March 27, 2011

I Hate Mushrooms

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What is the issue?
I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer fuck with hallucinogenic mushrooms. It’s taken five trips, four of which could only be described as a sneak peek of the afterlife destination most commonly referred to as hell, to decide this. I will now break down these experiences for you more clearly so you have a better idea of where I’m coming from.

January 2004, Boston College - In the years leading up to college, I was a pretty straight-laced kid who’d barely consumed an entire Mike’s Hard Lemonade on her own. By my junior year, I was smoking up to a quarter of weed a week, had experimented with ecstasy a handful of times and drank regularly. When my friend told me that someone at Boston University had scored a huge bag of mushrooms, we took the B line two miles to their apartment and bought an eighth for $25.

I wanted to hide the fact that I was tripping to my controlling then-boyfriend, so I canceled my evening plans with him (which resulted in me being uninvited to his family’s Super Bowl party), and settled into my friend’s dorm room with four other people who’d plan to trip with us.

Out of the group, we were the only two noobs. The experienced ones explained to us what would most likely happen while we were tripping and before I could give any of that too much thought, I squeezed two caps and a stem between a couple of peanut butter-covered Saltine crackers and ate them.

About twenty minutes later, I started to feel fuzzy, and then the feeling seemed to spread through the room. I went into the bathroom and started digging through my friend’s makeup kit. I applied sparkly orange eye shadow to my eyelids. When my friend found me, she was also tripping hard and accused me of trying to eat her eye makeup. That’s when the tears started.

A friend of ours who had extensive experience with hallucinogens showed up to trip sit, and after assuring me that I didn’t eat any eye makeup and that no one was mad at me, we went down to the dining hall to walk around. Somehow I broke off from the group, and when they found me, I was in the public restroom reassuring several women I’d never met that all of us were going to be okay and that everything was fine. It took a moment for it to sink in that they were laughing at me, but when it did, I cried again.

My friends momentarily distracted me from the tears by giving me a plastic fork, which I immediately cared for like it was my child. I cradled the utensil as we walked across campus, commending its beauty and mankind’s amazing developments in cutlery.

By the time we got back to the dorm, it finally occurred to me that I’d been praising a plastic fork for fifteen minutes (which, by the way, could have been more like two hours for all I know,) and was immediately embarrassed. I made a big show of smashing the plastic fork under my foot, causing all of the prongs snap off.

This was followed by the realization that I never appreciate anything that’s right in the world. I fell to the cement in a heap next to the handle of the fork and began crying again. How could I be so destructive? How could I ruin something that was created by manmade materials? I lectured my friends on how irresponsible humans have been with the gifts we’ve been given, all the while carrying the broken pieces of the plastic fork back to the dorm room. The following hour or so was spent sobbing over the fork and trying to explain to my friend that his eyebrows looked like graph paper.

There are only three things to note about the rest of this trip:

  • 1) I saw my reflection in a mirror and was so ashamed by how ugly I looked that I smashed the mirror with my bare hands.
  • 2) It was the night that Paris Hilton was hosting Saturday Night Live, and as we watched, I kept remarking that she looked so beautiful and that this was probably the most exciting night of her life.
  • 3) Our trip sitter walked me back to my apartment, but before we even left campus, I vomited in the parking lot of a church.

March 2007, Los Angeles – A friend scored some mushrooms from a woman we both worked with, and I agreed that it was probably time for me to give them another try. We broke up a chocolate bar which had the shrooms cooked inside and ate the pieces at my apartment before piling into his car and driving to Griffith Park.

In general, I’m the kind of person who can take or leave Los Angeles’ idea of nature. I don’t give a shit about how easily accessible Griffith Park is when I’m dead sober, so why my friend insisted that we go hiking was lost on me. Still, he’d supplied the goods and I wasn’t sure I knew how to properly trip in the first place, so I was down to listen.

