please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Incident on Bass Lane

This one's for the Erudite Redneck. He asked, many posts ago, what it's like to do acid. My brother-in-law and I responded as best we could. The thing is that there's way too much to say on the subject: it is as big as life itself, actually, which is one of the bigger lessons.
There's the times where you have earth-shattering revelations, the times where you have what only seem like those, the stupid times, the times you go to hell in your mind for a few hours, and the ones where you walk through the crowd just fine, enjoying your secret.
But when you start out with it, and you don't have any clue how to address The Management, a lot of dumb, funny things happen, and in that vein, I offer this story here.

(This is also the first story I ever told before a live audience. I still have my notes from that night, but I recreate it here from memory.)

We were teenagers, and that means a lot of things. We had a Cadillac that belonged to Bear's mom, and had decided to spend Friday night in downtown Portland, on LSD.
As was often our habit on nights like these, we piloted ourselves to the top of a parking structure, so as to better view the stars. Our reverie was briefly interrupted by one of the least convincing security guards I've ever met.
He stood at maybe four and a half feet tall, was sporting enormous aviator shades at night, as well as a huge walrus moustache. He wanted to know what we were doing up there.
"Oh, jus' chillin'," said Bear.
Noting this as the time to seize on the new hip argot so as to better communicate with the youth, the security guy responded with, "Well, you uh, better uh...chill out and be cool (a slight catch in his throat there), or I'll have to come up here and your asses over the...side of the building..."
Coming from such a tiny guy, in such a not-especially-confident way, this was big laughs, but we kept it cool. The inept threat tacked on at the end seemed to come from some other place entirely, and it underscored the fact that he probably had no idea what we were doing up there, since there weren't a bunch of beer bottles everywhere, nor did it smell like marijuana.
"We're just looking at the stars, officer," Bear continued. "Beautiful, huh?"
Our guest looked up and said, after some consideration, "Yup." Then he left.

Somewhere in here, one of our party, a kid named Chad, headed into some bad space. Unfortunately, it was the kind of space where you can't really talk about what's happening to you, much less explain your actions, as words have been rendered piteously meaningless.
We decided that we at least needed him to not be in public with us, but weren't at all into the idea of dropping him at his parent's place. I was not yet an experienced hand at bringing people back from the worlds of howling chaos that lurk not all that far from good ol' consensus reality here...We were at a loss., and decided that at least we needed to take him somewhere quieter.

Quiet...Like the freeway? Well, to get back out to where we lived, the quickest way was I-5. We attracted the attention of a State Patrolman somewhere around Burlingame.
Our pilot was on acid, yes, but I've rarely seen that interfere with one's driving ability, as it tends to focus you very sharply on whatever task you're involved in. The danger comes in being distracted by some hilarious or shiny thing elsewhere, and taking your eyes from the road for what feels like just a second...
In any case, I'm not sure what that Stater thought, but he administered the weird version of the drunk test in which you keep wagging a pen in someone's face and repeatedly yell, "LOOK AT THE PEN! LOOK AT THE PEN!"
As I've said, our pilot was on acid, and he...Looked at the pen. Really, what the cop was looking for was those googly, disjointed eye rolls you get going whilst drunk. How he managed to miss those distended pupils though, I'll never know.

