My eyes shot open and I began coughing violently. Each heave felt like it was coming from deeper and deeper inside my chest, until a final gag that sounded more like a cat coughing up a fur ball. I rolled to the edge of the bed, leaned over the garbage can, and spat out what felt like a golf ball worth of phlegm. Why do I always get sick right before homecoming?
As I raised my head out of the garbage I caught a glimpse of the clock. 8:30.
At first a feeling of shear disappointment swarmed over me. The five hours of sleep I had acquired would not be sufficient, and with my chest throbbing in pain I was unlikely to fall back asleep.
I spent the morning in nervous anticipation. Homecoming was a very unpredictable time, and the friends whom I had invited for the weekend were very unpredictable people.
Riz and I were dorm roommates a few years back. Since I was drunk when he called to see if he could stay with me over the weekend, he was quite confused when I invited him again a few days later. I was, however, a little disappointed to learn that he would only be in town from Friday night until Saturday morning.
Klive, on the other hand, is more of a wild card. He told me he would be in town by 3 pm on Friday, but having known Klive for almost a decade I wasn’t surprised when he arrived at 7. I didn’t even bother asking how long he would be staying, knowing that he would simply disappear whenever he felt like doing so. Klive always does whatever he wants, which you have to respect, in spite of how annoying it can be.
After getting Klive and Riz settled we pulled out a few drinks and began discussing our plans for the evening.
Klive wanted to go to one pre-drink and Riz and I another, but we all agreed that before we went anywhere we would all drop by my friend Rose’s. Rose was an attractive classmate of mine who lived in an apartment only a floor below mine. When I mentioned that she and her roommate were hosting a few of their cute friends this weekend Klive and Riz insisted on making an appearance.
When I opened the door to Rose’s apartment it seemed like nobody was home, even though their music could be heard from down the hall. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a girl I didn’t recognize holding a hair iron scamper into the bedroom like a cockroach when the lights flick on. Apparently the girls weren’t ready yet.
Riz and Klive followed me around the apartment until we found Rose sitting cross-legged on the floor. She was in front of a mirror with various cosmetic products surrounding her. Noticing me standing in her doorway she jumped to her feet and made her away over to us, carefully tiptoeing around her makeup. After I introduced Klive and Riz she took me by the hand and walked us around the apartment.
There was something about the way in which she introduced us to her friends that made her seem like the madam of a brothel. One by one she commanded each to put down their makeup and walk over. Before they had a chance to introduce themselves she would say “this is so-and-so,” stick out her arms and present them like Vanna White, and quickly shoo them away. After we met all 7 she retreated back to her room, and told us to wait for her in the living room.
As we waited the girls finished getting ready and came to join us, one by one. The first one out was Kat, Rose’s roommate, and her blonde friend, whose name is currently slipping my mind. We had a few drinks and made small talk as we waited for the rest to join us. After a while Kat asked us if we were going to be participating in the premiere event of homecoming weekend. On Saturday evening there was a massive party taking place inside a giant tent headlined by Deadmau5.
“What’s dead mouse?” asked Riz.
“Only the sickest DJ ever!” responded Klive.
I never understood Klive’s fascination with DJs, or anyone’s for that matter. I still don’t understand how spinning records can be considered a performance. Somehow this computer nerd from Niagara Falls named Joel Zimmerman was world famous at manning the DJ booth dressed in a mouse costume. To me a concert needs to at least include a guitar, so naturally I was against spending $80 on a ticket. At least that was the price before tickets sold out. Any tickets that became available at that point were going for as much as $200. I told Klive there was no way I was spending that kind of money. Unfortunately for me, Klive is deaf to the word “no.”
“Me and the girls are going,” said Kat. “We’re so excited.”
“Really?” said Klive, raising his eyebrows a little. “I really wanted to go but I only found out about it a few days ago. I’m still looking for tickets.”
“That sucks,” said Kat.
After a few seconds of silence she turned to me and said, “I hear you have some connections in this town. Do you know where we can get Molly for the show?”
“What’s Molly?” asked Riz.
“MDMA,” said Klive. “You for sure have to do it if you’re going to see Deadmau5.”
“Sorry Kat,” I said. “In ten minutes I could get you enough weed to make Willie Nelson jealous, but I usually stay away from hard drugs.”
“That’s too bad,” she replied.
“I know where you can find,” said Klive.
