The hardest drug I’ve ever ingested is ecstasy. I took it three times over a two month span and then never again. The first time, I took it with a friend to try it out. The second time was at the Ultra Music Festival, which I had flown cross country to get to with two pills in the pocket of my jeans without ever considering how fucking stupid of an idea that was.
If I had been checked at the airport, I would have had no defense. But I wasn’t, and I made it and that was that. At UMF, a friend ended up bailing, and I ended up taking both the pills myself and, consequently, it triggered a full mental breakdown, two years of panic attacks, and was the (in hindsight, much-needed) impetus to get me on a psychiatrist’s couch to sort out all the fucked up shit from my childhood.
This isn’t about that second time I took ecstasy. This is about the third time I took ecstasy, which happened in Portland two weeks later. Young, stupid, and cocky, I decided that I had such a miserable time on ecstasy in Miami (which had triggered a panic/OCD attack so bad it left me sobbing in the shower, terrified I would cut my eyes out with a disposable razor) that I couldn’t let it beat me; wouldn’t believe that my mind couldn’t handle it. So, when the opportunity presented itself two weeks later in a limousine surrounded by friends and strangers, I took it. That’s the only reason I rolled on E the third time. Because I had gotten so fucked up the second time that I felt I had to prove to myself that I could “get real fucked up” and “handle my shit” the right way. Oh, youth.
I was filling in on afternoon drive at the radio station I worked at, and I was going to be finishing up at about seven. My phone buzzed, and it was a text from Rex, a connected guy in town that always knew where the party was at.
Rex’s text read, “Hey. Got a limo for tonight’s show. Call some peeps. Let’s kill it tonight.” I’m not much of a “let’s kill it tonight” kind of guy, but every once in a while I’ll go ahead and mildly wound it. Maybe give it a limp.
I called up Ricky, another guy from my radio station. And I called up another buddy of mine. We’ll call that guy Pete. Now, Pete could “kill it.” Pete was the kind of guy that had taken so many drugs that I couldn’t believe he was still alive. Pete was the guy that had been addicted to crack. And stole a boat while high. And then crashed it into a boathouse. At age 12.
Pete would tell me all these insane drug stories and I would just sit there and listen, trying to comprehend the man’s inhuman levels of chemical intake. I could barely handle weed and caffeine, and this guy was smoking weed that had been dipped in formaldehyde to take the edge off a meth binge.
I remember a story Pete told me about snorting a full prescription of Oxycontin and going to an outdoor Dave Matthews Band concert and dancing around by himself while people screamed at him about “being covered in fire ants.” He laughed it off until he realized that he was, in fact, covered in fire ants. Pete had danced into a fire ant nest (nasty fucking creatures, if you haven’t had the pleasure), and they had crawled all over the bottom half of his body and stung the shit out of him.
After about 300 stings his body went into anaphylactic shock, and he had to be rushed to the ER; otherwise that would have been it for ol’ Pete. He never felt a thing. That is, until the drugs wore off. Then, as he described to me, he truly knew what hell was as his skin felt like it was burning off for a week straight. Thankfully, Pete had mostly straightened out by the time I met him, but he still smoked an acre of weed a day.
So there was Me, there was Ricky, there was Rex, and there was Pete. We went to the show (Lamb of God and Slipknot were the headliners) and it was what it was (one of the perks of that kind of job is that you see so many concerts, whether you like the artists or not. Sometimes it’s great, like seeing a band you like in a private twenty person show. And sometimes…well, let’s just say no one should have to see Disturbed fourteen times.)
After the show the four of us were backstage, and sure enough, Rex had arranged a limo to pick us up, and thankfully the limo was pretty big, because it was a packed house. A couple guys from Lamb of God, a couple guys from Slipknot, and a bunch of roadies crammed in with us.
And Jesus, they stunk. None of the guys in the bands had showered after the show, or possibly that year. Rockers are, as a rule, pretty gross. They usually stink like sweat, vomit, and whiskey. Not coincidentally, someone from Slipknot had brought a giant bottle of Crown into the limo. It didn’t make it out of the parking lot. That shit got guzzled.
“Where to, fellas?” our limo driver queried. Rex gave a destination (strip club), and we were off.
There are times in one’s life when one must take the lead, and there are times when one must sit back and enjoy the ride. When you’re with people whose names you know from TV and radio and it’s not mutual and they couldn’t give a shit who you are, well that’s one of those times when you need to just sit back and enjoy the ride and be cool.
A filthy man with long, greasy blonde hair started talking to me.
“We need to be back by four AM. Do you understand?”
