This is My Drug Memoir: A Retrospective
It’s always bothered me how people who’ve never taken drugs will recount all of their dangers. It’s why it’s so easy for the media to slip it in that the “Miami Cannibal” was on LSD. Or cocaine. Or “bath salts.”
Hallucinogens often get the worst brunt of these prohibitive assumptions. In the interest of providing a reality-based account of a bad trip, I’ll share mine.
It was 2006 and I was attending my first music festival. My younger sister had already gone twice before and because I’m lame like that, I decided I wanted to go as well.
It wasn’t the first time I took mushrooms- I had only pleasant experiences with them in the past and I felt confident enough to walk my friend through her first time.
If you’ve never been to Bonnaroo, let me describe it for you: you drive to rural Tennessee, are led into a compound where they make an effort to seem like they’re trying to keep drugs out, and then directed to one part of a giant field where you will park and make camp. This is where you live for 3-4 nights
As soon as you get inside the blatant disregard for prohibition becomes evident. “Headies? Headies??” yelled one young man as we set up our tent. (Headies are like really nice marijuana nuggets, old people.)
The most surprising thing about Bonnaroo are the startling number of actual adults there. And Southern adults at that! ‘I bet they vote Republican’ I thought as I shook my head in disgust, ‘but relish smoking weed openly as a sort of fuck you to everyone who’s unfairly incarcerated by our country’s draconian drug laws.’ This was before Obama made potheads angrily shake their fists and I hadn’t even heard of “libertarians” yet. In my experience, libertarians are Republicans who like drugs.
There was a couple set up next to us, who on the first evening procured some shroom chocolates. Much to their chagrin, the chocolates hadn’t made them trip at all. So when we went on our search for shrooms, we were afraid of getting ripped off.
The mushrooms that we got were unlike any I had ever seen before. Most shrooms are small, whitish with a blue tinge, small caps and stems. These were bright orange with blueish flecks, and we ended up splitting one mushroom between two people they were so big. So I had my doubts.
Which is why I didn’t follow normal drug-taking protocol. You see, I take drugs like a scientist- or rather, in a loosely scientific way, I bet a lot of scientists are not looking for ways to trip their balls off.
I like to measure precise quantities, split the dose in two, eat half and wait an hour to test the strength. If they were too strong you could save them for later and if it was mild, you could lengthen and intensify by eating the second half.
Because we were so afraid that these were duds, we didn’t follow any of my precautions. We all ate way too much at once (over a gram each) and we did it during the hottest part of the day, right in the middle of the field where people were already setting up to watch Radiohead later in the evening.
We chomped down the shrooms with chicken strips and french fries. They never taste particularly good, though if you like mushrooms in general, you used to be able to buy them fresh in Amsterdam and I had friends who said they tasted like garden mushrooms. But these were nasty, American-made shrooms.
The crowd started to get more and more dense around us, and my sister decided she needed to make her way to the port-a-potties. She teamed up with her friend and I stayed with mine on the blanket.
The trip came on rather quickly. Suddenly I realized I could not leave the confines of our blanket. In fact, I had to lay down on it and commune with the Earth below. My friend started sweating and wringing her hands. I knew this wasn’t going to be a fun trip.
I got nervous that my sister hadn’t come back after a while, but I knew there was no way I could leave that blanket. My other sister was also at the festival, with a different group of friends, but none of us had working cell phones, and there are thousands of people at Bonnaroo. Despite this, I silently willed the universe to bring my other sister to me. I needed assistance.
My friend was beginning to freak out. She kept crossing her legs and arms tightly around her, and rocking back and forth. I was also freaking out, but because of my previous scientific approaches to drug-taking, I managed to maintain a calm exterior.
When I’ve tripped in the past, if I stare too long at something I get “visuals” that mostly just look like random patterns, and if I shake my head they quickly dissipate. This time I could not shake the visuals. I looked at my friend and it seemed that her face was swelling up comically, kind of like what happens to Harry Potter’s Aunt Marge.
I’m gritting my teeth, enduring these uncomfortable sensations and trying to talk my friend through it. When I was younger, I was really convinced anyone could do drugs if they had the proper coaching. I hadn’t quite come to understand all the variables in brain chemistry and what have you. And I still don’t (I’m a comedian.)
Then something horrible happened: Beck began to play. Now, I’m usually a fan of Beck, but this was the time he was performing with these puppets and, because I imagine he is a sort of Scientologist teetotaler, played reverberating sounds meant only to fuck with those of us on hallucinogens. Or at least that’s how I remember it. I really hated those puppets, fuck those guys.
Suddenly in the midst of the crowd around us my other sister appeared. I called out her name, while staying firmly planted on my blanket. The universe had delivered her to me!
I quickly told her of our ordeal, our sister had gone off and never returned, and we needed her help to find her. She was luckily sober and sprung into action. She found our sister in the medical tent, being given copious amounts of fluids, trying to ignore the people on harder drugs/drug combos. Miraculous!
Even on my worst trip, I still managed to have a transcendent experience and no one died. By the time Radiohead came on, we had come down enough to enjoy the girls in fairy costumes dancing in a circle.