This past weekend, a visiting friend from Mississippi mentioned for some reason that a former county sheriff had once given a stern drugs lecture at the local high school. He warned the young’uns of the danger of “nutneg.” He meant “nutmeg,” but he kept saying “nutneg.” I love the idea of the nutneg menace (nutneg nenace?), especially because I once overdosed on nutmeg.

Nobody is more easily bored than a high school student, especially one living in a Natchitoches, La., boys dorm in 1984. One of my friends recalled one night that The Anarchists’ Cookbook said that you could get high on nutmeg. Really? You could do this? And it’s perfectly legal? None of us had access to liquor or pot or anything like that, but we could damn sure buy nutmeg. H. and I pedaled our bikes through the rain to the Dixie Dandy supermarket, and padded down the aisle to the McCormick spice display. I remember seeing an RA from the dorm pass by at the end of the aisle as we eyed the coriander, the allspice, the ginger. We felt like criminals.

Having procured the nutmeg, we wheeled back to Bossier Hall. In front of a small group of young scholars gathered in my room, H. and I ingested a couple of spoonfuls of nutmeg each. It was hideous, like eating spiced dirt. I cut mine with Equal, but it barely helped. We sat around waiting to get high. An hour passed. Nothing happened. Finally the guys all drifted back to their rooms, and I went to bed.

The next morning H.’s roommate stood over me, shaking me awake. “Get up, H. is really sick!” he said. I ran down the hall, and found H. curled up in a ball on the top bunk. “I feel horrible,” he moaned.

“I feel okay,” I said. Then passed out. I tried to stand, but fainted again.

We had to make our way down four floors’ worth of stairs to the dorm office so the nurse could examine us and give us an excuse to miss class. It was like holding on to the rails of a cruise ship in a hurricane. Slowly, slowly, we inched our way down. The nurse saw us. Our eyes were glassy. She pronounced it a “virus,” and sent us back to bed.

I woke up at six that night, and again at midnight, that time with a room full of fellow 16 and 17 year old guys staring at me. And I was okay. But aside from a missed day of class, there was no fun in it, and for a week after that, it was like I was peeing Old Spice. I seem to recall that someone subsequently laid his hands on a copy of The Anarchists Cookbook, and discovered that we nitwits had eaten way, way too much of it. You watch: one of these days I’m going to quaff from a mug of egg nog, and have a flashback.

Nutneg. I don’t recommend it. Turns out Wayne Austin, writing in the Atlantic, had his own nutneg experience. Excerpt:

Perhaps my dosage was too low, or my nutmeg too desiccated. I did go through an early giddy phase, when everything seemed immensely amusing—including the shingles on my neighbor’s house—and I felt a slight floating sensation when walking around the neighborhood. But mostly I just felt out of sorts for a couple of days. When I tried to write, my words sometimes became unmoored from my thoughts, though to be fair, this happens even without the influence of nutmeg.

I’d say stick with snorting fenugreek. I hear that will blow your mind.

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