School Trip at UWGB; Drug Trip, That Is!
In life feedback is an important tool. Like for example, the thermostat in your house. It measures the room temp and thusly controls the furnace. If the room is too cold it will turn the furnace on. When the furnace heats the room up the thermostat feedback will turn the furnace off. This is a well-functioning system. But sometimes feedback can be erroneous and this will drive things out of control rather quickly. Like for example, if you located your thermostat outside on a winter day, your house will get very hot. The furnace will run continuously because it is being told that the house is very cold. It is getting erroneous or incorrect feedback.
Back in the early 80’s I had a traumatic life experience that was caused by two separate, but ultimately related instances of feedback. This set conditions up for a perfect storm. I hope you enjoy the story. I sure didn’t enjoy living it!
It’s Friday night and I was attending a Party at the UWGB ceramic studio. They had a couple of punk bands playing. Early in the evening, I was offered some pot brownies, but I declined the offer. Pot brownies always kicked me in the head. Hard. They would get me way too high; I spin out of control and get very paranoid. The whole experience is unpleasant and frankly can become quite terrifying for me.
So instead I had a few beers and enjoyed the antics of Reverend Norb and his band Suburban Mutilation. Pure, raw punk rock at its finest. The evening passed pleasantly and without event. But as the party was ending and I was set to leave. I chanced overhearing a friend of mine discussing the said brownies. He was very disappointed. He was going on about how weak and tepid they were.
“I was starved and I ate a ton of them, and look. I got nothing, no buzz whatsoever”
“Really?” I noted “too bad I didn’t try some, if they were so weak, they would have been just right for my drug sensitive candy ass”
Feedback. I was receiving feedback about the brownies: They were very mild and weak.
The next morning I arrived at the UWGB Ceramic Studio to help to clean up. The studio had been cleared out for the stage and dance floor, now it had to be spiffed up and put back into its original arrangement.
A large pan of leftover brownies was produced. So, it’s a beautiful Saturday morning, I’m with beautiful artistic people, and said merchandise has been time tested to be of mild nature. Hell yeah, I’ll have some. Plus I was hungry! With that in mind I consumed generously.
As I was working on my third cannabis tainted treat, my friend Sandy took note and said “Hey Shawn, be careful with those!”
“Why?” I asked “I was told they are very mild.”
There was a touch of concern in her voice “Oh, I don’t know, there were several batches, some were really kick ass”
“Well which ones are these” I asked.
She replied “I’m not sure…”
“Well, I guess we’ll find out” I cheerfully offered, -a ting of worry in my voice.
An hour or so later, we started to find out. Nope, it was not the weak batch. Not by a long shot. All righty then. We were all tripping pretty good.
In the quiet, someone (Ok it was me!) noticed how loud the florescent lights were buzzing. The studio had a modern hard concrete interior, with solid angled surfaces. And this was before sound rated lighting ballasts were implemented. So the drone was easily audible. It had a nice hum and a flow to it, lots of harmonics.
“It’s like trance music” I said. “Look I can dance to it”
And so we did, the whole lot of us (about ten). Trippin’ balls, big time. Swivel, gyrate, twisting and twirling to the sixty cycle hum. A friend of mine, who is a skilled wordsmith, often jokes that we were dancing to FLO. -You know the Florescent Light Orchestra. (A clever take of the ‘Electric’ in ELO) I suppose to an outside observer we looked like a bunch of lunatics. But as I remember it, we were quite fabulous! Of course it could have just been the drugs!
After we finished up with the FLO dance… We got back to the work of cleaning. We were moving the heavy Potter Wheel Desks back onto what was a dance floor the previous evening.
There was a faction among our group who decided it would be ‘artistically correct’ and very cool if we placed all the stuff back at weird angles. And they were tweaking these angles with a great deal of care. I was amused by this, watching my fellow artists as they haggled and dickered over these random angles. I got a little impatient.
“Look” I said “I’m all about art and stuff, but man this is just a big random mess.”
Imagine you’re a student or teacher walking into a Monday morning classroom. You open the door and see all the desks and benches were artistically placed in a random pattern… Would this look artistic? Would it inspire awe? No. It would simply look like vandals broken into the school and had a go of it! But I was overruled on this. Did I mention we were high off our asses?
So in the beginning I was having a lot fun, having some laughs. But, as time passed I just keep getting higher. It was getting scary. I was losing control. I always had a tendency to do that. I am a light weight when it comes to drugs. However, I am the world champion heavy weight when it comes to an overactive imagination and Catholic School drug paranoia! I am spinning, spinning, spinning fast out of my mind. I was having bouts of uncontrollable laughing then massive paranoia. And voices. Voices everywhere. Colors are speaking to me, and some of them colors are very angry at me!
