For those looking for only a quick fix of Young Geoffrey's pithy words, best wait 'till next time. To keep you somewhat entertained, here is another gratuituous picture of our cats:
As for the rest of you,
It was a weekend of reunions, two kept, two left waiting until next time; it was a weekend of lunatic giggles and loving sex; it was a weekend given to thought of youth and mortality; it was a weekend of hope for the future and near-despair for the present and past.
My friend Sue, who lives in the Hamilton area, was the first reunion that had to wait, as my father blowing (sort of) unexpectedly into town took precedence. He called before noon and we agreed to get together for lunch.
My Dad is a short, big bellied, shaven-headed man of 71, much given to laughter and argument. He is well-read and opinionated and, like me, a struggling novelist (though he is a good deal more disciplined about the craft than am I).
Physically, he has slowed down considerably in the last few years. A new hip, followed by its removal, then a year with no hip before the first was replaced will do that, and never mind the tale of years.
He is nevertheless another in a long list of old(er) people in my life who are vital and alive, learning and doing, in a way that puts most people decades younger into the shade.
We opted for lunch at the Rhino, where we talked mostly about Iraq and imperialism - shaking our heads at the combintation of stupidity and mendacity of Bush II's invasion - and about Laura. He is not at all perturbed by the age-gap, but is concerned about the possibility that she might be "damaged goods", another woman whose life experience has left her unable to take the good when it comes to her.
"There are so many damaged women - and men - out there," he said. "Neurotic, angry, frightened ..."
I nodded agreement. I've experienced my share of such horror-stories - women broken by parents or by men, to the point where happiness and joy are simply no longer options to them.
Happily, I was able to report that I've seen no sign of such in Laura, and spent a lot of time waxing enthusiastic about her intelligence and wit, about her enthusiasm for life and the courage of her honesty. (Yes, Gentle Readers, I know you know I'm sweet on that girl; I warned you to avoid the cut.)
We ate, I had a couple of pints, and then he drove me up to Roncesvalles, where I did some shopping in the old-fashioned way: stopping first at my preferred delicatessen for cheese and ham, then at a couple of fruit markets for, well, fruits and vegetables, and finally the tiny IGA that somehow survives as a storefront on a main street (no parking, no sirree!) in this day of mega-stores. Somehow, though it costs more for a can of spaghetti sauce there than it does at No Frills, I swear I'm spending less money on food this way and getting better produce in the bargain - that I'd also prefer to support local small businesses than giant conglomerates for political reasons only sweetens the deal.
I got home, finished (sort of) cleaning the apartment, and got things reader for a less-fancy dinner than I had originally intended. I finished up with a lame (though) heartfelt inscription in a copy of the revised edition of Gwynn Dyer's brilliant War. (Have I mentioned before what a joy it is that my girlfriend - though she seems to expect no presents at all - would prefer to receive a book from me than, say, flowers?)
A various points through the rest of the evening, I found myself obsessively opening the book and reading a page or two, here and there.
War was a seminal work in the evolution of my thinking when I first read it back in the mid-80s, but I had forgotten just how well-written - as well as how inciteful a piece of history it is. In tight, pointed and often ironic prose, Dyer paints of history of the development of warfare: from our hunter-gatherer pre-history up to the present day. It is a depressing litany of savagery that could easily make one despair for the future of the human race, but Dyer is an optimist and sees hope, despite the incredible number of the dead in the 20th century. Against all appearances, and despite the "improvement" in the technology of killing (and assuming someone doesn't blow it drop the big one) life today is far more secure - for most of us - than it has ever been. Contrary to popular belief, hunter-gatherers typically had a death-rate - from homicide! - of something on the order of 30% for men and a lesser but significant number for women.
But I digress. I suspect I'll post a more cogent piece about this book when I get a chance to re-read the whole thing. In any event, this renewed acquaintance was a side-light.
Acid is arguably the most powerful drug known to human-kind. 500 micrograms (500 millionths of a gram!) will suffice to send a grown man onto an 8-hour trip of altered consciousness. Personally, it has also acted on more than one occasion as a powerful anti-depressant. Taken during one of my downswings, it has had the effect of, somehow, kicking me out of the rut of self-pity and back into life for months after a trip.
It has also been impossible to come by for several years. Remarkably consistent rumour had it that the only 2 or 3 producers of the stuff had been busted, and that no one else was making the stuff - better money to be had selling cat tranquilizers to ravers or coke to anybody willing to risk addiction.
As I said, a good hit of acid lasts 8 or so hours and, usually, you don't want to do it again for a while. It's very intense, you don't sleep and, to top it all off, your body needs some time to recover or you'll very quickly find you need double or more the dose to achieve the same effect.
But what an effect!
Though there is a paucity of serious study because the drug was banned not very long after its invention/discovery in the late 1940s, I've read that it works by, in effect, "opening up" the normal filters in one's brain - that is, that phenomena we have long since learned to shut out as random "noise". All kinds of sensory input that one has learned to filter out are suddenly available for one's inspection and (usually) pleasure.
Meaning, that one notices all sort of phenomena that are usually there but that our brains don't "see", or process. Though it's often called a haluciogen, it really isn't (most of the time, for most people). My most spectacular halucination saw the CN Tower start to melt like a sped-up candle, turning into a question mark against the night sky - but I've never seen anything that wasn't a distortion of something that was really there.
Music and visual art, espcially can be enjoyed and studied in new ways, as one learns to pick out single instruments from among a band, for instance, or simply watching the sky or a forest, or a lover's face.
At the same time, the sudden influx of normally ignored data makes communication difficult. One's mind is racing, insights come and go, and trying to explain why one is laughing at a particular moment can be nearly impossible, as, by the time one starts to explain, yet another new sight or sound or tacticle sensation has distracted one's attention.
At the same time, and unlike most other drugs (if not all that I've tried), the experience - though extremely difficult to explain later - remains at least as fresh in the memory as those moments when one is stone cold sober.
(I should also note: though acid has been good to me (I think), it is a powerful drug. I know at least one person whose latent schizophrenia emerged literally days after he first took it. Whether it would have hit him anyway is an open question, but the time certainly suggests to me that anyone who has schizophrenic tendencies or, probably, has the disease in the family should stay far away from it.)
Long story short: we giggled a lot, discovered that it is possible to make love while in that condition, and cuddled almost as much. I was operating on more sleep, however, and so left her to the bed for a couple of hours, until maybe 4 or 5 in the morning. At which point, the combination of Laura's night noises and Spyder's smug purring kept me awake for some time.
But no matter: staring into the darkness, the light-show was fabulous. I intuited the origin of glitter-balls, those pale imitations of the psychedelic exprience.
From nowhere, strangely rounded, yet mechanically plastic shapes, twisting and spinning like a child's idea of galaxies, colours of weirdly garish pastel. The mind, imposing meaningless order on chaotic synaptic firing, has a remarkable power.
God bless uncle Sidney - and, as always, the report does not justice whatsoever to the experience.