I Had One of Those Flashes

Beth Ingalls

Beth Ingalls
October 30
Writer, activist, former Mayor, lifelong Deadhead, and above all else, single Mother to three sons. Killer memoir in the works. Agent needed.


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MAY 25, 2011 11:18AM

My (Potentially) Life Altering Party Foul

Rate: 19 Flag

acid test

My house was the local hippie crash pad and I liked it that way. Conveniently located near the corner of 17th St. and Arapahoe in Boulder, it was close to campus, a quick hop to the downtown mall and two short blocks away from Liquor Mart. Whether you were headed out of town up the Canyon, or into town from wherever, my little green house was on the prime arterial route.


Local bands jammed there and the house was always a hub of creative activity and fun. Throughout the Deadhead year, which was measured not by calendar days and months but divided up in blocks of time marked by Fall, Spring and Summer Tour, my house was the place people stopped when coming off or going back on, the road.


Consequently, people left things there. Broken down tour busses, bags of weed, silkscreened t-shirts, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, discarded lovers…and I helped myself to the leftovers. Sometimes people left things not just by mistake or out of neglect, but on purpose too. Things that were meant to say “thanks for letting me crash here.” Bonus.


Such was the case – or so I thought – with the item I found atop my dresser one blue-skied Saturday morn.


It’d been a late night and when I awoke it looked like everyone had already cleared out and headed for the east coast. Being a bit groggy, and dreading a long day of catching up on my college coursework, I was pleased to find a little brown vial with what appeared to be just enough sparkly white powder to bring me out of my haze and get me ready for the day. Never one to shy away from party favors, I quickly snorted up the contents without hesitation. But as soon as the substance lit up my nose I realized it wasn’t blow – it was pure crystal LSD that was meant to become a bottle of liquid acid. Now I was certainly no stranger to the substance by the age of 20, but I had just made a potentially life-altering, padded cell type faux pas. Plus, I had ingested every last bit of my friend’s entire tour stash. Oops.


Tie-dye Rob walked in the door seconds later to find me stunned, gazing at the vial. As soon as our eyes met he knew exactly what was going on. Even though he'd never come across as the most caring or sympathetic guy in the world up to that point – he had left home as a young teen and had been living hand to mouth on the streets for years – he had a look of sheer terror and grave concern in his eyes. I mean he was obviously pissed I had ingested the stuff, but he was now clearly stricken and very worried about me. His wide eyes were locked intently on mine as he said, “Beth, do you know how much was in there? That was enough to make about 100 hits. Fuck! What are we gonna do?”


I was never that great at math, but I calculated pretty quickly that I'd just done enough acid to get a boatload of average-sized men pretty high.


I count what happened over the next few hours as one of the most interesting events of my life and perhaps one of best undocumented (until now) feats of mind-over-matter, mindfucking of the universe...of all time. Period.


I knew I was going to need some supplies. A pack or two of cigarettes, at least a case of malted beverages, and of course some very close friends nearby as tripping buddies, so I went about my business quickly and methodically.


First, we’d go down to Penny Lane for the smokes and then head around the corner for the beer. On the way, I told myself to hold on – to not let those first hallucinations start creeping in. It was my firm belief that once I let go at all, I’d never be able to pull back, so I grounded myself in the tasks at hand and asked my friends to speak only of everyday things. “Please don’t ask me how I’m doing or what’s going on in my head,” I remember saying.


We set off down the sidewalk and I focused just on the pavement ahead, enveloping myself in its unremarkable, linear quality. Not the emerald-leafed trees arching over us that had started rustling in the wind (despite the fact that it was a perfectly calm day.) Nor the dew-kissed, aromatic purple Irises poking out from the garden beds alongside every house we passed.


I just walked and looked straight ahead trying not to think about how in a matter of minutes my reality might be inescapably different for an indefinite amount of time. Maybe forever.


And suddenly there it was. An ordinary stick about ten yards ahead of me came alive in serpentine fashion and slithered into the shrubs. I told myself right then that was the first and only hallucination I would allow myself to indulge in. I ordered the synapses in my brain portal to just stop right there. Let me live with the snake. Let me live forever with twigs and sticks and logs turning into snakes – and let that be all of consequence I’d really see or have to deal with that day.


