I owe apologies — some to people who’ve moved or died or who never want to speak to me again ever, or whose names I didn’t quite catch. Saying sorry for our mistakes/mishaps/dick moves/crimes against humanity is good for the soul, so welcome to the first edition of Phonaesthetica’s Public Apologies!
Dear Physicians and Nursing Staff Employed at UCSD Medical Center Hillcrest, San Diego, in April of 2001,
I’m sorry for eating too much marijuana and turning up in your ER insisting I was having a massive stroke.
In my defense, I did have all the symptoms — dizziness, disorientation, loss of coordination, sudden and severe headache, etc. Plus memory loss, i.e. I woke up on the floor and didn’t have the backstory. Also — and this was key — I’d forgotten about swallowing a heaping tablespoon of pot the night before.
I had attended a little kickback in North Park (where, as you know, most of the dykes live because Hillcrest is $$$. Drive past the North Park sign and! suddenly! rents are reasonable!) At the party, there was a girl with the unfortunate name of Tiffanii, on whom I had a little crush even though she used that terrible perfume that smells like rose farts. Tiffanii gave me a back rub and let me lean against her legs. This had never happened to me with a girl before (I was floating around the edges of the dyke community back then, trying to get a fix on sexual-identity-related issues and giving off an insane bi-curious vibe in the process. I felt like I had the shelving but not the cans of corn, if you get my drift).
Anyway, I wasn’t thinking too clearly when someone brought out the pipe. I was 26 and smoking pot was another thing I hadn’t done before, plus I didn’t want to drive home smelling like it — police! arrest! Midnight Express! — so someone suggested swallowing a little bit instead. OK! I said, but failed to clarify vis a vis dosing, and by that time no one was watching me anymore. So I gulped a tablespoon down with water. Nothing happened. Nothing happened for the rest of the party — Tiffanii went to make out with some guy — so I swallowed a little more. Nothing happened when I got home, and nothing happened until I woke up at 7 a.m. with a numb face, raging spins, and no ability to think in words. I army-crawled Hamburger Hill-style to the kitchen phone (no cell yet) and called my doctor to tell her to meet me at the ER because I was having a massive stroke and probably even a brain bleed.
You know the rest, Doctors and Nursing Staff Employed at UCSD Medical Center Hillcrest, San Diego, in April of 2001. You quietly recognized me immediately, and why? Well, because I had been in your ER two days previous, researching a magazine story titled “24 Hours In The ER.” I’d interviewed all of you, with my little reporter’s notebook and pencil and serious face. You let me watch a nephrectomy. I fainted when you pulled the kidney out and the anesthesiologist caught me before I hit the floor, whereupon you hooked me up to a bloop-bloop-bloop monitor and gave me a little green can of apple juice. So, you know. Memorable enough.
Anyway, after an hour lying on a gurney in the ER hallway, I suddenly remembered: THE POT. I ATE THE POT. I AM NOT HAVING A STROKE AT ALL. I didn’t know what to do! Was I allowed to just get up off the gurney and walk out? What was I going to say? Where were my pants? I lay there and listened to the ER melee (Saturday morning being a surprisingly popular time for San Diegans to stab one another).
I was terrified you’d remember me — in my mind there was an actual chance you might not — so I pulled the sheet up over my face and pretended to be a corpse. Lying corpse-still helped cure the dizziness and I fell asleep, and then suddenly a hot gay male nurse was pulling the sheet down, handing me my pants, and saying something about taking a little Dramamine and going home. So I took some, and I went.
I’m a teacher now, Physicians and Nursing Staff Employed at UCSD Medical Center Hillcrest, San Diego, in April of 2001 — and years ago I had to cover a Health class at a teen rehab facility. Thanks to you, I successfully conveyed (without condoning drug use in any way) an important fact about drugs, which is this: If, when high, you hear yourself say: “This stuff isn’t kicking in,” DON’T TAKE ANY MORE RIGHT THEN. WAIT ANOTHER HOUR. MAYBE TWO.
And I never ate marijuana again, except for that one time with the brownies. Which, I understand, is a far better way to go about it.