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What Happens in Vegas

This is a story that probably shouldn’t be written down. I promised nearly 30 years ago to keep it on the low-down. I don’t think there is any risk in sharing it here, but I will change names to protect reputations. No, this isn’t about sex.

In 1993 a group of my friends and I decided to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to see the Grateful Dead play at the Silver Bowl. We booked a single room at the Circus Circus and shared the cost amongst us. Some of the friends came along for the adventure, but my buddy Dan* and I planned to attend two of the concerts.

We arrived at the stadium and found a great spot on the floor directly in front of the soundboard. It was well over 100ºF and no shade. We spread our blankets, and relaxed before the band started. Dan was chatting with someone I didn’t know. Apparently this person was selling LSD, and Dan wanted to know if I wanted to go in on some. I watched as another person near us stared at the brownie crumbs on the flying disc he had used as a plate, and I asked how many he had taken. The seller replied “one” and I said “sure.”

After a smokin’ hot first set I was really enjoying myself and asked Dan if I could have one of the remaining five hits he had bought.

“Nope!” he said.

I played along and asked “why?”

“Ate them all” was his reply.

“Cool, man. How’s it going?”

Dan looked at me with his wide saucer eyes and said the words I would hear a few more times that night, and I still hear in my head.

“I’m one with the universe, Rick!”

Well, at least he remembered my name.

It went downhill from there. Dan had been dancing, but now he looked lost. I asked him again how he felt and he said he had to go to the bathroom. I decided to go with him. I wasn’t sure he would make it alone.

He could barely walk. I took my bandana and tied it to his wrist like a leash. I led him to where the bathrooms were with a brief stop at the misting station to cool off. When we made it to the bathroom, he was unable to go and he looked panicked. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was dehydrated.

Maybe you had too much too fast

Grateful Dead, “Shakedown Street”

In the hallway he lost it. He started yelling at me that he was dead. He gave me his leg like a Harpo Marx routine, and told me to carry him. He stopped walking and was about to sit down. I saw a pair of cops coming toward us, and figured that was it. A moment later, a hand was on my shoulder and a guy said “come with me, brothers.”

This stranger led us a few feet to the left and into a room. It looked like a hospital; people were lying on cots everywhere. This was RockMed! We were guided to an area on the floor, and Dan lost it. He was now thrashing in addition to screaming “I’m dead.” I was enlisted to help immobilize him to keep him from hurting himself. He continued to shout, and at some point a woman behind a curtain started also shouting “I’m dead!” The RockMed person said “Oh, great. It’s contagious” and we all laughed.

After a few hours of this, RockMed said they couldn’t do anymore for Dan and called an ambulance. I sat in the front seat. The EMTs strapped Dan in a clamshell used to immobilize crash victims, and attempted to give him a sedative, missing a few times as he squirmed.

When we arrived at the hospital I waited outside chain smoking. At one point a few nurses came outside for a break and I could tell they were discussing Dan. They were laughing. I alerted them that their patient was my friend and one of them said “Let’s see if he recognizes you, hon.”

Dan was tied to a gurney and missing one shoe. He was smiling and straining at the bonds.

“I’m one with the universe, Rick!”

Well, at least he remembers my name.

They sent me back to the hotel and called me a few hours later when he was ready to be discharged. He looked like a zombie.

I went to the show the next day, and gifted Dan’s ticket to a stranger. I visited RockMed, and thanked them. Dan spent the rest of the trip sleeping by the pool. He didn’t speak until we got back to Los Angeles. That was the last time either one of us dropped acid.