A Good Kick in the Head

Interesting weekend around these parts, more excitement than we’ve had in a while. Went to see the show and gave myself up to the pit. I’ve come to believe that the sweat of teenagers is a fountain of youth, and if I bathe in it I’ll never grow old. As I hoisted myself on the shoulders of my neighbors the better to see what I was hearing, one of the kids linked his hands and offered me a step up. For the first time in my overaged mosh pit career, I (briefly) crowd surfed. An excellent feeling, being passed from hand to sweaty hand, and much gentler than I expected, like a massage from an octopus. After a decent interval I was kindly set down on the floor and promptly kicked in the head. The mob giveth, the mob taketh away.

After the show I went out and drank, and when I woke up thinking, “I’ve been kicked in the head,” I assumed it was that first, apt metaphorical encounter with my hangover and not an actual statement of facts. But the bathroom mirror revealed that I really had been kicked in the head, bruise and bump to match my headache and disorientation. The rest of the day–what little of it there was, I’d slept until three–was spent alternately in maniacal laughter and a strange clarity of mind. It really is true. All you need is a good kick in the head.

There was a party and I went, a lovely party, people I know only peripherally, and so I was something of a spectator. It was other people keeping their cool, holding their liquor, casting sidelong glances, other people drunkenly hugging, “hey!” “hey!” “heeeeeey!” while I watched, curled on the couch, sipping my spiked cider, making polite conversation, explaining any awkward pauses away with the words, “Oh, don’t mind me, I’ve been kicked in the head.”

I went home at a reasonable hour and got into bed, the right way this time. I’d passed out the previous night facing the wrong way, in the middle of trying to read Rebecca this one passage from This Side of Paradise I’ve been trying to read her for weeks. Apparently she escaped as soon as I lost consciousness because I woke up hours later with all the lights on, facing the foot of the bed with the book splayed on my face, briefly unable to gain traction as I was still wearing my satin robe and lying atop my silk blanket. I’d never encountered this problem before, as I usually enter the cotton-sheeted layer of the bed in the higher-friction nude, and was in no condition to solve it drunk. When I woke up again the next afternoon the slippery things were in a terrible tangle and I was not well rested. Saturday night I went to bed pleased with myself that I’d gotten in with my head at the head and my feet at the foot, only mildly troubled by the thought that maybe I was lowering my expectations of myself.

I’d left Rebecca at the party with her first pot cookie in her belly. (She’s allergic to wheat and dope dealers are only just starting to accommodate this underdiagnosed allergy.) I didn’t see her for almost twenty-four hours, when she returned to report that unfortunately she’d had one of those demonic trips where you go insanely paranoid. She got so paranoid, in fact, that she thought she was already dead. I was momentarily jealous when I realized she’d lived the plot of No Exit and come back to tell the tale, but soon came to my senses and felt a deep empathy for her ordeal.

It now being not only Sunday but Superbowl Sunday, my personal physician arrived for our scheduled Fuck The Superbowl extravaganza. We opened a nice bottle of wine and immediately decided that the only way to say Fuck The Superbowl with the eloquence and finality it demanded of us would be to eat the rest of the mushrooms I had in the freezer. Rebecca was only 90% convinced she wasn’t dead, so she couldn’t eat any, but my personal physician and I were pretty sure we were alive and that this would be much more exciting than watching other people on other drugs beat each other up.

In no time at all we were engaged in another successful time-travel venture. My personal physician and I have always specialized in using controlled substances to break the space-time continuum and if anything we’re getting better at it all the time. With a single record album we entered that most psychedelic of decades and learned many things about it. I later tested the veracity of this voyage by relating our experience to an actual inhabitant of the decade and she confirmed that we had been there.

After the album was over I was trying to read my personal physician the passage Lester Bangs wrote about it (generally I’m against secondary sources but that was my point, Bangs wasn’t secondary), but she was too busy applying more and more eyeshadow, a cosmetic product she’d just discovered, and wouldn’t listen, and I soon discovered the glories of upholstery. I realized no one really wanted to hear me read aloud these various passages I’d underlined and I should give up and be glad that I had mushrooms in my freezer that could make my bones glow. Words were poor substitutes for experiences! Maybe I should set fire to my computer and cease to speak! Maybe we should go eat some oysters!

I knew just where to get some.

Williamsburg was quiet, stilled by the promise of previously unseen and very expensive advertising. Everyone was inside, watching. All the streets and all the oysters would be ours!

We walked around the neighborhood, watching people watch the Superbowl. We stood outside their windows, in their shrubs and garbage areas, peering at their flat-screens. In one house, everyone held a Mac on his lap and texted wildly with one hand, the illusion of sociability maintained by a rough semicircle around the screen. There was a baby in another house, the only person in the room not transfixed by the gigantic television. The baby looked right at us with its big blue baby eyes and we took off running down the empty street.

We circulated around the pillars of the Williamsburg Bridge, looking for an uninhabited and wind-sheltered block to smoke our joint before we devoured the treats of the sea. Security guards at sites by the river called out from their posts, “Why aren’t you watching the Superbowl?” Their plaintive calls and secure guarding chased us under the bridge itself, where we could light and smoke our joint in relative peace while the elevated train rumbled overhead.

Outside were feats of engineering. Inside was fine dining, plentiful tables, idle staff and a uniformly British clientele, all benefits of ignoring a national sports watching holiday. Our oysters arrived, nestled in their ice.

“It’s Superbowl Sunday,” I said to my personal physician.

“So they say,” she sniffed, and we lifted the shells to slurp at the still living meat of the sea.

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