Michael was a hippy. He played guitar and did Tai Chi. He had long, straight, thin hair that hung down almost to his waist. He liked to smoke pot and do drugs. He was my roommate for several years and I adored him.
He introduced me to psychedelic drugs thusly: when I said I wanted to do LSD, he told me that he would not, absolutely would not get me anything more intoxicating than a saltine cracker unless I read the following books – The Joyous Cosmology by Alan Watts, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Joseph Chilton Pearce, and Beyond the Brain by Stanislav Grof. He handed me the stack, told me to read them and went back in his room to play guitar.
I learned a lot of crazy crap from that hippy. I also obtained my first (and many subsequent) dose of mushrooms.
My early experiences with mushrooms were lovely. Numinous, heart opening experiences where I saw the true nature of the universe. The world was a living, breathing, loving creation. I was an integral part of this living creation, and the pain of the world was that we never knew how alive and loving it was.
Yeah, that was until my first bad trip.
Now I liked listening to music on shrooms. I found that it helped me to access those deeper levels of emotion and sacredness during the trip. One time though…
I ate the mushrooms, drank my orange juice, and settled in for a nice trip. But what music should I use? Kate Bush was usually a good bet (The Hounds of Love is a particularly good album) or maybe Spacemen 3 (Taking Drugs to make Music to Take Drugs to). No, I’ve done that.
What about the Smiths? Yeah! That sounds like a GREAT idea! The Smiths…!
…the most depressing, whiny, self-absorbed music ever created. Sad-bastard music before they even invented sad-bastard music.
I listened to, I think, Meat is Murder, and got angrier, and angrier, and angrier. I saw myself through this music, through what listening to this music said about me, and I despised it. I was tired of being an effeminate, ineffectual, weak little hippy boy. The girls thought I was gay, the guys didn’t respect me. I hadn’t had sex in months and I was horribly lonely. I didn’t do what I wanted and I didn’t do what I should. I hated myself and this music represented everything I hated. In a second I was off the couch and had launched the tape-player across the room, where it smashed on the wall like a bomb going off (louder than bombs? whatever). I then found myself stalking around the center of the room in a tight circle, my hands clenched into claws, and this sound was coming out of my throat that I did not recognize: inarticulate, mid-way between a scream and a roar, strangled and raw full of hate and rage. An animal sound, a sick, wounded sound.
This continued for several minutes until Michael, hearing the commotion, decided to check on me. Upon seeing an obviously enraged maniac lurching in increasingly tighter circles around his living room he did not, bless him, call the police, or try to restrain said maniac. No, he actually tried to talk me down. “It’s alright,” he said. “Everything’s alright…”
My jaw clenched, barely in control, I growled, “Go back in your room!” He beat a hasty retreat.
The screaming/roaring/choking continued until I finally fell into an uneasy sleep a few hours later. I slept fitfully through the night.
On waking the next day, I wandered around in sort of haze. I remembered clearly what had happened, apologized to my slightly shaken, but none the worse for wear, roommate (who was, I’m sure, making a mental note to get the fuck out as soon as possible), and went out to fix breakfast.
Now, as I may have mentioned, my housekeeping skills left a bit to be desired. The house was usually a sty. Sometimes, there might have been dishes in the sink. From, say, a week ago. With food on them. Or maybe the garbage hadn’t been taken out. In, like a month.
But today, the house REALLY reeked. There was a smell that was something like rotten cabbage at the bottom of the sink, spoiled milk, and something dead. It was foul, and it was everywhere. Even I, with my ability to ignore filth, couldn’t let this pass. I had to clean it up.
But I couldn’t find the stench. The refrigerator was clean. The garbage had been taken out. The dishes were done. Where was that smell coming from?
I mentioned it to Michael, and he looked at me, a little sadly. “You mean you don’t know?” he said.
“No. What is it?”
“It’s you, man. You released all that shit from inside you. That smell is your anger.”
And I knew he was right. We had to air out the house for two days.