A Stoner’s Trip

DISCLAIMER:  This is fictional story.  It is an instalment of a series of fictional stories involving drug use as a central plot theme.  Reader discretion is advised.  The provision of this story over the Internet, or through any other means of communication, is not to be interpreted as a suggestion or recommendation to use drugs.  The reader assumes any and all responsibilities derived from his or her actions.

2008 05 06, Paranoid, by George Bookman (.txt)

Last night, I inhaled some pot.  It was my first time in a year.  Whereas all of my previous experiences with pot had been relatively good, this one began as a nightmare.

Boris, a friend familiar with THC, had once gone without it for an extended period of time, like me, and had told me that when he had returned, he was unable to enjoy it for a while.

I think the same may be true of me.

My trip went into paranoid land not long after beginning it.  I started profusely worrying about the time, and how soon the effects would wear off.  I thought of my parents.  Would this wear off by 10:00?  By 11:00?  By midnight?  By 2:00 AM?

I think it was around eight or nine when we began.  I only had a few hits, but they hit hard, and the effects had no intent of going away.

My paranoia got worse as I began considering morality.  Although I am an atheist, considering this to be fairly rational, for a while last night I felt “convinced” of God’s existence.  All the thoughts about God I used to have came flooding back, promulgated by—what else?—the fear of Hell.  Although I do not believe a rational god would consider such things as cussing, homosexuality, or drug use to be sinful, last night had me second-guessing reason.  It was a very child-like outlook.  And I was suddenly remembering all the little prayers I used to give—or, at least, my mind made me think they were memories.  I can’t be sure.

(Anyone familiar with pot can readily tell you, this is not the usual experience.  In fact, this is quite abnormal.)

I do know that when I was young, my sense of morality was very fundamentalist.  Homosexuality was “definitely” a sin, as was cussing, and smoking (even cigarettes).  Sex in general was a “certain” sin, and one shouldn’t even think about such impure thoughts, and certainly shouldn't look at nudity, or even cleavage.  All of these feelings flooded back to me—not rational thoughts with consideration paid to an ethics built around property rights and the non-aggression axiom—but emotive feelings fuelled by a fear of Hell and a love of existence.  Thinking back, I find myself now compelled to ask myself rational questions about my irrational feelings, and reflect on their origin.

I’ve noticed that those persons I encounter who are mentally retarded always seem to have this puritanical sense of morality.  They, whenever cigarettes are brought up, will preach how bad they are; they do this in a manner that always strikes me as religious rather than utilitarian.  In other words, they don’t simply oppose smoking because of the high costs, because of the annoyance at having to feed an addiction, but rather because “it’s wrong!”  I can’t help but to wonder if the average mentally-retarded person does not perceive reality as one would in a constant state of influence by pot.  Not so much because of my weird morality trip last night, but more generally, in view of what I perceive to be their stunted ability to fully reason.

Anyway, there I was last night, feeling that I was an “immoral” person for using pot, that I was lost in a wilderness of sin and vice.  I also thought my ability to reason was regressing, as though my brain was going back in age.

Around this time I overheard one of the guys who was with us comment about how close we came to nuclear war during the cold war.  And I was struck, as I am now, by how true that was.  What good is anything in the world if everything is destroyed by the various criminal gangs who control the world?  The power to wage war, to murder on a massive scale, is the most horrible thing in the world, and if anything needs to be abolished more than anything else, it is that purely evil power.  The criminal gangs controlling the U.S. and the Soviet Union had no concern for human lives—their only care was in playing and winning games of ideology—“who has the better cause to control people and try to shape them into the mould of the central planners?”  No concern for human lives, solely a concern for hegemony.

I’m able to look at this rationally right now, and my conclusion—based on both natural law theory and on utilitarian considerations—is that the criminal gangs have no just authority, and must be removed from power.  But last night I had another characteristic playing on me: emotion.  And, emotionally, I could only think with pain at the thought of so many millions perishing in an unnecessary, avoidable nuclear war.  What horror!

I recognise at this point that I’m pacing the apartment.  I’d never been there before.  My body was looking around, but my mind was still out there pondering the world.  I have to wonder what these people, two of them having never met me before, were thinking of me—walking back and forth with what I assume to be a dazed look on my face.  Who is this guy, why won’t he stay still, why does he keep walking into the kitchen, why does he keep going back to the dark bedroom and look at the guitar?  I’m sure they thought I was acting weird, and so I started worrying about that.

