The Last Thing On My Mind: Was I Tripping?

815cfcecc7a8b49b458c2e55e31cf5e4When she first came around, I was vaguely attracted to her, I don’t know why. Actually, I do know why: she had long red hair, and I’m a sucker for that stuff. Other than that, not really my type. Too thin. She was also a bit nutty, but that never stopped me before.
Anyway, a friend of mine was seeing her, but then they broke up. I ran into her at the bar one night. We drank, danced, drank some more, shot pool, drank, talked a lot, and drank. After last call we ended up at my place, smoking a joint under the back porch awning in the rain. I thought, “Well, no time like the present!” and went in for a smooch. She recoiled and said, “See ya!” and that was that.

When she came around again, she was different. She had chopped her hair off and dyed it Koolaid grape a la Kurt Cobain and was even thinner and nuttier than before. She looked terrible, like a homeless junkie, and I tried to block out the memory of wanting to stick my tongue in her mouth.

Of course, she was real friendly this time around, mostly because I had access to drugs, and I gladly hooked it up to be rid of her. But she and my new roommate had had a previous fling (small town) and she wanted some more but he did not. She attached herself to our little household like a barnacle. The three of us stumbled around in this manner for awhile: she trying to get into one of our beds, and us throwing drugs at her to keep the bad craziness at bay.

One night, in a horny doped-out frustration, she yelled at my roommate: “WHY WON’T YOU FUCK ME?” and he yelled back: “BECAUSE BAG LADIES DON’T TURN ME ON!” It barely stopped her. She would share details of her life way too personal for our ears. Not just to us, but complete strangers too. My standard imitation (based 100% on words from her lips) went like this: “I HAVE POLYPS ON MY COLON AND CANCER IN MY UTERUS, WANNA HAVE SEEEEX?”

Yeccchhh. Fuck, no.

When I told her I was moving to Phoenix, she responded: “Great! I’ve got a bunch of friends down there, we can party! What’s your address?” I successfully avoided that one for months. I’d see her on my occasional trips to Flag and, without her constant presence in my life every goddamn day, I softened a bit and was a little friendlier.

Skinny Puppy, a band we both worshiped, announced a show at the Marquee in Tempe. She made me a deal: she’d buy the tickets if I drove and supplied the drugs. I agreed. She would be staying with a friend who lived five minutes from the venue where I could hang and crash if necessary after the show. This would allow me to partake in some heavy duty hallucinogens (because Skinny Puppy deserved no less) and avoid a forty-five minute drive home at midnight on a psychedelic Psunday while watching the freeway melt. Because that would indeed harsh my buzz and truly suck.

Hitch #1: I had business to take care of in Phoenix on Sunday before the show, so I had to pick her up in Flag and drive back on Saturday night. I assumed I’d be taking her to her friends’ but they were out of town, so she would have to stay at my place. “We’ll have fun!” she enthused. Oh boy.

Hitch #2: When I got to Flag, I discovered it wasn’t just her I was transporting to the Valley. She had decided to stay at her friends’ for a couple of weeks, so about one third of her bedroom was coming with us: clothes, shoes, notebooks, music, computer stuff, makeup, hair care products, toiletries, more clothes, more shoes … I grumbled and crammed my trunk and backseat full of her shit.

Her hair was freshly dyed a pukey green for the occasion. She blathered on and on during the trip down and all my old irritation rushed back. What the hell was I doing with this chick? Hundreds, thousands of available women out there and this is what I end up with? Crazy 90 pound junkie goth bag lady with green hair and no tits? I sighed inwardly. Have to ride this one out.

Upon arriving in Phoenix after midnight, she gathered a smaller version of her personal shit and spewed it all over my bedroom. She wanted to change clothes and I hightailed it out of there before she got any funny ideas. I went into the bathroom and stared at my reflection in the mirror. I looked deep within myself and posed a question all men must ask at least once in their lives:

Do I really need a blowjob that badly?

My heart answered: “No.”

My brain answered: “Hell, no.”

