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Monday, August 15, 2005

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Today the gym smelled like glue.

I am familiar with the glue smell, and have been intimate with glue in the past. My love for the sticky stuff began in kindergarten when I discovered that Elmer's had a slightly sweet taste to it, and I used to literally throw my head back and pour the white substance down my gullet. I wasn't the only one, half my class was eating glue, and the teacher had to put a stop it. She probably shouldn't have told us that it would glue all our insides together though because some of us freaked out and told our parents that soon everything from our pancreas to our gallbladders was going to be one solid organ, and that teacher went somewhere else (probably out to the "country" -- that's where our bad pets went).

After I stopped eating glue, I started inhaling it. In fifth grade art class, the teachers decided we were mature enough to begin handling rubber cement, and we all discover the joy a little sniff could give us -- it made Algebra bearable for me, but did not make it passable. Of course, the way we inhaled was a slow, dreamlike sniff, so none of us got truly high. No, it wasn't until middle school that I learned how to do that: It's called "huffing."

My friend Heidi and I discovered huffing in middle school art class when we would take a bottle of rubber cement into the supply room and huff away. Huffing works like this: You cup your hands around whatever you're inhaling so that no fumes escape, and then you take really fast, short breaths until you feel a tingle in your brain -- that means it's working. Pass the stuff along to a friend and let the fumes do their work, then when it gets passed back to you, take really long, slow intakes of air, (all should be done through the nose) the kind that you can feel filling your lungs -- this will ensure that the initial tingle that started with the quick breaths will last.

One night, months after we'd discovered the true joys of rubber cement, Heidi and I were hanging out with some boys down the block who we were close friends, and often troublemakers, with. One of them, Jesse, was the first to introduce me to Tequila -- he dared me a dollar I wouldn't take a shot of his dad's stuff, but I did it and was a dollar richer. He, Joey, Heidi and I were always hanging out and usually getting into trouble. (It was also Jesse who first showed me Penthouse; his dad was single and had all kinds of stuff for us to get into.)

So, this one night we are just laying around Joey's house watching TV when Heidi starts bragging about our glue huffing. The boys mock us and Jesse says, "If you really want to get high, you should huff some real stuff."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Gas," he said quite simply.

So the four of us go outside to the shed behind Joey's house and pull out the gas can stored in there for the lawnmower. The boys carried it into the field next to Joey's house and we all took turns huffing and puffing. The next thing I knew, my fingertips were humming with an electric buzz, and I was laying in the field on my back watching the stars. The others lay around me and their voices floated over to me as if they were from far off planets. I don't know how long we laid like that, but it felt like years.

Later, Joey reported that a teacher had told them in science that huffing was the worst thing you could do to your brain -- it kills more brain cells than any other kind of drug, and because we were interested in keeping as many brain cells as possible, we all laid off the stuff. But sometimes when I'm filling up my car with gas and I take a deep breath, it smells pretty good to me, and today in the gym, when the whole place smelled like rubber cement, I was taken back to those early memories.

Smell is the strongest tie to memory.


Erin said...

Ahh...rubber cement and gas....

Rubber cement=project highs in college (I had on project that went through 4 large jars of that stuff! Talk about a good project)

Coming from the frigid north, who hasn't stood out in the garage while the car was warming up and took a long, deep breath, and then another, and another....

Mmmm....sweet chemicals.

Froyd said...

good christ! what's wrong with you people!?!?

model glue, now that's where it's at.