The guy was shaking and his eyes were bloodshot and he was speaking to me like I was a child and he was my sitter. I didn’t know who the fuck he was, but he seemed to be a handler of sorts.
“Yep! Four AM,” I replied earnestly.
“Okay, cause I don’t think you guys realize how important it is we get back at four. The buses leave at four-thirty, whether we’re on them or not, and…you’re not listening to me.”
“Yes, yes I’m listening.”
“No, you’re not…listen, you’re not fucking listening to me. You’re looking out the window.”
I swear I was staring right into this guy’s fucking eyes the whole time.
“Stop looking over there…just…okay, we need to be back at four AM. You guys don’t seem like complete assholes but if this gets fucked…four AM, you got that?”
“What fucking time do we need to be back?”
He eyeballed me to make sure I wasn’t just pretending I understood the importance of “Four AM.” Finally, after a few moments of returning his paranoid stare, I won him over.
“Good. Now we can fucking party.”
Off we went. Rex was sitting up near the divider glass and chatting with the limo driver. He talked with her for a minute, and then turned to the rest of us. “Alright guys, time to order up, what’ll we be having?”
The rocker guys started putting in their orders for drugs like we were taking turns at a Taco Bell drive-thru window. Rex was used to that kind of stuff, Ricky had worked in radio long enough to be used to the whole thing too, but Pete had never had the VIP treatment before. I’d wager he had done more drugs than anyone else in that limo, but to be giving his order from the back of a limousine was blowing his mind. He was having a blast.
“You mean we just tell them what we want, and it’ll be waiting for us wherever we’re going?”
One of the guys starts talking about how everyone’s going in on eight balls and they’re trying to figure out how many to get, and the talk gets down to us in the back. Rex and Pete decide to go in on one, and they look to me.
“I’ve never really done any of that before,” I say.
The handler says to me, completely stone-faced, “Hey man, do whatever you want. But if you OD, we’re rolling you the fuck out of the limo and someone else can pick you up on the side of the road.” There wasn’t a hint of a smile on his face.
“I think I’ll pass.”
I had also heard the guys ordering E, and I thought to myself, you know what Tim, let’s make this happen. I can handle this shit. It was good the first time, and I’m not gonna let that bad situation in Miami get the best of me.
“Hey, put me down for some E, though.”
We arrived at the strip club ten minutes later, but instead of getting out of the limo, a box got passed through the divider, and in the box was everything we had ordered. There was a hell of a lot of swallowing, snorting, and sniffing going on in that limo for the next few minutes, and when the doors opened and we got escorted in by the club staff, we all felt like fucking gods. Except me, cause E takes a while to kick in. But I felt like a god by association.
We marched into that strip club to the bands’ own music and to the resident DJ announcing our arrival. All heads turned as he barked out, “Special welcome from the Platinum Club goes out to Slipknot, Lamb of God, and the guys from KUFO!” Into the VIP room we went, followed by a dozen naked women and endless bottles of whatever we wanted.
While most of the other guys were indulging in the private and not-so-private dances, Pete and I were chatting about how awesome of a time he was having. He just couldn’t get over how different it was to be on the VIP side of things. The side of things where people thought you were “somebody.” And I was making sure he got the full treatment. Girls kept coming around asking if we wanted dances, and I kept fucking with Pete and telling the girls he was in the band.
“Hey, do you like Slipknot? This is their guitarist, right here.”
Pete of course loved that, and the girls all but blew him right there at the table. I don’t know exactly what went down when I wasn’t looking, but I know whatever it was, he didn’t pay a dime. The girls started asking him for his autograph, and he would sign “Pete – I’m not even in the fucking band!” It was a hell of a time.
Not wanting to blow our load in one place, Rex rounded everyone up and we headed to the next spot and a strange thing happened while we were in transit. Everyone’s drugs had kicked in and we were all laughing and twitching and staring blankly at inanimate objects, and at some point the four of us that were friends were laughing about something and I heard a new voice.
Halfway up the limo was some guy that, as far as my blanked mind could reason, had not been there before. He was laughing and cackling along at our jokes like he was part of the group, but I couldn’t remember the guy from before. I searched my mind. Nope, he had to be new. Because he was a sharply dressed Asian in the middle of a bunch of sweaty long-haired guys in grungy clothes, and I definitely would have remembered that.
“Hey!” I said.
“Who…uh, who the fuck are you?”
