The scent of memory

Be advised: names in this post have been changed to protect the less-innocent

Walking through Grand Central Station, I passed an old familiar smell. The smell was from a fragrance in the mid to late 80’s called Drakkar Noir. In an instant, I was reminded of the summertime in Prospect Park. I remembered the better days of my teenage mischief, swiping liquor, and drinking in a cemetery behind the old Church on East Meadow Avenue.

There was a popular song at the time, which was out of my genre and not my music of choice, but secretly, I enjoyed DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince singing Parents just Don’t Understand.

It was the summer of 1988. (I think)
That was the summer of my first concert experience. Only, I never made it through the front doors.
Pete and I decided to take two Chill Pills before going to see an Iron Maiden show at The Nassau Coliseum. We swallowed the small square sheets of paper and held on tight for an eight-hour journey through the world of psychedelics.

By the time we arrived, the acid had taken effect…
I was overwhelmed by the sight of overweight girls in misfitting spandex, with wild hair sprayed high, and their faces, which were painted with too much makeup.

Pete suggested, “Maybe we should smoke something….you know, to relax.”
I agreed but the weed made things worse. All around, the world looked strange.
I was consumed by the sound of gibberish words from nearby conversations, crowds of people screaming to see the band, and the deranged noise of cackling laughter.

That was it…I took too much. There was no turning back, and the trip I took was a nonstop express to temporary schizophrenia.

When we met up with our friends in the parking lot of The Coliseum, I noticed the neighborhood bully was eyeing me down. Randy and I had been friends. However, after a falling out, Randy had been promising to beat me around town. He never hit me. At least not that night, but he wanted to.
It was clear he wanted to punish me, and every so often, my eyes veered over to his direction.

Randy was standing next to a very short black man. I had never seen him before. His dwarfish appearance and broken teeth gave his misshapen head a haunting look. His tiny legs bowed outward and his jeans were tucked into black boots, which laced up beneath his oddly shaped knees.

Randy was never handsome, however, he looked stranger than usual. His greasy hair, forehead, and acne, glistened like an electric oil beneath the brightness of streetlamps. His head shook with a nervous twitch, as if to quickly shake in a yes direction.
Meanwhile, I was thinking, “No,” and I wished he would stop looking at me.

The acid was in full effect. If I closed my eyes, I saw bursting fireworks behind the walls of my eyelids. When I opened them, I was forced to look at the imported versions of heavy metal’s white trash society.

I told Pete, “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”
He agreed. “Me neither.”
I suggested, “Maybe we could sell our tickets.”

However, the acid dug in too deep. I could not carry a conversation or understand full sentences. The world I found myself in seemed demented. Every detail on everybody seemed magnified, or amplified, and I would lose myself in a trance, say, staring at an overly large nose of some stranger asking to buy my tickets.
We finally sold them to a scalper, and while I am not sure the price was fair, at least we sold them.

I viewed the doors opening into the concert as the gates of hell. Bodies swarmed and disappeared through the entrance, and the music from inside The Coliseum sounded evil and violent. The energy was too strong for Pete and me. Instead, we chose to wander the streets of our small town.

Eventually, we found ourselves in a quiet place away from everyone else. We changed our surroundings to change our trip. All the while, I felt as if I were cloaked in a smell I could not get rid of.

We sat in a town sump, otherwise known as ‘The Pit’, and smoked the last of our weed.
We ran into Jason and his brother. Jason was part of the Uniondale crowd. Uniondale was the neighboring town, but Jason and some of his other friends would come to Prospect Park. He was a friends and a good person to see.

We spent the next several hours meandering through our small town, laughing, and babbling on about nonsense. In the after midnight hours, we found ourselves in the playground of a nursery school on Prospect Avenue. We were on the swings when suddenly, two skunks (no really……two skunks) climbed down from the fence and walked into the playground.

We left, Pete and me. We finally found our way to his house and went into his room where we played the music from the concert we were supposed to see.

I still had a very specific smell on my skin. I wanted it off, but no matter how I tried, the smell remained.

That night was the last night for many things:
It was the last time I went to an Iron Maiden show
It was the last time I ever went into that nursery school playground
It was the last time I saw a midget, overweight women in tight spandex, and tried to go to a concert on LSD
And it was the last time I ever wore the cologne, Drakkar Noir.

Enjoy your morning, folks

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