The State Trooper threatened me with arrest if I stuck out my thumb again. Hitchhiking, he insisted, was illegal in Colorado, but getting a ride looked doubtful if I didn’t thumb it. Traffic slacked off the farther I got from Denver. Plodding along, arms at my side, I craned my neck to smile at oncoming cars.
I’d dropped out of high school back in Chicago only a few days before and was on my own, traveling to communes I’d only read about in Time-Life magazines. Finally,my smile paid off and a car pulled over.
“Where to man?” Two bearded longhairs in beads, tie-dyed shirts and leather headbands satin the front seat. The pale blond driver looked like Jesus. His black bearded passenger was rugged and bronzed in a jean jacket. I’d been saved by the right people.
“I’m headed to Drop City,” I said as I hopped into the back seat. They looked like they ought to know where it was.
“Far fucking out, man,” Jesus drawled. “We can only take you as far as Colorado Springs.”
Any mileage was welcome, my legs needed a rest. The two dudes in front became engaged in some deep conversation that I didn’t bother following. Their speech was peppered with words like groovy,far out, and they said wow, a lot. Finally, the rugged looking passenger turned to me.
“Here,man,” he passed something to me. “Let me lay a tab of acid on you.” He dropped abright purple circle onto the palm of my hand. Saying no more, he turned back to his front seat conversation.
It was the first tab of acid that I’d ever seen, much less held, but at seventeen years of age I was still trying to prove myself and didn’t want to proclaim my ignorance. I examined it with care, wondering what to do with this treasure.
The tab was flat, like the wafer you got for communion in church. About two inches in diameter, it was a pretty, delicate thing, divided into four parts by indented lines, like slices of a pie. Should I take it or save it?
I’d smoked my share of grass, with minimal results, but acid-LSD, I knew only from the negative media coverage. The scare propaganda about messed up chromosomes worried me, but scientists said there was no evidence for that. Lots of acid dropping hippies already had what looked like normal kids. Timothy Leary said acid was a gateway into our spiritual depths, a path to self-knowledge. I wanted to explore psychedelics, but later, when I was better prepared for what everyone agreed was a life changing experience. At the moment I was fresh out of high school,traveling alone to explore communes I’d only read about. There was enough going on in my life without taking acid, miles from a familiar face, but I feared this divine gift could dissolve in the moist warmth of my hand or deteriorate in my pocket. It shouldn’t to be lost or wasted.
To hell with caution! I swallowed it whole before I could change my mind. After a few more minutes ticked by the passenger turned back to me again.
“Hey man, did you eat it?”
I shook my head affirmatively.
“How much did you take?”
How much? Of course, that’s why it was divided into sections.
“I took the whole thing, man.”
His jaw dropped, and his eyes popped out like in a cartoon. That told me I’d goofed.
“Woooow man! That was a four-way tab. Heavy shit!” He turned to Jesus. “He ate the whole fucking thing, man!”
“Wow!” Jesus shook his head and clucked his tongue.
None of this wowing was doing my peace of mind any good. I had to guard my mind from spiraling into panic. No way could I allow these guys to spook me. Fortunately, I was a meditator, a student of the mystic yoga of India and Tibet. Maybe my spirit guides had led me to this challenge and I was confident I could handle it.
“Hey man,” Jesus called me from my reverie. “Ever take acid before?”
“No, it’s the first time.”
The passenger reached over the seat and clasped my hand. “Welcome to the Wonderland brother!”
When they dropped me off, I’d be on my own, like Alice in a strange new, yet familiar land.