels great,” Wilson said.

John is currently a junior, and since he was in sixth grade, he was addicted to sniffing Expo markers. It started off at the board whenever he would work a problem for math or any other class. It quickly turned into an addiction after he fell in love with what he called “the nose hair burning sensation.” It got so bad that at one point he could never have an Expo marker out of arms-reach. So how did it get to this point?

It was a Wednesday in December. He was in sixth grade and was busy arguing to his class why communism would work.

“I was getting frustrated with them, so I took the Expo marker in my hand and sniffed it,” Wilson said.

Wilson recalls the immediate feeling of relief. Pain or anger from people not understanding communism went away. “It was great!” he said.

So for all of the sixth grade whenever he got mad or frustrated, he would sniff Expo markers. That was just the start. During seventh grade Wilson started sniffing Expo markers when he wasn’t angry. He started sniffing them to get high. The high from the Expo marker couldn’t be described.

“It just put me on cloud nine,” Wilson said.

In eighth grade it got worse. Wilson had to sniff an Expo marker every ten minutes or he would snap. “It became a dependence,” he said.

In ninth grade, it became every five minutes and in tenth grade, he had to sniff one every minute. It got so bad that it started affecting his home life. His parents shelled out thousands of dollars to meet his addiction and when they wouldn’t, he would threaten them with him becoming a capitalist. “He truly did scare us,” Wilson’s mother said.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was not a straw; it was, in fact, a spoon.

Wilson was doing his normal threatening of his parents on May 2. This time he was saying that maybe communism only worked in theory. This both absolutely scared and angered his parents. Each verbal abuse with today’s threats built up, to the point where his parents were fed up and finally put their foot down. Literally. They stomped their feet and yelled, “THIS STOPS NOW!”

Wilson’s response wasn’t happy. He opened up the drawer next to him and grabbed a spoon, a metal spoon. Two of them in fact. He threw one at his mom and the other at his dad. His eyes filled with a withdrawal-induced rage. However, this couldn’t match his parent’s rage–their own son threw metal cutlery at them!

Now it didn’t hurt, but that’s beside the point. You throw something at someone, you will get a response. It’s not going to be the response you want, but it’s going to be a response. John’s dad, Bob Wilson, ran to his computer. He Googled rehab camps and found the one closest to their house and that was one of the top results. “I just wanted to get him out of the house and for him to be clean of this addiction. It was tearing this family apart. Even the dog wouldn’t go near him,” Mr. Wilson said.

So Wilson was sent off to this camp, a camp that would save him and change him forever, on May 4.

The camp was in a forest, it had lots of trees and cabins. From the outside looking in, it looked like a pleasant place where the people attending the camp were treated well. It was even better when parents were there. When the parents were gone, the camp was anything but nice. It was a military-style camp.

The camp used tactics such as running twenty miles a day, doing obstacle courses, push-ups, therapy sessions, yelling and getting campers addicted to Coca-cola or some other soda or drink. The drink that could keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay would be the one used. “My drink in the camp, the one I still drink, is Red Bull. All I do now is drink one daily, but when I was in the camp I chugged those suckers down whenever the cravings for Expo markers arose,” Wilson said.

The camp has 95 percent chance of its attendees not relapsing, because they know if they return, the camp will be more intense. Instead of cleaning or doing any of the other things they did in camp, they would be assigned to something much worse. Something so awful and terrible, it would make Stalin say, “Woah! That’s too fa,r man!”

It’s sitting in a room for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and hearing over and over again that your grandmother is ashamed of you. With one voicemail from her, if she’s still alive, saying “You make me ashamed to have you as my grandson.”

Those who go through this treatment for more than a week have 100 percent chance of not relapsing. Many of the people going through this process have been known to break down crying and promise they will never do what they have been addicted to again. “They never want to disappoint their grandparents,” camp counselor Bill Dillman said. 

When Wilson heard what would happen if he relapsed, he immediately knew he could never touch another Expo marker. Ever again.

For Wilson, it’s been tough coming back to school. He can’t go to the board because there’s fear he may relapse. When he’s at home he has to keep himself busy. Whether that’s playing video games, writing poetry or stories, or writing his own communist manifesto, he has to do something because if not, he’ll get bored and he’ll start thinking about Expo markers.

As of now, he’s looking for a part-time job. This is so he has something to do and so he can have money. Wilson has a long road ahead of him if he wants to stay clean, but it’s a road he’s willing to take. A road many Expo marker addicts aren’t willing to take; however, John is different than the others. According to his parents, he’s getting better every single day and is no longer threatening them with anti-communist ideas. “Truly,” his dad said, “We’ve seen a remarkable change in John. It’s been for the better.” 

About the Writer
Thomas Winzeler, Assistant Editor

Hello, peeps! I’m Thomas Winzeler! I’m a senior, and you should worship me. If you don’t want to worship me, then you should just kiss my feet or...

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Turnip Feature Story: Expo Marker Sniffer