Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pharmapsychology: An Altered State of Mind

When I was twenty-eight my first real boyfriend asked me to stay with him in his apartment one night while he did acid. Some might’ve thought this was an unorthodox form of intimacy on his part, a friendly distorted face to look upon as he and Timothy Leary played jump rope with bands of pixies. I suspect the actual reason was that I was the only person he knew that wouldn’t be so blasted on a controlled substance of my own that I’d be capable of stopping him if he tried to eat the wallpaper at some point.

Having only a pedestrian’s experience with drugs –I recalled schoolmates in high school showing up to classes smelling like a Cheech & Chong movie audience- I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from the evening. I doubted that the results would resemble anything like the ABC After-School Specials featuring Kristie McNichol or some other former child star that’s either somewhere doing dinner theatre or in rehab right now. My onetime experimentation with a control substance was trying to inhale a haphazardly rolled joint and having it singe several mustache hairs when one of the ample seeds exploded.

The appearance of the acid tab, itself, was a bit of a disappointment. What I’d had in mind was some vibrantly colored square the size of a stamp, perhaps the image of an anime character like Pikachu doing a bong hit. This piece of paper that would send my boyfriend into the furthest reaches of wherever was barely the size of a nail on a pinky finger, for God’s sake.

Had the dealer or whomever he bought it from duped him somehow?

After depositing it on to his tongue like a Communion wafer, my boyfriend and I sat down in his bedroom to wait for the acid to take effect. I remember us listening to the CD, Bricks Are Heavy, by the female punk band, L7, and playing out worst-case scenarios in my brain as the clock ticked by. What if disembodied voices compelled him to take a sudden dive through the window, leaving me to explain things to the police as the medical examiners collected his broken body from the crushed hood of somebody’s Acura? The fact that we were only on the third floor and the unlikely chances of him dying from such an act brought me no comfort.

The effect kicked in by the fifth or sixth song, my boyfriend giggling that everything had taken on a slight “sheen” as if it’d been gone over by a floor buffer. For some reason this scared me a bit, wondering if I now resembled some horrible monster with a Mop-N-Glow finish to him. It reminded me of a film we’d seen a few months before with David Arquette, Dream with the Fishes, where the two central characters did acid while on a Kerouac-esque road trip. They had wild adventures that were excellent fodder for movie trailers: outsmarting highway patrolmen, meeting unusual folks that seemed like extras from Easy Rider, and even stealing Aquarium fish to release into the ocean. If I was going to spend time with someone acid-laced couldn’t we drop water balloons on to the heads of unsuspecting neighbors, or, at least, leave the apartment for blue Slushies from the Shell Gas Station across the street?

I confess that this, technically, wasn’t the first foray into watching my boyfriend high even by a longshot. He was a “drug enthusiast” in many senses of the term and could probably roll a blunt faster than Snoop Dogg and Lindsay Lohan combined. Despite my own misgivings about narcotics, I couldn’t help but be a little fascinated with his lack of inhibition as far as the subject was concerned. My background of being a preacher’s kid and eight years of Catholic school sheltered me to some degree from the activities my peers engaged in after the last bell rang each afternoon. I knew the names of assorted narcotics from the endless anti-drug paraphernalia guidance counselors gave out every year like Halloween candy, but had yet to meet anyone who had personally done them –and be willing to discuss the sensations they felt at length. Being that all writers are voyeuristic detail freaks at heart, my curiosity wanted to be quenched from the safety of my non-participant’s box seat.

With his almond-shaped eyes aglow, my boyfriend announced that the carpet below us was now rippling like a pond after someone’s dunked a sizable stone into it. I instinctively drew my legs back, as if his hallucination had become so real for him that I promptly would sink to the bottom of the carpet and drown. He giggled delightedly at this reaction, his laugh so child-like and infectious to just about anyone that heard it.

“See?” he asked, leaning against the poster-covered bedroom wall, “Now, don’t you wish you'd let me teach you how to swim?”

A part of me envied his elevated state to a degree. Despite the horror stories I’d been told about “bad” trips (e.g. the urban legend about the drugged out hippie babysitter that puts the baby in the microwave), he was having the time of his life as he waved to where I stood from the safety of the ground. Not that I necessarily wanted to be him right then, but a pang of “the kid not picked at gym” reared his head for an instant. I’ve been a “watcher” to other people’s experiences my whole life, be they good or gut-wrenchingly horrible. And, for a reason I still don’t completely understand, they’re always more than willing to recount the exploits to me even when I don’t ask them to.

I thought about what it would’ve been like to have made love to him while he was riding that acid-woven flying carpet. Would it be like doing it with a medium, both he and the “spirits” inhabiting his body being able to feel my touch? Could something like that scare him somehow, maybe the drug warping something intended to be passionate into a waking nightmare? I didn’t really know and opted to merely lay my head in his lap, figuring that was a safer bet.

The acid itself wouldn’t wear off until twelve hours later, my promise to stay alert with him still intact as two-o’clock the next afternoon ticked by. Amazed that I hadn’t dozed off even for a few moments, we would drive in search of junk food to silence our growling stomachs. The inevitable would pounce on us like a prowling leopard the moment we returned to the apartment, the sleep we’d eluded for so long back to claim its due. We’d barely even make it to the bedroom before we both collapsed atop the unmade futon, a tangle of partially shed clothing and untied sneakers.

But, for right then, I rested there against his lap as he described the particles of light descending from the ceiling tiles like fluorescent snowflakes, thinking how beautiful a vision that must be.

Male Media Mind