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Bill Hicks Was Right

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My crop was disappointingly meager. I don’t know what I had done wrong, but my operation looked nothing like the pictures on the Shroomery of buckets crowded full of foot-tall mushrooms. I had only managed maybe three or four real sporocarps and countless little aborts. All in all, it came out to about four and a half dried grams. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t have enough for me and my two friends (K and L), but I reassured myself that the strain was promised to be exceptionally potent, everything had been harvested while young, and a great deal of care had gone into the drying process.

Before liftoff, we watched the MST3K version of “Pod People,” which, incidentally, has less to do with pods or people than an annoying kid begging to be slapped and a homicidal ALF-like critter that can do stupid things. A classic. Filled with good vibes, I dispensed a gram and a half out to each of us, along with a small piece of chocolate for tradition’s sake. Yum.

We played Uno while we waited for the effects to kick in and listened to a CD I had put together especially for the occasion. I was having an extraordinary run of luck tonight and got to 500 points after only five or six deals. It was a short tournament, but that was ok; my surroundings were rapidly becoming more interesting, and I couldn’t afford to pay attention to the game any longer.

It was subtle at first. I watched the walls shift colors; the chill blue from the lava lamp across the room would be subsumed by the warm, flickering glow of the candles on my coffee table, which would ebb and give way to blue again. I was just staring straight ahead, as this was simply least effortful activity. Any nausea I felt was mild and easily ignored.

I would barely speak for the rest of the night. I looked over at L to see if she seemed to be experiencing anything. She was sitting on the floor, with her arms folded atop the coffee table, making a kind of pillow for her head. For a moment, two arms and a head were all she seemed to be. She was staring intently at something to my upper right, out of my visual field, so I guessed she was doing fine. I wondered how K was doing, too, but he was to my left and looking at him would have required turning my head.

I closed my eyes, allowing myself to plunge into wondrous, disjointed vistas that made very little rational sense. I would explore these strange little worlds for a while, open my eyes briefly, and then journey into another little chapter of… wherever. At one point, I remember finding an “assembly room” of sorts, which seemed to be coordinated by these tiny little creatures slightly smaller than a sugar cube, all compressed together under ant-farm glass into walls and walls of multicolored data stream. When I tried to examine them more closely or find words to describe them to my peers, they would simply escape from my awareness. Seems I could only sense them, nothing more. Fascinating.

Around this time, K flopped onto the floor and I got the couch to myself. I reclined, letting the music soar while waves of somatic euphoria washed over me. Then I began to re-experience the best parts of my youth, almost as if I were reliving snapshots of my past – memories of my father hugging me... demonstrations of a mother’s love... These feelings of loving and being loved were so palpable that they literally brought tears of joy to my eyes. I wondered if this sensation of total, perfect love and oneness was anything like crossing over into death and being reunited with friends and loved ones. Must be. Up to that point, I had been working under the assumption that death meant oblivion. I know better now. Bill Hicks was right.

I gradually became aware that, between my head and feet, there was no body, only couch. Occasionally the urge to urinate would surface, but it was easy to dismiss. This state was so novel and magical and fun that I could not help but laugh. I wanted to giggle like a hyena, actually, but kept it on the down low because then my friends would want in on the joke and I couldn’t possibly explain it. So I giggled quietly to myself for a while, grinning from ear to ear.

I had to head outdoors to see what was going on, and to enjoy a pipe, so out we went. It was raining heavily. The parking lot in front of my apartment was inundated with many waters, shimmering and rippling and flowing. The bronze-tinted light from the sodium arc lamps gave the water the appearance of liquid gold. It was perfect. 1.5 dried grams was perfect. I had lengthy conversations with K and L about how amazing and amusing everything was, and then realized that it was all just internal monologue. My thoughts were very fractured and very funny, but the humor was impossible to express verbally. You just had to be me to understand. When I tried to actually talk, I found that the spoken word was too clumsy for what I wanted to communicate, so I abandoned it.

People are such unintentional clowns. We watched this one car pull up to the curb outside my building and just sit there for minutes on end. “What are they doing?” I asked. We were all perfectly mystified. Eventually, this woman in a bright yellow rain coat got out and carried a small child (who was wearing a smaller version of his mother’s raincoat, but no pants) and a basket of laundry into her apartment. Then she came back to the car, executed what seemed to be a 72-point turn, and parked. Her interior light came on, went off, came on, went off. Was it a disco in there or something? This display made absolutely no sense to us, which was amusing in and of itself; it was also amusing, I thought, how wrapped up in whatever little drama she was living I had become. For a few minutes, that complete stranger was my entire world, and she’d never know it. (Later, a very large woman walked out to her car beneath a very small umbrella. “Now that’s just ridiculous,” I observed.)

Words fail me entirely here. I have vague recollections of seeing the face of the Sphinx in a patch of wet asphalt gleaming with reflected light. Doing some weird kind of stereotypic dance. Water dripping from K’s hair. Strange illumination around the periphery of my vision: blinking, flickering, crescendos of light. Was that the sky flashing, or was it just me? The pipe in my pocket (I’d get around to lighting it eventually) felt enormous.

As beautiful as the world was, it was even better behind my eyelids. (It was actually brighter with my eyes closed.) I had a hundred internal conversations, all of them marked by hilarity. Was I talking to myself, or someone else? I had a strange sense of being at some kind of parliament, sans body, with numerous other beings from all corners of the cosmos. Everything was all right. I gave a brief report of how great everything was on Earth, and we all had a hearty chuckle over it. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile so much,” K said, bringing me back to my body for an instant. In response, I smiled.

What could possibly be so captivating about a rainy night so as to compel three people to stand on a balcony for two or three hours, staring into space and barely speaking to each other? I had a hard time formulating this question into words, but the answer came easily. Most people will never know, the sad fools.

I eventually returned to my body and, like Garfield, realized that I had feet. And it was time to get off them. So inside we went, and I just lay there for a long while, listening to music, gradually returning to mundane reality, slipping back into one-thought-at-a-time mode, and feeling kind of cold. We played with my rat, who chewed L’s watch off while she wasn’t paying attention. (She was still going strong, and later said her experience was as intense as an acid trip.)

Hoo! Good times.

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