Third in the trilogy.
This is the last in a series of three essays I've released at random about the three times I had full heterosexual intercourse.
The first time my friend Mike Stedman played the Grateful Dead for me I didn't like them. I was a rock n'roll kid with a preference for heavy metal, and the record Mike played for me was Workingman's Dead.
I was not impressed. I told Mike that The Grateful Dead were too mellow, and worse some of the songs had a country feel to them. It was unlike any country music I'd ever heard, but it reminded me of country and I hated anything connected with country music.
So, like a lot of people I acquired a taste for the Grateful Dead only gradually. When I heard the live Dead stuff, in particular Europe '72, I started to appreciate the fact that the Dead had a very wide musical range and the members of the band were first rate musicians. But my attitude was still sorta so what? Certainly there didn't seem to be anything to justify the nearly fanatical devotion that some people seemed to have for their music.
Then I tried LSD. One day Mike and I went to a free concert in Forest Park in Springfield on Hippie Hill, which was located near the water gardens by the back gate. The city put the concerts on, with bands like Fat and Clean Living and the whole hill was covered with people partying. This was the first time I saw parents getting their children high by blowing marijuana smoke in their faces. I was shocked, but the kids seemed to love it. They couldn't stop laughing.
At one point this girl came running towards us shouting and laughing and waving her hands which had a long strip of paper in one of them. She was ripping off bits of the paper and stuffing them in people's hands. What was odd was that she was running in the direction away from the concert. She gave some of her strip to Mike and me, and we saw that they were divided into little squares. There were pictures on each square of the R.Crumb character Mr. Natural.
Mike knew exactly what it was - acid! Apparently the girl had come to sell it to the crowd, but seemed to have gotten too high on her product and felt it necessary to flee the concert while giving away what she had once meant to sell. We each took one of the Mr. Natural squares. When after a half hour nothing seemed to be happening, we took two more apiece. Then it kicked in. REALLY kicked in.
At some point that afternoon, while I was sitting in cosmic contemplation of the concert, receiving my doctorate education in the subjectivity of reality, one of the bands covered a Grateful Dead song from Workingman's Dead called "Uncle John's Band." Suddenly I went:
"Oh. Now I get it!"
In the coming years I would go see the Grateful Dead in concert about thirty times. That is not very much by Deadhead standards, it was not unheard of for someone to see thirty shows in a single year. Those people used to follow the tours, while I always waited for the Dead to come reasonably near-by. Sometimes they came to my hometown of Springfield. Often they came to Hartford or Boston. The furthest I ever went to see them was Highgate, Vermont in 1995 on their last tour.
We usually went to see the Dead as a group. A whole bunch of us from Pine Point would all get tickets and take over a few rows of the scene for us Pointers to party and whatever. The people who went used to vary from show to show. One time part of our group that was going to a concert in Hartford was this girl from the Pine Point Cafe who was named Crystal. She had never been to a Grateful Dead show before but had heard about them and wanted to join us. She was pretty and funny and we were glad to have her along.
On our way down to Hartford Crystal ended up in the same van as me, which was being driven by Fuji Cardinal. She asked me how she could get the most out of what she was about to see. I told her my experience, that I had never really grasped the Grateful Dead until I had heard them on acid. By that time I had pretty much given up on LSD as a mind expanding drug, although I occasionally used it for sex. The thing about psychedelics is that while the first few times you take them they are profoundly powerful to the point of life-transforming, that effect fades with continued use. It's as if you pretty much get all you can get out of them in just a few trips, then afterwards you're just going over and over the same psychic terrain without experiencing anything new. It's best to stop taking them when you reach that point, those who don't tend to get a little strange.
So I had no intention of taking acid at the Hartford show. Frankly, at that phase of my life Budweiser and marijuana were my drugs of choice. However Crystal was totally determined to take acid, and begged me to find some for her. At first I said no, but when we arrived in Hartford several beers and several joints later, my mind was more open to the possibility.
The fates dictated it. En route to the Hartford Civic Center someone came up from behind and stood too close to me. He whispered something under his breath that I couldn't make out. Crystal however heard him more clearly. "Yes!" she cried. "We'll take two!" Then I realized that the stranger was an acid dealer. "None for me!" I said, but Crystal pleaded, "I can't do it for the first time by myself!" Before I knew what was happening she had popped it in my mouth and I swallowed it. I saw her do the same with what appeared to be a little piece of clear plastic.