We decided to go to a party on Bass Lane, where our friend Wade lived. Why anyone thought this was a good idea, with our catatonic friend in the back seat, is unclear. The last thing Chad had "said" was an hour or so earlier, when we were loading him into the car, and he spit in Bear's face.
As we exited the car, I asked, "You sure about this? I mean, should we really just leave him in the car?"
"No worries," said Bear. "I've got the keys," and he held them up so I could observe that he actually did.
Alright. So we went inside this weird McMansion thing where Wade and his family lived. Not much to report here; just yer average party conversations, when all of a damn sudden, in runs this girl, who pauses dramatically on the threshold.
I looked at Bear sharply. "It's okay, " he said, and again produced the keys, "I have the keys."
"Who was in the car?" I asked.
"CHAD (last name)!"
One of those cartoony moments followed in which both Bear and I were swiftly moving downstairs and saying, "OHHHHHHHHH SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT" at the same time. Once out the front door, he ran across the street to his mother's car. I, on the other hand, stood there on the lawn and surveyed the situation.
It looked nasty. In the center of my vision, there was the Cadillac, now protruding absurdly from what had been the living room window of the house across the street. Down in the lower right, Bear running toward the car. Out the front door of the house, the homeowner emerges.
In extreme lower left, Wade standing in the middle of the street.
As we sometimes do in situations like this where there's no set precedent as to what, exactly you're supposed to do, Bear did the stupid (but I can see where he got the idea) thing: he hopped in the driver's seat, and tried to start the car. He was planning on backing out, or something. When the homeowner saw this, he yelled, "GET OUTTA THAT CAR! I'LL HOLD YOU HERE WITH A GUN IF I HAVE TO!" Then he punched in the driver's side window.
On the word 'gun', I saw Wade's figure run back into his house. I too, hastened back inside.

At this point, the house was filled with the tumult of panicking teenagers, quite certain that the party they were at was about to be visited by the police. They were right, and they were running everywhere. One of them gave me this Guatemalan handbag containing a dis-assembled brass hookah.
I stashed this somewhere, and made it to the back yard, where I was confronted with the sight of another girl I knew holding a 45 caliber pistol.
"W-w-wade h-had th-this g-gun and I..."
She had disarmed Wade, who I knew was going to do something ridiculous when that neighbor had started crowing about firearms. He had been planning on an armed standoff or something. In any case, this person had wisely disarmed him, and then she had freaked out.
We began looking for a place to put it, and for some reason the freezer seemed like a likely spot. Bad move: upon returning from vacation, that's exactly where Wade's dad found his pistol.

In any case, I now suspected that there was some damage control needed on the other side of the street. I wandered over to the house, where we had now been joined, for some reason, by a large group of firefighters. No cops yet.
Chad was sitting on the ground, looking a little catatonic. Bear looked worried, but inwardly planning a way out of this for himself, I could tell. The homeowner was wandering around with his bloody knuckles wrapped in a paper towel, muttering to himself:
"...grrmmm hrmmm...threw money at me....tries ta back outta the hrmmmm..."
(Ah yes. When the car had first hit the house, the homeowner had run out, seen Chad there and said, "Get in the house!" To pay for the damages or something perfectly reasonable to his mind at that point, Chad had emptied his wallet of its contents and thrown the seven or so dollars at the man.)
I was standing there, not sure what exactly to do, so I stared at the sea of firemen before me.
(Apparently the fire chief himself lived several houses down, by the way.) Still being on acid myself, I started examining the physical features of one of them, and noted how much he looked like a Muppet. He had this perfectly round head, balding but with hair at the back, bushy moustache and these beady little eyes. Suddenly, the beady eyes sprang open full mast while he and all the other firefighters started saying, "Chad? HEY CHAD?" I looked down, and noted that my friend had jumped up and sprinted back into the house. That being the one place in the universe he definitely wasn't welcome at the moment. I led him back out.
Nothin' like blinking red and blue lights to bring you right back down. The arrival of the cop immediately sobered the Bear and I right up, and we prepared to give our admittedly tangled side of the story.

