That man’s face isn’t melting. I can’t read the furniture’s thoughts. And my emotional state remains relatively stable.
Something is very wrong.
“You haven’t eaten enough,” the man says, irritated.
In my lap is a sandwich bag, containing what I’ve been told are potent psychedelic mushrooms. The toadstools look more like the calcified bones of a miniature civilization. I’ve already choked down one baggie’s weedy contents—on an empty stomach, per drug doctor’s orders—including something that looked like a cancerous mole. I fish out a stem the size of a Q-tip and snap off its bulb, finding chalky moss inside. I make a face, and disappear it into my mouth.
The things I do for work.
I’m not positive who made “summer of sin” this year’s theme for SN&R’s annual Summer Guide, but I did my best to take it literally.
As it turns out, sinning is hard.
And, sometimes, trying too hard can be the deadliest sin.
The weekend before, I sampled some of the same psilocybin fungi with a small group friends. Nothing happened. I got not-high and stared at eight flimsy stars. Not a great story. For me, anyway.
A man who shall remain nameless witnessed a wad of toilet paper morph into the face of a nun as he urinated on it. He found this profoundly upsetting.
That was precisely the experience I needed for this essay, which started out as an experiment in old-school alternative journalism and devolved into a travesty of old-school alternative journalism.
After my dud of a weekend drug trip, on the following Thursday, I told my editor I had work to do at home (not a lie) and retrieved what was left of the disgusting psychedelics from a kitchen drawer. Jostling the bag in front of my brother, who was on a veddy important business call, I pantomimed a shrug as if to ask, “How much should I eat?”
He shot back an irritated glare, so I mushed down whatever was in the bag. It tasted like regurgitated sunflower seeds. Rather than try to explain what happened, here’s an edited journal, recorded via texts and notes I typed into my phone in real time:
- Ate drugs. Now calling LARPer for phone interview.
- Because journalism!
Side note: This backfired. I thought I had enough time before the drugs kicked in to knock out a phone interview with a man who dresses like a barbaric dwarf and beats people with foam clubs. But around minute 45, I start feeling antsy and light-headed. I’m taking too many notes, but no longer understand what they say. I doodle a sunflower that looks like a squished jellyfish. Eventually the interview ends. I’m not entirely sure how.
- Feel intermittently weird. May grab the second bag and eat the white thing that looks like a baby zombie’s penis if nothing more happens in 30 minutes.
- Blech. I ate it.
- But am stoned now. No visuals yet which upsets REDACTED. Just watched Mad Men. Took notes for the episode. It took me two hours.
Side note: Haven’t you been reading our blog?
Side note: I suddenly have to leave the house, and conclude what I really need are postcards.
- Hit postcard jackpot. Old and musty from faraway places. Some already written on. Lovely messages full of affection and longing. It’s not like spying. I thought it would be. It’s like blessing the dead.
- Parents who owned the shop died. Even kids are old now but here from New Hampshire to liquidate everything. Sell it all. Leave it behind. I find such sweet solace in the dust of other people’s pasts. It smells ancient.
Side note: I’m clearly in a weird place at this point.
- Now writing postcards to a yellow hazard sign I named Bruce. This makes sense.
Side note: “Bruce” is a child-shaped traffic marker I “borrowed” from an overzealous neighbor, who left two of these figurines near the middle of the street late one night to deter speeders and endanger everyone else. After three weeks, I decided to return Bruce, along with postcards from all the made-up friends he made in all the places he fake-visited while away. At a nearly empty bar in historic Folsom, a few people join in the writing. Overhearing the plan, a drunk man with a red mustache approaches:
- He’s big with a face sunburn except for where he must wear wraparound shades 24-seven. Giggles frenetically. “Ha-ha, you guys are hilarious!” he says. Shows me photos of his grandfather and dad in horse and buggy. It’s like 1918, or something. Yellowed photo that makes me think the word “halcyon,” even though they look hard and impatient for the future to come.
- He then proceeds to tell some epic adventure tale about his time in Alaska and rigs and gear and swimming a mile, and I can’t follow anymore because I just want him to go away.
- We’re getting pizza now. They’re playing pop music. It’s like the holocaust.
Side note: Please no letters. I realize that listening to Nickelback while on mushrooms is not the same as the holocaust.
Side note: A disheveled man carrying what looks like all his worldly possessions enters the pizzeria and heads straight for the restroom. A few minutes later, he exits and sits on the bench outside. I try to give him the last few slices of our pizza when we leave. He doesn’t accept the offer.
- He was stooped over at his waist and hunchbacked. And told me when I offered him some za, “You shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t do that.” And we listened. And he eyefucked us to our car.
- Mushrooms make me feel vaguely like I have to poop all day.