the grass is always greener
When he was in grade school he went to a party where he was told that the apple cider everyone was drinking contained alcohol. It had a funny taste so he took the information at face value and proceeded to drink enough apple juice to drown a horse. He ended up face down and pantless on the front lawn of the young man who was hosting said party.
His parents were mortified.
The apple cider, while freshly squeezed, contained no alcohol.
When he was attending junior high he and his friends decided to try marijuana. They bought a small bag and smoked every last bit of it. He coughed and wheezed and got in touch with the universe and ended up face down and pantless on the front lawn of the same boy who had hosted the party that would forever be referred to as the “Apple Juice Incident.”
Later it was determined that the weed was just oregano.
In high school, as he and his friends were entering a Bruce Springsteen concert, they were approached by a man who offered to sell them psychedelic mushrooms. After a quick vote they decided to invest in the small baggie and made short work of ingesting them despite the mushrooms tasting worse than anything he’d ever put into his mouth until that time or any time since.
Later, claiming that he was in fact born to run, he sprinted from the stadium just as Bruce and his band were taking the stage. People sitting at the very top of the stands could make out a lone figure darting and laughing and hopping from the hood of one car in the parking lot to another.
Unbelievably, yet perhaps inevitably, he ended up face down and pantless on the front lawn of the same boy who had hosted the original party and then hosted the intimate reunion a few years later.
While it was never conclusively determined that the bag of mushrooms had no psychoactive indole alkaloids, he was the only one to experience any effects.
So there he sat at the edge of a bed years later. A college man now. Only a few people now knew about these embarrassing events in his life. He had put it behind him.
The blotter on his tongue.
And this feeling that he wasn’t going to get fooled again. He got up, did a few windmill motions with his arms and walked out into the world. He was going to stay calm. Not let his imagination run away from him.
It clearly wasn’t acid. It wasn’t working. He didn’t feel a thing.
At the grocery store he was asked to leave due to his behavior in the produce aisle. His antics with a banana were nothing new but his weaponization of cantaloupe was the stuff of security camera legend.
At the zoo his attempts at donning leopard-skin pants and crocodile-skin boots were made difficult by the fact that the leopard and crocodile still inhabited them. It was only a warning from a nearby crow that got him out of the penguin enclosure and safely out of the park before the local authorities could detain him. Maybe he was Apache.
He had somewhere to be. A date. A train to catch, so he ended up the airport. Number seven for takeoff. Standing on the tarmac. Stuck between a 727 and a 707.
He was dazzled by all the lights. He remembered the roar of the lions and the jet engines and the cantaloupe launchers.
Eventually, inevitably, his pants were folded neatly and he was carried back and forth triumphantly on the grassy shoulders of the front lawn. Dave the inchworm.
The next morning his parents, alerted to his recent disappearance by concerned buddies in his dorm, had a hunch where he might be and made the all-too-familiar drive over to collect him.