The floor is out to get me, I keep sinking into it. It was hard to stand or walk because it was always ‘adjusting itself’. Moving up, down and around.
I had this incredibly profound realization. At that moment in time I thoroughly understood why the floor absolutely, positively needed to ‘adjust itself’! It was a perfectly natural and explainable thing. As common as a man adjusting his underwear! My thoughts went along these lines: If the floor or any structure did not constantly “adjust” to the varying loads and unpredictable stress, for example: as people and objects moved across them… If it did not adjust and regulate itself in a constant manner (by flowing about in these sizable waves and crests!?!) Then as I intimately understood it, how could it remain viable? Simple!
I recall thinking what a great scientific breakthrough this will be! Once I come back to reality, I can publish a clear explanation with long equations about this. I will be hailed as a modern Einstein. Well, guess what? I can’t explain any of it! Plus, in all my years since I have yet to encounter another self adjusting floor. I think it was just the drugs!
Things kept taking a turn for the worse. The previously amusing hum of the lights now had a sinister tone. The walls seem to be breathing, in sync with the modulated hum. It was more of a growl! A deep howl of hateful electromagnetic noise. It sounded like dark cancer, evil death. I was very unnerved by it, in a near panic. By now we all knew it, -whatever the hell was in those brownies was much, much more than pot. Some of the more experienced students suspected that they were laced with LSD. Angel dust was also mentioned. And damn it all; because I thought they were so weak, I ate a crap load of them! Not good.
It was all so real and vivid, yet it was chaos and bewilderment. It was a desperate battle as I attempted to stare down the overwhelming and crushing onset of insanity. A crucial stare-down, with me unable to even focus my eyes! But the drugs? Man, they didn’t even flinch. I was losing this battle.
Taking a strong hallucinogenic drug will send you on a journey inside your mind, and sometimes it can take some pretty bad turns. If you get lost into a deep scary place often a “guide” can help you. Toss you a rope, so to speak. Someone with experience who has been “there” who can calm you down, to help you to get thru it. I reached out and I asked my trusted friend for ‘help’. I recall how she stared at me, raw fear bleeding out of her brilliant eyes; she was having her own hurt-party behind that pretty set of dilated blues. She was fighting her own battle and unable to help. We were all in the same boat.
Then he walked into the room! I would not have been happier if Jesus himself walked it. It was Tom. Tom was one of the greatest ‘heads’ I knew. That was a term we used to call someone who was very experienced with drugs. You might also call him a hippy. He had long hair and wire rim glasses. Very intelligent, very stable. Mellow was a word we used back then. He was a mellow dude. A good man and a good friend. He CAN help me! -Talk me down; assure me that everything is all right.
I was across the room, and I made a wobbly bee line toward him. He did not realize that we were all tripping… And too my shock and surprise he started up with a very disturbing rant.
He was rather agitated, not mellow. He wanted to know what the hell was in those brownies!!!
He said “All I want to know is, what in the hell was in those brownies. I was never so F'd up in my life. I was dying man; I actually tried to crawl down the side walk to get to a hospital. But I couldn’t even crawl. I was scared out of my mind…”
Feedback! I was again receiving feedback about the brownies, but this time it was completely opposite. It turns out our batch was insanely strong, and my mellow very experienced hippy friend almost died from them! His exact words! What chance do I have??? This negative feedback was not reassuring at all, and it spun me into a downward spiral of despair and raw panic.
I did not want to hear this! I headed for the wobbly door and got the hell out of the studio. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Just keep walking I told myself. Just be calm. But, I was not calm, I was devastated by this new information. Despite the soft spongy floor I keep walking the halls of UWGB. Dam these floors, they are so fricken soft. I kept sinking into them. Finally I could walk no further, I was knee deep into the floor. I just could not move. So I stood there in the middle of the hall. Looking quite panicked I am sure.
Then they approached. A family of small brownish aliens. Real aliens from Mars or somewhere, 4 of them. A male, a female and two younglings. They had some advanced technology that allowed them to walk on the surface of the liquid floor! Now, it is possible that they were an Asian family getting language skills at the University. In fact, that’s correct! They were just a nice Asian family I know that, but then my eyes refocus and, CRAP! They are scary twisted up aliens. So who the hell can say? Perhaps it was the drugs.
The head alien started talking to me in his native Martian tongue. I could not understand. They seemed concerned. After some direction from the leader, the female of the group scampered off down the hallway…
Then security arrived. I believe the female alien summoned security because they were worried about me, or possibly they needed help transporting me to their mother ship. I was not sure.
Somehow my Dad was the security guard at UWGB. I never knew that, but there he was! And for some strange reason he did not recognize me as his son. Perhaps it was the drugs; perhaps he just looked like my dad. I'm not sure.
