Sunday morning, 10:00 AM, and we were waiting in line at a tool booth on I-90, As we approached the toll booth, Octopus’s Garden came on the stereo. That was not the first time we’d heard the song that weekend. Just two days prior, the song had come on and we agreed that it was a stupid, throw-away song, pretty much like any song Ringo had anything to do with. Now, however, tripping in an old Dodge Colt on the interstate, the ripply background vocals and special effects made Octopus’s Garden undeniably the Best Song of All Time, a title we bestowed upon many more songs before we reached home that afternoon. Squatch pulled a dollar bill out of his pocket to pay the toll. “Hey,” I laughed, “I dare you to stick that dollar in your crack and hand it to that bitch ass first.” We had a volcanic giggle-fit in front of the unimpressed tool booth attendant.
48 hours earlier, Squatch and I had thrown a couple of changes of clothes into the back of his Colt and headed for Chicago. The plan was to catch Robert Plant in concert at Alpine Valley on Saturday night. I’d scored tickets for Squatch, myself, and a friend of his named Vito. I also managed to hook us up with a place to party before and after the show, as a friend of mine knew someone who lived in a house in Wisconsin not far from the concert venue.
After arriving in Chicago, we hooked up with Vito and went out to hit some bars. For some reason, Vito had gotten hooked on a punk band named the Dayglo Abortions, and we spent a lot of time cruising Chicago neighborhoods with such tasteful lyrics as “Argh! Fuck! Kill!” blaring out of the windows.
Chicago bars being a little more upscale than the low-rent shitholes we were used to frequenting, we wound up ordering a tray full of martinis as we shot pool because that’s what suave, sophisticated people drink, right? I mean, before they find themselves in the alley vomiting gin through their noses. The rest of the evening was unremarkable, except for a detour we took to look at a hilarious pharmacy sign (something that only becomes possible after a lot of gin), during which we witnessed a cranky old woman with one boob hanging out, screaming at people who would ask her to show a little decency and cover herself up. Bright Lights, Big Titties. Big, wrinkly titties.
Because we had to leave at ten the next morning, we made sure that we were home by 2:00 AM, home being Sqautch’s parent’s house. His parents, as luck would have it, were out of town, which allowed me to begin emptying the liquor bottles behind the basement bar.
Sloshing out of bed the next morning, we hooked up with my friend Curt and caravanned our way to a house in rural Wisconsin. We began drinking at noon. By the time we had to leave for the concert, several people were catching a little shuteye in the woods, and we’d probably gone through a quarter ounce of pot in total.
Six hours later, we stood in the parking lot after the show. By that point, we’d been drinking and getting high for 28 hours, with only a 6 hour break thrown in to make sure we were somewhere in the very vague vicinity of sober if we were to get pulled over.
If you’re wondering how we were able to operate motor vehicles after all of this, you’re not the only one. This was in the late 80’s/early 90’s when we were in the very tail end of that period during which drinking and driving was considered funny. Squatch opted to drive home after the show instead of hitting the post-show party because he was really tired, and I agreed. On the way home, he told me about the time that he drove home from a Grateful Dead show on acid, took a wrong turn, and wound up in Iowa before he realized his mistake. We thought that was hilarious.
After dropping Vito off at home, we headed to Squatch’s house, only to find cars parked all over the place. “What the fuck is this?” asked Squatch. We walked in and found the house full of inebriated high school students: Squatch’s sister was throwing a party.
Seriously dragging ass, I went into Squatch’s bedroom downstairs, which also happened to contain a bar. (His parents obviously trusted him more than mine. If I had a bar in my bedroom, I would only have left to get liver transplants.) As I began to lie down on one of the beds, some high school punk started getting in my face. “Hey! Hey, c’mon, buddy! Let’s have a drink! You want a beer?”
“No, man,” came my reply. “I’ve been drinking all day. I’m good.”
“Oh, c’mon, dude! Just one drink!”
Closing my eyes, I heard, rather than saw Squatch pull the guy aside. “Look, you do not want to get him started. He’s been drinking since noon, and he will still drink you under the table as an afterthought.”
“Awww, c’mon, he’s just some kinda lightweight!”
You know that scene in any given generic vampire movie when the vampire rises from his coffin as if he’s on some sort of a lift? That was me. Back from the dead. “All right, you fucking pussies, let’s play some goddamn drinking games!”
An hour later, Squatch and I sat at the table laughing as a bunch of drooling high school students thanked us for the good time and let us know that we were free to have the rest of their beer. All except one kid, who we played spades with for a couple of hours, forcing him to drink oceans of booze, all without visible effect.
Finally, as I was shuffling for another hand, the kid looked up at us and said, “I’m frying.” Of course! No wonder why we couldn’t put the guy down: He was on acid! For whatever reason, tripping makes you feel absolutely no effect from alcohol. You can slam a case of beer in an evening and not feel a thing (well, until the acid wears off, and then watch out!)
“You guys want some?”
Of course, taking acid at 4:00 AM on a Sunday morning after having partied all weekend made no sense, so we declined and went to sleep. Hahaha! Just kidding, we each dropped a tab because why the fuck not? It’s not like we were using our brains anyway.
As the sun came up, we made our way to a park, where we realized that the Tripping Kid was either dosing way too hard to throw a frisbee, or he was the Helen Keller of the sporting world. Seriously, the act of throwing a frisbee made him look like he was trying to hail a cab with a fucking ladder. It was then that we began to realize how conspicuous we were to the type of people who were outdoors this early on a Sunday morning.
So we went to church. Ok, not really. We went to a Catholic high school which Squatch had attended and started walking around. Squatch began hailing people by name, which caused me no small amount of alarm.
