My Sober Life, Chapter 14

In which I take my recreational drug use to a new level

***Disclaimer: This post details an experience with drugs. ***

The summer after the fantastically failed freshman year, I moved back home and picked back up working my job at the fast food place where I worked senior year of high school. There was a new hire who started shortly after I came back, and we struck up a friendly banter as I trained him. He lived with a few roommates nearby, and after a week or two, he invited me and my friend to come party with them. One night after work, we accepted and followed him there. Within minutes, it was apparent “party” wasn’t just drinking. One of the roommates was a drug dealer. There was a literal dinner plate heaped with marijuana. He may have had other options on the menu, but I wasn’t interested in that stuff. 

This was my summer of perpetual clam bake.

I had tried marijuana during high school and enjoyed it, but as I preferred alcohol, I didn’t seek it out or try to have it on me. I’d partake if it was around, but that’s about it. My use was always recreational, and given the choice, I would always rather drink. But with so much weed – free weed – so readily available, who was I to turn it down? I didn’t.

The three or four guys who lived there seemed to enjoy not just smoking weed, but also ways to get as much of the smoke into your body at one time. There was always an array of pipes and bongs around, but the choice du jour was gravity bongs. If you are not familiar with this particular marijuana-ingesting apparatus, here is the definition from Urban Dictionary: a gravity bong is a homemade pipe that is designed to use the force of gravity to pull weed smoke into the chamber, usually using water as the means for drawing the smoke down into the chamber

These guys used a plastic bottle, a 20 oz. Gatorade bottle. I will not describe how to make one, but the desired result is that once the bowl is lit, smoke fills the cavity of the empty bottle. Once full, you take the lid off, place your mouth over the opening, and push the bottle down into the water. As the water rises, it forces the smoke out of the bottle and into your body at a increased rate. It’s simply a way to get higher, faster.

As many, young entrepreneurs are wont to do, an obsession with bigger and better bongs began. It started with the 20 oz. bottle. Then a 32 oz. bottle. Then a gallon jug. They got too big for the sink, so someone acquired a paint pail and filled that with water and put it on the kitchen floor. Then they made the “granddaddy”: a large, Costco-sized juice container. 

One night, the peer pressure to do the granddaddy was heavy on my shoulders. They kept at it, so finally I agreed to do it – “At my own pace!” – knowing full well it would take me hours to inhale it all. My co-worker lit the bowl, and I waited as it slowly filled with smoke. 

I cannot stress how much smoke it was. It was a small aquarium’s worth. I knelt on the floor, took the cap in my fingers, lifted it off, placed my mouth on the opening, barely pressed down on the bottle, took a deep breath, and replaced the cap. OK, that wasn’t so bad. I lifted the cap again and placed my mouth over the opening. I gently pushed the bottle down a little further, allowing a little more smoke this time. But as I started to raise my head to put the cap back on, my co-worker pushed my head down so the bottom of the bottle touched the base of the pail.

The pain and heat were instantaneous. It felt like a long, hot demon arm reached down my throat, grabbed my soul, and ripped it out of my body. Raucous laughter surrounded me as I jumped up, gagging. I stumbled to the living room area and collapsed on the floor, coughing uncontrollably. The coughing lasted for over 30 minutes as I lie in the fetal position. No one seemed worried or to care. 

Once the hacking subsided, I became aware of the high. I have always been a timid pot smoker. Three hits, and I was good. I liked to have just enough to take the edge off, but not so much I fell asleep or got too weird. I’d witnessed too many bad trips. This was one of those trips. The room was sideways, every person was a Picasso painting, paranoia abounded. I had never before felt so out of control. I made my way to a dark bedroom and laid in a corner, back to the wall, eyes on the door, willing sleep to overtake me.

It would be years before I would touch marijuana again.

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