The Amplifier Effect
The first month of college is a time when young people, out on their own for the first time, bound around like atoms in a chemical configuration that’s just taking shape, bonding to compatible elements in a slew of questionable decision-making and rudimentary responsibility.
Like most of life’s recommended coming-of-age experiences, I managed to deftly duck this one as well. In the first three days, I linked up with a handful of dudes on my floor, and we congealed into an amorphous mass of blunt smoke and malt liquor farts. These boys are now men, and the core few of us remain good friends. As adults, we’re all fairly responsible, paying rent, filing tax returns, and respectively pursuing careers in comedy, education, film, business, and of course “journalism” (this is technically journalism).
Like many functional adults our age who aren’t narcs, we all still smoke daily, everyone except for Marv. After effectively majoring in debauchery and severe memory loss for four years, Marv had settled down—job, girlfriend, grad program—limiting his drinking to the fizzier beverages and avoiding the spirits that naturally run through his Irish veins. He quit smoking weed completely, only encountering it a couple of times a year when the garbage stars aligned and the OG crew all ended up in the same room.
Anyone who goes from a daily regimen of weed for an extended period of time then takes a break will find that their sensitivity to THC is heightened, at least until you get back into the groove. Additionally, anyone who had the full American college experience has probably noticed that if you smoke when you’re drunk, both intoxications are amplified into an ordeal of perceived rapid rotation and nausea. This weekend, at a spontaneous and vaguely St. Patrick’s Day-inspired, reunion at our usual clubhouse in South Philly, Marv experienced the rocky crossroads of these two widely known truths.
Marv’s in grad school, and the dawning of another Spring Break conjures a dangerous nostalgia in him, synthesizing boldness that fared better in a younger body. It found him drinking several more beers than he normally would on a chilling night, and when we broke out the whiskey, we completed the college simulation for him. Marv was his invincible self once more, and he didn’t think twice about smashing spliffs and ripping vape hits with us. Within minutes, Marv was wearing his despair all over his face.
We hadn’t noticed that he’d dropped out the conversation because Marv adopted a safe position for someone in his condition. Sitting on the couch upright with his elbows propped on his knees, Marv gently held his flushed, spinning head, lulling himself into the only kind of sleep he could get at this point. It only became an issue for us when it was crashing time and we had to rouse him to fold out the couch.
Poor Marv sprang up and immediately collapsed onto a chair. The change in position was enough to break his path to slumber, and we watched him realize the inevitable next stage of his evening. He ran into the only bathroom in the house.
Marv spent the next few hours converting a fairly common white-tiled rowhouse bathroom in a chamber of horrors. We heard sounds—painful, miserable sounds of a human body punishing its master for mistreatment. Continuing to follow college rules, we asked him once if he was OK before leaving him completely alone. “I’m good,” he whimpered through the door.
This morning, we awoke to find Marv wrapped in coats on the living room floor looking terrible. The first of us to enter the bathroom and find his aftermath described it as, “What it would look like if somebody stuck a chocolate bar up a dog’s asshole and dog had dragged its ass around like dogs do. Like if somebody poured a beer over that. I didn’t really know what it was.”
The rest of us verified this claim and returned to the living room to find Marv stirring. As he looked up at us, we watched his expression change as snippets of the night returned to him. <i>Why are they all looking at me? Why are my shoes on? I taste puke.</i> He rose to explain.
“I went up to puke. After puking, I had to take a shit. After some explosive diarrhea, I had to throw up again. So then I was switching mouth and ass over the toilet, shitting and puking, and one of the pukes was so violent, that while I was leaned over the toilet, I shit all over the bathroom mat.”
We were completely flabbergasted. This was immensely gnarly, even by our depraved college standards, and none of us were ready to go back there. Not so suddenly. Not like this. Visibly regretful, Marv put on his coat and stepped out to grab cleaning supplies. We all waited and staved off the calls of nature.
Once things were back to normal, we had a chance to discuss exactly what happened, because even though The Amplifier Effect was likely culpable for the vomiting, we agreed that the uncontrollable diarrhea was a mark of bodily deterioration come early. Jesus Christ, Marv. Get your shit together. All in a neat pile in the toilet, if you can muster it.
Now we’re all sitting around smoking and Marv is passing on every rotation, despite our insistence that it won’t do him in without the alcohol. No dice. Ironically, the only way to get him to smoke is probably to get him drunk again. Now that we’re desensitized to the sheer vileness of what happened last night, we’re starting to wonder whether or not we can get him to shit himself again. I’m gonna do my part right now and try to get him to eat some leftover Wendy’s chili I have in the fridge.
God bless you, Marv.
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