Excess isn’t the spice of life?
(This is the conclusion of the exciting tale that started last week.)If a little is good, then a lot must be better. This was the philosophy that encouraged me to chug down the milkshake loaded with freshly ground nutmeg. If a little sprinkle of the pungent spice is good on your eggnog, then a fistful must be great. The idea was that I was supposed to get some sort of a buzz from it, according to the man in the turban, my yoga teacher, the one who gave me the nutmeg seeds and told me what to do with them.”Ride, Captain, ride,” I thought as I choked down the last foul-tasting gulp, anticipating the glorious high that would surely follow.I’m not advocating or promoting the act of getting high, though I personally have no spiritual or moral problems with it. It’s really just a changing of the brain chemistry, something everybody does every day (unless you happen to be a person who doesn’t breathe or eat, in which case I apologize for lumping you in with the rest of us.) I share this personal philosophy with you only so you know where I’m coming from when I tell you that being high on nutmeg really sucked.The first six hours were pretty miserable. I shuffled around my parent’s house, where I was living at the time, with a blanket draped across my shoulders. It was a blanket my grandmother had crocheted for me years ago, and in my nutmeg stupor, this seemed significant.”My grandmother made me this blanket with her own hands,” I said.Unfortunately, I said this to my grandmother, who was visiting at the time. She was already suspicious of my lifestyle, and this admission didn’t help. As she stared me down, trying to get me to admit to having done something wrong, her eyebrows moved freely and independently on her face, looking to me like two hyperactive caterpillars. Luckily, I kept this observation to myself.The next six hours continued to suck. My parents had recently installed an automatic room deodorizer, a new gizmo at the time, and every 10 minutes it would squirt out some horrid, industrial pine-scented aerosol mist which would rain down on my face as I tried to sleep on the couch. This device had no off switch. I thought it was evil, like seriously inhabited by the devil. Yeah, we’re partying now.I woke up the next morning still “megging.” By this time the novelty had REALLY worn off. It just felt like my face was being drawn toward the center of the Earth by a giant vacuum cleaner and the floor was made of tapioca. What did the guy with the turban see in this stuff? He was a Sikh, and his religion didn’t allow him to take drugs, but I guess he’d found a loophole that allowed nutmeg use. I felt sorry for him, forced to shuffle around for days on end trying to convince himself that this nutmeg trip was a real gas, man. The next morning I was a little better, though still sluggish for the rest of the day. All I had to show for the last 48 hours was a grandmother on high alert and a poem that I’d written during the throes of my nutmeg stupor. A really lame poem about grabbing the edges of reality with your fingernails and turning it inside out. Yawn. Samuel Coleridge, I ain’t.The following Monday I returned to yoga class. My turbaned teacher asked (in private) if I had tried the nutmeg. I spilled the whole tale – the ruined coffee grinder, the paranoia, the grandmother, the vacuumed face, the bogus poetry, the lethargy, the three wasted days. He seemed puzzled. “How much did you eat?” he asked. “Well, all of ’em,” I said. “You weren’t supposed to eat them all at once,” he laughed, but in a scolding way.Funny, that never had occurred to me. You mean excess isn’t the spice of life?”That was enough for five people,” he added, shooting me a look of spiritual superiority that was accentuated by his crisp, white turban.(Next time: Barry scores some cinnamon sticks from a Sufi – and you are there.)Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com.