Riz shot him a surprised look, but Klive never surprises me anymore. I knew he was no stranger to such substances, and even in a town far from home, I knew he was always well connected. He assured Kat he would be able to find some, as she took down his number.
“We have to go see deadmau5,” said Klive a little while later as we shared a cigarette on Rose’s patio.
“I’m not spending $200 on those tickets,” I said.
“What if I can find us tickets for under a hundred?”
I paused for a moment, took a long drag of my cigarette, and said, “I’m not paying more than $80.”
“Deal! But if you go with me, you have to do Molly.”
I took another drag of my cigarette, which launched me into another coughing fit. Once I had finally stopped coughing a paused to consider his proposition.
Knowing that he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer I decided to humor him.
“Sure Klive,” I said, half sarcastically. “If you can find me a ticket for eighty and some Molly, I’m in.”
Klive was completely shocked, though I suspect he didn’t believe that I would actually do it.
My whole life I’ve never touched hard drugs, nor had I ever intended to, at least up until that moment. I was at first very confused what was happening to me. As soon as I made that sarcastic remark to Klive a strange feeling of anxiety came over me. My heart raced and I started to sweat, seemingly out of nowhere. At first I had no idea what was happening to me, but at that very moment somewhere deep down I realized that this was the first time Klive had offered when I had very little reason to say no.
This weekend was an exception to the regular rules and regulations that dictate how I live my life, or at least that’s what I told myself. This weekend was going to be my last ever homecoming as a student. It was a weekend I had eagerly anticipated for a long time, and a weekend that I wanted to be as memorable as possible.
I didn’t think about it the rest of the evening, knowing that there was still a chance Klive would fail to even acquire the tickets or the drugs.
After Kat and Rose’s Riz and I left to meet up with a few of our old friends while Klive went his own way, as he often does. We would spot him a few hours later stumbling out of a bar, but only briefly. Drunk out of his wits he walked with us a few blocks towards my apartment before mysteriously disappearing into the darkness once again. I really do mean that quite literally. One moment the three of us are walking down the street, the next I realize that we are suddenly down to two. We wouldn’t see him again until the next morning, but I wasn’t worried. With most people I would be concerned, but as mentioned earlier I know Klive fairly well. If I called the cops every time he disappeared for a few hours, they would eventually stop taking my calls.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of a marching band outside my window. It was 9 a.m. and I had gotten less than five hours of sleep.
A few coughs and a golf ball worth of phlegm later I was finally able to roll out of bed.
I had completely forgotten about the homecoming parade, which was currently making its way past my bedroom window, eliminating any possibility of falling back asleep.
On my way to the kitchen I passed by the living room where I found Riz passed out on the couch. I made myself a cup of coffee and watched the parade as I waited for him to wake up. He was amazingly able to sleep through the marching band, but was woken an hour later when Klive started banging on the door.
Still wearing the same clothes and baring the same drunk grin as last night, Klive walked through my door without saying a word, smelling like dog shit. He offered no explanation for where he disappeared to, and I didn’t bother asking. After going to the washroom he went into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of wine.
At first I just gave him a look, but after he ignored it I had to say something.
“You do realize that it’s 10:30 in the fucking morning, right?”
“It’s homecoming bro,” he calmly explained, still baring last night’s slur.
“Fair enough,” I said, and poured myself a glass.
He spent much of the next few hours on his phone, presumably touching base with various connections. Riz eventually packed up and headed back home, and Klive eventually disappeared to attend to his own matters, as he often does. Sick and tired I decided to take advantage of the Saturday afternoon calm before the storm. I was about to fall asleep when I was disturbed by a phone call from Klive.
“I got them.”
“What?” I asked, as my heart began beating faster and faster. “The tickets?”
“Two tickets to Deadmau5 for $80, and enough Molly to send a freshman to the morgue.”
“FUUUUUUCK!” I thought, as I told him how happy I was.
“Looks like we’re in for one hell of a night!” he shouted into the phone, obviously excited and likely intoxicated. “See you later motherfucker!”
Needless to say I wasn’t able to nap after that phone call. I tossed and turned for a while, but couldn’t stop debating in my head if I should actually go through with it or not. I would spend the day consulting with various friends, asking them for their opinion on the matter. At the end of each conversation, however, they all told me the same thing. It wasn’t their decision, it was mine, and they couldn’t tell me what to do.
With only a few hours until the show I still had no idea if I was going to try it, so I took out a pen and paper and made myself a list of pros and cons.