We were asked how much we'd had to drink, answered honestly. Nothing. When he asked Chad, my friend was at least wise enough to say, "Tooo muuuch..." The producing of ID's was requested, and as we took a minute to get our wallets out, Chad reached over and grabbed the cops' leg.
(Did I actually slap my forehead? I think I did. The cop was taking pretty calmly, considering, though. Just shaking his leg gently, and kind of going, "chad, okay chad..." I was getting sick of the name 'chad'. I leaned over and suggested that maybe he should let go of the nice officer's leg, and he instead seized the wallet out of my hand: I let him have it.)
At this point, I was sort of wondering why it hadn't occurred to the cop that something a little more intense than alcohol might be causing Chad's behavior. The questioning had began, with Bear and I testifying that we'd both been across the street, in a room full of people, when the shit hit the fan.
"Mm-hmm. And Chad? Where were you?"
"In the back seeeeat."
"And who was in the front seat?"
"Bear and Riiiiich..."
"OFFICER, THAT IS NOT TRUE! WE-" we were both yelling at this point, and he gave us the 'just calm down now' hand motion. He resumed the questions.
"You were in the back seat, Chad?"
"I was in the front seat."
"Oh. You were-"
"I was in the front seat, I was in the back seat."
"Okay. Now, I'm tryin' t' figure this out here..."
For our part, Bear and I were wondering how long this would go on. Later, I asked Chad just what the hell was going on in his head at this point in the evening. He said he was under the impression that we'd been in a car accident, died, and now were being asked to answer for our sins.
Suddenly, Bear looks at me. "OH MY GOD, RICH!"
"Yes?" I asked, wondering where he was gonna go with this.
"HE'S ON ACID!" Bear yelled in his most outraged tone.
"Acid?" the cop said. "LSD?"
"Hm, y'know, come to think of it, his pupils are awfully large..." I said, getting into it.
"Yeah, I saw that." The cop, struggling to keep up.
In any case, my friend O'Sheely was a block or so away, with a case of beer on his shoulder. Upon seeing all the civil servants in the neighborhood, he'd stashed it in the bushes and joined us. A veteran of lying to cops himself, he seamlessly blended into the scene by appearing both the saner older guy, and A Professional in the dealing-with-drug-freakouts department.

Later, after Chad was delivered to his parents, the other three of us went back to my house and used that brass hookah I'd been given to protect. We bonged through vodka that evening; a remarkably stupid thing to do (it's flammable, you know). We managed to not catch the house on fire, and wisely drank the brassy, resiny bongwater thereafter. A great deal of lying around motionless followed.

The upshot? Wade never had a party ever again, Bear certainly wasn't allowed near a car (or insurance) for a good long while, Chad was on probabtion...And I? Got off Scot free, as I really honestly hadn't done anything, as such, that was legally or parentally actionable.
I still have no idea how Chad managed to plow a car with the steering column locked into that house: it would have required him to both turn right and go over a curb.

And for years and years, we would, whenever gathered around the fire as it were, tell the story of the Bass Lane Homeowner's Incident. It became one of those tribal myths that bond the elders and initiate acolytes into the Mysteries.

Disco Boy? Your thoughts on this?



Blogger disco boy said...

that crazy LSD. i've never been a particularly large fan of it, but that's neither here nor there. i'm here to discuss the incident, also known as PANIC IN RIVER'S EDGE II!

in many ways, i'm glad i wasn't just a single year older, because had i been, the person who played "chad" could have just as easily been me. but, probably not, as i've never been prone to acid induced panic attacks or hallucinatory psychosis. it wouldn't have been too far fetched to have found me riding around in the back of that plush caddy, down for whatever goofball antics made themselves available.

i love this story. it's a great look into what the suburban kids could do with $23 dollars worth of acid and a borrowed car. my favorite parts include imagining a young chad hucking the contents of his wallet at a groggy and confused homeowner, and the improv explanation of (and distancing yourself from) the incredulous realization that poor chad might be hopped up on the LSD.

ol' bear was a weird guy, and i don't know if it was arrogance or bravery or contempt for authority figures or whatever, but i always had appreciation for his grace under pressure. you couldn't really count on it to serve you well, but when it worked, it was great.

3:11 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

A time when I figured it would fail, but didn't, was when we'd been tearing around south Thurston County, one night near Olympia. This time the borrowed Caddy was his Daddy's, and we were drunk.

After relieving myself on the side of the road, we attracted the attention of a county mountie, who asked Bear, "Have you been drinking?". Bear said no.

The cop asked me to lift the blanket at my feet, which did indeed have beer underneath it.

"So, when you said that you haven't been drinking, you were lying?"
"Obviously." Bear responded shortly.

The cop had this look that said he didn't feel like dealing with this amazing stupidity, and let us go. I'm amazed we didn't end up in jail.

3:33 PM  

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