Goldfish have attention spans of 10 seconds. For 10 seconds, if a goldfish
bumps his head on the wall of the aquarium, his whole life is a headache.
If he's getting his groove on with Miss Goldfish, then
his whole life is one, long orgasm. Halcion gives the user/patient the short-term
memory and attention span of a goldfish on cocaine. This is my
experience with halcion.
My teeth were rotting out, from the inside, due to decalcification of the
enamel or some other such weirdness. It was a horrible mess, way back in the
molars and there was nothing I could really do about it except have them drilled
to oblivion and replaced with caps. The really bad news was that four of
my front teeth were in trouble, too, and the dentist was absolutely certain
that preventative medicine would have to be instituted rather than corrective.
The bill was going to be more than the worth of my car, but I figured that
cars come and go, teeth should only go once, and only when you're a kid. If
I ended up losing my teeth as an adult, that probably wouldn't earn me any
cool points in the future. I spoke with my parents and they agreed to help
pay for the expense of fixing my teeth.
I made an appointment with America's #1 public enemy,
the dentist. They decided to drill two of my front teeth down and take care
of the molars first, to see how it pans out before going ahead with the full
work-up. Fine, fine, no problem, I told them. What's that? All in one
day? Criminy. Oh, all right. Will I be knocked out, though? Yes? Great.
Let's do it, then.
I showed up with nothing in my stomach, per the dentist's orders, and starving.
I hadn't even had coffee and a cigarette, which was my morning ritual. I warned
them that without my morning cup 'o joe and a cancer stick I'd be a ruthless
ogre, but they wouldn't listen to common sense. Oh, well, I figured,
it's their show, let 'em run it how they want to. I had driven my car
to Mom and Dad's, got a ride to the dentist's with my Mom and made plans for
my sister to pick me up when the butchery was over. Apparently, this was going
to be an all-day event.
I sat back in the chair of doom, awaiting the drills and
water picks to invade my mouth. "Here," the dental hygenist said,
two small tablets resting in the palm of her hand, "Take these and let
us know when you think they're taking effect."
"What are they?" I asked innocently. I am not one to take pills from strangers, even if they are
employed by doctors. It's just good horse sense to ask for an ID on whatever
you're about to toss down your throat.
"Halcion," she told me. "They'll help you to forget about the
I looked at her worriedly. "Pain? What pain? I thought
I was gonna be unconscious for this."
She shook her head. "Oh, no, not unconscious. We need you awake for when
we fit the temporary caps on your front teeth. They'll be fairly sensitive to
pain and exposure to oxygen at the time, so pain will be part of the process,
but we'll need you to tell us if the fit is right or not. If you take those,
you'll have no memory of the pain."
I remember reading about something called a "lethe field" in one
of Robert Heinlein's books, "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls."
The lethe field, supposedly, made a person's brain so scrambled that they
would be unaware of anything, pain included, during recovery after
serious surgery. The idea was that drugs were too addictive and the only
way to work around that was to fiddle around with the patient's memory and let
the body heal naturally. In the story, the patient never seemed too concerned,
nor did they complain. What the heck, I thought to myself, it's
not every day you get to live out a scene in a sci-fi novel. I downed the
pills, bottom's up, and waited for about 20 minutes.
My first clue that the pills were working was when I looked at the television
(they had one set up in every room for patients to watch while they waited for...
whatever) and a commercial was starting. I blinked and suddenly the regularly-scheduled
programming was back on. Either some marketing genius had figured out a way
to make commercials last 2 seconds or my head was having conflicting signals
somewhere. I called out for the hygenist and told her what I'd just experienced.
"Good," she said. "I'll go get the doctor. Here, put this
mask on and breath deeply while counting down from 100."
I huffed on what passes for laughing gas these days, got to 83 and that
was all she wrote.
The next thing I knew that day was waking up, in my own apartment. I felt like
a Mack truck had parked somewhere in my lower jaw and I was hungry like you
wouldn't believe. I walked downstairs, to the kitchen, and opened the refrigerator
door in the hopes that I had some food in there. I saw a small tupperware
bowl with matzoh ball soup. Some documents from my dentist were sitting on
top of it. I regarded this with cold calculation. My roommate wasn't, in any
way, kosher and he's never mentioned a penchent for jewish cuisine. I
had gone to my parent's house earlier that morning and my mom makes some mean
matzoh ball soup. I had been to the dentist to have my teeth beaten up. Ergo,
the soup came from my mom and I had somehow forgotten about it (as well, I'd
forgotten how I got home, but that made little difference to me
as I was home and it wasn't worth thinking about at the time).
I called Mom to thank her for the soup.
She picked up, "Hello?"
"Oh, Jay! You're awake. How do you feel?"
"Okay, I guess," I lied. I felt like crud times ten. "I
called to ask you something... did you make me some matzoh ball soup?"
She said, in the perfect jewish fashion, "AGAIN with the matzoh
ball soup already???"
It seems that I'd had myself quite an interesting day indeed.
When I woke up from the surgery, I had a hell of a headache and my face felt
wobbly, like 80% of my skull had turned to jello. Holly, my sister was standing
there, next to me, with a concerned look on her face. "Can you stand?"
she asked me. "Do you need help walking to the car?" She reached out
to help me stand, gently holding my forearm.
