It’s Sunday evening. I’m flipping channels as I luxuriate on my new leather sectional. Her name is Fiona. I love her. Our Covid splurge. Fiona sighs as I settle deeper, sipping my umpteenth glass of a precocious, fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon.
Expectations are low. Buzz is high. Sunday TV generally blows. My wife reveals that her Chicago Cubs are playing. Fucking kill me. Baseball. Three hours of watching pseudo athletes relentlessly spit makes my soul ache for an early death.
And then magic happens. A blessed alternative.
That sexy bastard, Anderson Cooper, is hosting a segment of 60 Minutes about psilocybin. Isn’t that the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms? Intrigued, the old retired Deadhead in me peeks out of his smoky back room in the attics of my mind.
He seems so real. His name is Jerry (yes, named after Jerry Garcia, the late lead singer for the Grateful Dead. Duh). Okay, so he resembles Jerry, too. Fine, it is Jerry. Screw you. My imagination, my rules.
Hey, PS. Long time. What’s up, man? Jerry takes a long drag on his joint. It smells so wonderfully skunky.
Hey, Papa Bear. Yeah, I had to tuck you away after college. Sorry for that. Life. You know.
No worries, man. We had some good times, didn’t we? I can taste the tendrils of spicy weed wafting across my face.
We sure did, Captain Trips. It reminded me of us when this TV show explored psychedelic drugs like psilocybin.
Whoa, yeah. Those shrooms would steal the face right off your head back in the day. Wisps of pungent smoke caress my cheeks with the sensuality of delicate fingers. So relaxed.
The smell transforms into a bear. A vivid blue Grateful Dead dancing bear with golden tufted neck fur. His name is Owsley, my long-lost totem. My college spirit animal. A solitary tear of joy rolls down my cheek at our reunion.
Jerry smiles. Take good care of Owsley. He will help you remember. Better get truckin’.
I place my hand in Owsley’s paw. And we’re off, sliding down a shimmery rainbow into Time.
Psilocybin: Purple Haze
As Owsley and I traverse time through cosmic purple clouds, blaring with guitar feedback and fuzzbox effects, we are atingle. The freedom, the music, the synchronicity – it’s simply exhilarating.
Owsley nods, and we drop off the rainbow, freefalling through a hole in an azure sky, landing gently at the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets in San Francisco. We have found ourselves in 1967, in the middle of the famous Summer of Love. Over 100,000 hippies converged on the Haight-Ashbury district that summer.
Beatnik bohemians are everywhere. Smiling. Laughing. Hugging. Fucking. Oh shit, get a room. Tripping their balls off. The air smells of marijuana, patchouli, and body odor with a tinge of minge. As I watch a group of tie-dyed counter-culturists sharing a brown bag of magic mushrooms, they’re quoting erstwhile Harvard professor Timothy Leary’s famous “turn on, tune in, drop out” mantra.
As the drugs kick in, there is no fear. Their receptivity to the impending mind-bending experience is sublime. As they slowly sip their beers and the psilocybin works her magic, they talk about truly radical and subversive things. Shit the government should worry about. Connectivity with the universe. Expanding their self-awareness. Exploring a more profound spirituality. Promoting expressions of love. Dank, dangerous stuff.
It feels bittersweet. Sweet because of their authenticity. Bitter because of their naivete. Owsley always has a shit-eating grin on his face. No clue what he is thinking.
Little did our small brigade of trippy troopers know, the Nixon administration would sign into law the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970. With the massive concert event at Woodstock in 1969 as the final barometer of the flowerchildren’s disinterest in authority or conformity, conservatives needed to reel in the rabble and ban their rebellious behavior.
Another fucking reason to hate Richard Nixon. He killed love and served up the 1970s. Yuck.
Owsley does not speak. He holds out his little blue paw, and away we go to kiss the sky.
Psilocybin: Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict
Like a psychoactive ghost leading Ebenezer Scrooge, my blue bruin levitates us to the twinkling rainbow, and we once more permeate the veil of history. As we miraculously transcend relativity, Pink Floyd is blaring from all the stars. Hauntingly experimental. Avant-garde sound collages. Ugly. Edgy.
We alight at the University of Rochester, Spring semester of my college Freshman year, 1988. I realize it is Dandelion Day because I am sporting a daring Minnie Mouse ensemble and recently ate a fistful of magic mushrooms.
The school’s flower is a dandelion as a joke. Dandelions are a prolific weed, so the school celebrated their botanical nihilism with a Friday holiday for the opening of Spring Fest weekend. Basically, it was a sanctioned reason to party. A few days to vent some steam amidst the intense academic rigor.
I am not in a good headspace.
- My “Freshman Fifteen” was showing. I feel fat. Some so-called friends reinforced that anxiety by telling me I looked fat in my Minnie Mouse costume that was enjoying her magnificent April reprise from last Halloween’s debut.
- I am riddled with guilt. My best friend had drowned just over a year earlier. I miss him terribly and feel enormous guilt for throwing him into a pool. Didn’t matter I didn’t know he couldn’t swim. I blame myself.
- I am failing out. My grades are in the toilet. Fraternity life and rugby have completely overtaken my misaligned priorities for my lifelong dream of medical school. So unaccustomed to failure, I don’t possess the coping skills to pull myself out of the academic ditch.
Sensing my looming depression, Owsley gives me a big fuzzy hug. I sneeze. Turns out, I’m allergic to his ethereal dander. Allergic even to magic? Fuck me.