-Could be fun
-This was the last year I was living away at school
-Klive would be thrilled
-It’s my last homecoming
-I had tickets to a rave, and not doing it would be like going to a soccer game without beer
-I’m not sure that it’s all that bad for you
-It’s probably really bad for you
-It’s not my scene
-I will no longer be living proof that weed isn’t a gateway drug
-Fear of losing control
-Mau5 fans are sketchy
Though there were more items in the pros column the cons make compelling arguments. Either way the list had failed me, and at that moment, 6 hours before Deadmau5 was hitting the stage, I still hadn’t decided.
That evening Klive and I went out for dinner with our friends Madeline and Lisa to a well-known sushi restaurant nearby.
The four of us were sitting around the table sipping our Green Tea, when I noticed a woman that looked a little out of place walk in and sit down at the table in front of us. She was wearing a big fur coat in the middle of September, which she took off when she got to the table, revealing a dress that was a little much for your local sushi bistro.
Though it wasn’t a very high-class restaurant, she was certainly the only patron showing half a boob worth of cleavage. She also had a few tattoos popping out of her dress as well, which covered much of her neck and upper arms.
I was quite distracted by the woman, which is why I hardly noticed who she was sitting with.
About twenty minutes later Lisa started jumping in her seat flailing her arms.
At first I thought she must have accidentally had a mouthful of wasabi.
“What is it?” asked Madeline.
“That’s deadmau5!” she said, in a strange combination of yell and whisper.
“What!?” said Madeline. “Are you sure?”
“How do you guys even know what he looks like?” I asked. “Doesn’t he usually perform with a mouse helmet over his head?”
“He takes it off,” said Klive. “But I’m not sure its him.”
I started looking for an image of an unmasked Mau5 on my iphone to compare to the skinny pale 30-something year old sitting a table over, but as it turns Lisa had her own way of verifying her suspicion.
“Joel Zimmerman?” she said, as loud as she could without drawing attention to herself. Apparently the man looked up as she said the name, but looked away quickly thereafter.
“That’s him!” she said. “I know for sure.”
“That’s not him,” said Klive. “The real Deadmau5 has a tattoo along his neck.”
“Well what the hell do you call that?”
At the same time we all turned to look at the table next to us, where we saw his well-known neck tattoo peaking out of his collar.
The girls started freaking out as Klive tried to keep his cool. For me, however, the Mau5 spotting had a different significance.
“That’s it?” I thought to myself, after a long day of being so intimidated by the Deadmau5 scene. “That’s what this is all about? That skinny bastard over there eating a California roll?” The whole rave scene, which had intimidated me for so long, suddenly felt less threatening. I know I was only observing him eat sushi, but the Mau5 seemed harmless enough.
The girls and Klive were too afraid to say anything to him on our way out. They each walked passed him without saying a word, but when I got next to him a slowed down and simply said, “stoked for the show.” With a mouth full of rice he leaned his head forwards in acknowledgment, and I continued on my way. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but all of a sudden, in that very moment, I decided I was going to do MDMA.
After dinner Klive disappeared again. When he finally returned a couple of hours later he was holding two tickets, and several scrunched up pieces of tin foil.
“What’s that about?” I asked.
“Molly, of course.”
“Looks like tin foil.”
“Good observation! That’s because it is tinfoil. The Molly’s inside.”
At that point I was a bit confused. Having never seen the drug I had always assumed it came in pill form. That would be the first of many misconceptions about MDMA. In each flattened piece of tinfoil was .1 grams of what looked like sand.
“How do you take that?” I asked.
“Well sir, there are a few options,” said Klive, feeling like an expert. “You can pour it into a drink, you can snort it, you can lick it, or, my personal favorite, you can gum it.”
Before I had a chance to ask if he was being serious he dipped his finger into the mysterious powder, stuck it in his mouth, and rubbed it along his gums.
“C’mon man, give it a shot,” he said.
I paused for a moment, giving myself one last chance to back out, before opening a piece of tinfoil.
“Fuck it,” I said, and licked a little off my finger.
It tasted awful. I imagine it tasted like licking a beaker in a meth lab. I put the rest in my pocket for later, and instead concentrated on my Jack Daniels.
As promised Klive and I went down to deliver some Molly to Kat and her friends. At first I hadn’t intended on staying very long, seeing as Rose wasn’t even coming with us, but we eventually got lost in substance abuse and ended up staying a while. When we were at Kat’s I continued to drink as Klive continued to distribute the powder along his gums.