“Hey guys!” he answered with a huge smile. “I’m Tony Partytime. And I’m here to make sure you have a good time.” While he spoke, he was pointing rather excitedly to all of us in the back. The rockers were in their own little worlds and weren’t paying attention, but Tony had the rest of us enraptured, if only because we didn’t know what the hell was going on.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means whatever you guys need, Tony Partytime will provide!” The smile came out again. I didn’t know how he got into the limo, or where he had come from, or who had called him, but there he was, and we were all too far gone to question Tony Partytime. I looked around at my friends and there were shrugs and goofy smiles and…whatever. We didn’t care at that point.
“Well then. Welcome aboard, Tony Partytime!”
Tony Partytime was with us for the next strip club, and the one after that. He never left the limo, and was always on the phone when we piled back in. I don’t know who he was talking to, but he always hung up by the time we got rolling again.
Four AM came around pretty fast, and we went back to the concert venue, and the rock stars and roadies thanked us for a good time in our city by falling out of the limo and puking on each other. Perhaps the reason the handler was so adamant about pounding it into my skull that we had to be back by four AM was because he knew there wasn’t the slightest fucking chance any of his guys would be able to do it themselves.
The rest of us cruised to the radio station’s back parking lot and pulled in. There was Me, there was Rex, there was Ricky, there was Pete, and there was Tony Partytime.
Five AM now, and we’re all just fucked, and Tony Partytime still hopped around with a full smile and boundless energy.
Ricky and Pete looked over at me as we got out to stretch our legs.
“Women,” they said. “We need women.”
I motioned to Tony Partytime.
“We need women.”
“Hold on two secs,” he said, smiling real big. Tony jumped on his phone and started talking almost immediately.
“Yeah. Okay. Four guys. Yeah.” He nodded to us. “Hey, you guys like blondes or brunettes or what?”
“Blondes!” puked Pete.
“Brunettes!” drooled Ricky.
“Haha! Okay! Yeah, they like both. Okay. Okay. Great. Yeah, hold on baby.” Tony Partytime cupped the phone with his hand.
“I got one blonde, smokin’ hot, and one brunette, dynamite. They both come if you buy a hundred and fifty worth of coke.”
My first thought was, Two? Two women!? What the fuck, there’s four of us! But then right afterwards my brain peaked out from under the cloud of drugs and exhaustion just long enough for me to think, It’s dawn on a weekday and we’re buying women and drugs through a mysterious man that is smiling way too hard for this time of night.
I and Ricky and Pete and Rex all stared at each other in an awkward circle before pulling close for a chat. The drugged up, strung out conversation we had was so incomprehensible that it was just a bunch of muttering, mumbling and drooling.
“Man, I need some pussy right now.”
“Who’s got water. Ask Partytime if he can get us water.”
“Fuck water. He’s got drugs and pussy, man.”
“I need water or I’m going to die.”
“How are we gonna split two girls on four guys. And how much coke is a hundred and fifty bucks?”
“I dunno. Is that a lot?”
“I could snort that in twenty minutes.”
“Shut the fuck up, Pete, we’re gonna fucking share.”
Someone dry heaves violently.
After a few minutes of worthless strung out chatter, it didn’t take much more for all of us to realize that it was real late, the actual rock stars had passed out on their buses an hour ago, and while people were getting up and ready for work, we were contemplating making drug and/or prostitution deals. Even Pete had had enough by that point. I called it for the night.
“Hey, Tony Partytime?”
“I think we’ve had enough.”
“You sure, boss? I got the good shit! Blondes and brunettes and the coco, baby!”
“Uh, yeah. We’re fine. Thanks.”
Tony Partytime never stopped smiling as he ended his call and jumped in the limo.
“Uh, guys?” said Rex.
“Yeah?” I replied.
“I haven’t actually paid the limo driver yet.”
“Yeah. So it’s gonna be two hundred and twenty including tip. We can just, uh, split it four ways and that would be cool with me.”
And so there we were, four strung out guys digging through our pockets as the sun came up, trying to scrape together enough cash to pay the limo driver while Tony Partytime waited patiently inside to go off to whatever Tony Partytime did during the day. I think we came up with sixty bucks total and an embarrassed Rex told the limo driver he’d have to pay her the rest later.
It was awkward and I felt like a cheapskate, but it turned out fine, since while the rest of us crashed at my studio, Rex bought fifty dollars worth of per-per-view porn while we slept. Five different movies. I don’t know if he actually needed that much to get off, I don’t know if he suddenly thought that being surrounded by three sleeping men was a good time to jerk it, I don’t know if he just did that to get back at us for shorting him on the money we never knew we were going to have to owe. I never found out, because I didn’t learn about the charges til my bill came the next month, and by then Rex had completely changed his image and had found a new group of friends to hang with. I never saw him, or Tony Partytime again.