I was sitting in a small recliner and realized with a start, that I had quit breathing.
It wasn’t so much the realization that had made me nervous…but the fact that when I tried to start breathing again, I had forgotten how.
Let me recap…
My Uncle Chris is a long time stoner, and I love him dearly. At the time of the above non-breathing episode it was in the late 70’s and I was around 13-14 years old I think. My Unk (that’s his name for this story now) My Unk had taken me with him to town in his 1970 something Gran Torino. It was Bottle fly green with a T-Top and the tires had white letters on them. It also had Glass Packs (loud mufflers for the she-folks). It was a cool car.
We had left our small niche in the sticks and headed to the big town of Bainbridge, Georgia. Population? Maybe 10,000 souls…and some rednecks scattered around. My Unk taking me with him to town was a boon to my credibility and status amongst the younger members of our horde. I was a big man now. I got to ride in the front seat too. You couldn’t have told me shit!!
We drove down dirt roads. We drove thru peanut fields. We occasionally crossed a paved road now and then. In hindsight now, I’d say that we were taking the back roads for a nefarious reason. Sharp…ain’t me?
When we finally got to town, Unk pulled into the driveway of his friend Ziggy’s house. That’s right…Ziggy. Ziggy has a wife named Diane and they are good people. Back then, Diane kept a tidy yard and house, their 2 kids were clean and polite, and Ziggy was a marijuana merchant. Now Ziggy is a retired real estate guy and Diane is still at home. The 2 kids? Both freaking doctors…not just doctors…a Neuro Surgeon and a Plastic Surgeon! They don’t return my calls…rich people!!
Unk and Ziggy greeted each other. Ziggy gave me a punch in the arm and Diane fussed over me…she always does, even now that I’m 40 something. Unk and Ziggy went to a back room while Diane poured me a glass of ice tea that was so sweet you could have poured it on pancakes and never knew the difference. Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time with blood sugar now…Anyways
Unk and Ziggy came back into the room and I noticed that they had both turned into Chinese people. At least their eyes had. But their faces were flushed red like a drunken Irish man. Chinese Irish? I was sitting in the recliner now under an air conditioner (A/C), drinking the diabetic libation and enjoying the cool breeze while Molly Hatchet played low in the house somewhere. It was awesome those days.
Unk walked up to me and handed me a pipe with a man’s face carved on it. I didn’t know what he wanted me to do with it, since everyone in my household knew I detested smoking. You get forced to wash out everyone’s ashtrays and see how much you like to smoke! I looked up at him and took the pipe. I held it out from my body like it was contagious. I gave him a look that said “What the hell do you want me to do with this?”
His glazed eyes looked at me. He had a shit-eating grin on his face. “Hit it” he said. I looked at him…I looked at the pipe. I looked at him again. Then I took the pipe more firmly, and slowly began to tap it on the coffee table in front of me. He and Ziggy busted out with the kind of crazed laughter that only pot heads can achieve. I was dumb-struck. Diane came to my rescue. She said “No baby, like this” She raised the pipe to her lips took a long, deep drag. She lowered the pipe and closed her eyes, holding her breath. I watched her. “This is new” I thought. I’d never seen anyone hold cigarette smoke like that.
She exhaled the bluish mist, slowly opening her eyes at the same rate as the smoke left her mouth. She looked at me and grinned. She was turning Chinese right in front of my eyes! That stuff smells funny I thought. She handed me back the pipe. I took it and looked at it. Unk said with obvious pride “That’s actual Hash…you only get that from Lebanon.” He looked at Ziggy and added “Bought it off some Navy guy At Ft. Benning” Ziggy nodded and grunted…He was eating potato chips now. Diane kept transforming into the Ming Dynasty.
I took “A HIT” from the pipe…copying what I had seen Ms. Diane do. I sat there holding my breath. When I was in fear of puking my lungs out, I exhaled. Unk said “It’s his first time”. Ziggy smiled and said “popping his cherry”. I knew what that meant. Diane put a hand on my shoulder and smiled at me. “Oh lord” she said.
After I had began the change into Chinese Irish, I just sat there. My body was numb. My head was about 3’ above my body. It felt like a million fingers were drumming lightly all over my body. I could actually hear the blood pumping thru my veins! The ribbons that Diane had tied into the grill of their A/C were the most interesting thing I had ever seen. The red and yellow ribbons were dancing around in different directions in PERFECT rhythm to Molly Hatchets “Dreams I’ll never see”.
I don’t know how long I stared at them, but I soon became aware I was melting into the recliner. I couldn’t move. I had already started adhering to the upholstery of the chair. I gripped the arm rest with my fingers, trying to keep from disappearing into the fabric. Just as I began to give in to the chairs power, the sensation passed. Man…that was close. I took a deep breath, and then I forgot how to exhale.
I sat there…my brain racing. My body was trying to pull up the file on the technique of respiration. “Invalid File” my brain shot back. I was starting to panic. I was still squeezing the chair to death with my hands and looking around for help. They were all sitting around the table “hitting” the pipe and eating pork skins now! Not even looking in my direction!
I was dying. Molly Hatchet said so.
[to be continued] First Hit…Part 2…Paranoia