"Dammit Crystal, what did that guy sell you?"
"I don't know," she said, "something about windowpane, four-way."
Windowpane was an unusually pure and powerful form of LSD that was made by suspending the drug in a clear gelatin which then hardened and was cut into squares. The term "four-way" meant that one quarter of each square represented one dose, so you got four doses per square. In other words, due to Crystal's ignorance we had taken the equivalent of four doses of LSD apiece!
The details of the rest of the evening are a little vague. The drug came on like a fog at first, gently and soothingly I found myself in a place of perfect peace. All I wanted to do was to sit and grok with amazement at everything I saw and everything I heard and everything I thought. Somehow my friends got us to the concert and into our seats. I remember thinking that God was love, and God was in everything, especially Jerry Garcia.
At some point the concert ended. I looked around, and no one was sitting near us. It was just Crystal and I. Everyone else had left. Janitors were cleaning up. Where had everyone gone? Crystal started to panic - how could we find our friends? We had no way to get home without them. We went outside and roamed up and down the street trying to spot someone we had come to the show with. We couldn't see, or couldn't focus well enough to see, anyone we knew. We were stranded in Hartford.
Somehow we had the presence of mind to add up our money, and realized that we had enough for bus tickets back to Springfield, so we headed in what we thought was the direction of the Hartford bus station. By some miracle we arrived. One of us was coherent enough to buy tickets. We went to the waiting area and sat in a trance waiting for it to be time to board the bus to Springfield. That was okay.
God was in the bus station too.
The next thing I realized we were being pushed out the door by a security guard. Wait, we need to catch the bus to Springfield! The last one left an hour ago? Oh no, how did we miss it? Apparently we had sat grokking beneath the neon lights of the terminal while our bus to Springfield came and went. Now the bus station was closing for the night and we were being put on the street!
Oh God, what a disaster this was turning out to be, or so I would have thought if I was clear headed enough to properly appraise the situation. Thankfully Crystal, even being the novice tripper that she was, concluded that we had to get a room for the night. There was a flophouse hotel near the station and we walked over to it and spent the last of our money on a single room with a double bed.
And the LSD, which had not yet even peaked, worked its magical mischief on us all night long. We talked, I don't know about what, but I recall that we were both crying at one point. Eventually we were both nude. We explored each other's bodies like they were marvels of beauty and miracles of creation. In other words, we saw one another as we really were. The fact that I was queer had become meaningless. We were two humans exploding with sensuality. I remember at one point I was licking between her legs, the first and last time I had ever done that to a woman. She licked me all over. I fucked her freely and she wept with joy. Eventually the drug began to wear off. The sun was coming up and shining like shimmering shafts of gold through the window. We got dressed and walked back to the bus station in the dawn's early light. The station had reopened and we got some coffee and caught the first bus back to Springfield.
That was in 1986 and that was the last time I had full sexual intercourse with a woman. I never again took such a large dose of psychedelics. Soon after our adventure Crystal moved to Boston with a boyfriend she met at the Ranch House Bar and Grill on Boston Road. I never saw her again or heard what became of her.
I hope she's okay wherever she is.
To read #1 of the trilogy click here.
To read #2 of the trilogy click here.
Here's a bumper sticker you don't see everyday in downtown Amherst.
A campus police car was parked outside a bar near the University of Massachusetts around Last Call. The officer noticed a young man leaving the bar so apparently intoxicated that he could barely walk.
The man stumbled around the parking lot for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an eternity in which he tried his keys on five different vehicles, the man managed to find his car and fall into it.
He sat there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off.
Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off - it was a fine, dry summer night - flicked the blinkers on and off a couple of times, honked the horn and then switched on the lights.
He moved the vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little and then remained still for a few more minutes as some more of the other patrons' vehicles left.
At last, when his was the only car left in the parking lot, he pulled out and drove slowly down the road.
The police officer, having waited patiently all this time, now started up his patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and administered a breathalyzer test.
To his amazement, the breathalyzer indicated that the man had consumed NO alcohol at all!
Dumbfounded, the officer said, "I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the campus police station. This breathalyzer equipment must be broken."
"I doubt it," said the student with a smile, "Tonight I'm the designated decoy."