Bad Bromine. BAD!!

It was a moment of great hilarity.

“John?” the kid Bobby asked. John was my organic chemistry professor. Back in 1999. Each day at the beginning of class John would entertain questions. Bobby always came prepared with several. Some were good curiosity-driven questions. But this one he asked as a joke.

“John,” Bobby famously asked. “I heard it negates all hallucinogenic effects if you add Bromine to a molecule of LSD!”

The kid sounded pretty excited.

“Ah, Bobby.” John’s eyes filled with suspicion as he looked at his student. “Why would you DO such a thing??”

The girl sitting next to me shit her pants and nostril snarfed her feces.

John Hayes is widely regarded as the best o-chem professor in collegiate history; truly a cult legend in circles where such an accolade matters. His class had a certain atmosphere, a magic rarely experienced in college science departments. It was fun.

Now this kid Bobby was, on paper, the smartest kid in my college o-chem class. Bobby always scored real good on his tests. He father was a medical doctor and Bobby clearly had been groomed from birth to follow in his footsteps.

On paper I — a high school dropout — was the dumbest kid in my whole darned o-chem class.

Our professor, John, taught organic chemistry in the same classroom for 3 decades. Each day he walked into the room. Entertained questions. Then picked up a lone piece of chalk, turned to the board & got down to Business. Amazing. John knew his business.

He taught his year-long class with no text book. John copied his personal notes on to the chalkboard directly from his brain. These we dutifully transcribed to study for exams from. The final exam — in May — was a 6 hour affair which covered material we’d copied into our notebooks the previous September.

On the first day of class John shared with us an insight into the precise nature of his business. Why he was in the business to begin with; on the first day of class John told us why he taught organic chemistry. And I quote — he said he “liked to warp young people’s brains.”

Unquote.

WhoA!!

I was pleased as dosed punch to hear it.

To my mind warping young people’s brains is a solidly exceptional want. I wanted to be like my organic chemistry teacher when I grew up; matter of fact I still do. John took the place immediately as and remains still one of my very few “wanna-be-like you when I grow up” Heroes. And a good one. Good heroes are hard to find. So John, if you read this: thanks for being my hero dude.

I was not there to be groomed for medical school. It did occur to me that once successfully completed the year long class would satisfy the science requirement which, still incomplete after 4 full years of high school, prevented me from being awarded a diploma. But that’s not why I took organic chemistry 10 years after the fact. I was there for my own solidly exceptional reasons.

To figure out about what all those drugs that have slogged benevolently ’round in my brain since way back on Grateful Dead tour — what were they up to these days?

I mean can you scrape them out somehow and you know like smoke ’em dudes?

Way.

Tao Way!

DUFF Custiez!!

The dedicated auditor learns all material presented in the class syllabus. Does the homework. Gets tested & graded. Suffers at times mightily to gain the proffered knowledge. But at the end of the day is rewarded no credits toward matriculation for the effort.

People said I was crazy doing what I was doing. The biology professor oddly suggested that auditing classes was like trying to kiss my sister. I guess he meant like: “What was in it for me?”

Knowledge. To a degree that you can’t get in college.

Moreover it was my smashingly good fortune to learn from John Hayes; a once-ever Welcome To Planet Earth experience. In it for me? Well I got my gad dang brainz warped up good! I got higher than a dosed bowl of punch.

Higher than drugs kiddoz!

I know, I know! I sound like a god damn old lady. But I tell you this: if I (of all people) say it “Got me higher than drugs…” you can bet I mean it as no disrespect to Drugs personally. In fact it maybe did not get me Higher than a particularly excellent drug at its’ experiential peak. But the ochem class “Got Me High.” I felt high from it when I woke up every morning. Plus it was cheaper & lasted longer than any drug you can buy off the street.

For Disclaimer’s Sake: “Higher than” is in no way meant to imply “better than” drugs; in fact higher than drugs veritably begs to be made better still with a giant pot of Alien Turdz tea.

shroomz.jpg

John once saw fit to explain to the entire class that Bobby wasn’t as smart as he looked. Rather, he was very “tenacious with his question asking,” John said. The question-answer process solidifies parcels of information in the mind. When we form our own questions we engage a personal relation with their answers; a deliberate act of internalization.

Anyway that’s what John said Bobby had going for him. He came across as the smartest kid in the O-chem class because he asked a lot of questions. At times it seemed that Bobby hoped to quixotically topple the long-stood notion that “There are no Dumb Questions in a class like organic chemistry.”

No dumb questions, maybe. Sometimes Bobby asked smart-aleck questions he’d contrived to elicit a chuckle. Like the one about what happened when you added a bromine to LSD. But by no means was he the Class Smart Ass. There was only one Class Smart Ass. Was it me? Oh hell no. The class smart ass went by the name professor John Hayes.

So. If John was the Class Smart Ass. And Bobby wasn’t all that — then who was incontestably the smartest kid in the class?

Well first off: how could such a thing be quantified? Who would know?

“You know Mike E.” John assured me once, years after I historically aced his class. “You’re gifted. In fact after 30 years teaching that class…out of ’em all you are my organic chemistry Standout.”

“But I mean like I’m a total fuck up John!” I protested.

“Then you’re the most brilliant fuck up I know.”

Swhoosh.

Hunter S. Thompson himself could not pay me a more giddily meaningful compliment. As meaningful — yes. Like the compliment Jay Herron left me in my comment box yesterday. Such moments of synergy are what keeps the artist categorically addicted to our audience. And the chance that one may see fit to tell me I’m All That — as John did — has long kept me addicted to my many heroes.

It twisted an earlobe to earlobe drug eating grin on to my face for weeks.

And begs the question: What did Bobby the bastion of o chem mediocrity know about a drug we’ll henceforth call Lucy?

By all outward appearances…Nawt Shey-it. As they say with drawls in Memphis TN. Or as it’s put in these parts: Not a damn thang!

In any event he clearly did not know as much as me. I mean I just kind of look like I’ve spent most every minute of my life blasted out of my brain on drugs. Like Wile E Coyote wakes & bakes when he rolls out of bed each afternoon — on a good blast load of TNT.

Bobby most likely never tried Lucy. Definitely he never got high with a little bangin help from Wile E & TNT.

He just said it to be funny. All eyes turned to John. Who smashed the joke pitched him by Bobby so far out of the park it rained 6 packs of 802 Woodchuck hard cider & Chivas Regal in tall rocks-filled glasses. It was the most gigantically funny moment organic chemistry has ever seen.

Yeah & I was so there dudes!

So what’s the big deal? I tell you what the big deal is. What’s the quantifiable difference between Bobby & me? Between folks of at times notably above-average intelligence — and the singularly sharpest mind John Hayes observed over the course of 3 decades of o chem teaching experience? I mean what sets me measurably apart from the Others?

Alien Turdz mostly.

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1 Response to “Bad Bromine. BAD!!”


  1. 1 meanwhile, back at the chicken shack November 20, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Whoa, dude, can you smoke it?


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