I brushed the gesture aside, in a gallant move. "Hands off!"
I growled. "I've been walking all my life, I can make it
to the car, dammit!" I sounded like some crotchety old fool with too
much pride and not enough sense. I tried standing, made it (barely) and took
my first step. I and the wall kissed intimately for a second or two. "All
right," I grumbled, "maybe I might need a little help
Holly dutifully supported my doped-up carcass to her car. When we got to the
front steps of the dentist's office, she implored me to be careful.
"Two lousy steps? Ha! Not a problem." Silly me. There were actually
four steps, not two. Of course, I stumbled all the way down just
as I was saying "not a problem." How I managed to keep from falling
flat on my face is still a mystery to me this very day. Gravity must not have
been paying attention at that moment because in any other situation, I'd have
ended up chewing pavement in nothing flat.
Holly managed to get me into the car, strap me in and make it all seem like
another day, like so many others. She's quite a remarkable woman, my sister,
when faced with a stressful situation. Any other woman would have
left me sitting on the curbside like an idiot. She started the car
and turned on the radio, thinking that the music would put me in a better mood.
Valiant effort, if I do say so myself, but it proved pointless. I tried to
drum my hands on my knees in an attempt to keep up with the music's rhythm,
but to no avail. This white boy had lost all sense of timing. In frustration I slammed my head into the
headrest behind me. "Be careful," Holly said, concerned that I might
jar something loose in my head with the force of my slam.
"I know where we're going!" I snapped, as
though it had been brought up. Totally random.
Holly just rolled with it. "You do?" she asked. "Where are
More randomness. "We're about to make a 45-degree turn to the left in
eight seconds." That shut her up all right. It wasn't because
of the inanity of my announcement, though. The reason she shut up is because
I was absolutely, perfectly 100% correct. She actually went back and
measured it the next day, just to make sure. I even got the timing
down, too, which stupefied her to no end. I couldn't keep 4/4 time, but I
could measure out the seconds, trajectory, speed and angle of curvature
in a mere second's glance to absolute precision? How weird.
So we get to Mom and Dad's and I proceed to usurp my brother's bed for the
next three hours. I was in a flawless state of oblivion until the sweet, rich
scent of matzoh ball soup filled my nostrils and stirred me from my slumber.
I stumbled out of my little brother's bedroom and haltingly made my way into
the kitchen, having only bumped into one of the three coffee tables
in the adjoining living room. Mom was in the kitchen, standing next to the
"Are you making matzoh ball soup?" I asked.
"Yeah," Mom said brightly. "It's soft, so it won't hurt your
teeth, and I know you like it. I figured I'd make some for you. Think you
can handle it now?"
I smiled, felt searing pain behind my gums, and mumbled an affirmative.
Note: Mom is actually my step-mother and she is as goldenly-good as any woman
could possibly be on this Earth, but she is not my real mother, therefore
I am not jewish. That said, Mom makes some kick-ass dishes, matzoh ball
soup being only one of them, but definitely one of my favorites. I sat down
at the table, Mom put the freshly-filled bowl in front of me and I dug in.
My memory is a blank on this part, but I take it for granted that it tasted
good; it always does. When I was done with the scrumptious soup, I adjourned
into the TV room to watch cartoons with my little brother.
Fifteen minutes later I found my way into the kitchen. "Do I smell matzoh
ball soup?" I asked innocently. Yes, you guessed it, the halcion was still
working. I didn't recall having eaten the previous bowl. Mom informed me that
I'd already eaten one helping, but I was welcome to a second, if I felt up to
it. Of course, I did. This might prove an interesting segue for the study
of hunger vs. conscious memory. If a person forgets that they've
eaten recently, will they be hungry? I certainly was. I ate it up with a swiftness.
When I was done I went back into the TV room again and enjoyed more cartoons.
Fifteen minutes later.....
This time Mom decided I'd had enough, and I agreed, though I felt somewhat disappointed-
I really wanted that soup! She felt it best to put some in a tupperware
bowl for me, so that I could have some later that night.
An hour later I felt mentally fit enough to drive home on my own. How I made
the trip, behind the wheel of my car without killing a busload
of nuns is beyond me, but at present I am not wanted by the authorities and
there aren't any horrendous dents in my car that I can't account for. When
I got home, I all but tossed the bowl, dental documentation on top of it, into
the fridge and immediately cashed out for the day.
After Mom and Holly had regaled me with my childish antics under the influence
of this interesting drug, I apologized to both of them for being such a schmuck.
They took it with the kind of love and forebearance you'd expect of loving
family members. I remember only bits and pieces of that entire day, most
of it only in vague senses. Like, I vaguely recall driving
myself home and I have the sense of eating that soup (twice).
Blessedly, I don't recall any of the operation or the pain.
If you've got some elective surgery coming up that requires you to be conscious,
I highly recommend asking your doctor for this drug. Of course, consult with
him to make sure it won't affect you adversely, but if you're concerned about
pain, halcion will definitely make it a pleasantly-forgotten memory. It'll
be a complete black spot in your mind. Just don't expect to be doing anything
else but drooling while you're on it, because it can and will
seriously fuck with your head while you're on it.