So I got really, really high the other week. This is very rare for me. I’ve only smoked about five times ever. I’ve only gotten high, where I noticed it, twice. The first time was forever ago when I was an intern at a production company in Hollywood. And it was intense. But nowhere near this.
I was at a friend’s for dinner. He had the whole setup. The bong, the joints, the crackers. I don’t do bongs. Not since the first time. I hate the whole process around it, mainly because I’m pyrophobic, so the very notion of turning a lighter upside down and holding it on while I toke sounds awful and dangerous.
I had never smoked a joint. It was awkward. I’ve done cigars and e-cigs and that’s easy. But I got two good drags. I felt pretty much nothing.
Seconds later, my friend busts out the crackers. They seemed perfectly harmless. I ate five. Tasted just like Cheez-Its. I felt nothing again. My friend warned me that though I was not currently feeling it, goddamn would I.
Goddamn did I.
You know all those stories you heard in college, usually from your roommate, about feeling paranoid while high? You know how you thought those were all horseshit? That he, and others, were either being really hyperbolic or just lying through their teeth?
You were wrong.
Within moments of my Uber cab picking me up, I was convinced that my driver was going to murder me and make a lampshade out of my skin. I’m not kidding at all. Except about the lampshade part. I was so afraid of him killing me that I didn’t text my other half to tell her I was afraid because I was afraid he’d notice my texting and kill me.
For about 20 agonizing minutes, I had to repeat to myself that no, he was not gonna murder me, I didn’t recognize where we were because it was a route I didn’t normally take by bus or by car, everything was gonna be fine, and calm the fuck down.
Even as I exited the guy’s truck, l was sure he was gonna kill me. It wasn’t till I got inside and closed the door that I relaxed. But that wasn’t the end.
Within minutes of arriving home and warning the better half that I was high, the shit kicked in. Full throttle. All the way.
For hours my short-term memory was completely blasted and I could not tell what was real, and the difference between what I was saying in my head vs. out loud.
It was so Memento.
I remember literally (yes, literally) sitting there talking to my wife and I couldn’t remember whether what I’d just told her I actually just told her or I just thought I’d told her.
At one point, she suggested I try to distract myself by watching a TNG episode on my iPhone. The next thing I knew, I was holding my iPhone for some reason. I heard her laugh and couldn’t remember telling a joke.
In my racing mind, I had all kinds of thoughts. Some pretty crazy. Which I won’t retell here. The point is, though, I honestly couldn’t tell whether I was just thinking them or saying them. But I couldn’t ask that because that would sound crazy.
I finally came up with a system. I deduced that if, in the immediate past, I’d done or said something truly offensive or dangerous, then in whatever given moment, I’d be experiencing the consequences of those actions. Therefore, the fact that I was not experiencing any negative consequences (other than the wife laughing at me), I could reasonably assume I’d not done or said anything truly awful.
I couldn’t remember this full process from one moment to the next so I had to come up with a single word that I could just repeat which would convey to me, in those passing and forgotten moments, everything I needed to know.
I repeated this to myself over and over. I reminded myself that no matter what fear I had presently, the fact was that were it worthy, “calm” wouldn’t be applicable, and yet that’s what was being repeated.
I soon calmed. And once calmed, I could focus a bit more. And here’s the point of this post. I admitted to the wife that I honestly couldn’t tell what was real or not. Whatever natural separator we have in our brains wasn’t functioning in me.
This led me to wonder, for weeks now, how do we tell what’s real or not? I assume there’s some switch somewhere. Some chemical. Some neuron. Something which, somehow, tells us, “This is real. This is not.”
This is what I found.
I find this fascinating because the religious often make claims of plausibility and possibility, often of miracle-claims or general god-claims. I find these debates useless because many of the standards most of us use aren’t truly objective. So then it gets down to what the individual finds plausible based on his own standards. And individuals believe some pretty kooky shit.
As unpleasant as some aspects of the above experience were, I actually look forward to future crackers.