Sunday, 26 July 2009
A conventional tale on how to build a bong
I’m not a particularly potent stoner but I have recently had the ill idea of promising to my flat-mate that I’d provide some weed for him – this on account of a party he was organising. My flat-mate is an Indian lad with a rather bulging pair of eyes not assisted by the fact that he seems to be astonished very easily. While we have little in common in terms of intellectual interests, we once got so fiercely antagonistic over a push-up competition undertaken when as drunk as a pair of shits that we eventually gelled. In the subsequent string of wine and cheese events we’d set up (mostly organised by substituting the wine with Whisky and the cheese with, well, nothing), there came a time when I was so plastered that I made the above-mentioned promise.
So I go and see this stoner friend of mine and I purchase a ball of forty quid of grass. The evening of the day after, my friend knocks on my door: the party is cancelled! I ask him:
‘Then what on earth are we going to do with all this weed?’
‘Well,’ he replies, ‘how about we smoke it?’
The suggestion had some logic behind it.
So we’re spending the next ten days in the suicidal attempt of getting rid of all the grass before it dries, an enterprise which is converting me into a walking réclame for every single Zombie movie ever made from the 1960s to the present. Around the final days of said venture, when I have ingested some double shots of Tequila and later washed down their flavour with Baileys, I have the next bright idea:
‘Ashwini,’ I tell him (I know it sounds like something out of Star Wars, but that was actually my flatmate’s name), ‘let’s smoke a bong.’
‘You want to smoke a bong?’ he asks.
‘Yeah,’ I say, my eyes already aflame, ‘why not?’
‘The fact that we don’t have a bong may represent something of an obstacle.’
The guy is indeed a highly logical thinker.
‘We’ll make one,’ I propound. I already know how to execute this; all we need to do is to break the bottom of an empty bottle (and boy we had plenty of those), make a fissure on the bottle’s lid to place the spliff in and dunk the bottle in water. Then we pull the bottle up so that the suction caused by the descending water level pulls all the air in through the fissure holding the spliff, and the bottle fills itself up with smoke; we can then remove the lid and inhale the smoke in one breath. My friend hears my explanation and forwards his enthusiastic approval to the procedure.
So I go out and break the bottom of a vodka bottle on the walkway, then I come back in and we manufacture a hole into the lid. This proves to be such an intractable operation that we almost sober up when the scissors we are using come inch-close to mutilating one of our hands. However the job eventually reaches the end and I dunk the bottle in water as I place the spliff into the fissure.
‘What are you doing?’ asks Ashwini.
‘I am fishing. What else does it look like I’m doing?’
‘Put that out, you bloody idiot,’ he whispers, ‘we can’t smoke it in here! It may set the fire alarms off!’
No, hold on a second. This one isn’t that logical. If we’ve been spending the last ten days smoking trombones in here like there’s no tomorrow, how is a bong suddenly supposed to activate the sirens? I didn’t know that electric alarm bells were sensitive to the shape of the smoking apparatus: ‘Look, that guy’s smoking with a pipe which has a picture offensive to the Christian religion! Quick, to the Porter-mobile!’ Nonetheless my friend’s initial enthusiasm has completely vanished by now and his mannerisms are becoming increasingly neurotic, so I decide to indulge him.
We step outside into the lawn behind the campus building. I take out the lighter.
‘No, not here,’ he growls, ‘someone may pass by and see us.’
So we take a walk down the road that leads from college towards the city. After a couple of minutes, without the slightest signal of warning or spoken reason, my friend turns left and heads off into the darkness. Where is he going? Suddenly we’re walking down into a forest. A dim moon hangs inbetween the winter tree-branches in an atmosphere of utter lycanthropy. I stop next to an oak and take out the lighter.
‘Not here, goddamitt!’ he snarls.
Now I’m getting pissed off.
‘Why the fuck not?’ I ask. ‘What is going to happen to us here? Are we going to get ambushed by a the barn-owls?’
‘We’re still in range of car-lights if anyone drives by the road.’
It has to be said that over the last minutes my friend’s countenance has grown increasingly preoccupied. For some reason the idea of having built a bong and taken it outside is a cause of shivers and dread in his psyche. The sentiment seems to me unjustified. I understand there may be some nervousness in the process of going out like this, but by the way he was acting you’d think we were building an atomic bomb rather than simply smoking weed.
We walk further. Eventually we reach a fence and my friend leads me to climb over it. We now find ourselves on a vast plain vaguely reminding me of Sir Robert Attenborough’s BBC documentaries on the Serengeti at night. It is a cow-field – distant in the night, you can hear bells and some mooing. What kind of a fucking place is this to smoke a bong?, I ask myself. But my friend leads me somewhere towards its centre until the lights of the civilised world look like fireflies blinking from a distant galaxy.
There, we kneel down and finally light the thing. My friend’s eyes are bulging even further than they normally do – he looks distinctly like a blow-fish at the moment – and he is staring around in dread while brushing his hands the one against the other. What is he afraid of now? That the cows are going to smell the skunk and go galloping over to the cops so they can moo to them exactly what happened? Or are they going to go bat-shit crazy and charge us as a unit in formation? They’re cows, for God’s sake, not Triceratops.
So I take my first puff and it’s every bit as suave as I was hoping (even though as far as comfort goes lying down on the grass to smoke is the equivalent of shagging on the wing of a jump-jet). I pass the bong to him. He is so nervous as he kneels down that he takes one of those first puffs you’d expect if he were a vacuum powered by nuclear fusion and instead of inhaling just the smoke, he ends up bombing the water into his lungs as well. He immediately barfs it out in a strangled cough. I was having the wretched idea of holding the bong for him at that moment so that the liquid is splurted for the most part on my face and for the remainder on my shirt. I am swearing like a sailor in the House of Commons while Ashwini kneels on the floor and starts coughing in a desperate attempt to regain oxygen. After a few minutes he stands up. I lift my finger in the air and am about to launch into a rant of Homeric proportions, when we hear a sound of grass being crushed to our left. We both freeze like squirrels and turn.
Is there a cow over there? I look at Ashwini in the eye, and we both hear more grass being crushed.
‘Cows don’t kill human beings, do they?’ he asks. The logical part of himself has obviously fucked off to Jupiter.
‘Of course not, goddamitt.’
‘But what if she is defending her young? Maybe she’s got eleven or twelve little newborn calves that she is tending to.’
There in the darkness, I am feeling a little uncertain myself. There is something about the stars gleaming cold above us and the void that surrounds us which makes me feel existentially uncomfortable. The situation feels somehow very primal. Then the darkness goes ‘Moo’ at a distance which is anything but distance. I say, ‘Let’s not lose our calm’ and Ashwini instantly bolts like a rabbit. ‘Goddamitt!’ I shout, and I pick up the bong as I sprint after him. Now something is giving me the illusion that the cow is galloping after me. Plus my lungs are not feeling very efficient (for obvious reasons) so I am running extra slow.
We reach the fence, climb over it and run like bastards for our rooms. What the hell we were running from by that stage is anyone’s guess, but he didn’t stop and I didn’t want to be left alone, so I just kept up until he slowed down. We ended up smoking the spliff without the bong, and the damn apparatus was never used again.