I didn’t do drugs in the seventies. In an era when you could do time for doing thyme, to not do drugs was strictly a personal decision, not really a moral issue. Luckily, I never had to apologize for my non-peer pressure attitude. I was in the Coast Guard, I was everybody’s personal, designated driver, and I was, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, “naturally high.” Stoners (pot heads in the vernacular of the era) would ask me what I was on, and I’d reply, “Life.”
They’d slowly nod their heads in a sort of bobble-headed fashion, and remark in that slow weed-induced drawl, “See, man…I told you they were putting it in the cereal.”
No, I didn’t do drugs in the seventies. I did frequent all the “hot spots” like the basement coffee house of the Presbyterian Church downtown. A few well-meaning, albeit misguided individuals, were under the misconception that if they built it, they would come to abide safely in a drug-free environment, away from the psychedelic temptations that lay in wait for them just around the corner. And, coincidentally, just around the corner is where the psychedelic sales rep set up his booth, where all could imbibe before they would abide inside.
Many an evening, I played a sort of Laurel and Hardy routine opposite some stick-of-a-figure “head” with a pale, blank “Earth to Mars” expression that he had applied earlier that day, compliments of his local cannabis farmer. He’d teeter-totter on his chair, just barely saving himself from a swan dive at the last moment, only to sit bolt upright as if to say, “I tried that.”
A half-hour of this bobbing and weaving, and I couldn’t take anymore. In my best Olli voice, I politely inquired, “So…Stanley…what do you think of the coffee house so far?”
And without missing a beat, he scratched his head, leaned over the table, seeming to defy gravity and announced in that liquid-smoke voice, “I’mmm sooooo stonnnned.”
Little wonder why I didn’t did drugs in the seventies.
But then, who could resist a temptress who had my rapt attention that one summer? Just this side of Carrie Fisher (Shampoo-Episode Six, Star Wars Carrie Fisher) and the whole other side of Goldie Hawn (pick any Goldie Hawn vehicle) and she invites me to an acid party.
I was like a deer caught in the headlights of her date’s sports car, blinded by desire and that feeling you have when you’re about to do something totally illicit but your conscience tells you to deal with it tomorrow, you may not last the night. I did contemplate what her date must have thought of me tagging along and how it would slam any aspirations he had of being her central focus in a no-holds-barred scenario of naked bodies thrashing about, amidst their hallucinogenic journey through Strawberry Fields while the music of In A Gada da Vida imploded the room.
And then she chirped, “You are coming, aren’t you?”
What the hell, he’s got a TR4 and I’m driving the Dodge Dart.
I should have suspected that this adventure was risky. Who hangs out at the corner under a street light, reading a newspaper at 11:00PM? Survey says! Narc! Of course, the place was under surveillance. It wasn’t an official acid party if you didn’t have your own personally assigned narc on stakeout.
I entered this uptown, second floor, son-of-a-white-collar host’s den of iniquity and scanning the room, I realized that the coffee house had moved to its new location uptown. There was Stanley, still presumably sooo stonned, reassuring a guest that he would be his guide for the rest of the journey. This gesture conjured visions of John Wilkes hailing Abe and the Missus, “Hey, I’m off to the theatre, I got comps. Why don’t you guys come with me?”
Stanley’s charge, by now, had managed to insert a portion of his head into one of the stereo speakers blasting; I Am The Walrus, while Stanley was heard to say, “Nooooo, man, you can’t crawl into the speaker to see the Beatles, man. They’re not really in there, man. They’re like, totally a fragment of your imagination, man. Like…”
And at that very moment, Stanley turned, and seeing me habitually plucking at my handle bar mustache, managed to raise his voice above the cacophonous din and announce, “Like, Goo goo g’ joob, man! You are the Walrus!”
I spent the rest of the night nodding to loyal Walrus devotees and telling them to go in peace in response to their repetitive chorus of Goo goo g’ joob. And what of the lure, the irresistible bait that reeled me into a certain catastrophic encounter with Leary’s cure-all?
Well, I never “dropped a tab.” I was the only one who didn’t, and everyone there thought I was the only one who did. I did sleep with the temptress that night, if you can call lying fitfully, adjacent to her equally fitful body on a hardwood floor, as loyal Walrus worshipers chanted, “Goo goo g’ joob,” into the wee, thin morning hours.
I didn’t do drugs in the seventies. I can’t wait until I’m in my seventies to get started.