And yet another part of me that hadn’t received any attention from a woman in a long time answered: “Well … maybe. C’mon heart, brain … a little help here? Work with me on this one, you guys.”

I washed my hands and face and decided to stay neutral. If something did happen, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. There was a full bottle of whiskey in the house; that would probably help erase the shame for a while. As I left the bathroom, an inner voice said, “Whatever I do tonight, I’m going to have to look at myself in that mirror tomorrow.” I took a deep breath, knocked on my bedroom door, and entered.

She wasn’t naked, thank God. She had, however, left a pair of her underwear (presumably used) directly in my path. Now, there are many ladies out there whose soiled undergarments I would gladly welcome on my bedroom floor or face. In the right circumstances it’s a pretty sexy move, if a little obvious. These particular undergarments were not sexy. They were Spiderman Underoos. Navy blue and brick red, just like his costume.

Don’t get me wrong. From the time I was old enough to read, Spiderman has been my favorite comic, hands down. Peter Parker was the first superhero whose character I delved into, discovering his backstory and psychology. The wait between issues seemed interminable, but I always had 50 cents ready when the new one hit the stands.

I would like to take a brief moment to thank the men of Marvel Comics for tipping the scales that fateful evening. As soon as I realized what was on my floor, a door slammed shut inside me. Nope. No way in hell were we getting it on tonight, whiskey or not. Even ol’ Spidey couldn’t help this situation. It felt like I was sharing my room with a ten year old boy.

She was snuggled up all sleepy and cozy in my bed. I told her I was going to read for a while. I took a book out to the living room and zonked on the couch. In the morning, she was bummed but I was not. I felt good. Full of dignity and all that stuff. I introduced her to my roommate who gave me a look that said: “Her? Not her. Please tell me you didn’t.” I responded with a look that said: “I didn’t. Swear to God. Satan too.”

I took care of my biz, whipped up a potent batch of magic green brownies and made sure all of her shit was out of my room before we left. En route to the show, she realized her cell phone was buried somewhere within the car (dead battery, of course), but she wouldn’t need it since her friends would be at the venue. This is known as foreshadowing.

The Marquee’s lot was full, so they shunted us off to a parking garage across the street and up a block. Once stationary, we devoured the brownies and a good amount of shrooms. Too late to turn back now. She decided to leave her purse. The Phoenix goths had come out of the woodwork this Sunday night. I met her friends and they seemed like nice enough people. Once inside, I left her in their capable hands. I was gladly taking this trip alone.

Skinny Puppy did not disappoint and neither did the drugs. It was a great experience. The show made all the hassle worth it. I was even feeling something akin to friendship with this girl. It was probably the drugs. I went outside afterwards and there she was, mumbling to herself and twirling like a hippie with her green hair. Her friends were off to the side socializing. I told her that Ogre (Skinny Puppy’s frontman) looked like Nicolas Cage tonight. She said: “Don’t talk to me right now” and continued her twirling. I shrugged, sat on the ground and opened a New Times. I tried to read the articles but the words kept sliding off the pages.

A few minutes later, I looked up. She was nowhere in sight and neither were her friends. A little alarm bell went off in my head. I went through the parking lot and around the building. Nothing. I figured the only logical place for her to be was at my car. I walked to the parking garage and said hi to the attendant. She wasn’t at the car. A thought popped into my brain but I ignored it. I sat in the driver’s seat without turning the ignition on. I closed my eyes and assessed the situation.

Was I still tripping? Hell yes. No question. Pretty wonky from the brownies too. Could I just call her? Nope. Her phone was somewhere in my back seat, dead. Did I have her friends’ number or address? Nope. My fault there. Would she just go “Doop de doo” and forget about my presence even though I was sitting right next to where she was twirling? Quite possibly, yes. Would she not remember our plan of me staying at her friends’ house in order to avoid driving from Tempe to Deer Valley Road and 35th Ave. while under the influence of powerful hallucinogens? Again, yes. It sounded like her.

The same thought popped into my brain again. I ignored it.

