25. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

My parents did not have a lot of money while I was growing up. When it was time for my Bar Mitzvah, we had it at Leonards of Great Neck, like we were supposed to. Throughout the night, relatives gave me envelopes which I put in my suit’s jacket pocket and turned over at the end of the night.

There were Kennedy half-dollars (18, of course), a hundred dollar bill and a fifty dollar bill in addition to the checks and the savings bonds. I got to keep the half dollars and the bills, but I never thought much about what happened to the rest.

In my junior year, the year I turned 20, my parents gave me the bonds, which had been sitting in their safe deposit box so I could cash them in and use them for living expenses at school. The checks they had used to pay for the bar mitzvah, something I wasn’t sure how I felt about, but we cashed the bonds in and I had nearly 500 in cash. I put a hundred dollar bill in my wallet, just to see how it felt. The rest I left in my drawer until I went back to school.

I knew these guys in high school, friends of friends really, who used to sell acid. Only acid. They were the first people I knew who had 9-track reel-to-reel tapes of Dead concerts which amazed me. They kept one of each batch they sold  in the Hall of Fame which grew to three large pill bottles worth of pills–small barrels, flat tabs, large Vitamin Cs dropped with liquid acid. For a Dead concert, the spring before I went to college, theybought up half of the fifth and six rows at the Fillmore. You could do that then, if you wanted to spend a couple of hours on line on Tuesday, the day they went on sale. They crushed the pills and took the tops off of a box of Oreos. A sprinkle of powder, top back on and a re-roll of the cookies in tinfoil. They carried the rolls of cookies with us and we spent the time on line munching the cookies.

Anyway, the night before I left, I was hanging out with them when someone mentioned that they had some DMT to sell. I took the no longer crisp hundred and bought a gram. Pink plastic looking crystals. I took them back to school and brought some over to John’s when I got back.

We crushed some of the crystals and sprinkled the powder on dried parsley, just like all the anti-drug literature said dope fiends did, and smoked them. John put Pink Floyd on and turned out the lights. A couple of hits each and instantly, everything around me was intricate tiny cartoon images-red, green, purple, and blue.  Someone once said that if LSD is a trip, DMT is like being shot out of a cannon. It was a rocket ship for sure, but for me there was nothing but colors, no insight, no amazement, just the center eye sitting watching the colors around it without change. We each took another hit and the colors redoubled. After 30 minutes, they simply went away.

I had a lot of DMT, it turned out. John and I used to drag it out at odd moments, jump on the rocketship, then return to whatever we were doing. Each time I crushed the pink powder, I’d remember my bar mitzvah and wonder which of my relatives had bought me a gram of DMT on the day I became a man.

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