Theodore, 24, grew up on 12th Street NW in Shaw and attended Cardozo High School where he was introduced to PCP. It changed his life.
He is an only child of strict parents who demanded that he attend church regularly and come home early at night, he said.
"I had not done a lot of exciting things in my life," he said. " . . . I wanted to experience something new. I wanted to be a big boy. I was under my parents too much and I wanted to experience life."
Theodore said that he was introduced to PCP by a good friend, a man he considered a role model.
"He had a nice car and girls were hanging around him all of the time," Theodore recalled. "He was smoking it. He would tell me it was good, that it made him feel good. I was looking at him feeling good and not lunching out or anything."
The friend gave Theodore some PCP for free to try.
"I tried it with him and I started enjoying myself at parties," he said. "When you are on PCP, you have the right things to say, slick stuff. Sometimes you stumble when you speak. But you have no insecurities."
Theodore, after several arrests and some time spent in Lorton, the city's penitentiary, because of his PCP habit, is now in a drug treatment program.
He is one of several thousand District teen-agers and young adults who have been attracted to the cheap, potent liquid, whose use is growing at epidemic portions.
The drug ravages the brain cells of its users, causing unpredictable, violent behavior, memory loss and uncontrollable reactions.
But despite widespread knowledge of its destructive properties, smoking PCP-laced cigarettes has become an accepted part of life among many poor teen-agers in Washington, which is second only to Los Angeles in its number of PCP abusers.
District police report a tenfold increase in PCP arrests in the last four years. In 1981, police made 310 arrests. Last year, it was 3,030.
PCP is sold on the street as "Boat," "Loveboat," "Lovely," "Buck Naked" and "Graveyard." People who are high on the drug are referred to as "boated-out" or "lunched-out."
Theodore and Paul, another Cardozo student who used and sold the drug, are typical of the city's young addicts. They were attracted to the drug because it made them feel good. Paul went on to become a dealer to support his habit. It was big, easy money for him and allowed him to buy cars, jewelry and clothes.
Both are now in a drug rehabilitation program and are trying to regain control of their minds and kick their habits. They talked about their experiences with the understanding that their last names would not be used.
Theodore remembers one winter night when he was high on the drug and stripped off his clothes to spar with a friend on the street.
"I got undressed because I had the illusion that I was warm, that I was hot," he said. "You use PCP and you get to thinking strange things. You feel hot and the PCP tells you to get undressed."
He dropped out of Cardozo after two years, did some construction work but mostly he spent his time staying high and committing crimes to support his habit.
He said that he was arrested three times for robbery and possession of PCP and ended up spending time at Lorton.
After his last arrest a judge gave him the choice of either entering a drug treatment program or going back to jail.
Theodore said he chose to join Second Genesis, a private, nonprofit, residential drug rehabilitation center located at 1320 Harvard St. NW.
Ninety percent of the 62 residents are referred there by the courts, said Pam Dalton, spokeswoman for Second Genesis.
The city pays the center $28 a day per resident for the treatment which, for PCP abusers, usually lasts one year, she said.
When Theodore arrived at Second Genesis a year ago, his memory was gone. "I still have memory problems for things I've done the same day. I forget easy. I have to concentrate to remember," he said.
Paul, 24, is also at Second Genesis. He grew up with his two younger brothers at 14th and Q streets NW, in one of the city's major drug areas. He graduated from Cardozo High School.
He said that he started using PCP when he entered high school.
"I wanted to see how it felt," he said. "Curiosity made me do it. I figured it might hurt other people but it wouldn't hurt me. I liked it. I had the sense that I can't be hurt. I felt macho.
"I smoked from the time I got up and all through the day," he said. "I smoked before school, during lunch, after school and at night . . . . I couldn't sit in class unless I was high. I felt like the older people and that I was doing something big."
He started selling PCP to support his habit, he said. "I'd see the older people with money," he said. "I wanted to be like them. I started out by selling the works syringes . I'd sell enough to keep myself in PCP.
"I was a good businessman," he said. "You have to pay attention to your image. I was always better than the next salesman. I always had a better product.
"I started with the works, then Valium, then heroin and then I graduated to PCP," he said. "All I knew was that I could make $500 in less than two hours."
He moved his business often trying to avoid police detection but eventually he did get arrested five times for possession of marijuana and for selling PCP.
"Before I got locked up, I bought a new Delta 88 and I paid cash for it," he said. "I had clothes and I had jewelry.
"One day my car stopped and I just left it," he said. "You don't value those things you buy with PCP money. You don't work for it. I know I can go right back out and get another one."
Paul said that before his arrest he did not know that PCP had harmed him. "It took locking me up for me to realize that," he said. "In jail, I would go to the library and I realized that my thoughts weren't so fast. I couldn't pick up things like I used to.
"And my speech pattern was messed up and my temper was short," he said. "It took six months for my mind to clear."
"My speech is much better now," he said. "When I came here it took a couple of minutes to get a word out. Now I am doing better."
Theodore added, "It is pitiful what it does. It takes your whole mind."