A brief post-facto introduction, added exactly one day before the end of the world, EST:
I know why you’re here. Odds are you got here from reddit, erowid, maybe phantasytour. There was a post about going crazy on acid, and the link to episode one cropped up somewhere in the comments. I hope it was a more satisfying experience than that George Lucas debacle.
So you made it to part three. That is totally awesome, and I hope you enjoy the rest. To skip this plea, just scroll down a bit to the “Back to the Story” headline.
I love that people are reading this, and that it’s meant something to other people who have had similar experiences. I also love the fan and hate mail, and hope to one day to accept the honor of being blamed for the degradation of our children’s morals. But I love something else even more.
Sweet, sweet money.
Not looking for a handout. I compiled all this, edited it, had a real editor edit it, added a few new chapters and more factual details, and put out a kindle book for 2.99. Not going to bore you with the “if everybody skipped one cup of ludicrously overpriced Starbucks coffee” stuff. It’s just cheap. Cheap like Sunday morning. At work and your boss has a clear view of your screen? Put it on your kindle and read it on the ride home.
So if you like this, and want to live in a world (assuming it’s still there) where I get to spend my forty-hour weeks lining up a few million more words for your pleasure, consider looking at Digital Story of Me Fucking Everything Up, Professional Edition.
P.S. This version was free when I first wrote it here, and it will stay free and public. I promise not to pull a dick move like taking down the last few chapters after you’ve committed four hours to reading the rest, just to get into your wallet. Not for less than two million dollars, which is the market rate for my dignity.
Back to the Story
One of the principles I live my life by is that I don’t care what people say behind my back. If you say something nasty about me when I’m not around, my opinion is that the tree didn’t make a peep. If you don’t say it to my face, you either like me too much to hurt my feelings, which is fine, or you’re afraid of me, which is also fine, or you’re just not in a position to tell me to my face, which is perfect. The fact is people only have to like me enough to pay me, fuck me, and serve me beer,1 and if they have something else on their mind they’re welcome to keep it to themselves or repeat it like a bad vacation story when I’m out of earshot.
This is not some enlightened realization about ego protection and emotional stability. This is something I trained myself to do out of necessity, since if I allowed myself to care about what people didn’t say, I would have killed myself a decade ago.
Part 3, or “I Get the Fuck Out of Kansas”
It is very important to remain calm when peaking on acid. Crying and shaking in your apartment bathroom while shit streams down your legs is not calm. Somehow, I pulled myself together, stripped, and got into the shower. My roommate came home at that point, laughing, and said:
“Oh man, you done fucked up.”
Luckily for me, my roommate was about the chillest human being on Earth. I’ll call him JD. He was about 40, the premiere DJ for Bar Harbor’s best club,2 and friends with the cops, despite being one of the extremely rare black people in what is a shockingly racist state.3 I can’t remember clearly, but I think he actually cleaned my shit off the floor and gave me tips on how to deal with situations like this in the future.
“You need to keep some valium on you when you trip. Chills you right out.”
This helps me calm down a lot, and I pull myself together and start dealing with the facts of the situation. The facts are bad, so I give up on thinking about them and just try not to freak out. The one thing I need to sort out is that I’d already been planning to attend a hippy festival in Massachusetts and the girl who was going to give me a ride probably wasn’t eager to spend six hours in a car with me after the day’s events.
Eventually I go out for a smoke, and end up running into a neighbor, who’d heard about everything. He invites me up to one of the more crowded apartments, full of stoned people, and that sounds just about perfect, so I go up and hang out with a remarkably sympathetic crowd for the next few hours.
Inevitably, the cops show up. The stoners ask me if I want to hide out, but I’m relaxed enough to deal with it, although I’m still tripping. I head downstairs because I really don’t want them to go for a warrant and find a bunch of drugs in my apartment.
“Hey. You Peter Welch?”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s me. What can I do for you?”
“I assume you know why we’re here.”
“I can guess.”
Nerves of fucking steel.
“I need to see your ID.”
“Yeah, I have a passport, one second.”
I go into the apartment to get my ID. The cop whips out a flashlight and seems intent on following me in, but I shut the door in his face as innocently as possible, since I’m about as fucking far from innocent as it gets, and the living room table alone could have put me and JD in jail on the spot. In my room, I see a few of Jake’s things and briefly lose it, but I know I can’t go off on some angsty tripped out reflection while the cops are waiting for me. I grab my passport and take it outside.
The cop and I get into a discussion about LSD, and for some reason it gets relaxed and chatty, and I end up telling him I’m still tripping. He looks up and points the light in my eyes.
“Really? I had no idea.”
“If you can handle it, nobody can really tell.”
This is true. In the previous year, I’d downed some gel tabs, not realizing exactly how long they would last, and ended up having to go to lunch with my dad and my brother while still tripping. I sucked it up and went to a Chinese restaurant. On the way there, I went off on some philosophy tangent, and my dad asked me if I was stoned, and I said, I shit you not, “Of course not. Do you think I could be this eloquent if I was stoned?” to which he replied, “Good point.” I spent the next hour making small talk while trying to ignore a demon that had appeared in my tea and spent the whole lunch shouting “Hey! Hey! I’m looking at you!” in an attempt to get my attention. I didn’t even want the tea, but I drank it just to shut him up.