They escorted me to the cafeteria; they had the same technology as the aliens. And we were able to walk on the surface of the floor.
Drugs can give a person a very dry mouth. To help with my cotton mouth I tried to take a drink out the water fountain. But they would not let me.
“Water could interact with the drugs” the guard said!
Things went downhill from there because it was very hard to talk. Somehow, someone put an entire desserts worth of hot dry sand in my mouth. Or it could have just been the drugs. I wasn't sure.
In my more lucid moments I knew the guard wasn’t my Dad. But he was indeed the spitting image of my pop. But then the next thing, he is actually my real Dad again. Crazy shit.
My heart was pounding out of my chest. I was going to die, I was sure of it. I started insisting that I need to talk to a Priest! My Dad, the security guard took that as a bad omen. So he decided he better call an ambulance!
The EMT’s arrived. They allowed be to drink water. It wasn’t long before they had me loaded onto a gurney.
“Pretty crazy movie eh?” I said to medic. I was positive I was a starring in my very own movie.
He asked “You think this is a movie?”
"Yes of course it is” I said. "No doubt!"
It just had to be! Or maybe it was just the drugs. I wasn't sure.
Then the medic decided it would be fun to shine a big fat white-hot laser beam into my eyes! Or maybe it was just a flashlight. Hard to say, with the drugs and all. I wasn't sure. In any case the Laser beam scared me enough that I started crying.
But after a bit, like a fussy baby strapped into a car seat, the moving ambulance ride was able to settle me down into a manageable mild panic.
I was rolled into a treatment room. Then I got to thinking… as best I could! Drugs were illegal. I was on drugs. So putting 2 and 2 together, I was sure to be going to jail!
Now, they were trying to trick me into signing a form that (must have!) said they could transfer me to jail. It might have just been a ‘Consent to Treatment’ form like they said it was. I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was the drugs. But I am no fool. I could literally hear the police right outside the door! They were talking with my very own Mom and Dad in hushed but still audible tones.
The hospital staff was determined, but no matter how many times they tried to get me to sign the "send me to jail" papers. I would not! We had ourselves a stalemate! I’ll rot on this hospital gurney before I agree to spend my adult life behind bars!!! This went on for hours; I believe they sent in a different nurse each time. They seemed to enjoy my company! I guess I was rather entertaining. I became the challenge of the day. Who can get the paranoid, high-off-his-ass dude to sign the damn release form! But despite all their nurse-ly charms, I would not sign! No-sir-ee! The police and my parents remained behind the door, talking in hushed tones.
“I’m sorry ma’am, your son will need to spend a long time in jail” Plain as day I could hear them talking. Or maybe it was the drugs. I’m not sure.
Like I said this went on for hours and hours. But then as time passed the drug effects were starting to wane a bit. So at about their 12th attempt to get me to sign the papers, I was able to focus my noggin a bit. This allowed me to actually see the alpha-numeric characters printed on the page! And like some sort of miracle, the individual letters and punctuation marks formed actual words, inside of my mind!!! And I was woe to admit it but, the image inside my person gave strong indication that the multitudes of nurses brought before me… well it seems like they might have been telling me the truth! The papers did indeed seem to be a ‘Consent to Treatment’ form. Well, I'll be damned!!!
Also, I realized that it has been quite a while since I heard those mysterious voices behind the door. I guess IF my parents were there, they surly would have shown themselves by now. It's been like 4 hours!
So I signed the papers. Guess what? No police men came in to shackle me and haul me off to prison!
After a short time a doctor walked in. He was a gentle sort. He checked out a few vitals and we had a pleasant conversation about the evils and dangers of taking illicit drugs. In an attempt to keep my fellow classmates clear and clean I stuck to my story that I had right from the get-go! I was given the brownie from a stranger on the bus. –of which I had no idea there was drugs in it.
After a bit, I was released into the custody of my kind and patent girlfriend Debbie. She nursed me back into reality. It took all of the night and most of the morning before I was even close to my (ab!) normal self.
Btw, I bumped into that security guard weeks later. And yes indeed he did have a lot in common with my Dad! For example: they both had heads that sat securely upon their neck and shoulders. They both walked up-right in a very familiar biped fashion. Other common features: Both men had a pair of eyes, two arms, and both of them wore some sort of clothing. But, other than that? Nope. NOT my Dad! Holy smoke! What WAS in those brownies! Yep, it was definitely the drugs!
Btw, no one knew for sure what (else) was in that batch of pot brownies. Rumor had it that they were laced with angel dust or possibly LSD.
And kids, one last note: Don’t do drugs. Drugs are badddd!!! .
© S. Lyle OConnor 7/9/2016