7/30/03 Columbia County, NY (10 days until wedding)
While in New Orleans I probably consumed 20 drinks over the course of two and a half days, something I hadn’t done since the New Year’s Eve Y2K party we had at my dad’s place in Napa. I had stopped drinking almost entirely over the last few years, partly because Tessa doesn’t drink at all, and mostly because the physical part of a drunken aftermath just isn’t worth it. My buzz in New Orleans, however, was brilliantly attended and lasted two days, but only because I was meticulous during my bliss: each drink/shot was followed by two glasses of water, the occasional Zantac, and a bi-daily dose of aspirin. It sounds terribly high maintenance, but I’ll bet if you ask anybody who was there, they won’t remember me doing any of that.
I’m also pretty good at slipping the clandestine Lactaid pill during a dairy meal, but that’s another tremendously boring story altogether.
Being in such an altered state provided the perfect prelude to Larry Smith’s excellent Salon column on Ecstasy that ran today, a well-cobbled-together piece that was one part science, one part anecdotal, just like the drug itself. For the record, my email address (at left) and this site’s name has nothing to do with the drug, just my affinity for the word “ecstasy” and the love of my favorite band XTC.
As I’ve written here before, my first ecstasy trip was actually in New Orleans as well, back in 1995 during a performance art show. Being something of a pussy, I held the ecstasy liquid under my tongue for a long time, so as not to swallow the drug whole. Of course, as any heart patient with nitroglycerine can tell you, this is the fastest way to blitz your brain. After ten minutes of genuine, freakish fear, the waves of happiness began to move into high tide, lapping over my body until I was completely submerged. It remains one of the best nights of my life.
Matthew Klam wrote a wonderful article about E back in 2001, and part of his thesis struck me as thus: everyone needs one ecstasy experience. There is a possibility of an epiphany, a life-altering burst of self-knowledge that can be revealed if you are allowed five or six hours’ freedom from the usual self-loathing all of us carry around. My own experience did not give me insight into myself, rather, it allowed me to think of the world as a brotherhood of which I was part. I think it provided the impetus for the Pink House screenplay and allowed me to let myself off the hook for letting everyone down as a Fallen Generational Spokesman. It may just have provided such intense happiness that it lasted for years afterward.
I know that sounds like the usual 1967 treacle that Baby Boomers trotted out about LSD, but ecstasy is, logistically, way less of a roulette wheel than acid and generally points your compass in a magnetically-happy direction. I am way too much of a control freak to recommend doing it more than twice a year (if that) but this last weekend has proved to me one thing: you are never too old to leave your body behind. Despite being chained to my dopt kit full of pharmaceutical crap, it is still possible – and perhaps important – to find a place where you can’t feel your eyes. Some people have Jesus, some people have the internet, some people have AA, and some people have ecstasy, but even the best of us need an hour here and there when we can see through a glass, brilliantly, and stop hating ourselves.