Thursday, June 15, 2006

Basset Wisdom

At lunch today I was recounting a tale from my pothead days. Amusing anecdote, for sure. Driving home, though, I recalled the occasion a tad more vividly and thought I'd share.
Lucky you.
A quick set up: The year was 1993. I was living in an affluent neighborhood just outside of Bridgeport, CT. I was living with my father and stepmother. My father was the rector of the local Episcopalian church, and they lived in the rectory. Right next to the church.
I worked at a scenic shop in Bridgeport. Building stage sets for Broadway and stuff like that. Cool job. I was a non-union shophand.
Anyhow... this particular occasion, my parents were out of town and I was staying home alone. Just me and Barney, the basset hound.

It was a nice, sunny summer day. The work day had just ended. One of my work buddies asked me if I wanted to take a spin with him and smoke a spliff. Sure, I thought. Why not?
I had been getting some pretty decent weed whenever I made the trek up to Boston. In CT, I didn't really have a connection. So, I wasn't about to pass up the chance to toke.
So, we hopped in his car and went for a drive. He handed me a joint and I sparked. I remember that it was made with this really cool wrapping paper that had a wire glued into it. As you smoked the joint, you pushed down the wire, and you ended up with a nice handle to keep from burning your fingers. No need for a roach clip.
Now this guy had seemed pretty cool. We talked a lot, and I had known he was a fellow smoker for a while, so we had that in common. As we drove around the neighborhood, I started to get a slightly different feeling.
He remained cool, but he started talking about getting together with me and selling pot. He knew I used to work for a funeral home, and he wanted me to get some embalming fluid to spike the pot with. Apparently that gives you a pretty intense, hallucinogenic high. All well and good, except for the fact that embalming fluid also kills you. It's some seriously bad shit. One time when I was working in the prep room , the old guy who was doing the embalming dropped a glass bottle of cavity fluid on the floor. Cavity fluid is concentrated embalming fluid. I was clear across the room, a good 15 feet away from him. Not even a second elapsed between the bottle breaking and me suddenly being unable to breathe or see. Thankfully, the other guy made a run for the door and grabbed me as well. It was like being hit with pepper mace. It was a good half hour before my eyes stopped tearing.
Besides that, embalming fluid causes cancer like kitties cause smiles. Bad shit.
I did my best to disabuse him of the notion.
Anyway... as we drove on I realized I was getting pretty damn fucked up. Not the normal pot high. We drove back to the shop and tried to play it cool, as some people were still there. As I walked through the parking lot, everything started slowing down. I could feel the asphalt under my feet melting. As I walked, it seemed I was on a treadmill, walking and walking but not moving. I was tripping my balls off.
I got in my own car and drove home. I managed to drive OK, but there were several times when I suddenly realized I had no idea where I was or how I got there. Thankfully, my autopilot had kicked in, and I managed to make it back home without incident.
Barney was waiting at the door, barking with excitment. I let him out into the yard, and sat down outside with a bag of chips and a soda I didn't remember buying. Barney, being a dog, was very interested in my chips.
And that's when it happened. Suddenly, I heard barney's thoughts. I could understand his barks and whines, the expressions on his face, and the gestures of his tail. We began to communicate.
It was weird, and very real. I had a momentary insight, a connection with this canine. I'm pretty sure he understood me as well. We talked about people food and squirrels. I watched him run around the yard, barking at people walking by. But he kept coming back, begging for more Doritos.
It was then that I saw the duality of a domesticated canine. He ran on instinct, hence the barking at strangers and running around the yard like dogs do. But this instinct kept getting subverted by conditioning. People food. Begging. Acting like a pet. I saw the struggle in his eyes. The struggle between being a dog and being a pet.
I felt pity for him.
I spent probably a good hour outside with Barney, talking rather loudly. It was only after a bit that I noticed parishoners coming in and out of the church. I figured it was probably in my best interest to go inside and ride out my buzz in private.

So, what is the point of this missive? Look, I've smoked a lot of pot in my day. There are a number of positive things about it, and there are a number of negative things about it. I'm not going to take a stance one way or another. It is what it is. On occasion though, I have altered my consciousness, and there is something to be said for that. Seeing things from a new perspective. The trick is holding on to that perspective once the high wears off. It's not easy. But it does happen.

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