Have you ever had a friend that you basically need to shit yourself in front of in order to prove to them that you’re having fun? He was that kind of friend. He kept asking me over and over again if I was having a good time and if I found Griffith Park fascinating and I kept being like, “Dude, no. I don’t care about this place and I already feel weird because I’m on drugs. Can you back the fuck off? You’re making me nervous.”

Still, he insisted that we walk around the park and the Observatory while also insisting that I couldn’t possibly be having all that much fun. That’s when I decided I needed to go for a jog.

I sprinted down the hill that the Observatory sits on and he chased after me.

“Where are you going?”

“I just need to run!”

I ran and giggled and ran and giggled until I found myself at a dead end. I sat down and looked over the hill and into the city’s landscape. It’s gorgeous up there, but I couldn’t appreciate it it. My pal had caught up to me by then, so I turned to him and said, “Do you think my ex-boyfriend ever really loved me?”

Instead of answering the way any person in their right mind would (“Sure he did. Shut up and look at the view,”), he decided to engage me. That’s when the tears started and yo, they did not stop. I cried everywhere in Los Angeles that day. I cried at In-N-Out, I cried at Coach and Horses, I cried as we drove by Pink’s Hot Dogs and stared at the tourists in line.

My takeaway from this experience was that everything in my life was fine and would continue to be fine and that I should never do mushrooms with anyone that’s willing to facilitate a pity party.

April 2009, Los Angeles – After grabbing drinks and dinner downtown with some friends, I showed up to my then boyfriend’s house around 11 PM. This was our routine. I would go out with my friends, and then I’d show up to his house around 11 or 12 and drink with him and his friends until we passed out.

When I got there, two of his roommates were on the front porch and they were acting aloof and giggly. “Where are you guys keeping the shrooms?”

“They’re in an envelope in the freezer. Don’t tell Eric we gave them to you.”

Hiding a trip has to be the hardest part of doing mushrooms, especially if you feel a constant need to come clean like I do. It wasn’t long before I started feeling the effects of the handful of mushrooms I’d shoved into my mouth and chewed while raw. I became very self-conscious and retreated to my boyfriend’s bedroom where 90s basketball highlights were playing on ESPN Classic. I lay in bed and enjoyed the sensation of my feet rubbing against each other in socks until my boyfriend came upstairs and told me to come back down.

“I think I’m just going to lie here and watch this.”

“I know how much you love 20-year-old basketball games. C’mon. Go downstairs, you’re being so funny and charming tonight. We’ll go to bed early, I promise.”

Somehow I made it through the next few hours only embarrassing myself once. I attempted to turn a portable air conditioner into a bong, and when my boyfriend’s roommate discovered me trying to pack a six-foot tube like it was a bowl, he yelled, “Molly! What the fuck is wrong with you? You’re way to smart to be doing this.”

October 2010, Los Angeles – A week before the LCD Soundsystem show, my friends and I realized that we could a more heightened concert experience. We were able to track down some chocolate bars through a friend of a friend, and shortly before we left, we gobbled them up in my living room, pocketing the extras to give to friends we might run into.

This was the only positive shrooming experience I’ve ever had, and I’m pretty sure that that was due to the fact that we’d taken so little and the environment was so completely positive and non-aggressive. There were no visuals, we were balancing out the trip with overpriced sangria, and we were far from being the only fucked up people at the venue.

When the trip was starting to wear off, I got increasingly mouthy and hungry. The last thing I remember from that night was telling a man at Kitchen 24 that he needed to remove himself from the table I wanted to sit at, and the mixture of crazy in my eyes and general desperation got him to do so.

March 2011, Los Angeles – I’ve been enhancing my experiences at Girl Talk shows with various drugs for years, and after my generally positive experience at the Hollywood Bowl, I decided that shrooming was my new go-to for live music events. A few years ago, some MDMA would have seemed like the obvious choice, but being three years shy of thirty and already suffering from chronic neck and back pain, I refused to go that route.