The cop was unimpressed.
“Your friend didn’t handle it so well.”
He was right.
He takes my information, hands me my passport, and tells me not to leave town for a while. I ask him if Jake’s okay, but he has no idea. Then I tell him I’m leaving town as soon as possible for a festival, but I’ll be back in a few days. He takes this well and we part amicably.
Crisis averted. This cheers me up, but I’m still worried about Jake, so I putter and mope for a while. My ride never shows up, naturally. When I relate this to JD, he mentions he’s going to Massachusetts to pick up some records and can drop me in Boston, which is a short bus trip from where I need to be, which solves my second to last problem. I turn in to catch some Z’s until we leave in the morning.
Turns out getting a ride was my third to last problem. I couldn’t sleep. I still didn’t know what happened to Jake, and there was no one to call. I definitely wasn’t calling his parents. The cops didn’t know. I didn’t know what hospital he was in and they wouldn’t have told me anything if I did. So I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling until 5am when JD and I packed into his van and headed for Boston.
That drive was like any wistful, angsty, I-just-fucked-up-something-brutal drive any teenager would take, except better music. I smoked a lot and kept fairly quiet, JD kept the mood chill, and I tried not to think about tripping. It was hard, because I still was. Anybody who’s done acid will tell you that you don’t really finish the trip until you sleep. Whatever sleep does to you normally, it also undoes any wacky damage psychedelic drugs do to you. So the trip gets less intense, but it doesn’t stop completely until you sleep.
When we get to Boston, it’s been 24 hours. I was starting to feel punchy. The single most important thing to me was still to remain calm.
I wander around a bit, look at some obscure records, then JD drops me off at the bus station. I’d already made arrangements to meet up with some of my old college buddies,4 so everything was going according to plan, aside from the not sleeping, friend in the hospital/jail/maybe dead, and still on drugs situations.
I hop on the bus and try to get some shut eye for the two hour ride. No luck. I eventually get off in Amherst, MA, and I sit down to wait for my friends.
I have a young druggy purse of toys, so I pull out a fancy looking ball and start contact juggling. If you don’t know what this is, it’s what David Bowie is doing with the fancy balls in Labyrinth.5 This is not a skill I worked on. This was just something I could suddenly do. More about that later. At any rate, the other people waiting at the bus station are a bunch of Tibetan monks. One of them sees me rolling my ball around, comes over, points at it, says something in whatever language Tibetans speak, and smiles emphatically.
I talk a lot of shit about hippies. Specifically neo-hippies. But I was a neo-hippy for a couple of years, which is what gives me rights to talk smack, in the same way that watching Star Trek: The Next Generation in the background as I’m writing these words gives me rights to talk smack about geeks. If you’re a neo-hippy, there is not one single thing that can give you more satisfaction than a Tibetan monk giving you his approval.6 This is the first instance of my severely altered state of mind being validated by the people around me. By a monk. What the fuck. I chat with him for a minute, but the conversation is difficult because we share no common languages. I follow him back to his companions and they have an animated conversation, which involves motions towards me. I will never know what they were saying. I feel like I’ve been selected above all humans by the coolest of all monks,7 but for all I know, they were talking about golf.
At that point, my friends arrive. We’ll call them Jun,8 Duke, and SomeGirl. Jun and Duke I knew from college, SomeGirl was just that, and had dated Jun for a while and then moved on to Duke. None of my business, and I’m positive none of them thought I’d someday be putting their business on the internet. It was the year 2000. Nobody knew what was coming.
I related the story of the past few 24 hours to them, thinking that the version they heard would be the story I told for the rest of my life, no blood, no foul.
This is hour 27. I think I’m home free, except I don’t know what happened to Jake. I haven’t slept, thus I’m still tripping. I’m around friends who think my story is awesome. We have a good laugh, and we head to Great Barrington, Massachusetts. I am home free.
Relief. Transcendence. A bunch of hippies.
This series has become inexplicably popular, and I’m looking at 40 times my usual traffic. I expected a lot more time before people came asking for more. I’m still collecting medical records and other people’s stories. Please be patient. There are also 200,000 words of previous junk written prior to this under Essays, most of them readable, and almost 82% spelled correctly.
1 Turns out you don’t have to like someone very much to do any of these things.
2 It’s okay. I wouldn’t go.
3 His coolness is perhaps matched only by my mother’s. I go on about my awesome parents in a general way, but let me tell you a story about my parents. One day I have lunch with my mom and she brings some strawberries for me. After we part ways in front of my place, she forgets to give me the strawberries, and comes back in to drop them off, while JD is sitting across the table wearing a towel and I’m about to light the giant bong he just handed me. She smiles, puts the strawberries on the table, and leaves. You can’t buy parents this good.
4 Yes, I was only twenty years old, but after my litany of colleges and varying home addresses, I say “old college buddies” without a hint of irony.
5 The ones in his hands, not the ones revealed by the disturbingly tight spandex.
6 Except maybe getting a blowjob from the Dalai Lama.
7 Not precisely: the Benedictines gave us a lot more ways to consume alcohol, so they really get this award, but I was young and didn’t have my priorities straight.
8 This nickname makes perfect sense to a few people. The rest of you will never know.