And it was.


My friends sat with me for hours waiting for the storm to come as I chain-smoked my cigs and sipped my brews and laughed and chattered away, but I was perfectly within my senses and extremely content. In fact, it was a very good day. I didn’t get any school work done. And to this day, every stick I see turns into a snake, but other than that, I’m fine.

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Reminds me of the time that "I lit out from Reno. . .I was trailed by 20 hounds. . ." oh wait. . .never mind. You were there too!
You bet I was...and those hounds had nothing on us!
I was prepared for a woe is me tale of loss and redemption. This was refreshing.
I'm glad! The trees were arching over you in shimmering emerald green and fragrant purple irises nodded their heads and a slithery snake slid by. Smokes and jokes with a friend. Nice.
I hate it when that happens.
Yayyy! I lived on a commune above Gold Hill in 1971-72... thanks for the memories
whoops - I mean 1972-73. I refer to it at the end of my post on
The Bubble Pipe Workshop.
Quite a story. It could have turned out far worse, but you obviously know that. I once met a guy who claimed he ate several hundred hits (hiding the evidence, I guess) when he was pulled over by state troopers in Ohio; by the time he came back to himself it was almost a year later and he was living with a family of Navajos in New Mexico.
Seattle in the 1990s. Then I hitchhiked and lived in Boulder in 1995 where I had a good time.
What an enjoyable read...the suspense was excruciating !
Acquaintance of mine in an 'experimental phase' dropped some mean acid trips before heading to the airport to embark upon a 5hour plane flight. His words to the stewardess as he (feeling it coming on strong) handed her his boarding pass: "I may be requiring some medical assitance on this flight, Ma'am"........
Holy shit. that is all I can say. Great post!!
You took Gracie Slick rather seriously, it seems. Fun story. Do real snakes turn into sticks?
I absolutely LOVE the added comments here. Thanks so much for reading. This was a doozie to post and I am vigilantly trying to make sure none of my offspring come across it! Not just yet.
matt paust: I only wish snakes turned into sticks! that has never happened and that would be a blessing.
Brassawe: so glad you were refreshed. I'm not much for woe either.
Miguela: I'm a lover of New Mexico - my twins were born there when I lived in Arroyo Hondo right beneath the Sangre de Cristos.
Noah: Gold Hill was once one of my fav places on earth. I'll check out your post.
Nanetay and all: thanks so much for the comments!
I got into a mess o' them sillysibins growin' around the coop one day when I was just a young'un. The older hens had tole me it was morels but I shoulda knowd better when they start cacklin' while I'm chompin' 'em down and gettin', well, silly is the word. My morals ain't been the same since.
Chicken Maaan - I shoulda known from that profile pic - but you had me fooled until you confessed. No worries though. You seem perfectly "Morel" to me!
I'm claiming seniority here.
My fun acid trips were enjoyed in the Haight in the 60's~~~~
at the Filmore to hear all those great bands on acid was great
Free concerts in Golden Gate Park
I even went to a 49ers game at Kezar on acid. You con't imagine how confusing football is with over 100 players out there.lol

Some of us would cook up other things such as coke, snack & acid and shoot it then go floating around the Haight and/or the park, the panhandle or wherever having a great time~~~~I think.lol

I'm amazed that I'm now living a life unaffected by drug residue other than the memories, some of which may be selective.

You wrote a fun & interestuing story.
love this.....and of course, you brought my many trips back to me (mostly in Ft Collins, but a few in boulder....i remember buying supplies of cigarettes at Penny Lane at the beginning of a couple of them...).

and the walls still breathe around me, whihc somehow seems better than sticks slithering like snakes. but maybe that's just me... :)

rated (if i can get this site to let me).
Sticks turning into snakes is normal anyways.


Soooooo rated!
Then you looked at the calendar, and it was three months later, then you remember you haven't eaten for awhile, like three months. Just think of all the grief you saved your friend.