“No, I’m not putting my hands up. I don’t even like Detroit”. I stand on the outskirts of the smoky karaoke bar, deep in the heart of Chinatown, arms crossed, forbidding myself to participate. My friends on stage are riled up Lady Marmalade style, and the crowd around us is the regular daddy-issue-blondes and football-is-a-real-thing-dudes.
“Come on”, my friend coerces me, “I just found some acid. Let’s drop”.
My night takes a turn of the unexpected kind.
Before I can agree to the terms and conditions I find myself on stage butchering Hey Jude while trying not to be distracted by the spotlight spider-webbing above me. As I take a seat and ponder my musical prowess a troupe of four break out and start break dancing in sync to the Vengaboys. I can’t tell if it is real or a hallucination, though the disbelief and/or horror in my friends’ eyes is a nice assurance.
I remember previous plans to meet another friend on the other side of town and bail before the Vengaboys dancers go on some kind of spree. I promise my friend Dave I had a present for him. I meet him on Smith St, Collingwood at 2am and tell him to close his eyes and stick out his tongue. Most people would balk at such a request from an obviously high fuck-up of a human; but that probably wasn’t even the weirdest demand Dave has had on that street. Or even that night. I place the small aluminium square on his tongue and tell him to swallow. Only after does he ask what it was.
We head to a place lit mostly by the egos of the men who dwell there. A place, where the number of dance floors is outnumbered only by the number of bars and where the toilets double as hedonistic sex dens. A place that I rarely venture that only now seems appropriate under the patterned guide of my hallucinogenic friend.
We dance and we sweat the night away and everything is beautiful and bright. We stumble out at a point when the night had become an early morning and we rush to get back to his house before the sun reveals us in a natural light we are not ready for. In the safety of his backyard we sit and watch the sky as the sun rises and fills the blue above us with stunning patterns of kaleidoscopic wonder. The clouds march about and shift in uniform like a soft army and the birds awaking for their early worm ebb and flow about the ocean in the sky.
His housemate awakes and sees us through the kitchen window as he fills the kettle for a morning brew. He tilts his head and ponders what these strange creatures are doing. He comes out and without any air of accusation or penalty, asks if we are tripping. We respond with a soft yes, distracted still by the beauty of the dancing sky. He shrugs his approval and re-enters the house to prepare for the day.
I remember I have to work in a few hours so we decide to crash for the night, giving the Saturday the rest it deserves. I crash on the couch and he in his room. I close my eyes and try to sleep, but find the patterns in the sky are now emulated in the dark backs of my eyelids. I cannot escape the beauty.
What feels like minutes is morphed into hours by the ringing of the alarm on my phone. I did not sleep a wink. Dave awakes and we shower and get ready for the day ahead. We go out for breakfast, chomping down some sustenance, more out of habit than want. I head off to work and he into the day; we are still slightly sprightly in our step.
I start my shift at work and think I am getting away with my still hazy state of being, until a co-worker queries my status. I respond to her question with a question of my own, a question I should have asked at the start of the evening in fact,
“How long does acid usually last…?”
She laughs and I dart off, marvelling at the amount of purple decorating the halls of my work place. So much purple, so much fun, and to think I never took the time to notice it all.