A few hours later we were again on Kat’s patio, only this time we were smoking hash. After a long toke Klive started getting noticeably intoxicated, and explained that he just needed to lie down. He had seemed sober enough up until this point, but the strange combination of intoxicants must have finally gotten the best of him.
With his head down and pupils widening he quickly walked toward the screen door. In his intoxicated state, however, he failed to notice that the door was shut, and walked directly into it. This caused the sliding screen door to fall off its track and break, but not before flinging Klive backwards several feet, like the ropes of a wrestling ring.
I picked him up and dragged him inside, where he slowly faded to sleep. I was a little disappointed at this point, seeing as it was not even 10 pm and Klive had already gone overboard.
While Klive was passed out Kat and I stated talking about doing Molly. As it turned out this was her first time as well, and she was also a little apprehensive. Her and I discussed it for a while before agreeing to ingest a bit together by dumping it into some water. She poured us both a glass of water and mixed in her scrap of tinfoil, as I did the same with what remained in mine. After sweating and shaking for a few seconds we said cheers and chugged it back.
About 45 minutes later Kat and I were sitting on the couch next to the one in which Klive had passed out on. We kept asking each other how the other felt, but at this point we were not yet feeling the effects of the drug. All of a sudden Klive violently shot up from the couch like a Mummy in a cheesy horror movie. I had never seen someone wake up with so much energy before. Within seconds he went from unconscious and silent to jumping up and down and yelling things like, “Lets get this fucking party started!” It was perfect timing too, because Deadmau5 was only an hour away from hitting the stage.
When we approached the gates outside the giant tent I couldn’t help but notice the significant police presence. I felt like I looked suspicious, mainly because Klive had talked me out of bringing a jacket, in spite of it being near freezing.
“Trust me bro, you’re not going to need it, and you’re not going to want to deal with it,” he told me earlier. At that moment I wished I hadn’t listened to him, but in hindsight I think he was right.
The line to get in was long but moved quickly. At that point I felt a little drunk and a little hyper from the red bull I had consumer earlier, but overall felt the same as I did most Saturday nights by that time.
As I walked under the flap of the tent I was immediately immersed into a world I had only heard of. For the first few seconds I was frozen in a complete state of culture shock.
The gigantic tent, which covered the parking lot of a local nightclub, was filled with 4,000 people packed shoulder-to-shoulder, jumping and sweating in whatever limited personal space was available. The white tarp walls of the tent were illuminated with projectors and lasers. There was a bar at one far end of the tent, and a stage with DJ equipment at the far other, with giant projection screens behind each.
Klive, Kat, her friends and I began pushing and squeezing our way through the sea of bodies. We were about twenty feet in when the crowd suddenly started to roar and cheer, forcing us in our place. The Mau5 had taken the stage.
As suspected I didn’t recognize the first song he put on, but I started dancing anyways. It felt really good to move around, even though I was at the mercy of the crowd, which was shoving me in all directions.
It was hard to tell exactly when the transition occurred, but at one point early in the show I had trouble distinguishing which substances I was being influenced by. I was hyper from the energy drink and a little drunk from the Jack Daniels, but otherwise my mind was clear and focused. It was mostly difficult to distinguish intoxicants because I had no idea that the early effects of MDMA were so similar to those of Jack and Red Bull. I had expected to suddenly become overwhelmed by the drug. I had assumed that it would completely take over everything I saw, touched, and heard. This was only another of my misconceptions.
The experience of being on the drug was completely unlike what I had expected. Perhaps I hadn’t consumed enough, but I felt that I was in complete control of my body. Like the feeling I get from my usual combination of Jack and Redbull I was a little hyper and a little intoxicated but overall extremely happy.
I noticed the effects of the drug more clearly as the night progressed, however. As it strengthened I began to fall in love with everything I saw. By this I mean that everything I looked at, felt, or heard, every stranger’s face, every cloth and material, every beat that came out of the speakers, I passionately and honestly loved it all. The more I saw, the more I heard, the more I felt, the more this feeling of universal love grew. Throughout the course of the evening I would tell Klive that I loved him approximately 30 times, not to mention a series of strangers. Each time I said it though I truly meant it from the bottom of my heart. The feeling was sublime.
As the evening progressed I only fell deeper in love with the people around me as well as the music. Never a fan of house music in the past, I spent the next several hours dancing as passionately and energetically as ever. Every time I jumped in the air I felt, for the brief second before I came down, that I would just take off and fly right through the roof of the tent.
