Why you should care
There but for the grace of sentencing laws in your community go you.
Adam produced a large baggie of dusty organic chunks, chalky with hints of red, reminiscent of the Arizona desert it came from. The shriveled, disintegrating flesh of a divine mushroom. The fly agaric, amanita muscaria. It’s administered ritually as an entheogen in parts of Siberia. There are rumors that this was the Hindu gods’ soma, and I have even heard it whispered that early Christianity rose out of a fertility cult devoted to the amanita.
“I got this from the Navajo,” he said.
Adam had quit his sculpture degree and become a shepherd on a reservation. A few months ago, he had returned to his mother’s house.
“It’s a little old. But it should be fine. But these were given to me with certain rules, and this is sacred, so we need to take this seriously.” We were to keep a light stomach, an easy mind and avoid all intoxicants. Definitely no alcohol.
It was a marvelous vision. We’d go out for a long walk in the woods, come home after sunset, have a salad, perhaps, and drink the tea.
Adam’s mom was going to be home all night, but she would likely go to bed early. And anyway, she’d seen us grow up and had witnessed the deep strangeness at our unadulterated cores. What could we possibly do that would seem that abnormal?
The walk in the woods was great. The air was still, and our hearts and minds had slowed to a contemplative pace. In accordance with the rules, we had avoided all intoxicants and stayed light in both mind and stomach.
…She’d seen us grow up and had witnessed the deep strangeness at our unadulterated cores. What could we possibly do that would seem that abnormal?
Then Adam pushed open the door to his mother’s home, and my jaw dropped.
“Welcome home, boys!”
A veritable feast covered the dining table. It was entirely too much food. Pasta, cheese, meatballs — BEER being poured for us.
However far we reach for spiritual heights, mothers are there to anchor us to the inescapable history of our behavior. She had long pinned us down for the gluttonous fatboys we were, and she indulged us with a form of love we were helpless against. We accepted our tasty defeat rather wholeheartedly and plowed through the platter.
Adam’s mom finally went upstairs for the night. Gasping for air through the cheese and oil clogging our pipes, we dragged our feet to the kitchen and prepared for the main event.
Adam said, “Should be fine.”
“To Brahma!” We linked arms and downed our cups. I noticed Adam left the bulk of the pulp. I shoveled all of mine into my mouth.
We sat in silence in the living room on a pair of couches facing each other across a coffee table, and waited for the fungus to take over. I yawned and let my mind drift, as the minutes rolled on, and nothing — VOOM!
I fell suddenly to my right, hitting my head on the wooden arm of the couch. I pushed myself up. VOOM. Again. My body went so limp that it didn’t even hurt. I sat up again. VOOM — again, my head bounced off the arm of the couch.
It took great effort to stand. I wobbled and turned my head to look for Adam, but that set the whole room into motion. The house spun and a storm raged inside. My stomach was a magma chamber lined with pickle-spiced bile, and at the center of it all, where otherwise my soul should have been, sat a whole meatball, a mark of gluttony and a karmic time bomb.
Aaalllrrggghhhh! Projectile vomit.
A blurry Adam rushed onto the scene. “Holy shit.”
Adam was now the adult in the room, maybe the only human being. I had transformed completely into a mushroom. He pulled me over to the kitchen sink and shoved my face under running water. This helped.
Adam cleaned up what he could and said, “Let’s go down to the basement so my mom doesn’t wake up.” It was imperative to avoid a confrontation with his mother until this whole thing blew over. VOOM. My body went limp, and my head bounced off a coffee table, producing a surprisingly loud thud.
We heard the shifting of weight above. Footsteps. I froze, my body limp on the floor and my head bent against the edge of the table. I thought of Anne Frank.
“What was that?”
Adam desperately searched for a reassuring lie but totally missed the mark. “Mike just fell and hit his head on the table.”
“What? Mike’s here?”
“Oh, errrrr, yes. But he’s fine. Everything’s fine.”
“Hi.” I rounded up every ounce of will and called out in my best human.
“OK … Keep it down.”
Neither of us moved for a while, until I stood up and started throwing up again.
Then … “Oh, no,” I said.
Adam heard a faint blurt and looked at me. He followed my nervous eyes to my feet.
Thick brown fluid started rolling out of my jeans and onto the floor.
Adam grabbed my elbow and looked anxiously toward the stairs, beyond which lay both the bathroom and his mother’s bedroom. We started working our way up the stairs, leaving a trail of smelly. The stairs slithered beneath our feet, and a few very furtive tiptoed steps alternated with heavy stumbling thuds.
Adam threw me into the bathroom, closed the door and ran off to clean up my puke and feces before his mother smelled anything fishy.
I felt so free in the bathroom. All the shame and anxiety of purging all over Adam’s mother’s house was over. In the bathroom I felt free to let go. I threw my clothes to the floor and hunched over and rolled my naked corpulence into the bathtub. So free.
Adam opened the door. He turned the shower on me. I lay naked, writhing, as the concert of sound and sensation sprayed golden spots in my mind’s eye.
Suddenly Adam turned the water off. He pulled me out, even dried me off, and wrapped me in a towel. He had miraculously gotten things more or less cleaned up. He looked back and got to work on the final soiled corner.
I felt great. It’s all over. I was cleansed. I was ready to lay down and close my eyes, whether or not I made it to the other side. If this was the end for me, so be it.
Unaware of Adam, I let the towel drop and walked naked toward bed. Ahhhh, glorious bed. I walked into the dark room and reached to pull back the blanket.
“No, no, no, no!” came an urgent but deathly quiet yelp as Adam tried to pull me back.
Inches away from me, Adam’s mother lay in bed. She turned and opened her eyes.