‘First time?’ he asks. I nod.
‘Take half, and wait for it to pop.’
‘How will I know when it pops?’ I ask naively.
His eyes grow dark and wise as he smiles at me.
‘Oh trust me, kid’ he says ‘you’ll know…’
He takes a little plastic bag out of his pocket, and calmly slides it across the table to me—looking the other way as he does so. I react by nervously digging a crumpled twenty spot out of my pocket and handing it to him. He stops before taking it, looks me in the eye and says: ‘don’t freak out, Kid. Just go easy on it… I know you’re in college and all, and you’re smart and whatnot, but just…just go easy on it.’ And that was it. Simples. That was the first time I ever bought Ecstasy.

I remember when I first started seeing people high on E on college nights out. They were the incongruous ones, the ones who looked like they just didn’t give a shit among the pretentious and the pruned crowd. The ones who were dancing with passion and vigour—oblivious to the disapproving eyes that looked on from the edge of the dance floor. They were the ones that shamelessly barged through a crowd to get to the bar and order a pint of water, their bottom jaws perturbing outward, yearning for it. Sweaty browed and beady eyed they  occupied their own little pockets on the dance floor, like they were doused in people-repellent. They were the ones you’d avoid. Yet here I was a matter of months later, strapped for cash, and looking for cheap thrills.

Buying it was easy. Deciding when to use it, that was a tad harder. I had a class party coming up, could I pop it then? Nah, it’d be to risky. That’s how you get a bad name for yourself in UCC: one person gets a scoop of gossip and then it spreads like wildfire across the social spectrum. I had two more years left with these people, I didn’t want my name and bad-habits being the topic of conversation in the back benches of the lecture hall.

Fresher’s week; various going away piss ups; college and society balls all came and went and I always decided against popping, always for the same reason… I didn’t want to make a show of myself. For about 3 months the tablets sat idly in my coat pocket, still in the little bag, ceaselessly calling to me. But I was too chicken to take the leap. The decision to take them was eventually made out of necessity. My money had run out. And so as I headed out for my staff party I opened my wallet and shoved the tablets into the vacant pocket where all the notes should have been.

‘Jesus, man. You’re still sober?’ That’s what I had to listen to all night. I was waiting for the right time to do it. I watched as my colleagues and managers all got steadily drunker, waiting for the moment when I thought they were too drunk to notice. The moment came, I decided, when I saw my manager— who is married with three kids— scoring some young one that could barely stand outside the toilets. He drew away from her, looked me blankly in the eye, and darted back in, his bald head cocked to the side as he mauled her. Anything I was capable of doing would surely make less interesting gossip than what I had just witnessed. I edged past him and made my way into the cubicle. I gathered my saliva in the front of my mouth and carefully placed the tablet in. I swallowed. And that was it.

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There are worse things in this world than ecstasy; and few things better than it.


Then—exactly like I was warned not to do— I freaked out. Thoughts came racing into my mind: ‘Oh fuck! He told me only take half! Or was it two? Jesus Christ that tasted weird! I think it’s caught in my throat!’ I stood in the cubicle for about 20 minutes panicking. It grew too hot in there, so I made my way out to the smoking area, bypassing the faces of my colleagues that appeared like visions through the smog of smoke. I needed water. And fast. Oh shit, was this it? Was this the pop? He said I’d know.  He told me go easy. I feel anything but easy. Aw, I’m freaking out. Shit. I don’t feel normal. My legs are numbing.  Fuck I’m gonna fall. I’m panicking.

And then it popped…and I was fine. A euphoric wave engulfed me. It didn’t weight me down; instead it made me float. I was calm. I edged my way past people, and ordered a glass of coke, the bar man didn’t seem repulsed by me. I downed it. And wiped the sweat from my brow. No one was looking at me like I was a zombie. Had I gotten away with it? My bottom lip started to smart. I couldn’t stop licking it. A girl I work with ran at me and hugged me, and when she saw me licking my lips she just laughed and said ‘Ah, I know what you’ve been up to!’ But I didn’t care. She didn’t care. It wasn’t a big deal, she wasn’t gonna go telling everyone I was a druggy. Had she done it before? Was I the only one here on it? All these question were pushed aside in my mind when the music hit me. After that I resolved to dance. The rest of the night is blurry after that—the best ones always are, though. I woke up hangover free. Tired, but not on a downer.

At work, a couple of days later my manager’s antics were the talk of the town; not me and the E. Everyone was saying how shitfaced they were and how much money they blew on that one night—I kept quiet as I didn’t want to brag about how I’d had a great night for less than a fiver. No one was avoiding me or treating me any different. The defining moment, though, came when me and my manager shared an awkward moment in the hallway, he stopped, looked me in the eye and nodded, and in that split second it was all spelled out for me.  There are worse things in this world than ecstasy; and few things better than it.