It took a whole year of semi communal living to make a sizable dent in the four pounds of pot the socks and plastic bag netted once we emptied them out and weighed the contents in a truly scientific manner. I know it was scientific because we met a chemist who had rented a house down the street from where all of us artists were living and he did the weighing with his precision instruments. I know he had precision instruments because in addition to his work with a large chemical company located in White Plains, New York, about a half hour from his house, he moonlighted as a producer and distributor of LSD which he manufactured in his kitchen with said scientific instruments.
I don’t know if he actually tripped on acid more than a couple of times himself. He was a very reserved math/science type guy with few social skills. The manufacture of LSD catapulted him into a social sphere that he found rather heady and exciting. I think that was the main draw for him.
Girls who were working as musicians and artists, lithe young dancers, singers and other assorted exotic types of women flocked to his brick rambler situated on half a secluded acre in Port Chester, New York, just off the last exit of the Merritt Parkway right at the Connecticut and New York State line. He had stripped his house down to carpet and a few large floor pillows, installed some stage lights that changed colors as a wheel with color gels rotated in front of them, and hung some paisley shawls from the ceiling so that when you were lying down on the carpet and looked up you saw great swirling patterns.
On acid it was a pretty fine effect. Devoid of acid it just looked stupid. The guy had few actual decorating skills. And he never sold the acid that came out of his manufacturing site. He just used it as a party favor. For his friends. And their friends. And friends of their friends.
Pretty soon the-little-lab-that-could got its reputation spread in such a wide circle that some pretty famous names in the psychedelic world starting coming around. Hippies showed up from New York City and from the Haight in San Francisco. Soon our little suburban group was hosting light artists and going to clubs in the city and hanging out with the rock and jazz crowds.
One night, after a tour of clubs and a series of parties downtown, we ended up in an apartment off lower Fifth Avenue. Now maybe my consciousness had been altered. I won’t deny that I smoked a good bit of grass that night. But nothing more. And I distinctly remember this apartment. And the young woman who lived in it.
She had very dark hair and very white skin. She was slim and tall. She wore a long wine red dress with thin straps over the shoulders. Drippy earrings hung from her ear lobes. Tall lamps stood around the perimeter of the living room beside a couch here, a table there, an armchair, a chaise lounge, all scattered about the room as if they had been moved out of the way. The lamps were all oversized, about seven feet tall. At the far end of the enormous living room that, judging by the height of the windows, I gauged to have at least twelve-foot ceilings, was a huge table completely covered by generous platters of expensive foods of all types. It was as if royalty had been expected at the party, and the hostess had gone to fabulous expense to ensure no one would be slighted or left out of the social equation. In one corner was an equally well-stocked bar table with a tub of ice and mixers behind it. All the bottles had been opened including Moet champagnes, vintage scotches, bourbons and cognacs. There were bottles of wine and tins of opened Beluga caviar. Everything was overflowing with a kind of bacchanalian abandon.
We had been told by the friend who had invited us to buzz the mailbox that said “Commander Tice.” Naturally I assumed he lived there. When a return buzz clicked open the door lock for us we went to the ground floor apartment not knowing what we would find.
“Come in.” Our friend met us at the ten-foot-tall door. It was made of solid wood and it dwarfed him although he stood well over six feet. The apartment was painted a dark red. The ceiling was inlaid in a geometric checkerboard carved wood pattern of thick black and white squares.
“Glad you made it. The party’s over but there’s plenty of food left.”
Something about the place made Don, one of the men in our group, nervous and he began to laugh. For the rest of the night he just kept on laughing. He couldn’t seem to stop.
“I’d like you to meet Alexandra.” Our friend introduced us to the woman in red.
My friend laughed as he took her hand.
“Yes,” she said to him smiling, “it’s all pretty funny isn’t it?”
She had a slight accent but I couldn’t tell from where. Maybe the south. She led him over to the food table. He heaped a plate and looked around for somewhere to sit, then spotted the couch. It must have been fifteen feet long. High wooden arms at either end made it look something like a very long shallow sleigh. It was covered in dark red velvet and had gigantic pillows tossed carelessly against its back. The shade on the standing lamp at one end of it was one of those beaded things, but its beads hung down about four feet. It was as if everything in the apartment had taken a bite of the eat-me cake and had just grown super large.
Don laughed his way over to the couch and began to eat.
I could not stop staring at everything.
Alexandra wandered over to the kitchen and started cooking something so I followed. She was making an omelet.
“Not enough food for you?” I asked her.
She looked up at me, her face blank. She didn’t say anything. Just shrugged.
I wandered off to find the bathroom. I did. I closed the door and flipped on the light switch. I looked around to see myself surrounded by floor-to-ceiling wallpaper that was nothing but a variety of photographs of our hostess in various naked poses, and I must say in some of them she was not alone. No sirree. And she was more than not alone. She was actively engaged in some pretty explicit activities not alone. And not just with men not alone. And not just two of them not alone. Well, you get the picture, or pictures. I stayed in there for quite some time.
Up until then my sexual education had been pretty circumspect. There was just Lovegod, who was with me that night. And while he was a willing coach and teacher, he was not your most experimental type. And what did I know?
I emerged feeling as if my horizons had definitely been broadened. And I certainly looked at our hostess in a whole new light.
Don was still laughing when I reentered the living room.
The friend who had invited us was smoking a hash pipe.
Red dress was eating her omelet and drinking champagne, judging by the glass.
“Hey, laughing man, wanna lie down and relax? You look kind of tired.”
She led Don into the bedroom which was in the back of the apartment. As she walked by me she invited me to join them. Now I know what you’re thinking but you’re wrong. Red dress had no such thing in mind. She just wanted to hang out and talk.
The bedroom was even more gargantuan in scale than the living room. The bed alone must have been built for a moose.
Across the bed, covering the entire span from side to side and head to foot, was a mink blanket. I spread out across it and I remember thinking I would remember that opulent feeling for the rest of my life.
Don was still laughing. He was sitting upright against the headboard that loomed about five feet above him.
Red dress left the room for a brief spell and our host friend joined us.
“Where’s her husband?” I asked him.
“What do you mean? Whose husband?”
“Alexandra’s. Isn’t this their apartment?”
Our friend just said: “Hey you guys missed a real show tonight. The president’s daughter showed and a bunch of secret service guys. And a military escort. It was really funny. All these stiff assed military types and all us hippies.”
“What about her husband? This place must cost a fortune.”
“Come on stop it. I thought you were hip to this scene.”
Don started laughing again and Red Dress came back into the room.
“That’s right,” she said. “You just keep on laughing and it’ll all work out just fine.”