As the psychotropics kick-in, my trip manifests my feelings of insecurity, shame, and inadequacy. Vivid visuals take over. Not the good kind.
I am hanging by my feet, upside down on a meat hook, moving along some sort of eternal conveyance system. I stop in front of Frankenberry – yeah, the monster from the disgusting General Mills strawberry marshmallow cereal box. He repeatedly feeds me white and pink Good & Plenty licorice candy. He laughs deeply and mumbles some gibberish in old Scottish.
When the psychic torture ended, and it feels like forever, I spend several hours on the floor of our dorm bathroom, puking my mind out. All night as the trip continues for seemingly endless hours, I can only taste licorice choking in my throat every time I barf.
I have never since ingested licorice.
Look. As Jerry and I concurred earlier, there were other times in college where I had positive experiences partying with close friends and taking psilocybin mushrooms. I was in a better headspace then. I was with experienced sojourners and the safety factor was high. Totally different experience.
I am in no way advocating extensive use of mind-altering drugs. But I think Owsley was showing me it was not always a bed of roses nor a mouthful of licorice. Please take heed. Everything in moderation.
Owsley tries another hug, and I shove him away by his perma-grin face. No. We join hand and paw, and our journey resumes.
Psilocybin: Tomorrow Never Knows
We glide along the glimmering prism of radiant energy, propelling us…forward? The cosmic drums and sitar of The Beatles blare in Dolby® surround sound. I am certain we are moving forward in time.
Colors fade, and I open my eyes, sitting on my leather sectional. Fiona has aged, her face creased and careworn with time. But still beautiful to me. Where I once held a glass of wine, I now hold a container of Ensure®. I am fucking old as dirt.
On the TV, an elderly but still damn fine Anderson Cooper discusses all the miracles achieved using psilocybin. Turns out, identical to hydroxychloroquine and oleandrin, it’s some sort of miracle substance.
Once a lonely experimental investigation site in 2020, the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is a present-day global leader in the studied deployment of psilocybin therapeutics.
In addition to providing relief to people suffering from addiction, anxiety, and depression years ago, this wonder drug has also solved the following crises…
- Defeated Covid-19. This is a bit of a misnomer. Psilocybin was administered to all Covidiots. Following the overthrow of the Trump Regime, an armed CDC rounded up the Covidiots and fed them large (some say toxic) doses of the hallucinogen. They went crazy with self-loathing, dying from a rare ailment dubbed Douchitis. After they all died, the rational people stayed safely home until a vaccine emerged. Now the world is a happier, healthier, and more harmonious place.
- Enabled First Contact. Alien intelligence was too advanced for us to notice. It required a firm belief in the Mandela Effect to actualize into real parallel universes crossing over into our own. The Bobs are a sentient species of dildos (Battery Operated Boyfriends) that share interdimensional cosmic pairings with humans. For every PS human, there is a replica PS Bob, similar in every prodigious detail of their essence except that PS Bob is a dildo. Our scientists are still hard at work deciphering their strange whirring and buzzing language.
- Proved the existence of god. Apparently to heavenly entities, psilocybin is a gateway drug to the Pearly Gates. Everyone on the other side uses it to attain a fuller, more personal connection to the vibrations of the Universe. The Bobs opened our eyes to this amazing vibrating reality. Also designated as “God’s Dandruff (GD),” psilocybin is like dust in the His Dark Materials trilogy. The drug is a remnant of elemental consciousness, also once called the soul. By consuming GD, consciousness joins across the cosmos to other States of Being (SOB), creating one giant GD-SOB.
Satisfied, I take Owlsey’s mute paw one last time, as we return to our time and reality.
Psilocybin: The End
My middle-aged eyes flutter open. Fiona releases me from the warmth of our cuddle as I sit up. Had I fallen asleep? Was this all a dream?
On the TV, a late-night homage, possibly an infomercial, blares music loudly. Something from The Doors. Jim Morrison screaming something about wanting to fuck his mother. Disturbing, troubled times, the Sixties.
Like a psilocybin trip, that dream was intense. So real.
I look around my living room, secretly wishing that Jerry or Owsley will jump out and startle me. Or maybe PS Bob will tickle my butthole with a quick hello. We would all have such a big belly laugh. But, alas, none of the above occurs. Sigh.
Tying (or perhaps tie-dying) it all together, what did I learn from this experience?
- Psychedelic drugs are neither good nor bad. People are. So, if you wish to take hallucinations for a test drive, do so wisely, cautiously, and safely. No judgment. You do you, friend. But if you are a Covidiot? Avoid.
- Therapy is on my agenda for 2021. Too many unresolved issues from the past, and if I want to meet god, I need to clear that up before some future psilocybin hallucination involves Count Chocula feeding me rat turds. Or, worse, getting the Violet Beauregarde treatment from Booberry. Brrr.
- I love my couch, Fiona, way too fucking much. I am going to Lazy Boy tomorrow and getting an uncomfortable, overpriced chair. Covid has made me apathetic and kind of weird. Need to work those kinks out before my wife gets her SW Bob to visit a lot more frequently.
For today, let’s close with the unsettling lyrics of the Lizard King:
This is the end / Beautiful friend / This is the end / My only friend, the end.
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Psilocybin: Set List from this Article
Truckin’, The Grateful Dead, American Beauty © 1970
Purple Haze, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? © 1967
Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict, Pink Floyd, Ummagumma © 1969
Tomorrow Never Knows, The Beatles, Revolver © 1966
The End, The Doors, The Doors © 1967