It was two days after homecoming, where my girlfriend Jamie and I had skipped out to take a light dose of the psilocybin mushrooms we had purchased a half-ounce of. Jamie was back at her boarding school in Pennsylvania, and I was left with more than three-eighths of an ounce of these stinky brown fungi (shrooms smell like feet and taste like poop, for those that don’t know).
Before long into that evening, I was around a group of wily friends. Brandon, my black friend who had a sweet afro with an afro-pick in it, and loved George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, and Alex, my friend from Greece who grew hydroponic marijuana in his closet and could have been a professional graffiti tagging artist. These guys were heavy into the drug scene, just as I was. It was an inevitable recipe for disaster that I was around them with a large amount of psychedelics.
We were hanging out with a group of various friends, and before long, I took Brandon and Alex aside and told them I had a large bag of mushrooms. “Hey guys, do you want to take a dose with me tonight?” I asked them. I couldn’t resist for long. They both agreed and came with me into a room away from everyone. I pulled out the massive amount of boomers from my pocket.
“Holy crap man, that’s a lot of mushrooms Benny!” Alex exclaimed in a British-Greek accent.
“Yeah dude, let’s just take part of em’.” Brandon added.
“No man…” I said, wanting to be shocking and extreme as always… “Let’s do them all…”
I always had a way of persuading people towards insanity. “The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.” (Prov. 24:9) Even though Alex and Brandon wanted to do a smaller amount of mushrooms, I forced my opinion on them, and we divvied out three massive doses of these unpredictable spores. We were each going to eat about an eighth and a half, or three-sixteenths, or six thirty-seconds, or twelve sixty-fourths of an ounce. Before they or I could change our minds, we had already ingested the mushrooms, and we were on our way into the crazy wilderness of our minds in the summer evening.
We soon smoked dope after ingesting these dastardly cow poop growths, so I don’t remember much of what happened immediately after. The next memory I had was driving in Alex’s car. Alex drove a little gray 1990 Ford Fiesta, and he had tagged the ceiling with all sorts of permanent marker graffiti artwork. I looked up at the ceiling of his car and the lines started to swarm and merge together. I looked out at the road in the foggy Ohio evening and saw the yellow lines in the middle begin to twist and turn in snake-like, serpentine locomotion. I exclaimed at Alex; “I think these boomers are kicking in strong man!” He glared back at me with a maniacal glance; “Oh yeah Bennnny!” They were starting to take over Brandon’s mind as well as he giggled uncontrollably.
The next thing I knew we were at some party. The moon was full in the foggy sky, and it felt like we were in a horror movie. Life patterns squirmed on the grassy ground, filled with phantoms of death and fear. My mood began to sink into a malaise. All of a sudden I realized I hadn’t seen Brandon in awhile. “Where’s Brandon man?” I muttered in a complete stupor to everyone around me as they stared at me. Then I looked out into the grassy field and saw the outline of Brandon’s afro. I ran to him as if I had found a long lost friend after twenty years of separation. “Hey Brandon, are you ok?” I yelled in worry. “I don’t know Ben, I’m just not happy. I feel like I’m in hell.” Brandon replied.
As soon as fear, worry, or objects of conscience are introduced into a trip, the whole thing goes sour. This is why psychedelics are truly evil. In my mind, they are the expensive chocolate in the Devil’s candy store. You have to abandon your moral compass to enjoy the experience. When you do that, it leads to violence, hedonism, sexual permissiveness, manipulation, lying, and more. But Brandon had just done the thing that would make this trip go sour. He had introduced the fear of an eternal afterlife apart from God into the mix. Deep down, I was afraid of the same fate, because God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For, ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:18-20) I may have been ignorant of God’s true loving character, but I was not ignorant of the fact that the life I was leading was totally wrong, and that I was paying consequences for it.
The next memory I have was being at Alex’s grandma’s house. Alex was completely unhinged and roaming around the house babbling in Greek and English, trying his best not to let the intense high overtake him. I began to mention serious things about death and God, because I was growing weary. He stared me in the eye and yelled at me; “Shut the f*** up man! Don’t talk about that right now!” This made my fear worse. Brandon had roamed off again into some unknown corridor of Alex’s grandma’s house. Alex continued to roam around babbling, trying to fend off the madness that was impending. I saw a spider on the wall that seemed about half the size of my body, and seemed to stare into my soul as the fear grew. I panicked and felt as though I was dead, dropping to the floor. I scrambled and ran for the phone (this was 1999 and we used land-line phones still). Alex was cursing me, telling me to stop it and calm down. I dialed my parents’ number, and much like the bad trip on mushrooms in the summer of 1998, I fumbled through telling them that I was freaking out. I told them where I was and pleaded with them to pick me up.
I don’t remember my parents arriving. I don’t remember the drive home. I do remember watching a family movie on the Hallmark channel that night, and it was the scariest movie I had ever seen, because the old man’s face on the TV’s skin was melting off and he looked like Satan. Everything looked like the devil’s territory that night, as the foggy moon melted away in the sky. At one point, sitting in my parents’ living room, I looked in the carpet and saw a being with a gargoyle-like head began to emerge from out of the ground. This being, seemingly male, had serpents flowing in and out of his belly. I harkened back to thinking of my friend who had done so much acid, that he saw Satan pop out of the ground and rip out his heart. My entire body received a chill like never before. I swore in that moment that I would never touch psychedelics again.
I was like a desperate little child that night. I begged my parents to camp out in the living room with me in sleeping bags, for fear that I would freak out and trip into a permanent nightmare. I was afraid that the proverb I would later read would come true, that “the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” (Prov. 24:20) I was so afraid to die at this point that my fear began to shape my life in a different direction. It may seem a paradox to many, but it is true that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.” (Psalm 111:10) At this young age of seventeen I may not yet have truly “feared the Lord”, but I was beginning to fear my mortality in an intense way, and it was magnified by taking psychoactive drugs. It wasn’t the drugs themselves that were causing the fear. I was having normal thoughts about life and the drugs intensified them and made them potential catalysts for insanity.