We scored a bag early in the day and the man who sold them to me explained that each serving was individually wrapped and to not take more than one serving each. He said that they were so strong that we’d basically be guaranteeing ourselves a bad trip if we took more than what he weighed out for us.

My BFF is a pretty inexperienced drug user, so I decided to take some of my dose before he got to my place just to check them out and see what we were in for. Within a half an hour of taking just one cap, I was laid out on my couch, my dog licking the moisturizer I’d just applied off my face. The bitches were strong, and I could already tell that I was going to spend the rest of the night wondering why I’d chosen to do this.

When my friend arrived, we spread peanut butter and Nutella onto water crackers and sandwiched the mushrooms in between. He ate his crackers quickly, and in my already trippy state, I decided that I would do him the favor of taking half of his dose as well. I knew that I had an idea of what to expect from the trip and that he was unprepared for the complete lack of control we were both about to experience.

Between 8:02 PM and 8:05 PM, I lost my mind. I pulled my roommate out of the kitchen and made her sit on our front stoop with me. I lit a cigarette and looked out into my neighborhood. I couldn’t recognize anything, and every time I turned my head to the left, instead of seeing the patch of grass that is actually there, I saw an old wooden porch covered with skulls. I tried to explain this to my roommate as calmly as possible, but instead blurted out several lines of gibberish. That night was the first time my sober friends looked at me like I was crazy, and it was a look that I quickly got used to.

Once we were at the venue I was gone in a way I’d never been gone before. No matter where I looked and regardless of what was actually in front of me, I was convinced that I was looking into a mirror. I thought the adults around me were small children and that the venue was one of those reception halls that most churches have. I was self-conscious of my every movement and at least three times during the night, I had to ask my friends if I’d wet my pants.

The most uncomfortable thing about doing shrooms with your friends is that you begin to notice aspects of your personalities that you would have never noticed had you been sober. I noticed that I revert to a 12-year-old version of myself whenever I’m uncomfortable. My arms were crossed and I didn’t know how to stand in a way that didn’t look dorky. I remember thinking that my roommate was one of the strongest and most brave women that I’d ever met and that my best friend might be too boy crazy to function. At every stage of our own mushroom trips he kept saying, “Oh my God, there are so many hot guys here. I can’t deal.”

Those two hours in the venue before Girl Talk took the stage were the scariest of my life. I’ve been wasted in public too many times to count and I’ve been just as stoned a number of times, but something about the lack of control and the wild visuals I was experiencing topped all of that.

As the lights dimmed and Girl Talk took the stage, I immediately snapped out of it. I looked around the room and understood where I was for the first time that night. I realized that I wasn’t in a church rec room surrounded by children, but in the middle of a dancing mosh pit. When Girl Talk asked the audience, “How are you all doing tonight?” I answered, screaming, “SOBER, FINALLY! THANK GOD!”

My friends and I danced for half an hour before I gave in and decided to start drinking to get back on everyone’s level. While waiting in line for the bar, I turned into one of the sisters in The Fighter and let loose on these women taking photos for what I could only guess was the most obnoxious Facebook album of all time. My BFF dragged me away from the bar line as I screamed, “You fucking pointless cunts! You fucking bitches! Learn how to act in public, you fucking cunts!”

I spent the rest of the night dancing and thanking God that we were no longer trapped in The Labyrinth. On the ride home from the show, I thanked my friends profusely for taking me out of the house and keeping an eye on me while I was essentially as put together as a retarded infant. I promised them that I would never do shrooms again, and unlike all the times I’ve ever said that about cocaine and drinking and talking to my ex-boyfriends, I actually meant it. I never need to go back there again. TC mark

image – Graham Canny

Molly McAleer

Molly McAleer lives in Los Angeles with her chihuahua and can be found on Twitter (@molls) and on Instagram (@itsmolls). Her writing has appeared on your television, your Internet and the bathroom walls of your favorite cyber cafes.

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