“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” Hunter Thompson
Unfortunately, they don’t work for me.
I hesitated to post this, but then asked myself, “What Would Dr. Gonzo Do?” and the answer, of course, is that he would write it better than I will and sell it to a magazine. I’ll settle for sharing it here.
This is the story about how Hunter Thompson came to tell me I wasn’t dying.
And before you start making judgments and try to get me fired, I didn’t strap a tape recorder to my chest, drive to Vegas with my best friend and “attorney,” while taking every type of drug I could get my hands on. This is legal, over-the-counter, appropriate drug use here. So get off the soap box I imagine you standing on right now. This is not a story about drug abuse in the usual sense, where the user abuses the drugs, but rather in the strange world of my body where the drugs abuse me.
I have never tried illegal drugs, partly because I’m a big ole chicken and partly because even “safe” drugs make me high. I mean, the first time I took an Ibuprofen, I was positive that we were all going to die if we kept letting our friend drive us places. Come to think of it, I might have been right on that one.
Here’s some background to set up why I was taking something. A couple of nights ago, I had popped a Zyrtec for allergies. I have ridiculous allergies in the spring, and my Dr. prescribed Zyrtec because I’d taken it before with general success and sleepiness because I’ve had a bad reaction to steroids and she won’t let me have an allergy shot anymore. I figured I could handle living like a zombie for a few months as long as I stopped having that itch deep inside my ears all the time.
After taking the allergy pill, I settled in to grade papers and started to become acutely aware of my own heart. Have you ever had heart palpitations? It was amazing and terrifying all at once. Talk about knowing you are alive. My heart was beating so fast and so hard that I started to wonder if somehow there were two of them in there, beating asynchronously. It got worse every time I moved, so I, foolishly, decided to go to bed instead of to the hospital because I figured sleep would ease the heart. The next morning, I found out that less than 2% of Zyrtec users have palpitations. Awesome. This is the wrong type of unique.
Now, I’m not sure if I dreamed this or if it was a real hallucination, but either way, it was trippy.
I was in my bed, heart popping out of my chest like a cartoon, and the door opened. I hadn’t left the hall light on, but when a man walked in through the brightly lit doorway, smelling of sweat and smoke (you can figure out what kind), there was a bright light behind him. It was Hunter Thompson, but I didn’t know that at first because he was wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. Actually, that part was pretty terrifying. He was wearing a Hawaiian-print shirt and shorts. He pulled off the mask, sat in the chair beside my bed, and threw his legs up on top of the dog, who shifted around until Thompson moved. I rolled over, sighed, and looked at him. Dr. Gonzo
“What are you doing here? Am I dead?” I asked.
He laughed, wheezing a bit. “Not even close, cupcake.”
“What are you doing here?”
“But I’m not dying?”
“Well, you won’t if you don’t go to the hospital in town. Those Fuckers will kill you.” He pointed a joint at me.
I nodded and looked at the ceiling for a bit, when I looked back, he was still there. “So why are you here?”
“To tell you not to go to the hospital, Dumb Ass.”
“Fair Enough. Will you close the door?” the light was still hurting my eyes.
“You got it.”He stood up, “Say no to drugs.” He pointed his joint at me one more time and walked out of my bedroom, closing the door behind him and laughing.
And this is the story of how Hunter Thompson/Death saved my life. Despite what you might think, I’m not obsessed with the author, even though I very much liked Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I think that maybe my subconscious just thought that Thompson would make a pretty decent grim reaper. Unfortunately, this story is true, and I can’t take Zyrtec anymore. I guess if you have a near-death experience, you can tell me if the person who talks you through it looks like Thompson. I might be onto something here.