Tequila and teddy bear in bed

Ambien También: Things I did not dream

I’m not going to give you a long pontificating intro for this one. This is the story of the time I did Ambien in Mexico and shit got kinda weird.

It’s the fifth day of a seven day bender in Mexico, a spring break trip with my fraternity brothers, so you can already guess the kind of wringer we’ve already put our bodies through by this point. Tequila and group jazzercise for breakfast, spaghetti with salsa for lunch, neon colored daiquiris and pop tarts for dinner, and all the moments in between drowning in a brand of tequila that’s two fifths for ten dollars. It’s a brain cell killing field and we all welcome the slaughter. The sun is just dipping into the Mexican Sea, and for once we think we might take it easy. “Take it easy” in this case, will mean abusing drugs. But prescription drugs. From America. So it’s chill.

Drugged out Uncle Sam

So here we are around the dining room table of our suite looking ruefully at a bottle of tequila and weighing our options for the evening. The Fraternity contingency present consists of myself, C, F, K, and B. The female contingency is Marissa, a girl we had met earlier in the week from Indiana, or Canada, or maybe California, or some shit. My memory fails me at times. There also may have been another girl or two present, but Marissa is the only important factor here. This is because she opens up a small silver and turquoise case to reveal the clattering mass of pills that seemingly hold her fractured mind together. “Have you guys ever tried fighting an Ambien” she asks.

“Fighting an Ambien”, for those who may not know, is when you take the incredibly prolific prescription sleep aid Ambien and  try to stay awake for as long as you can. The effects are various and sundry but may include body high, incomprehensible thoughts, and general euphoria. None of us has ever tried to fight an Ambien, and the lot of us are about to put up our dukes and lose.

A pill with boxing gloves on
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the brain

So we take the Ambien, allowing it to mingle with the tequila already present in our stomachs, and sit around the table shooting the shit. We’re having a banal conversation about relationships or something of the like when we suddenly notice that K has fallen. He is not a large man, and because of this the Ambien drags him into the night first. I’d seen a lot of people passed out on tables before this, but none that had managed to tee their own skull up on their clenched fist like a golf ball. Someone gives him a shove to verify that he isn’t dead, and when he mumbles in response, we know that no one in the room is going to have to make any panicked phone calls that night. After only a couple more minutes of dull conversation huddled around an unconscious man like a family ‘round a Christmas tree, we move into the other room. Someone has already turned the TV on in this room. The TV is in Spanish, a fact that will claim another soul.

Watching TV in a foreign country is never dull. Because the language hits you and bounces off. Because you don’t understand the cultural norms. Because all you have to go on is voice inflections and hand motions. It is because of these factors that something as harmless as an infomercial has the potential to destroy an inebriated mind.

Slap Chop and a brain

At first Mexican network television goes easy on us, all our fragile minds and stupid fingers can find is regular news. This is great because Mexican sketch comedy is one of the most batshit things in the northern hemisphere this side of Japan. We watch as the news anchors point at a fire with grave concern, or as they smile when an underprivileged child gets handed a new prosthetic leg, or when a well-coiffed man points at the next week’s weather. Nobody is having too much fun. Nobody but F. F has begun to show cracks in his psyche. He goes on the kind of crooked laughing jags that stoners are familiar with. When he tries to explain what’s so funny, it’s impossible not to laugh at his attempts to make coherent points. The girls watch these three adult human beings melt into intellectual bedlam and leave because they want nothing to do with it. And probably for the better, because right after they leave the thing that breaks F arrives. A fucking infomercial.

On screen, some poor hefty woman is trying her damnedest to wash a car window, struggling mightily to comprehend the basics of front-windsheild physics. She handles a squeegee on a stick like it’s a miffed 4-foot eel.  When it flails to the ground near her feet it goes textbook infomercial and she looks at the camera, shrugs her shoulders, and shakes her head. But in Spanish. It’s if she routinely needs instructions on how to breathe. This is what ends F’s resistance. His brain finally melts into a puddle and spills out his ears and all he’s capable of doing is rolling on the couch and laughing. The fact that his intellect is in shambles is not lost on him. After stopping to catch his breath he politely slurs goodnight and wanders into his room to surrender to the drug, never even learning how this woman turned her life around with this cutting edge new squeegee.

A lady and eel on fire
“That’s the last time I try to make coffee”

And then there are only two of us. There would be three, but B disappeared somewhere between the third and ninth paragraph of this story and we just assume he went to bed. To my addled mind C and I seem unaffected by the drug, but Ambien is about to start delivering haymakers to the dome.

