They called him Existential Eric because he would take any conversation and wrap it around far-out themes of oneness and the universe and all that shit we all think about when we’re tripping. I’d see him on campus talking up some stranger or some new friend. I’d approach and as I got closer, his typical heady choice of words and run-on sentence structure would grow audible. Anyone listening would just grow wide-eyed, and I knew that they were thinking what’s this guy on, or fuck, man, this dude can TALK, or holy shit, he’s a genius. This guy’s just permanently affected. He may have come down, but He never really came back.
At one point he was “psychologically addicted to psychedelic exploration” – his words, not mine. He’d be taking multiple doses of various psychedelics daily, mostly acid and psilacetin. I don’t really understand how his tryptamine tolerance would allow him to trip so often. I never asked him if he experienced real trips every time, though I highly doubt he did. I guess he was just at the point where he’d be taking recreational doses as though they were dietary supplements. Fuck, man. This guy. . .
I’ve seen him clear a 3 ft bong milked with mole smoke. A mole, the glass analog of the spliff. He went heavy with the tobacco. One Halloween, he was ripping moles out under the pine trees and there was a large crowd of costumes gathered around. He was Darth Vader. A friend of mine had caught a glimpse of his skill and challenged him, thought he could clear that bong just like EE. He got farther than I thought he would, but then coughed his brains out and sat on his ass with his elbows on his knees and his head dipped between his thighs, spitting like goddamn llama. His hands hung limp from his wrists and he lifted his head slightly and stretched out his right arm to shake Existential Eric’s hand and respectfully groaned, “you win.”
Soon after, I watched him rip a few more, each hit followed by a shot of Kettle One before exhaling. We wandered around a lot that night, but hours later it ended with the same old thing: Existential Eric ripping fat moles out of his bong.