During the late nineties I postponed my life indefinitely to focus on all things Phish, the Vermont-based jam band that was stirring the nation's hopeless youth into a frenzied black hole filled with hula hoops and grilled cheese sandwiches, where the collective outlook for the future seemed dismal at best. Yet for me it was a no-brainer: Traveling around with a band that played three hour concerts where you could openly smoke pot, less-openly engage in schedule one narcotics with trust-fund kids disguised as unkempt hobos, and before the show was over- if you were lucky- the drummer might even suck on the live end of a vacuum cleaner.
I spent several years in my Phishy haze before growing up, taking with me many warm memories. There was the time I witnessed a nude woman attempting to jump from the upper deck of Madison Square Garden on New Years' Eve, her screams of "I want to die!" echoing throughout the arena as she struggled to leap from the railing. Fortunately she was saved by two very serious looking paramedics, who confined her to a stretcher and carried her off somewhere to ring in the new year all by herself. The mushrooms I had eaten were starting to kick in, and though this did not leave me feeling spring fresh I probably would have felt worse if her jump had been successful.
During freshman year in college my new friend Big Perm drove us to Gainesville, Florida, where we ended up in a seedy hotel room chain-smoking joints, trying to come down from the mushrooms we had eaten as the man in the next room beat his wife. Through the thin walls we heard him shout 'Bitch, you gonna die!' followed by several loud thumps and a woman's muted pleads for help. We listened in horror, smoking our joints in the darkness. From across the room I heard Big Perm sob "I don't want to die." A few days later Perm moved back home, never to be heard from again.
Eventually I set my sights on more exotic horizons - namely the northernmost point in Maine - where for some god forsaken reason the Phish had decided to stage a two-day festival in the middle of nowhere. After several days of driving north, surviving on gas station hotdogs and cookies, I again decided against my fading better judgement to eat mushrooms and wandered off into the woods alone where the only sounds were the mellow songs of nature. The hours passed, as did a legendary bowel explosion on the forrest floor, and eventually I retraced my way out of the woods and back to my friends, who muttered indifferently upon my return "Oh, there you are. We thought you were dead."
Ah, memories. Here are the top five things I overheard recently during a Phish cover band show.
5. 'I hope they play a cover song.'
4. 'You're memory is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. It's like you can actually see me standing here.'
3. Old hippie guy to old faux-hippie woman: 'What's your name?' Old faux-hippie woman to old hippie guy: 'It doesn't matter. That's more than you'll ever need to know about me.'
2. 'My boyfriend says I have a bar tab but apparently it's invisible. Can you look and see?'
1. 'This meat stick is on fire, girl' or 'this mattress on far, gahrl.' Difficult to discern, as as the guy was tweaking pretty hard. Nonetheless, I'm well versed in tweaking hippie lingo, and I'm pretty sure that's what he was saying.