That was his name. Acid. Yet there was nothing acerbic about Acid. Someone came out with the moniker to find a befitting name to his ‘coolness’. Acid was the best we could come up with. It stuck. And somehow even elevated that sense of ‘cool’ he was oozing with. Most naturally.
This was Thimphu in the mid-eighties. The parking lot below the Swiss Bakery used to be smaller. And in the foreground was a patch of green. In that patch stood a big tree and some smaller trees. I don’t remember what kind, but the little green patch and the trees were a refuge from those dull and hot summer days.
When Acid would saunter into the little grove, the branches on the trees would ‘bend’ and give him a little ‘bow’. And a lotta shade. The breeze would then sway in. As if they’d been waiting for ‘his coolness’.
Acid would sit on his little spot of brown and green; fish out the pre-rolled joint from behind his ear, light the fucker up, and inhaling it deeply, let out those deep marijuana fumes. He would chase that ‘high’ with a cigarette.
A faint smile would pucker up his boyish face. And he would proceed- watching the wheels plying by the main traffic. Main Junction was the honeycomb. And traffic was literally waiting for the next car.
In a town of wanna-bees, and hungry experimentations, Acid was already 'made'. He never did any hardcore drugs. Never touched a needle, a tab, a pill, the juice or even the booze. The weed was his deed. And his meditation. The most we saw him pissed was a lightly furrowed pair of gentle eyebrows. Which would vanish with the next joint he lit.
He didn’t talk much either. And was an enigma even to his closest pals. With his get-up of army-boots, army-pants and army-jackets, he was wrapped up pretty mysterious. He played a bit of hoop, and would show up to play ball in the same get-up.
Maybe he’d take off the beret, and the jacket. But that was it. And that done, he’d be back, every day, every evening; hanging out with his trees watching the wheels go by; smoking his pot. Sitting in his little patch of heaven. Watching the world.
Never hurried. Never worried. Just being. Giving you a wave if you were someone who belonged within the Clan of the Polar Bears. With that light smile upon his boyish face.
Acid died when he was barely in his twenties. A freak accident. The little grove he used to hang out in is now a parking lot. The trees are also gone. And along with it, a lot of ‘cool’.
Stony came by Saturday. He hardly ever does. Not that he’s asocial. Or a recluse. He’s raising up his daughters. All three. And they’re all at tender numbers. The age of innocence. The time of their lives. So he’s taken up on what matters. Leaving out what does not. Like the parties. The late nights. The bars. Cafes. And well, just hanging out. But last Saturday he dropped in. Like this morning’s summer sunshine. Last night’s monsoon downpour. (After going AWOL like the spring. I hope he hangs around like the last winter).
But seasonal misgivings aside, we caught up. Where he played the bangtar- a guitar shaped like a banjo. He’s still got the old chops. The riffs. Albeit a tad on the rusty side. But like Jamie O handling onions on a cutting board, he still chops them slick. We sing. Old tracks from the chug-chug railroads. Loud Reed. The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Some blues. Most of these chaps are gone. The songs are here though. Along with the flashbacks.
Playing ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ always leads to Snake. A buddy long gone. We’d been on an evening walkabout around town. We run into Snake. All style from the crown of his raven head down to the tips of Mickey Rourke boots. The lonesome Harley-Davidson man (with a few Marlboro mates). He might not have had the motorcycle but he had the looks. The jackets. The jeans. The belt-buckles. And more swag than all the local chaps could muster. And in this town, that was enough.
We meet at the main traffic junction. He tells us he’s just come out with an inspired composition. Stony and I get curious. We can’t wait to hear the crap he’s gonna dish out. And man when it starts crapping we are both shit-struck.
“Sometimes I feel so happy;
Sometimes I feel so sad;
Sometimes I feel so happy;
But mostly you just make me mad;
Baby you just;
Make me mad;
Your pale blue eyes”
That did it. We lost our mojo right there on the bloody curb, next to Osang Video Parlor. Sickened to our guts with this thunder and lightning, we left broken. In pieces. The rest of that wretched evening was a rut. Bogged down by the ingenious composition of Snake, the evening passed in worthless self-psychosis. Boy- there’s more to Snake than the skins he keeps shedding and growing. The guy is polished. The more he rises in our heads, the lower our tails tug and coil.
The evening is ruinous. We change plans and head over to my brother’s. Cing is home. Buoyant as ever. Almost boisterous. We don’t know what he’s been up to, but he’s always up to something cool. He tells us if we’ve heard Lou Reed? Of the Velvet Underground? We’ve heard of Snake we wanna tell him but keep mum. He tells us we must listen to this particular track. We do. Still downbeat. The music plays. It’s got a catchy intro. It plucks. Builds. Hardens and softens. It’s sentimental with the middle-finger raised up. And these familiar words come taunting us.
Hounding us. “Sometimes I feel so happy…”
The bastard! Stony wants to stone snake. I wanna club him with rocks. But with the seething disbelief is an enormous sense of relief. Suddenly we are upbeat! Man we wanna hug the guy for not composing the damn ditty. And man we are glad that our chum Snake isn’t the genius we thought he might be.
And in being such a regular bloke, with such Hollywoodish élan; he was always one cool cat. Snake died before Lou Reed. And some 25+ years later; here we were- two old dogs going anecdotal on both the composer and the performer. After all these years, it does seem strange, and fated, that Reed and Snake were one, after all; in their own pale blue and brown eyes.
That done; we head down to Benez.
I know these dreams that keep showing themselves off to me every night. That keep revealing their shapes and sizes. That keep showing me the outlines. The Silhouettes. Voluptuously. And the knotty maze. Yes. The maze. It’s an aerial view. The kind that makes you believe you are seeing everything. A bird’s eye-view. And here’s the crux. The details are always absent. And I don’t really care. Not anymore.
One tires of such hope.
And it’s a hopeless sight.
That does not really show anything.
And I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you the secret. I’ll share with you this peep. Through the keyhole. The dream is a chaff. Its dust. Pretending to be stalk. Pretending to be substance. Solid. Pretending to be cake. Sweet. It’s not even edible. It’s not even flavored. It has no scent. No odor.
It’s a mere mannequin. A frightened scarecrow.
It’s the fake Kohinoor. Make-believe. On a window. Dressed as a gift. You can never buy it. Not even if you stole all the money. It’s always placed in a box. In open view.
That is the point. It’s here to titillate. To seduce. To prompt. Give you a hard-on. Get you all excited. To have you come-over. And come-on.
So that it can disappoint you. Depress you. Deflate you. Flatten you out. Suck the air. And the life out of you.
Leaving you dazed. And confused. Perplexed. Walking about shooting darts in the sky. Wondering why they never hit. And stay-put.
The dream succeeds. And now you reside on Logic Street. In Rational Boulevard. Chasing your tail. From your head. Scratching your thinning hair. Scalping your sagging skin. Which is beginning to wrinkle. Rot and fester.
You should know this.
You’ve been dreaming far too long
It's time you woke up.
And stopped dipping your fingers into those grainy-dreams.
After all- the dream is not a rice-cooker.
Those dreams are best left uncooked.