There are three side effects of acid. Enhanced long term memory, decreased short term memory, and I forget the third.
~ Timothy Leary
After that lengthy discussion about alcohol, I suppose I should cover a sort-of related area. You know, this is a good example of a chapter I’ve been avoiding writing, as it illustrates just how stupid I’m capable of being at times (as if the earlier chapters haven’t done a good enough job, eh?). It’s certainly not my intent to present a story about pot as shocking. Everyone has smoked it, and it’s simply way too commonplace to be of interest, in my opinion.
But, this night was different. A couple friends and I had gotten hold of a small bag of pot. We weren’t the kinds of kids, believe it or not, to have a stash on hand at all times, as so unbelievably many kids did at school. But, you know, we’d been around the block. We “partied.” Whatever.
So, we drove off into the middle of nowhere one evening and decided to try the stuff out. I won’t bore you with the details, as everything was pretty normal for about ten minutes. We were laughing, and we’d had a few beers. We decided to drive to the next town to keep the evening moving.
I was driving. Horatio (the same guy whose father collected school buses) was in the passenger seat, and Elijah (the drummer from a few chapters back) was in the back seat. We were just casually driving along — all very innocent, really. And then Horatio said something like, “Guys, I can feel my teeth.”
Elijah and I exchanged confused looks at first, but then I laughed and said, “That’s funny. Elijah, I think he’s quoting Neil Simon.” I’d had a drama class with Horatio that year, and whatever he said reminded me of a play he and I’d been reading. Elijah and I laughed at that, but Horatio went quiet. This was particularly odd for Horatio, as he never once seemed to be without words. As I’d said upon first introducing him within this memoir, he was a “superlative” type of guy, and that included being someone who always had something to talk about. However, he went all monotone and, without the slightest trace of his usual humor, said “I’m not quoting Neil Simon, Patrick. Something’s definitely wrong.”
Well, he was such a prankster, I didn’t believe him at first. This must, I thought, be some extremely weird joke or something. And then it hit Elijah. He lost all expression on his face, sat back in his seat, and said, “Oh shit.”
We were on a tree-lined dirt road at least five miles from anywhere. It was almost dusk. Each of them kept repeating, “Something’s wrong.” One of them asked me, “Has it hit you yet?”
I kept driving forward. “No,” I said, “it hasn’t hit me. And, I don’t know what you guys are…” And, then it hit me, too. Somehow, I stopped the car in the middle of the road and put it in park.
The road and scenery seemed to stretch out before me as though it were all made of rubber. It was like looking backwards through a telescope. I turned toward them, which to me seemed to take ten minutes to do, and said, “What the fuck…” Whatever it was, it wasn’t causing hallucinations. Rather, it was just causing extremely distorted visual and tactile effects. While I realize that most drugs are considered recreational by their users, none of us found this very enjoyable (to say the least). In fact, Elijah suggested that we get to a hospital. He was pretty freaked (understandably so).
Horatio had no objection to that suggestion, but we were faced with the insurmountable problem that none of us could even remotely hope to operate the car. Basically, we were stuck. In populous areas, of course, someone would come along, find you, and get help. But, we were from a rural area, and because of what we were up to, we’d also taken great pains to position ourselves as far from any traffic as possible. In short, no one was coming to our rescue.
None of us knew what the hell had happened. We didn’t know what we were on, how dangerous or safe it was, how much more strong the effects might become, or how long this would all last. It was rather scary in that regard to simply sit there, effectively paralyzed, in the middle of that road at dusk. Our existence — all thoughts and perceptions — had slowed to molasses. I think we had the world’s slowest argument at that point concerning whether or not we should seek help.
In the end, we knew we had to just ride it out. Fortunately, after fifteen minutes or so, the effects began to lessen slightly. The tunnel-vision reverted to something closer to normality, the feeling that my nose lagged behind the rest of my face during any lateral movement waned slightly, and my general cognition sped up once again to levels at which I could communicate with the others a bit more clearly.
“I think,” I said, “I can drive.”
“Go slow,” they said.
And, we did. Extremely slow, for a long, long time. Miraculously, the dirt road led us to the back end of a parking lot of a rather crowded movie theater. We unanimously felt a sense of safety in our newfound proximity to others. We agreed to go into the theater and see something — anything — to simply be near other people. If anything went wrong, we’d surely be able to get help.
Once in the theater, we relaxed considerably. We even started laughing again — and we didn’t stop through half the movie. Elijah told a joke that we managed to laugh at for at least twenty minutes. I still remember the joke: A woman says to a guy, “Do you smoke after sex?” The guy responds, “I don’t know. I never looked down.”
Oddly enough, by the end of the film, the three of us were perfectly sober. Not only that, but we felt as though we had a new lease on life — that we’d come dangerously close to something unmentionably terrible and had lived to tell about it. This lasted quite a while for Elijah. He even started a diary of sorts to attempt to distill his feelings about the whole event onto paper. I was relieved, but quickly returned to my rather nonchalant outlook. (As you’ve seen from earlier chapters, I didn’t always learn lessons quickly at that age.) I feared Elijah would get all religious on me after that, but thankfully he didn’t.
What’s particularly scary, to me about all of this is that, fast forward twenty years and now I’m the parent. I have a child who is, in about six or seven short years, going to venture out into the world at the same age as I was in the story above and, despite all her parents have taught her about making good choices, may elect to put herself in similar situations that are beyond her control. Fortunately, she doesn’t strike me as someone who will do so many patently stupid things. She has no track record yet, either (as I did back then).
But, the world was a different place only 20 years ago as well. Each kid had a number of forgivable, rather low-risk screw-ups coming back then, as I see it. Three major points in support of this: (1) The information age hadn’t set in yet; official records weren’t computerized. If you, say, got a drunk driving charge or were nearly arrested for screwing around with explosives (read my earlier chapters?), it all eventually got lost among the paperwork. And, there was no ubiquitous video surveillance back then. For example, if you went through a klepto phase, none of it would have been recorded; (2) There were no fatal STDs back then (not that I was in any danger of contracting one, of course, thanks to my being such a geek!) But, today, a kid makes one mistake in that area and that could be among his or her last; and (3) Intoxicants, with the exception of whatever I was describing above, included pot and booze. Nobody at my high school injected themselves with anything. We didn’t have crystal meth, X, H, crack, smack, or whatever the latest synthetic is called. Hell, even the pot today, I’m told, is largely engineered for potency.
I suppose my typical parental outlook is that “things are different from when I was a kid.”
✍🏻 Jim Dee maintains his personal blog, “Hawthorne Crow,” and a web design blog, “Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine.” He also contributes to various Medium.com publications. Find him at JPDbooks.com, his Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, or via email at Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. His latest novel, CHROO, is available on Amazon.com. If you enjoy humorous literary tales, please grab a copy!