Press any of my amigos and they'll reveal their curse: I'm a monster. A two-headed monster. A bipolar control freak. One minute I'm multitasking and micromanaging so furiously that veins bulge out of my neck. The next, I'll use past-due bills for toilet paper.
Reconciling the two sides of my personality is nigh impossible. If I were a roller coaster, I'd be a rickety old wooden one, like the Cyclone on Coney Island, poised to fly apart at any second.
Just this afternoon, I was kvetching to a friend that my shoulders felt especially sore after my morning workout. "Maybe you should try lighter weights," she suggested. Earlier, she'd almost pulled her arm out of the socket attempting to hoist one of my dumbbells.
"Oh, and maybe I'll just pump up my biceps by sitting on my fat ass eating Ho-Hos all day," I snapped back.
My friend smiled. She knows that if I'm acting like a drill sergeant today, it's because my vaunted self-discipline went AWOL yesterday. As one of those hopped-up blonde starlets from the '50s once remarked: When I'm good, I'm very, very good . . . and when I'm bad, I'm better. Over the Fourth of July weekend, I was—to paraphrase Keanu—most excellent.
Whenever possible, I spend Independence Day in Washington, DC. Two of my dearest friends dwell there, in a kaleidoscopic townhouse straight out of a Fellini flick. These boys work hard and play hard. Unlike me, they don't suffer a ceaseless internal tug-of-war. When we commune, they keep me on a round-the-clock program of rest and relaxation. Resistance is futile.
Which is why I didn't argue when Friday night they announced, "We're dropping acid," in the blas頷ay other people quip, "We're going to Sizzler." I'd already sensed it coming. They'd popped the Chemical Brothers' Surrender into the CD player earlier, and the Random feature kept returning to two tracks repeatedly: "Under the Influence" and "Out of Control."
It's amazing what seems acceptable on psychedelics. Like watching a hirsute Peruvian man in his 40s morph into Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick before your eyes. Or making an impromptu architectural tour of your nation's capital at five in the morning. Who knew the Department of Housing and Urban Development looked so cool?
The Washington Monument is currently undergoing restoration. Scaffolding surrounds the monolith from tip to toe, and it is illuminated from inside at night. The effect suggests a rejected MFA thesis, ࠬa Christo's islands wrapped in pink plastic. I could see clear liquid pulsating all around the facade. But the visuals weren't the definitive proof of how kick-ass our drugs were. No, that came a minute later, when our driver popped the new Jamiroquai album, Synkronized, into the tape player.
This ersatz UK funkmeister has always rubbed me the wrong way. Probably because he's a blatant stoner, and because I'm jealous of people who don't have to mount a traveling three-ring circus just to mellow out. But I forgave Jay Kay all his trespasses—the ludicrous Dr. Seuss hat, the nausea-inducing "Virtual Insanity" video—as "Supersonic" made calculated love to my drug-addled ears. Soaring highs and penetrating bass frequencies undulated in the sticky summer darkness, and the automobile's interior rippled like high-speed film of a margarine-tub lid warping in a hot oven.
The following day, before guilt could cloud my conscience, my hosts popped Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas into the VCR. Watching Johnny Depp careen through Hunter S. Thompson's misadventures, I decided that my own antics from the night before were inconsequential. And that an encore performance couldn't possibly do us any harm.
Experts say extensive recreational drug use can have tragic repercussions on an individual's behavior. Taking LSD—punctuated with cocktails and a few joints, plus tranquilizers to come down—two nights in a row must qualify as "extensive"; I can offer no other excuse for willfully dancing to Madonna's pointless "Beautiful Stranger" twice in one night. At the same club. Or for passing up heaping plates of picnic fare on the Fourth, opting instead for a couple bumps of crystal meth, and ingesting only half a BLT to cushion a day's worth of non-stop beer drinking.
Eventually, the fireworks—both inside and out—ground to a conclusion. I scurried home and recuperated for a few days. But this morning, that stern voice in my skull was up at sunrise. "Get up, maggot," it barked. "Time to sweat out that poisonous residue!"
Apparently nobody told the grumpy angel on my shoulder that acid lingers in fat cells. The harder I ran around the track, the more light-headed I felt. The trees shone a brighter shade of green. Ultimately, I racked up more laps than I have in weeks. Maybe that Ho-Hos training regimen isn't such a wacky notion after all.