Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Trippin' with Jimmy Carter

It was 32 years ago today that I had one helluva cold and wild time scootin' around downtown Washington DC for Jimmy Carter's inauguration. A busload or two of us from my senior high school class went as part of our Humanities class. I had no real interest in the event per se, it was just a good excuse to get a day off of school.

It was going to be cold—this we knew—but my memory of it was that it was a lot colder than it actually was. A little research shows that it was around 28°F or so, but I do remember that demon wind making it feel a LOT colder.

BAH! The wimps all over the TV are talking about how cold it's going to be for Obama's inauguration.

BAH, I SAY! We experienced one seriously dang cold jaunt around the city. What did it feel like back in '77...about 8-12°F?

But my buddy P.I. and I didn't care. I had gotten a couple tabs of blotter a day or two before. The guy I got it from said it was "psilocybin" blotter. I was skeptical—never heard of such an animal. Keeping this in context, I have to reveal that there was a steady connection of mighty clean and potent LSD in my school, for years. What I do know—and this wasn't a product of the power of suggestion—the blotter tasted oddly mushroom-like, and it took longer to come on than any LSD I'd ever taken. Maybe there was something to the "psilocybin" blotter story? Who knows? All I know is that it took nearly the entire bus-ride from central PA to Washington D.C. for the buzz to really come on.

Also, between the two of us, we had a couple-three grams of hash and a little one-hitter pipe. We probably sunk down in our seats in the bus and toked a quick hit or two on the way there.

But here we were dumped off in D.C., our only instructions were to be back at the bus at a certain time for the ride back.

So P.I. and I immediately began trying to figure out where to burn some of the hash we had. Tough task. The city was thickly mobbed, people all over, literally everywhere, and there were cops standing in guard formation, one every 8 feet along the streets. We spotted a long row of portable toilets...probably 30 or 40 of 'em. P.I. went in one of them in the middle of the row, toked a little, while I stood about 20 yards away. Five minutes later I went in the same one. We stood in that stupid little hovel for about 10 minutes, blissfully out of the wind, tripping and toking and whispering and laughing and looking out the vent and trying to be dead quiet when somebody tugged first on the door of the one we were in, and then entered the one next to us.

He leaves, and I stay behind for a few minutes, toking by myself, then I walked out. We were laughing our asses of at the absurdity. It was cold as hell, but we didn't care. We were young, hardy, higher than fuckin' lab rats and 1000% distracted by sensory overload. It was a blast.

I've tried to tell some folks the scattered stories of that day, about our tiny little paper-flavored snack on the bus on the way there. About walking around and never quite getting our bearings; about the difficulty of stifling giggles and uproarious laughs as we tiny-toked our way to an even-further-enhanced historical experience, doing hash hitters in the porta potty. The two of us were brazen, and amazed that we could even get away with it, with cops every 8 feet apart along the sidewalk, 20 or 30 feet away as we peeked—and blew smoke—out the vent of the porta potty. About walking in one direction, against the seething crowd, and getting swept along as they surged toward us, following the parade out on the street. About walking in and through and out of government and office buildings, trying to find another safe, warm place to burn another round of blond Afghani.

I wish I had had the taste and talent for narrative writing back then, so that I might have put the details of these stories into a more solid form shortly after they happened. But I remember color and taste and smell of the experience; the specific and accurate details don't matter, really. I remember knowing then that I would never forget my place in the grander scheme of the day, and that I'd always reserve a special smile about it. It doesn't matter, really, whether I can convey the sense of the day to anyone else. *I* remember it, and I know of only a few other people who were *there* with us.

How the hell did we NOT get in some sort of trouble, and how the hell did we make our way back to the bus, on time?

THAT will remain a mystery for the ages.

No comments: