Saturday, April 17, 2004

Sketchy Bill 7: Top of The World, Ma

If I hadn't just gotten back from Burning Man, which primarily taught me that things CAN be as good as they seem, I would have immediately assumed an ulterior motive for Coco. As it stands, it took me three years to realize that she was probably completely playing me for a sucker.

The footsteps behind me were, of course, Sheryl and Bill. Sheryl was standing practically on top of us (which was creepy enough for me), and Bill was standing within easy reach of Sheryl's hair. Neither one of them looked like they were fucking around. Coco left the room to fetch me a glass of wine, even though I hadn't asked for one. While she was away, the room was strangely silent, as everyone tried to evaluate the social situations.

I'm a big fan of social analysis in any group of people when I'm on acid. I'll spend hours watching and ascribing motives and prediciting behaviors. Unfortunately, this works best when you know some or all of the people present, and in this case, Bill was the only one I knew, and that wasn't very well at all. In fact, I felt a lot younger and more naive than my 28 years of hard living.

Bill shook me out of my reverie, and pointed out of the back door. You could see outside, finally.

Now, there's a certain kind of groupthink that takes place during an acid trip, due mainly (in my opinion) to the dangers of any individual wandering off alone for any period of time. The rules as I've been able to pinpoint them are:

1) If one person who's tripping leaves, s/he must either have someone who is NOT tripping keep an eye on the clock, or must take some sort of timekeeping device that the tripping person will notice. An egg timer would work in theory, but the most popular one is a cigarette. When you're done with the cigarette, you go back to the group. Period. This sucks for me, since I don't smoke--and a beer doesn't work at all, because I'll carry around an empty beer bottle for hours (we've found this out the hard way). So,

2) If two people want to go somewhere, they must either use rule #1, or one of those people cannot be tripping. The whole idea here is to limit your exposure to fucked up shit that acidheads have a hard time dealing with, like, say, police. If there's one "straight" person in the party, this helps out a lot.

3) Any group of three people is an autonomous subset of the group at large, unless
a) all three of those people are tripping and
b) none of those people are from the city the acid trip is taking place in.

For example, if a group of us were to go to Chicago and drop acid, we'd either need a guide on acid or a non-tripping person (a "babysitter," in parlance). However, three people from Brooklyn who are tripping in Brooklyn are perfectly OK.

In this case, there's really no way in hell that I should be left alone for a second, so Bill was kind enough to escort me out onto his balcony for the sunrise.

As near as I can tell, Bill's house sits on the north point of the peninsula that encloses San Francisco Bay. But I'm not sure. Anyway, I was stunned by the beauty of the scene.

The back yard was about 20' deep, and then dropped off precipitiously--so steeply, in fact, that I couldn't see it. We were high enough up, though, that I could see a brief swatch of road, where early morning traffic would flash occasionally. Beyond that was a small river or large stream, of which, being farther away, I could see much more. The other side of this river was defined by a solid cliff of gray rock, probably three hundred feet tall, that turned into a bluff on which all manner of California plant life grew. A coastal forest, looking for all the world as if no human had ever walked within. The curve of the bluff urged my eyes westward, towards the ocean, and a few white houses that clung to the top of the cliff.

This would have been the first time I'd seen the Pacific ocean during the daylight since 1975 or so (when I was a child, believe it or not). There were shreds of fog that were burning off and exposing yet more of the vista, and as I watched, sunlight began to gild the wave tops far out from shore. It was the most beautiful scene I'd ever seen in my entire life.

After I'd spent a few minutes collecting my jaw off of the deck, I realized Bill had gone back inside, leaving me alone--this was old hat for him, after all. My acidhead nature took over, sort of, and I decided to check back in. I slid open the door, made sure there were no catfights in progress, and beckoned Coco to come outside. She, strangely, declined. No one else seemed inclined to come outside, either, so I did what Stubborn Jeff always does: pretended I was having a better time outside, alone.

Which I was, really, once I got to examining the landscape again. Even when I'm not tripping, I tend to examine and identify plants in the landscape, and this was like being plopped down on Venus or something. All the leaves in Oklahoma had already fallen off of everything, the plants were browning out, and what is generally a drab state was becoming even drabber. Here, however, everything seemed to compete for the title of Greenest Plant Around. And yes, that was probably the acid talking, too.

Some of the trees were colossal! There were a dozen eucalyptus that were easily a hundred feet tall, with all their weird bark and foliage that for some reason reminds me of Central America. I stood for a few minutes, playing with my brain, interacting with the acid making fractal patterns of the leaves and bark, and suddenly realized that there were a couple of HUGE golden eagles perched in the closest one. Holy fucking shit, I thought. How can one stay sane in the presence of all this beauty? How can one work at Kinkos (for instance) when all this was outside? How does anything get done at all out here?

This was the question of the hour, so I turned back to the door to ask these people (wonderful people, even Razor, who I realized was probably just misunderstood), when I stepped in an acid hole and realized that I HAD BEEN INVITED THERE. By these very same people! I mean, this certainly wasn't for my sole benefit, but perhaps something in the cosmos was toying with me.

Two things here:

1) A large part of the wide-eyed "natural splendor" writing you just read was strictly due to the (e) and LSD that I was firmly in the grip of at this point. That's not to say it wasn't there-I'm just saying I wouldn't have paid attention to it, and appreciated it, as much if I hadn't been tripping balls. And I'd sooner be shot in the kneecaps that wax poetic about a landscape if I didn't have some sort of chemical to blame it on.

2) Remember, five hours ago I had been the lowest of the low--homeless, friendless, cashless, and exhausted in a strange city half a continent away from home. In the last hour and a half, I'd been fed a bunch of good (e), feted by Bill as a Person Worth Knowing, eaten a bunch of good LSD, drunk as much good wine as I could hold, and snuggled with a completely gorgeous girl who had (if you squinted just right) fallen instantly in love with me, which sentiment was returned with interest. Never in my brief and squalid life had my fortunes shifted so dramatically, so quickly. It was possible, for a brief time, to believe the hype about myself.

That's it for now: I feel like hell, and this is a good place to stop, and frankly I'd rather end on this note than on the rather claustrophobic socializing that occurs in the next few minutes.