My mind kept regressing.  I don’t know how young I was at this point, but certainly no older than three.  The guy who owned the apartment had a pet rabbit.  It was very cute, so I decided to go to its cage and watch it.  Perhaps it would calm me down.  When I originally realised I was freaking out, I told myself I had to just let it pass.  Should I call my parents and ask them to pick me up?  No, they would be furious, and would think I have some sort of problem.  Should I ask my friend Frank Clear, who was there smoking with us, to drive me back?  No, and even if I did—to where?  To my car?  I definitely could not drive in that state.  My only rational option was to wait it out and not make a scene.  But now I was here looking at this cute rabbit.  This cute mammal.  It was nice.

When the rabbit jumped from one place in his cage to another, I giggled and fell back on my hand to sit myself down like a toddler would do.

I’m probably telling this story a bit out of order.  I haven’t even mentioned my getting a soda and going to the bathroom.  I haven’t even mentioned how I was constantly checking the time on my cell phone.

But back to my morality tale.  The rabbit made me feel better.  At some point, we heard a scream outside.  I should note that this was supposedly a skiffy area.  I can’t tell you now what kind of scream it was, if it was really anything to be concerned about.  But all I could hear in my influenced state was a sound that seemed to exclaim to me rape.  I am totally opposed to the ethical nihilism required to condone rape, and could think of nothing else but a nightmarish society of ethical nihilists, aggression running rampant.  A “rape scream” started reverberating in my head.  It sounded familiar and ancient, like something from my youth—but I know of no such cry ever actually being made and reaching my ear.

Around this time, I also got to thinking about how disgusting blind, collectivist hate is, such as racism.  Today, I rationally know that the reason I find racism repugnant is that it is an inherently collectivist ideology that irrationally views greatness as an objective characteristic associated with some group identity rather than viewing greatness as a product of the accomplishments of the individual in question.  When I was younger, however, I would not have been able to explain so clearly why racism is a disgusting ideology.  Interestingly, I would have been able to last night explain it as I’ve done above—if asked—but was likewise simultaneously feeling the strong emotional response I used to when I was young—before I knew, or rather comprehensively understood, why it disgusted me.

It disgusted me all the more because now something different was reverberating through my head.  Over and over again, I heard the word “nigghar!” screamed with such vile hatred that I couldn’t help but to find myself thoroughly saddened.  The word itself, more last night then ever before, seemed to embody everything about which I am against.  I could see the word, the soulless word, as a burned, charred, blackened embodiment of destruction.  My description here does not pay justice to how ugly, how hateful, this embodiment was.  Disgust at irrational hatred and sadness that it exists in the world overwhelmed me.

At some point during all of this—actually, probably prior to a lot of what I’ve written, and perhaps even prior to me realising that I was freaking out—my mouth became dry, and I asked our host if he had any water.  He offered me Sprite or Ginger Ale or something to that effect, which I much appreciated.  It didn’t take me too long tofiure out how kitchens work.  But I noticed as I was pouring the soda into the cup that although I was pouring for what seemed like a heck of a long time, only the very bottom of the cup was filled up.  Ninety per cent or more of the cup was still empty.  Clearly, something strange was happening with my ability to perceive time.  So, I started paying attention to my cell phone, periodically checking it to see how much time had passed.  This effect was new, too; one that I had not experienced any other time I ever used THC.  I found this effect interesting from a scientific point of view, and now suspect that my rational, scientific nature had some calming effect on me to counteract the shear paranoia I was experiencing otherwise.

At some point I found myself sitting once again on the couch, next to Frank.  For some reason, the Emancipation Proclamation was brought up.  We all speculated on how it didn’t free a single slave, and that the slaves weren’t actually freed until the thirteenth amendment.  Frank or someone commented on disliking Lincoln, and I immediately agreed, pointing out how you can never respect any politician who suspends Habeas Corpus.  Then the conversation ended, and I sat for a few seconds, finally realising that I had engaged in discussion without even noticing myself.  Damn politics.

I found myself at some point thinking I had to go to the bathroom.  So, I asked the owner of the apartment where the bathroom was.  When I got there, I noticed time was still dragging.  It felt as though I peed for a couple minutes.  The whole bathroom experience was in slow motion.

Out in the apartment, I noticed everyone was still smoking up.  I was done.

Later still, we all trek to the bedroom.  I don’t know why.  But the morality trip was still playing on me, as was my regression in age.  (I don’t know if the bedroom happened before or after the rabbit, but I guess it doesn’t matter.)  One of the five members of our small group was a female, whose name I do not recall.  She was the girlfriend of Steve, whom I had met on a variety of occasions but knew mostly through Frank.  Steve’s girlfriend was sitting on the floor, and cleavage was in view.  Now that fact doesn’t matter—I have other ladies in my life, and have no need to concern myself with Steve’s girl.  But recall what I said above: I was dealing with the issue of morality, and one of the feelings I had last night was that even desiring sex was sinful—a feeling I had from when I was younger, thanks to things my parents and priests had told me.  Thus, the question of sinfulness versus piety was playing on me, as though I were a young boy—curious and wanting to see what it looks like—but fearing that looking was itself a sin guaranteeing an eternity of Hellfire.

