Citation: Smiley. "Vincent Van Gogh Torches Benjamin Franklin: An Experience with Absinthe (ID 65886)". Erowid.org. May 17, 2012. erowid.org/exp/65886
So my good friend and roommate Dr. D comes home with a bottle of absinthe from his friend who just returned from Amsterdam. I've always wanted to try the stuff, since I generally like altered states. Prior to this I've tried mushrooms, cannabis, various opioids (vicodin, percocets, etc), and at the time I was quite a heavy drinker, enjoying maybe a half bottle of red wine every day. On that particular day all I had was coffee that morning.
It was near the beginning of the month, and my other roommate, Mr. S, had just paid me his share of the rent, $500 in cash, which was sitting in my pocket. This becomes important later in the story. Dr. D comes home with a bunch of groceries and the absinthe. He starts cooking dinner and informs me that he has invited one of his female co-workers and her sister for dinner. Dr. D is an awesome cook, and tonight he prepares delicious middle-eastern fare. Hummus, roasted bell peppers, grilled lamb with a pomegranate marinade, plenty of warm pita, etc. I decide to build a fire in our wood-burning fireplace since it is a cold summer night (yes I said summer, now Iím sure you can guess what city we live in).
Our guests arrive. Dr. D and I take a shot of the absinthe before we start eating. We eat some delicious food, have good conversations and are generally having a good time sitting by the fire. I take another shot. At this point I'm feeling just a little alcohol buzz. I do notice the colors in the room to get more saturated, just like as if someone turned up the saturation on Photoshop. We had just painted the walls tomato red, and they just got a whole lot deeper red. At this point the visual effects are mild.
For some reason, the conversation moves to strippers. One of our guests starts talking about how strippers have it so easy and how she would love to take off her clothes for money. Yeah right, I say. Then I remember the cash in my pocket.
'Take off your shirt right now and I'll give you $500' I say, joking around, but with a strait face.
'OK! Show me the money!!' She says.
'Seriously though, If I did have $500, would you strip for us?' I ask, strait faced again.
'Hell ya!!' she replies with utmost confidence.
I then take the money out of my pocket and put it on the table.
She is totally surprised and a little bit embarrassed.
'Oh my god!' She says as she turns red. We all have a really good laugh, and the conversation moves on to other things. We forget about the dare or the cash on the table. We continue to eat and drink more absinthe. Dr. D consumes about 2 shots. I take 2 more, and then, another 2, bringing my total to 6. About two hours has passed since the first shot. Now in addition to being drunk, the room has moved to a deep deep blood red, the fire is blazing with all kinds of colors and everything looks like its constructed out of tense little lines. Meanwhile the cash still sits on the table.
Maybe another hour passes, they all switch to wine, I have another shot, bringing the total to 7. By this time the drug is extremely intense and visual. I feel like I am literally in a Van Gogh painting, with everything made up of tense, fleeting brush strokes. Emotions are intense and extreme. Conversation moves to politics, the Iraq war, and finally capitalism. We all start talking about how disgusting the war is, and how war in general is a symptom of the capitalist means of production. Then the conversation boils down to greed. Money. How much I hate money. How money causes people to do really messed up things. Evil things. Then, in my deeply intoxicated and extremely emotional state, I see the $500 sitting on the out of the corner of my eye.
Emotion and words seamlessly transform into action. I pick up the money and move over to the fire.
'This!!' I say waving the cash in the air, 'This is why people are suffering all over the world!!!'
I see Dr. D go from laughing to serious. I then proceed to throw the money into the fire and close the door on the fireplace.
'NO!!' Dr. D runs across the room, opens the fireplace and starts pulling the flaming bills out. I snatch the burning money from him and put it back in the fire, we kind of wrestle, him pulling back my arm when try and put the money back in. My state of rampant emotion gives me superior strength, and eventually he gives up and all the money is consumed.
The two girls stare, looking kind of scared and impressed at the same time. Dr. D and I stare at each other. Were both kind of blackened from the ashes. I look at his hair, noticing each short, tight curl painted in with amazing force and energy.
'I can't believe you just did that.' he says, astonished.
From this point on, I black out. I wake up with almonds and black ash marks all over my bed. I trip over an empty bucket by my bed. I go to Starbucks and then get on the bus for work.
WOA. Itís been over 7 hours since the last shot was consumed, and now I feel only the drug, not the alcohol. Itís very different without the alcohol there. I sit on the very back seat, in the middle, slouching down, resting my head back. The 22 is always pleasant when its almost empty like this, its an all electric bus and the sound has always soothed me ever since I was a kid. From my vantage point I see up the main isle of the bus. I feel a one second delay and disconnection from where I sit and the front of the bus. Its like the bus is moving along like a slinky. Fillmore street is nothing but an alive, seething blur of those Van Gogh lines as we move along. I feel like there is something inside my head, something heavy.
I can totally see why Van Gogh went crazy. The visuals. The intense emotions. Its all there in that green bottle. If I drank absinthe every day, I would definitely consider cutting off my ear and mailing it to my girlfriend.
I call one of our guests to determine what happened after I blacked out. She explains to me how I got really really emotional and told her my whole life story, shedding tears of sadness and joy as I ate a bag of almonds. She helped me get to bed and put out a bucket for me to yak in. Itís always good to have caring people around, especially when it comes to indulging in new substances!
Would I do it again? Yes. But only like you are SUPPOSED to, mixed with warm water. And maybe 3-4 shots instead of 7 shots. One shot of course being poured on the ground for my new homey, Vincent Van Gogh.
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