Squatch: Hey, Brother Flanagan!
Me: Dude, what the fuck are you doing?
Me: We’re tripping balls!
Squatch: So? He doesn’t know that. Besides, even if he did, what’s he gonna do about it?
Me: Uh, he’s gonna sic Jesus on us, and then we’re fucked!
And just like that, we’d dissolve into a puddle of crying laughter, while Brother Flanagan looked on with a puzzled expression on his face.
Then we ran across what I can only describe as a couple of Grade A wankers. They were dressed as if they were on their way to play the 7th game of the World Series. A couple of mid-30’s Chicago-type dudes, with mustaches, softball uniforms, wrist bands, eye black… The whole megillah. “Look at these butt buddies,” I said to Squatch under my breath.
Squatch, on the other hand, was more interested in what they were doing. “Hey, fellas,” he said. “Can we play too?”
The Butt Buddies took one look at us, a couple of wired-looking dudes with eyes like black basketballs and wisely passed. I turned to leave, but Squatch was having none of it. He sat down and began to critique their performance.
“Nice pitch, retard…. What the fuck kind of swing was that? You practicing for the Special Olympics or something?”
When I get whacked out of my head, I tend to get paranoid and internalize everything, especially on acid. I don’t feel that this is a bad thing. After all, when you’re seeing fire breathing giraffes roast an entire Little League team alive, it pays to keep your reaction on the inside in case it turns out that you are, in reality, attending a funeral.
Squatch, on the other hand, was having a blast really laying into the Butt Buddies.
Me: C’mon, man, we gotta get out of here.
Squatch: Why? These guys can’t sic Jesus on us. They don’t know the password.
Me: Yeah, but they’ve got baseball bats and you are really letting them have it.
Luckily for everyone, the site of two acid-eating freaks whispering to each other while staring intently at them weirded the Butt Buddies out, and they quickly packed up and left. “See you, fellas!” said Squatch in a sunny voice, making an exaggerated wanking motion with his hand.
Finally, we went back to Squatch’s house when he realized something. “Dude, if we come down off of this acid, we’re gonna be dead to the world for at least 12 hours. I have to work tomorrow!”
And so we packed up the car and, still under the spell of the blotter hits we’d consumed a few hours earlier, settled in for a three hour drive. Now, I’m not going to lie to you and claim that this was a smart, or socially acceptable, or even a borderline intelligent thing to do. It wasn’t. People who hallucinate should not drive.
But we were past the peak, and it was clear that although this acid was definitely altering our behavior (ask Brother Flanagan or the Butt Buddies), it wasn’t going to be surprising us with shit like roads that rotated through the fourth dimension. We simply needed to maintain for a few hours, and we’d be safe at home
The toll booth was our first hint that maintaining wasn’t going to be as easy as planned. The second hint came at a rest area. Squatch headed off to the bathroom, and I stood there eyeing the pamphlets they leave out for tourists, trying to be inconspicuous and failing miserably.
Not as miserably as Squatch, however. I heard a rising, manic laugh emanating from the bathroom, which quickly escalated into a long, “WHOOOOOOOAH! HOLY SHIT!” A couple of guys walked past me, looking over their shoulders, then at each other, then directly at me. One of them turned to the other one and said, “Yeah, like those guys aren’t tripping.”
This set my paranoia aflame (though you aren’t paranoid, if everybody really is after you), and I stood there freaking out for an anxious minute until Squatch walked out of the bathroom laughing.
Squatch: Dude, I thought I heard your voice in the bathroom, bouncing off the tiles, and I started to…
Me: WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE! EVERYBODY KNOWS!
And with that, we moseyed to the car, trying to look nonchalant which, frankly, is hard to do when you’re moseying at upwards of 40 miles per hour.
Back on the road, Squatch was trying to explain to me why he started freaking out in the bathroom, as I sat there saying things like, “You don’t say, Chuckles?” I was starting to get weirded out by how flagrantly uncool we’d been, first at the toll booth, then at the rest area.
Me: I mean, shit, we gotta be more careful!
Squatch: Relax, we’re fine.
Me: We are a lot of things right now. Fine is not one of them. Hell, what would you say right now if a cop pulled you over?
Squatch: I’d say, “Hiya flatfoot, got any goofers for us?”
We damn near drove off the road, we were laughing so hard, which probably would’ve gotten us noticed because we were driving on what is known as the Cocaine Highway (because it is used to mule cocaine to Chicago from Miami) and the Illinois State Police headquarters was only a few short miles away. Those cops are very familiar with what drug-fueled behavior looks like, and they would have had little difficulty correctly classifying a couple of sweaty, long haired dudes who were prone to giggling at hubcaps.
Squatch’s brother, Ranger Rick, apparently had little difficulty classifying us himself. As we were walking into Squatch’s apartment (which he shared with his brother), he said to me, “Hey, you know, Rick really wanted to go to this concert. So let’s not go in there raving like a couple of drug-addled freaks. Let’s play it cool.”
Which we did. We walked in the front door, Rick turned and looked at us for all of 3 millionths of a second and said, “You guys are tripping balls!” This struck us as hilarious. I mean, more so than everything else, and we began to recap the weekend for Rick in rapid-fire fashion, which I’m sure sounded like this:
Me: Holy shit, we had all these martinis…
Squatch: The Dayglo Abortions!
Me: Argh! Fuck! Kill!
Squatch: Dude, that ass-crack dollar!
Me: Hahaha!! Hiya, flatfoot! Got any goofers for us?
Rick: (smiling, shaking head) Well, glad to hear you had a good time.
Together: (rolling on the floor) HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!