It’s worth noting at this point that up to now I make us sound substantially more composed than we probably are. A sober person, given the opportunity to watch the previous events, would have likely watched us and thought we’d all been recently lobotomized. But all I have is my own observations. C’s sentences are starting to fall apart in midair, coming out as a series of slurs and apologies. I have no external interpretations of myself to report, but my mind, which is tangential and difficult to wrangle at the best of times, has taken off in a multitude of directions. It has begun chaining together concepts and ideas that do not belong together, so much so that I notice it and still can’t do anything but hold on.

“Dude, we should make more margaritas,” C says, and because I am an animal with limited self-preservation reflexes, I agree. We approach the blender, and I grab the necessary things: Ice, margarita mix, tequila.

C removes the lid from the blender. I wonder where the word ‘purple’ comes from. C grabs the ice and successfully throws it into the blender. My mind is in the process of linking Doug Funnie to the building of The Great Wall of China. C takes the margarita mix and adds a hefty portion into the opening. I am imagining what it would be like if they had to build the Great Wall utilizing their feet instead of their hands. More people would have died, probably. C grabs the tequila and utters something in my direction, temporarily dredging me from my own mind. I look at his face, then track down his arm to his hand, which is pouring the tequila while he talks. He’s doing a great job of pouring the tequila out, but I am watching it fall straight from the bottle onto the kitchen counter, several inches to the right of the blender. It has begun to waterfall onto the floor. I look back at his face and it has apparently been talking to me as I stared at his hand.

“Um,” I say, as if that’s going to somehow put the tequila into the blender.

Monkey hanging from a tree
That’s not how you build a w- Y’now what? Fuck it. you do you

But he continues talking and moving. I watch him blend this mixture of sugarwater and ice, listening to the blades hit the frozen water and thinking once again that feet are not the proper tools for gripping large pieces of masonry. Not at all. C beckons me again and I look up. He’s presenting me with a big smile and a blender pitcher full of neon green.

I look at the frosty beverage in his hand and then at the tequila dripping off the counter and, despite what I have witnessed just seconds earlier, my brain fails to make a connection between the two. I take a sip and give a languorous nod of approval. Nothing about this seems weird at the time, nothing other than the fact that feet are like inefficient little hands attached to our ankles. While I ponder what it would be like to have little hands for toes C makes another poor suggestion.

“Hey, man. Let’s go to the Jacuzzi.”

By the way, this suite has its own hot tub.

So the two of us are nipple-deep in the lukewarm hot tub, at three in the morning, passing the leaking pitcher back and forth. Our discussion, or rather the words we slur at each other in an attempt to connect, are since lost to time, but all is peaceful. The body feel of the Ambien combined with the massaging movement of the water have lulled me into a trance. This, I decide, would not be an awful place to sleep.  I lean my head back and take in the moon, pondering the vastness of space. C, in a less meditative mood, opens his mouth as if to speak, then vomits. No Art. No frills. No attempts to turn his head. Just straight forward and into the water.

Will Smith
“I saw that going differently… in my mind.”

I immediately jerk to life watching our dinner, which I am now reminded was spaghetti and salsa, begin pluming red around the hot tub. “Dude,” I say bringing my entire body out to sit in the corner. “No, it’s fine,” he says using his palm to push water and worsen the problem. “No, man, It’s not.” And it isn’t. I grew up playing water polo, so every time I enter a body of water I assume somebody has already pissed in it. But this is not urine. This is spaghetti, shimmying around the water like the worst ever tropical fish. C insists it is fine again, but at this point it is at this point that I finally come to grips with the absurdity of the events that have just transpired around me and finally remove myself from them. Ignorant of the danger I have invited by letting a drugged man roil in a chest deep puddle of lukewarm pukewater, I crawl into bed and let the pill finally take me under.

In the morning I awake and am allowed ten seconds of groggy peace before I panic, realizing the colossal error I have made. With vivid mental images of a face down body in the tub, I stumble into the main room prepared to raise an alarm, but there’s no point. C and the others are conducting business as usual in the next room. It is ten AM, somebody is pouring tequila into a camelback, and the earth continues its slow rotation around the sun.

Nobody has learned a lesson and that is the end of this post. I’ve given you the tools, now build your own conclusions.

A weird Lego kit
Have fun

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