This one time in college, a few friends and I were in the courtyard of a bar on Decatur St. in New Orleans. We had these rolls to do. During this period in New Orleans there were these rolls that people called chocolate-chip cookies because they were white with little brown specks. They came on really strong at first and it felt like it was heavy dope or something but then it would ease up and you’d be able to move and talk and maybe dance and have the time of your life whenever, wherever you wanted. I remember people saying that the brown specks in the rolls were “heroin spots” and that sounded pretty cool at the time because none of us knew how awesome (horrible) heroin actually is (can turn out to be). We all ate the rolls, and about twenty minutes later my friend Dan (who had also just eaten a gigantic platter of ribs and fries and coleslaw and potato salad that looked disgusting and I don’t even know why he ate a bunch of food when he was getting ready to do ecstasy because that doesn’t really mix very well), he said his stomach didn’t feel good. Then he grew a little white. But Dan was already really white so he turned more of a grayish-green color like pale people (gross) always do. His hue was quickly waning. Dan had long black stringy hair and a gigantic mouth that was always smiling and laughing but it also took up most of his face because it was so big. You know those people whose faces are all mouth. Dan’s color and sickened demeanor made it obvious what was coming. He leaned forward in his chair with his head under the table and treated us to the sound of retching and little smacklets of undigested rib bites hitting the floor of the courtyard. Obviously we wanted to leave immediately, but we stayed so as to not attract attention to the mess he was making. He was our friend and he was temporarily down. He had his head under the table for a minute. When the sound of the vomiting stopped, it was replaced by a sound even more awful. A moaning sound, but not a moaning. Or a muffled voice but not really muffled. It sounded like Dan was talking with his hand over his mouth, but he wasn’t.
“Dan, you okay?”
“Dan, you alright?”
“Dan, sit back up. People are watching.”
Dan sat up. When he sat up he looked around at all of us with his mouth wide open like you do at the dentist’s. It was wider than just open. It was like double-open. I thought he was maybe laughing.
“Dan, what are you doing? Shut your mouth.”
“aaaaahnaa” Dan pointed to his jaw.
There was a tremendous boom of laughter.
While Dan was under the table, the vomiting became so violent that it forced his mouth open and it got stuck. His jaw was locked into the wide-as-fuck-open position and there was no budging it. It looked more open than you think mouths are ever supposed to get, and it looked incredibly painful. He didn’t say it was painful. Dan could no longer speak, only moan. You need to be able to close your mouth or get it somewhere near closed in order to form words with your lips. You need to be able to touch your tongue to the back of your teeth or the roof of your mouth because that’s where language is. Besides it being pretty funny, the sound Dan made when trying to speak was unpleasant, disquieting, and terrible and I’m pretty sure everyone wanted to get away from it because it had the potential of giving us all a bad night. I’m not sure where you are right now while you’re reading this or if you are in the position to do this without embarrassing yourself, but when you get a chance, open your mouth as wide as you can and the try to say in a normal volume speaking voice, “O how life is strange and changeful.” Try it. Sounds fucked up, right? It sounds like something is seriously wrong with you, right?
By this point, we are all starting to feel our cookies. Dan was feeling it as well. He was sitting up in his chair now and his eyes were rolling back in his head and he kept trying to talk. But it wasn’t talk. It sounded awful, like that sound you just made when you tried to say, “O how life is strange and changeful,” with your mouth all jacked open like a palsy. It was not a conducive soundtrack for a night meant for pleasure and nice things.
“You have to go to the hospital.”
Dan shook his head.
“We should call an ambulance.”
Dan shook his head and his eyes rolled around and even though his mouth was open wide enough for me to put my fucking head in there, I could still recognize a smile on his face. The giant circle would widen when he smiled. It looked like his face was going to tear open at the corners of his mouth.
“Okay then. Fuck it. He doesn’t want to go. Let’s just go to another bar,” somebody (not me) said.
We left the courtyard bar walking in a small pack down Decatur and Dan kept trying to say things. He was rubbing his hands all over his body and hanging his head back as he walked and he kept making those terrible sounds. It started to look and sound vaguely sexual (in a totally scary, creepy way) and it was becoming increasingly annoying. We walked into the next bar: four normal looking college students with their insane-looking friend whose mouth was jacked open all the way like he was really amazed at the bar we had just walked into. Everyone was staring at Dan. Dan was nodding his head to the music like nothing was wrong. He put quarters in the pool table and went around the bar asking people if they wanted to shoot a game. But he couldn’t ask them anything. He just walked up to them and made that horrible sound with his mouth wide open and it probably looked like to them that he was trying to bite them. No one wanted to shoot. Dan refused to leave or go to the hospital. At one point he borrowed a pen and grabbed a napkin from the bar and wrote: I feel great. I don’t care about my face. As proud as I was of him for that winning fuck-all attitude, the sound was just too much for me and I didn’t understand why he kept trying to talk when no one could understand him. My buzz was pretty much killed so I went home.
The next morning Dan showed up at my place. He said he stayed out last night for another hour or so. At one point he wanted to smoke some pot to help kick in the roll a bit but he couldn’t hit a bowl or a joint because he couldn’t get his lips around it. Instead, they stopped by someone’s house who had a bong and he had to stick the entire top of the bong inside his mouth and behind his teeth to get a hit. I asked him why he didn’t just have someone blow smoke into his mouth. He hadn’t thought of that. He said when he woke up that morning his jaw was still locked open. (Did I mention that Dan rode a scooter?) He said he rode his scooter to the hospital with his mouth still like that. He said he freaked out a lot of drivers and he also ate lots of things from the air like bugs. At the hospital, the doctors gave him a shot in the jaw and closed it for him. As soon as he got home from the hospital, it popped open again. He had to ride his scooter back to the hospital with his mouth still jacked wide open and have them redo it. The doctors wrapped a bandage around his head so it wouldn’t happen again.