I remembered being a pre-pubescent child, not really caring about sex at all, but being curious about the images simply because they were forbidden.  I remembered being embarrassed by the fact that I was interested, even if that interest was asexual.  So, once again, childhood thoughts came flooding back.

The host of this gathering, I recall, was discussing an experience of his at some other place.  He had entered this place, if I recall, and saw a group of females and a male watching some gay porn.  Specifically, it involved a man going down on another man.  Our guest had supposedly asked his friend what he was doing, to which his friend had replied, “What?  It’s not gay to look.”  For some reason, we all laughed, including myself, despite the fact that I was in complete agreement with the claim of our host’s friend: it’s not.  Out host tells our group that he had told his friend, "No, it is."

The only other aspect of the bedroom encounter I recalled is that Edgar Allan Poe was brought up.  I immediately began reciting, from memory, the first stanza of “The Raven.”  Amazing, even in my totally abnormal mental state, I was still capable of reciting this ever-wonderful stanza.

Back in the main apartment area, my mind was regressing even more.  One memory I had—which I have every reason to believe is a false memory, not a memory at all but just a fanciful day dream—was of being a young pre-teen and trying pot twice.  The “memory” included me being so morally ashamed at my having done this that I somehow successfully block it out of my memory.  I don’t believe this was an actual memory at all, since nothing about it makes real sense.  It’s possible, however, that it was a memory of a long-forgotten dream.  Whatever its origins, I’m fairly certain I had not gotten high on THC until I was twenty-one.

Other “memories” came to me as well, but given that the above-mentioned “memory” is likely nothing of the sort, I have a reasonable doubt about each of these other memories.  One such memory was of being around the age of one or even younger and being told, by a female relative, “If, you do that, you’re a baaaad, per-son.”  The “memory” tells me that she had said this to me on a number of occasions, and that I was conditioned, like Pavlov’s dogs, to learn that I ought to avoid any activities that would give her the opportunity to repeat those words.  The “memory” also tells me that, even why I grew to the point that she no longer felt the need to use these specific words, I still had them ingrained into me, and could recite them to her in those events that she would have, at a younger age, recited them to me.  To put it more simply, I remembered, according to this “memory,” remembering this set of words even when they had fallen into disuse by the person who had previously familiarised them with me.

Another “memory” was of around the time I learned to speak.  According to this “memory,” I had begun associating things with other things—words, or sounds—that I wanted to use in communication.  But since these were words or sounds I had come up with, no one else associated them with the objects or feelings that I was associating them.  I was becoming frustrated, according to this “memory,” because I considered my inventions in language to be just as valid as any other.  But, I discovered that I wouldn’t make any leeway with these people, and so decided to just adopt whatever conventions they were using.  It became easy to learn what sounds they were associating with objects and feelings, and I quickly came to discover that I thoroughly enjoyed the game of learning.

That wasn’t my final “memory.”  My final “memory” regressed me all the way back to nearly the beginning of my life.  According to this one, I was an extremely young baby with no real control over my external world, and no ability to communicate.  However, I was already thinking like Descartes.  In this “memory,” I recognise both that I possess a state of existence and that this state of existence and consciousness was something new, very new, and with a definite beginning.  I logically deduce, therefore, that I had to be created in some way.

Again, I have little faith in these “memories” being actual memories.  But they were nonetheless interesting things to have float through my head, and it helped alleviate some of my paranoia.

It was around 11:00 PM or so that I realised that I was back to atheism.  But I still wasn’t completely sober, and some residual paranoia and concerns certainly were still lingering.

We’re preparing to leave our host’s apartment, and Frank is going to drive us Taco Bell for some fourthmeal.  I discover that all I have is approximately fifty cents, not enough to even buy a single taco, so Frank says he’ll spot me.  I’m quite appreciative, naturally, being very hungry as I was.  Frank assures me that getting food in my stomach would sober me up, but the effects are not as immediate as he suspects.  I recognise that I am still unsafe to drive, and ask him if it would be okay to crash on his couch until the effects of my two or three hits—from hours earlier—wears off.  Frank agrees, and I’m greatly comforted with the knowledge that I don’t have to drive under my then state.  For, I sincerely believe driving in that condition would have been unsafe.

I should probably add, if at least as a disclaimer, that I totally reject the notion that the use of marijuana “opens your mind,” or makes you somehow more artistic.  Certainly, I reject the idea that it can help you “break through” to some spiritual world.  I believe it is clear that everything that happened in my head last night occurred precisely there: in my head.  It was entirely the product of manipulating the material connections within my brain.

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