What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Swimming to Cambodia
by Spalding Gray

Field-Tested by Francis Heaney

in Santa Fe, New Mexico

I took a lot of LSD in college. I also smoked pot although I gave it up fairly quickly; I didn't care for it. (It made me feel thick-headed.)

On one of the few occasions between when I'd gotten my body to overcome its resistance to inhaling smoke into its lungs and when I decided to just say, “No, I'd rather take these other drugs instead,” I and some friends of mine were high. Our R.A. came around selling acid, as was his wont. I bought a tab and assumed my friends would do likewise, since that's how things tended to go when acid was being sold. Somehow I didn't notice that I was the only one buying LSD until I had already taken it. Also, it had not been brought to my attention that marijuana and LSD interact in such a way as to make an acid trip much, much more intense.

I had never tripped alone, nor had I ever hallucinated as much as I would over the course of that night; I barely held it together. I just kept thinking, “Well, this will be over in eight hours,” which is how long a normal acid trip lasts. Apparently that's something else that changes when you take pot and acid at the same time!

The next morning, after I tried to get some sleep and failed, I went to the college library for a change of scenery and some distraction. The multicolored carpet there did indeed serve as a distraction, albeit a blinky and unwelcome one. I read some Harlan Ellison short stories (is there any better audience for a Harlan Ellison short story than a college student on LSD?), and eventually settled down in a study carrel with a copy of Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, a book in which psychedelic mushrooms appear with surprising frequency.

Perhaps there's no better way to be on the wavelength of a man who spent so much time inside his head than being stuck in the middle of a 24-hour-long acid trip. It made me feel like, well, even if I never come down, maybe I can still build a career as an introspective eccentric.

While you're waiting for Francis Heaney to finish writing his fantasy-slash-mystery novel, you might enjoy reading his humor collection, Holy Tango of Literature, or solving Crasswords, a book of dirty crosswords that he edited for maximum inappropriateness. Like many people, he has a blog.

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