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Math is Confusing When You’re Tripping

Filed under : The LSD Chronicles

Written on March 21, 2015

In my first apartment, when I was 19, we had quite a few LSD parties. Some of them were epic, others were a disaster. Such is the way when you’re inviting way too many people into a 2-bedroom apartment to lie around in the dark and “expand their mind”. My roommate at the time – Jim, the lead singer of a local band – didn’t like doing acid. He preferred shrooms or, in most cases, just drinking alcohol. Our apartment would sometimes be split between “the acid kids” and “the drunk guys” – cause the two don’t really mix well, so we kept to our own.

Sitting in my room with a few of my friends, we decided to sit in a circle, holding hands and literally put our heads together. I discovered that if you do this with a group of 3 or 4 people, and you all try to hum the same note at the same time, with your eyes closed, you’ll start to “see” things in your mind – and, odd though it may seem, you’ll “see” the same thing. In our case, what we saw was something of a never-ending circular tunnel, walls of various striped alternating colors and we were traveling through it at high speeds. I asked them to squeeze their hands harder and increase in volume the more clear the tunnel became, the more clearly they could see it in their mind. My hands were practically numb after about 10 minutes of this, but it was an interesting experience.

This was also the night of the birth of “Slappy Joe”. When you’ve done acid enough times, you come to find you like to have a “fry toy” – a designated item you’ll fondle and play with and look at throughout your trip. I had a collection of these 2-foot rubber skeletons from a past halloween and I grabbed one to use as my fry toy. Throughout the night, sometimes “the drunk guys” would come into my room, or otherwise upset the heard. That’s when I’d hold Slappy Joe like he was a puppet and make him yell at the drunks in a low, almost “wise old black man” voice. It worked. I think it just freaked out the drunks, but it worked. My friend Brittany then dubbed Slappy Joe “The Lord of the Fry” – he was security. It was an odd thing to talk through a puppet and speak for a group, but Slappy joined me on many adventures from then on.

As night faded into early morning, many people had passed out or otherwise calmed down and just laid on our huge sectional sofa. It was quiet, and I needed sleep. Just as I was lying down, I got a phonecall. It was the Circle K across the street, where I worked at the time1. They wanted to know if I could come in for an early shift – 6am to 3pm, but would only need to be there until around 9am. I tried to feign fatigue, but.. I did answer the phone, so I was kinda fucked.

I walked over and they put me on the register. Just as in Clerks, it’s true at that time most people just buy coffee and a newspaper. People would hand me money and I’d forget why they were doing that. In a matter of 10 minutes, I had quite a few piles of bills and change just sitting there. This didn’t go unnoticed by the manager on site. He asked why I wasn’t ringing people up, and I had no answer. I thought this was a trick question, because there was no one in the store when he asked, so I said “because.. there’s no customers. who am I gonna ring up?”. He pointed to the pile of money. I said “right. they give us money for goods”. He said “are you feeling okay?” – “ohh …uhh.. I’m just really tired. Long night”. He said he’d handle the register and I should go stock the 2-liters in the coolers.

Since we sold 2-liters on our shelves and in our cooler, we’d just grab the warm ones from the shelves and put them into the coolers. Ideally, you want to remove all the cold 2-liters, put the warm ones in, then put the cold ones back in front. This way, people can still grab a cold 2-liter while the warm ones are cooling down.

I walked to the cooler, sat down (which is already a strange thing to do), and started counting out how many 2-liters I’d need to grab. “Let’s see.. there’s 4 Coca-Cola, 3 Mt Dew, 3 Sprite, 2 Dr Pepper..” and I started putting the numbers together in my head : “4 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 12. I need 12”. I got up, walked to the 2-liters, and thought “okay, 12..”. But … 12 of what? 12 liters? So, 6 bottles? I walked back to the cooler. I sat down again. “Okay, okay, there’s 4 Coca-Cola. I think it holds 7 in total. 7-4 = 3, so I need 3 liters of Coca-Cola”. I got up, walked to the aisle of 2-liters, and thought “no, no, that’s stupid. We don’t sell 3-liters. We sell 2-liters. I must’ve mis-counted”.

This process continued a few times, before I realized I need to actually put some kind of plan into action. I grabbed 2 Coca-Cola 2-liters, walked back to the cooler, sat down and stared at the column of Coca-Cola. “Okay.. so, 2. Got two. 4 liters. There’s 4 here. I think I need 7? So, it holds 14 liters. If I have 2… which is 4…” and then I became confused again. I pulled out the cold 2-liters from the Coca-Cola column, so now I had a little setup of six 2-liter Coca-Cola bottles. My instinct was clearly guiding me here, but then my brain, fried on acid, came in and was like “HEY! whatcha doin’?” and fucked it all up. I decided I should just get all the 2-liters I needed all at once, this way I could just organize it in one go.

When I returned from my mission, which took several trips to the aisle, I had about 10 Coca-Cola, 4 Sprite, 2 Dr Pepper, 6 Mt Dew. They were arranged all around me, like I was conducting a soda orchestra. I sat there, frustrated. I had no idea what to do. The manager came up to me and asked what I was doing. I said “I’m.. trying to do the math. I’m just tired, and … I can’t quite figure it out”. He said “what math?” – “you know, the.. math, of, like, what goes where”. He said “I asked you to do this 45 minutes ago. It should take you about 2 minutes. You haven’t even moved in 10 minutes. I need you behind the register, but.. you should just go home”. Ahh.. sweet release.

When I got home, my roommate asked me to make some breakfast – “c’mon, you know how to make omelettes”. I was useless at making omelettes at this point. What I ended up doing was folding the omelette over twice – so it was basically a curved triangle – placing ham and cheese between the folds and placing it on bread. He loved it. Everyone wanted one. I used up all dozen eggs in a matter of minutes. The sandwich would come to be known as “The Badass Mo’fucka Sandwich”, and to this day if that old roommate crashes at my place (he still lives in Phoenix), he’ll ask me to make him one when he wakes up.

They really are quite delicious, you should try it.

  1. but not the same Circle K from that other story – that was many years and 100s of miles later