There were always drugs around. However, most of my friends and I were big drinkers. Beers, Tequila, Jack Daniels – we basically drank like grumpy old men. In high school, I wasn’t much of a drinker (I have since made up for that).
Being sixteen, my senior year, most of my friends were a grade or two behind me. After graduation, I worked a job that gave me the use of a company car (and a credit card for gas). Naturally, that made me the permanent designated driver. In the seventies, being the designated driver didn’t mean you weren’t drinking, it just meant you were driving.
A year later, my friend Billy graduated and attended Kean College (now University). One Saturday night, we piled as many people as we could into my car and headed for a party in his freshman dorm room.
That trip I planned; the next one, not so much.
There was a friend of ours who always smiled, and when he talked with anyone, he would always try and finish their sentence. Not sure why, it was just something he did.
Something else he did, he liked to smoke pot. He would walk up to a person, say something like, “What’s that?” then, like a stoned David Copperfield, pull a joint from out of their ear. When he did that to me at this party, it wasn’t a joint. Instead, a short glass tube, called a carburetor (how hip am I?), emerged from the back of my skull. As I said, wasn’t much of a smoker, but in this moment, it would have been rude to decline the offer.
A few hacked coughs later, I felt pretty good. Then I felt very good. Then I had to go lay down.
This was not your normal prison-cell dorm room; this was a two-bedroom suite that I stumbled through until I found Billy as he talked to someone near his bedroom. As designated driver, some of the people I brought with me, needed to get home that night. Being a responsible designated driver that just took several hits of pot, I needed to lay down for a while.
“Wake me up in an hour,” I told Billy, then promptly fell through the bedroom door.
In his room, I slumped to the floor, my back pressed against the closed door. And it was on that spot that the colors found me. They were in my head. Even with eyes closed, I could see them. I swam through the colors like a cartoon character in free fall. After a short time, I forced myself to stand. On Billy’s dresser, I spotted a gathering of pens and loose change; I was positive I could move them with my mind. I don’t think I did, but I tried really hard; Darth Vader force choking Admiral Motti had nothing on me.
I floated across the room and pressed my face against the bedroom window; the glass was cool to the touch. With eyes closed, I pictured myself going through that window, tumbling down to the parking lot below. Then the music that flowed through the walls drew me back to the middle of the room. The first few notes of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ found their way into my ears, and in that instant, it all made sense. Everything. I knew the meaning of life at that exact moment.
Of course, I immediately forgot the meaning of life when I heard the pounding on the door.
The police! It had to be the police, they knew what I had done, and they came to get me.
I froze, couldn’t move a muscle, and waited.
After a long wait, I reached out for the doorknob, turned it, and opened the door.
There was Billy, right where I left him. I had been in that room for at least two hours; I went over and asked Billy why he didn’t come and wake me up.
He looked at me sort of crooked and said, “What do you mean? You just went in there about two minutes ago”.
I intended to have a long talk with my stoned magician friend and find out what exactly he pulled out of my ear.
Against better judgment (this was the seventies; better judgment wasn’t invented yet) I gathered all those that had to go home and left the party.
On the long ride home, the colors came back. They were on the road ahead of me. An alien spacecraft had landed and blocked my route. They were bright and blurry, and for the life of me, I couldn’t clearly make it out. I moved my foot to apply the brakes, but it passed through the floorboard of my car; Fred Flintstone on the Garden State Parkway.
As the car slowed, the alien spacecraft disappeared, and I realized what obstructed my path.
It was the Toll Plaza.
Eventually, I delivered everyone safely home, then headed to mine. By far the most dangerous drive of my life. There was a reason I didn’t do drugs (besides the fact they are bad for you), and to this day, I still ask myself:
What the hell was in that pot?
This was originally published on HuffingtonPost.com and is republished with the author’s permission.