How My Parents Guided My First Psychedelic Trip
Tales from a wild, acid-fueled night with Mom and Dad.
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I knew early on that I didn't have a normal family. Dad was a punk, while Mom—well, we're still not sure what's going on. One thing that became obvious was adults liked to lie. They would hate it when you copied their behavior and they’d start shouting about the proper way to act.
My parents taught me a lot. Not through advice but action. They were movies brought to life, unable to disguise their thoughts that created a level of connection most children grow up missing. My parents were also open to anything, so when it came to experimenting with drugs, it made sense to ask them to join.
I wanted to try acid. Movies like Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas had done their best to scare me off, but curiosity led me to ask. My mom is the official guide in all things illegal. A veteran of the drug wars, she would be my unofficial guide, leading the way through the dense jungles of the subconscious.
Not wanting to be left out, my dad decided to come along. He hadn't tried acid before but assured us he could take anything. As a man known for his intimidating demeanor, it'd be interesting to watch him threaten his own mind.
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My Dad Thought His Drugged Sugar Cube Wasn’t Working
Mom made her calls and came back holding a plastic baggie. Inside were four sugar cubes. So it was settled. This would be our first family “trip.”
She sat beside me, and with a smile, she took my hand, opening it like a flower. When I looked down, I saw half a sugar cube staring back. Then, I felt the nerves kick in. All I could think was, “Why's it so heavy?” A lump of lead that crumbled to the touch. I looked over at my dad, hoping to see the same fear. Instead, he turned to my mom and asked, “Is this it?”
Dad was your old-school tough guy, an aged punk who never fully committed to becoming civilized. He viewed the world like an enemy. I watched him push his half around, casting glances at my mom.
“Yes,” Mom said. “This is it.”
I took my half and waited. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but I spent the next 30 minutes glancing nervously at the clock. I didn’t feel goofy or confused. There weren’t any monsters climbing out of the carpet. Maybe it wasn’t as strong as I thought.
I was about to say something, but Dad got there first. “Mine's a dud,” he said, chest all puffed out. Mom just smiled. “Dud, is it?” Then, Dad started going off about how he wanted his money back. “I know all about drugs,” he said. “I’m not your average man. Best to just give me another half.”
“OK,” Mom said, opening the bag. “You sure?”
Dad gave my mom the look, the same whenever he senses his masculinity called into question. He turned to look at me, and then, with a slap of his chest, snatched up a whole sugar cube and swallowed it.
“There,” he said, sitting back in his comfy chair. “Think I'll be having words with this so-called drug-dealer.” Mom just sat there, giving my dad a big smile.
When the Acid Finally Kicked In
Somewhere around the hour mark, Dad started to twitch. His eyes had gone all big and black. Every now and then, he smacked his lips, like a fish gasping for air. I looked at Mum, but she was just staring right back. So I turned to Dad and asked, “You OK?”
Dad didn't like that. He jumped up out of his seat and ran straight upstairs. I wanted to go after him, but that's when I began to melt into my chair. It felt like a marshmallow made from gray corduroy. I could feel myself begin to sink. Down I went, into the darkness. It took me a minute to realize I'd merged with the furniture. I sank a little further, down into the crumbs and old coins where I found peace—part man, part Ikea.
I looked over, out through the gap in my couch hole. There was Mom, watching me. She looked like an owl made from pastel chalk. I could hear the soothing jingle of her ice cream earrings as her head bobbed from side to side. The voice in my head told me to relax. Here I was, a couch with a human heart and Mom spraying light with a flick of her wings. “All this from one half?” I thought. And then I heard it: a scream coming from upstairs. The next thing I knew, I was being spat out of the couch and onto the floor. I turned to Mom, wondering if she’d heard anything, but she was in her own world, fading in and out, in sync to the images of the TV.
Then, I heard the scream again. Terrified, I wanted nothing more than to leave this to the professionals. But I was left wondering what kind of law could be trusted with such a delicate decision. I couldn't think straight—not surprising when you consider I'd only returned to being a full human. I'd have asked Mom, but she was on her own journey, her shape melting with each passing thought.
I didn't want to be rude and interrupt her, so I decided to keep the law out of it. After all, this was a family affair. So I lit a cigarette and ventured upstairs, ready to confront whatever devil was waiting for me. With a series of sound effects, I crawled into the bathroom. Suddenly, I was confronted with chaos. The tiled floors shuddered and winced with each step. The walls gasped like a panicky asthmatic. I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot why I was there.
As I stood over the toilet, I didn't want to deal with the stress of pulling my pants down. So I just sat there, guiding the walls through some breathing exercises. Then, I realized the shower was on. The glass was stained with fog, and deep inside, I saw a shape. It took me a minute to realize it was my dad. There I was, watching his shadow drift back and forth like a jellyfish. Then, from deep inside the fog, I heard a voice: “Son? Are you real?”
Before I could speak, I noticed something in the fog. It was small and forced me to squint. And then I saw them, deep inside—the moors of Scotland, and I smiled at the soft notes of a distant bagpipe. Then I blinked, and I was right back on the toilet.
“I don't think I'm the person to ask, Dad.”
Tripping With My Parents Helped Me Embrace the Moment
Soon, I headed back downstairs and into the living room, only to find Dad already there. He was fully dressed and dry as a bone, sitting right in front of the TV watching Avatar. Then, he slipped his feet inside his hoodie. “Watch the skies,” he said. Within seconds, he was dipping and dodging as the movie’s hero flew on his pterodactyl. I just sat there, watching Dad squawk over and over.
Mom went over and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Tell me when it kicks in, love,” she said.
Dad didn’t respond. After all, he was fighting for the resistance.
It was hard to keep a sense of time. Deep conversations rolled on. We opened up as a family. Then, I looked at the clock, and it had only been three minutes. Other times, my mom would point over my shoulder and laugh, but there was nothing there. “What is it?” I’d ask, looking back to notice five hours had elapsed. Next to me, Mom asked if I finally understood. I told her I didn't have a clue, and then we all started laughing. We laughed for so long, I remember asking, “Does anyone know what’s going on?” Mom and Dad exchanged a look and laughed again.
At this point, everything had gone mythical. Avatar was finished, and now I was watching Percival battle his way through the plot of Excalibur. Weeds were rising up the walls, choking everything like the cast of Trainspotting agreed to a game of Jumanji. Mom and Dad kept laughing through the weeds and the teeny-tiny motorway on the carpet. They laughed as Percival was left to hang in the tree.
“Does anyone know what's going on?” I asked them again. But my parents were suddenly sitting on thousand-foot-high skyscrapers. The tiny motorway beeped, so I lifted my foot to stop blocking traffic.
It was all chaos—all my thoughts and memories filling the room. Hundreds of sounds and colors. It was intense. Then, I looked at my parents. Surely they saw the chaos, the madness. And yet there they were, still laughing. Slowly, I began to look around. I watched all the little moments happen, and I felt glad to be a part of it. And as I watched Percival fall free from the tree, I began to laugh too.
There we were, the three of us, laughing amongst the madness and chaos. For the first time, it felt good to welcome the distraction, to let go and embrace the moment. I was grateful to trip with my parents. To have that chance to strip away the expectation and roles and watch as two people tried to make sense of the world.