Scared Straight

Alice Bradley
Jan 14, 2016 · 6 min read

Last June was our 16th anniversary, so my husband and I spent a weekend at this funky hotel in the Catskills. Every room is themed at this place. I chose a space-themed room. It was appropriately far out.

Before we left, Scott mentioned that one of his coworkers, a fellow video editor, had gifted us an edible. A pot cookie, in other words. (I feel like I’m a million years old when I say “pot cookie” but I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to say “edible.”) He apparently was a frequent user (and baker, I guess) of such things, and thought we’d have fun with it. Sure, I said! Pot’s fun!

Couple of important details: First, I smoked pot plenty in my twenties, but not really since. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s … changed a little, in the past twenty-odd years. I learned this a couple of years ago, when I shared a one-hitter with a friend and spent the next few hours paranoid and hyper, my face in a jumbo bag of Cheetos. Number two, I’ve never ingested it. Smoked, sure; eaten, no. (Turns out ingesting is also different.) I will research the hell out of anything, but in this case I didn’t bother doing a single second of reading on how to manage an edible. At least I can blame Scott’s friend, who had lulled us into a false sense of security with his detailed tips and tricks.

After we’d settled into our Catskills Room of Space-Whimsy, Scott took out the cookie. We ate only 1/4 each, as per our instructions. It was not difficult to only eat 1/4 of it. It tasted like if you licked the inside of a suede vest that had just spent a long hot jam session pressed up against Robert Plant’s pectorals. Approximately.

Once that was over with, we drank Prosecco, played the Velvet Underground, laughed at the Cylon tub.

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Space tub!

Then we were in the Cylon tub, because that’s what you do on a romantic weekend in your space room. We weren’t feeling the effects of the cookie, and briefly discussed eating more. We didn’t because, I don’t know, there’s a God? A God who might be looking out for middle-aged folks getting overly high in the Catskills?

Then we were out of the tub and engaging in the usual anniversary-weekend behaviors when I realized that my mouth had turned so dry it was definitely going to kill me. I could barely form words to tell Scott that all the fluids had exited my body and I was now but a husk. Scott went to get water, and to my mind he was gone for an hour and when he finally returned I was curled up on the bed, my eyes clamped shut, repeating the same phrase over and over. It was something about time and drugs and it wasn’t interesting but the point is that I kept repeating myself because I kept forgetting I was saying it. And yet I was sort of aware that I was repeating and forgetting, repeated and forgetting, and that my brain was permanently damaged.

I drank more and more water, Scott forced to make repeated trips to the sink while I yelled “ARE YOU STILL THERE.” I assured Scott that I was definitely dying. I moved from my fetal position to an alert crouch right next to the bed, neither standing nor sitting, kind of a vertical fetal position that turned into a real workout for my quads. I think the crouch was meant to ward off death. (Death can’t get you when you’re crouched.) Or the burning thigh muscles were an important reminder that I still existed. I became positive I was going to die from over-hydration, and I was also sure that Scott’s friend had slipped something more serious into the cookie than pot, and I insisted that Scott had to call both his friend and also 911 immediately because death was coming for me, crouch or no crouch.

“You’re fine,” Scott said. “You’re just really high. You’re freaking out.”

“I am not high, I’m dying,” I told him. “I mean, yes, I’m high, but I am also dying. You have to believe me.”

He did not believe me.

I thought, you’re not going to call 911 and I’m going to die and you’re going to feel so bad. Poor, poor Scott.

For some unknown reason Scott found my High Alert Crouch unsettling so he coaxed me back onto the bed, where I proceeded to tremble uncontrollably. I pointed at my legs as they thrashed about. “See? I’m having a seizure,” I told him.

“Pretty sure if you were having a seizure you wouldn’t be talking,” he reasoned.

“I’m going to be a HuffPo article,” I told him. I was picturing myself as a cautionary-tale news story. “Woman Dies From Pot Like an Idiot. World Laughs at Her.”

Then I told him I was having a seizure 9000 more times and forgot his response each time.

Scott, meanwhile, seemed fine. I kept asking him and he kept saying he was fine. (I found out the next day that Scott was freaking out as much as I was, but held it together because he knew that if I thought he was also dying I could not have been stopped from calling the authorities. And then we really would have been on HuffPo.)

At one point I asked him to tell me a story and he said “you know all my stories” and I explained that I wanted him to distract me and only a story would do it. He proceeded to tell me about a dream he had about being very tiny and running around in a giant sink, and I thought, of all the stories he could tell me, he chooses this Alice in Wonderland nightmare shit right now? I commanded that he stop telling me the story, otherwise known as the Worst Story to Tell an Overly High Person Ever.

(If someone is high, tell them a story about a cute bunny you saw in the woods. And how you had to stay real quiet until it got close, and then it sniffed your hand for a bit and hopped away. Tell them about your mom making you a grilled cheese. Don’t tell them about how you morphed into a tiny thing that was menaced by a sink sponge. For God’s sake.)

After…minutes? Hours? The shaking subsided and I was somewhat reassured that I wasn’t going to die. Still, I was suffering a fate worse than death, locked in a permanent psychosis like I was. So that was a shame. Scott, meanwhile, fell asleep. I stared at him, amazed. Asleep! He could actually sleep! I checked his breathing.

By this time I was somewhat ambulatory so I made it to my phone where I proceeded to Google “POT COOKIE TAINTED,” “ECSTASY IN MY EDIBLE,” “AM I DYING FROM POT Y/N” and countless other all-caps iterations, all of which I read aloud to Scott the next day. I found advice that all amounted to “you’re just incredibly high and there’s nothing you can do.” Then I read an article by Maureen Dowd about her unfortunate edible experience. I was brought to tears by the cruel taunts of the NYT commenters who all seemed to think she should have known what she was getting herself into. Only I understand you, Maureen Dowd, I thought. This was one of many thoughts that I never had before or since.

Since there was no way I was ever going to sleep again I stayed up for hours, first watching an infinite number of Friends episodes and then, somehow, an equally infinite number of Seinfeld episodes. Friends, I determined, was the best show ever, and Seinfeld was a grotesque horror show masquerading as comedy. I know this because I was writing about it in my journal, which i was doing both to show myself that I still existed and also because I had this vague idea that I was being ridiculous and whatever I came up with right then had the potential to be hilarious the next day.

(It wasn’t. It was really boring. I wrote poetry about Friends. And it was boring.)

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Actual doodle from that night. That’s apparently a self-portrait.

In conclusion, we had a terrible time and it was the least romantic getaway ever. But the hotel was pretty cool.

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Alice Bradley

Written by

I write at, and lots of other places. I’m the co-author of the book “Let’s Panic About Babies.” I podcast at League of Awkward Unicorns.

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Alice Bradley

Written by

I write at, and lots of other places. I’m the co-author of the book “Let’s Panic About Babies.” I podcast at League of Awkward Unicorns.

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

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