Finally (and here’s the kicker), is it possible that she departed the premises without realizing she was leaving her purse, phone, toothbrush, toiletries, clean clothes, drugs, and fuck knows what else in my car? After a short internal debate, I had to say yes.

Once again, the thought popped up and this time the cold hard truth of it sunk in. I was going to have to drive home.

God damn it. Fuck me running.

I got out and stretched my legs. The parking attendant came over and I explained that I was waiting for someone who may have already left. He went back to his post. I walked around a little. The last few stragglers from the show were heading to their cars. I asked them if there was anyone else hanging out at the venue and they said no, the Marquee staff had given everyone the boot; they were the last ones.

That sealed the deal. No reason to wait any longer. I started the engine and pulled out of the garage. I waved to the attendant. Bye! Have a good night! I’m tripping my face off and operating a motor vehicle in the dark! Got a 45 minute drive ahead, hope giant ostriches don’t start chasing me!

Dingbat!

I hit the freeway and I was not happy. I thought about just taking random handfuls of her shit and tossing them out the window. Maybe a nice big bonfire when I got home. If I got home. I calmed myself down. Time to maintain. I gripped the steeing wheel and kept an eye on the speed limit, another out for cops, and my third one on the road.

My car had neither CD nor cassette, so I turned on the radio and found something resembling rock and roll. I drove on. Thankfully, there weren’t many cars on the 202. The psychedelic guitar solo swirled around the interior of the vehicle. It tugged at my brain. Hmm, this sounds familiar. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that that flanged guitar tone belonged to … Phil Manzanera, no?

It finally clicked. Holy shit it’s ROXY MUSIC, “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”, the sexiest song about a blowup doll ever written! Those swirly effects were courtesy of BRIAN FUCKING ENO! What the hell was this gem doing on the radio? I was stunned. I had hit upon someone’s personal rock and roll oddities show, a slight break from the usual classic rock sludge, buried on a Sunday midnight when the only people awake were meth heads, the unemployed, and one unfortunate slob who was navigating the Phoenix freeway system at 65 mph with a head full of psilocybin and THC.

The song ended and the guy started talking … did he just mention THE MOVE? No way, couldn’t be …

And then the gods of radio, sensing my plight, gave me a little gift. A missive from beyond to turn my downer trip into something beautiful. It was “The Last Thing On My Mind”, a Tom Paxton cover that served as the closing track of The Move’s 1970 Shazam LP. All seven minutes and forty seconds of it.

An inner voice told me that this was probably the only time I would ever hear this song on the radio and that I should enjoy it while it lasted. And I did: Carl Wayne’s impassioned vocal delivery with Roy Wood’s glorious harmonies on top and that fantastic tripped-out guitar solo … all of it transmitting direct from Rock Central through the FM airwaves and out of two crappy car stereo speakers specifically for my enjoyment.

It’s hard to find the exact words describing how perfect the moment was. Of course I had the record at home, I could listen to it anytime I wanted, but this was different. Everything coalesced: dealing with that woman for the last 36 hours, her failed seduction, the ingestion of hallucinogens (always a decisive step), the concert, her disappearance, the crushing realization of having to drive in the state I was in … and then the shock of unexpectedly hearing this heavenly piece of music on the radio that only die-hard record geeks knew the existence of RIGHT NOW at this point in time … well, shoot. It was a religious experience, I’ll just go ahead and say it.

My spirits lifted immensely. I took my left hand off the steering wheel and dangled my arm out the window. The night was cool and freeway nearly deserted, without a cop or ostrich in sight. I felt elated, almost overjoyed. I was damn glad I wasn’t emotionally or otherwise involved with this person who I had done a huge favor for and then had abandoned me right at the point where I needed her. All my anger was gone, replaced by a calm acceptance. Everything was cool.

I made it home. As I got out I glanced at the pile in my backseat and wondered how long it would take her to call (answer: about 48 hours). I went inside, cracked a beer and sat down at the computer. I started writing the Skinny Puppy review, the effects of the drugs still lingering. It was going to be a good one, I could tell. After a while, I got up to use the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled.

I felt all right. Full of dignity and all that stuff

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