Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Five Stages Of Nitrous Oxide

Mondrian was a great utopian.  This is his Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow, 1930.

I had nitrous at the dentist the other day.  For me, nitrous mostly changes a frightening and painful experience into a fun opportunity to take legal drugs.

But then it always leaves me wondering:  why isn't more of life like being high?  And why do drugs have to leave you feeling so crappy afterward?

It's kind an emotional roller coaster.  So here are The Five Stages of Nitrous, According To Me.

1.  Joy.  The initial feeling is joy.  The world is funny, pretty, interesting.  Even the crappy pop music on the sound system seems somehow cute and lively.  Amused wonder, switched on.  Critical negativity, switched off.  Glimpse of utopia.

2.  Conviviality.  It's not surprising.  With all those positive feelings coursing through you your next thought is, "I gotta tell someone about this."  I always have the impulse to make a joke, try to fell a funny story.  I have to remind myself:  not only are you in no state for being witty, you're at the dentist.  It's not a party.  Dentist and Assistant are working hard, don't want to hear your senile reminiscences.

3.  Existential Crisis.  As I settle in, I start thinking.  Why isn't more of life like this?  Why is ordinary life so sucky in comparison?  I mean, how many opportunities do you have to feel a combination of total Well Being and total Non-Boredom?  In ordinary life, things are always harassing or dull.  But not so on nitrous.  You're feeling no pain, and with your critical faculties fogged, the most banal observations and thoughts are totally engaging.

This past visit, I found myself thinking about religious people and how they must feel in this situation.  I mean, I'm an atheist, but if I were a believer I think I'd start having some seriously profane reflections at this stage.  If God loves you, why isn't there be more of this awesomeness in ordinary life?   I think he's hiding something.

4.  Paranoid Fog.  This might be just a dentist phase and not inherent in the experience.  But when I've been under a while, and the dentist is asking me things, like "how does that bite feel, OK?" I get a little freaked about trying to seem "normal" when really I'm so f-ed up.  I know it sort of doesn't matter.   But I also know that if I were to do or say something incredibly goofy under the influence, I'd never hear the end of it. "Good-natured teasing," and all that.  So I try to be cool. 

It always makes me laugh how much this is like trying to be cool in other, non-dental circumstances.

5.  Crash landing.  Eventually it's over.  They shut down the gas and pump you full of mind-clearing oxygen.  And you realize you're starving, because you're not allowed to eat beforehand, and you're cold, because the nitrous does that to you somehow, and your head aches.  Crash-landing, back to reality. 

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