At one point while dancing my heart out in this tightly packed crowd I suddenly felt some water dripping onto my arms. At first I looked up to see if there was a leak in the tent, then across the tent to see if someone was spraying water into the crowd. After being unable to pinpoint the source of the mysterious liquid a put my hands on my face, which I only learned at that point was completely glossed over in sweat. I hadn’t felt warm, and it hadn’t occurred to me in the several hours that I was dancing that I might have been sweating. Little did I know that my clothes were drenched and that my face was dripping profusely. I guess Klive was right about the jackets.
After losing him in the crowd I texted Klive and told him to meet me at the bar. I felt much better after shuffling my way out of the dense mosh of people, and cooling down with a cold beer.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, with an unflinching grin smeared across his face.
“I feel fucking incredible!” I shouted. “Why didn’t you make me do this shit earlier!?”
He laughed for a minute before I told him a loved him once again, and chugged some more of my beer.
After we finished our drinks we decided to meet up with Kat and her friends to see how they were doing. Much like myself they were extremely enthusiastic, hyper, sweaty, and fascinated by everything around them. For example, after discovering how soft one of Kat’s friend’s shirts was, the group of us crowded around her and spent several minutes just rubbing it. She didn’t seem to mind.
At one point while dancing like true ravers Kat suddenly stopped and turned to me, rubbing her fingers along her lips.
“My lips feel incredible right now!” she said. “Feel!”
I touched her lips with my fingers.
“Now touch them with your lips.”
Without hesitation I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her towards me. It was like no other make out I had experienced in my entire life. Everything about it was so alive, so passionate, and felt so good.
We continued to make out for a while until the music suddenly stopped, and the lights inside the tent flickered on. I was so absorbed by my immediate surroundings that I hadn’t even noticed when Deadmau5 left the stage.
“C’mon man, lets get going,” said Klive.
As we made our way out of the tent we ran into various friends and acquaintances now exposed in the light. At one point a good friend of ours, who was also experimenting with the drug, ran over and gave me a big hug. It was well intentioned of course, but as he put his arm around my neck the bastard had knocked the glasses right off my face. I threw him away from me, got on all fours, and started crawling around on the pavement in a desperate search.
“What are you looking for?” asked Klive and various other bystanders.
“My glasses, I can’t find them, everyone watch your feet.”
In an instant at least ten people dropped to the floor and started feeling around with their hands. All the while people were passing us by in the thousands on their way out of the tent.
After a few moments I was almost positive that someone had stepped on them by now, when suddenly an Asian girl I didn’t recognize shot up from the ground with my glasses in her hand.
I got so excited that I ran over to the stranger, wrapped my arms around her, picked her up off the ground, and kissed her on the cheek.
“I love you!” I exclaimed, as I put her down and put the glasses back on my face. I really did mean it.
Klive, Kat, her friends and I made our way from the tent downtown back to our apartment, singing, dancing, and fist pumping along the way. Still overwhelmed with energy and an urge to dance we all decided to head back to my apartment and have a bit of an after party.
When we arrived Klive started breaking up weed, until he was looking at a good size anthill’s worth in a neat pile on the table. It would take several hours, but slowly the mound began to disintegrate.
At first the music of choice was obviously Deadmau5, but as the night progressed and as the effects of the drug wore down we moved on to more mellow tunes. In a few short hours most of my guests went from dancing to fist pumping on top of the furniture to lying on the couch listening to Pink Floyd.
As each of my guests came down from their high they would move from dancing, to sitting, to lying down, to eventually retreating for the evening. By 5 a.m. only Klive and I remained. While Klive was entering the final stage I was still in a mellow-but-still-high phase. I couldn’t believe how energetic I was considering I had been partying for eleven straight hours.
Klive was kind enough to fight his urge to sleep for a while, telling me he would stay up with me as late as he could. By 5:30 I was in the middle of telling him a story when I noticed I had lost him. Without saying a word I retreated into my bedroom, and attempted to fall asleep.
I would lay in bed for another two hours or so, with the sound of Deadmau5 reverberating in my head. I knew I was only a few hours away from another ball of phlegm and a terrible hangover, but at that moment I was perfectly content with everything in my life. With that feeling of universal love still lingering in my soul I just lay there, reflecting on my newfound love for Molly, and the Mau5.