In all irony, I never knew my best friend until this summer.
“So, tell me what’s going on, man.”
“Is this seriously happening?” I questioned. I was supposed to be blazed out of my mind witnessing five of my favorite musicians bombard my ears with bliss before a gorgeous sunset on the Columbia River. Instead, I now found myself falling through clouds in a sky of irony, slouching on a molding couch in my buddy’s living room.
“You aren’t acting like yourself, man, and, as a friend, I just want to let you know I’m here for you.”
“You’re kidding, right?” I thought. “There’s no way. Seriously?”
Wow. If I ever thought this would happen, I never suspected an intervention would come at a time when I had absolutely no use for it – especially not when I had spent the past several days trying to help the friend who was conducting it.
“Dude, what did you put in that weed?”
Oregon’s crisp mountain air rushed through my lungs, but my eyes were still adjusting to the early morning glow of the tent’s interior. I turned over, yawning as my back rolled over onto a pesky volcanic remnant lodged beneath my sleeping bag – my body still feeling the affects from drowning in last night’s 30-pack and the ensuing midnight jam session in the shadows of the firelight. Yet, foggy reflections upon my return to the waking world were abruptly interrupted by an image of my buddy in desperate need.
Now, while Placebo once said that a friend with weed was better indeed, this moment seemed hardly appropriate for my usual morning wake and bake routine. I had to deal with the matter at hand. My best friend was shaking uncontrollably in his sleeping bag beside me.
“What are you talking about?” I shot back. “You were shaking when I woke up that morning at the base of Mt. Hood. I brought you home.”
He hadn’t slept in four days. Hadn’t had much water in that time either. I’d seen friends break in the past, but accusing me of lacing the trip’s stash was a tad different than professing self-divinity or the patronages of the devil like I’d heard before. Hindsight still seems fuzzy, but luckily, I was confused enough by his behavior at the time to cut our concert quest short and head for home.
“What’s in your lip ring? What did you put in there? I know you’re hiding something from me, man. I just want to know what you’re on. I’m your friend. I can tell you’re on something.”
Had his mind really run this far with it? Were these paranoid delusions of a spiraling drug addiction really possessing my amigo? There were no other reasons to deny it. Why else would he have staged this intervention, making his dad drive an hour to his son’s bachelor pad in Davis to supposedly put my life back on course?
I no longer recognized my high school wingman. The normally confident and trustworthy swindler was a nervous wreck with a stranglehold on misconceptions – betting on his hand before even looking at his cards. It was the biggest misread I’d ever seen him make, but there was no way to keep his chips out of the pot. He was far too committed to fold now.
I denied every accusation. Telling the truth had never been so simple, yet never had it been so easily shot down. I couldn’t come to grips with how powerless I felt, but my worries disappeared after my friend’s father took control of the situation. I’m sure his doctorate in psychology helped a little, but his paternal instinct clued him to who really needed a life jacket thrown their way.
My friend has apologized to me over the phone many times since. After finally being able to relax and get some sleep, he’s realized his faults – how his mind just grabbed a hold of anything it could find, how the anxiety just boiled over the brim. I know he understands I’ve always got his back, but it took me weeks to realize he was simply looking out for mine.
Forget the breakdown. Forget the unfounded accusations. Neither the concert nor the irony meant anything to me now. My pal was putting my life before his, an instinct that will always be buried in the mind of a true friend.
Daily Nexus Sports Editor Jeff Gibson’s favorite book is The Gospel According to Placebo.