It’s a Saturday night, and I’m sitting around a bonfire at my friend’s place, and we’re all hanging out with some dogs and having a good time. The long backyard is bordered by an alley, and we had seen a few drunken college kids walk through it a few times that night. Suddenly, I noticed a fully-grown deer come out of the yard and stand in the alley, before pausing half-majestically and half-confused, and then trotting away. I managed to tell everyone else around the fire about the deer fast enough for them to catch a glimpse of it as it was running away. The whole encounter lasted less than 15 seconds.
About 10 or 15 seconds after that, a seemingly-drunken, tall, college-aged man appeared into the alley from the exact spot in the yard where the deer had just been. He looked like he had just stopped from a full sprint, and took a few moments to catch his breath and center himself. His gait was somewhat wobbly but he was otherwise very energetic for how intoxicated he seemeed to be.
As we waited for this man to continue down the alley, he instead saw the bonfire and threw up his hands and nodded as if to say “Oh, there you are!” and then proceeded to make his way towards us. At first, I thought he was just another friend showing up that for some reason was coming in from the alley, unlike the rest of us that entered from the gate facing the street at the front of the house. Almost immediatley, I saw that my assumption made absolutely no sense.
I soon realized, along with everyone else, that none of us knew who he was, and this was made obvious by the fact that this man picked up a small chunk of the fence out of the ground as if it were a gate in order to enter the backyard, though it was very much not a gate and he had in fact broken a part of the fence. Absurdly enough, even though there was no hinge to swing the piece of fence on, the stranger made a perfect motion of swinging the section of broken fence as if it were a gate, and attempted to set it back down as if to close the imaginary gate.
Confusion mounted as he walked up the yard towards us, and he tried his hardest to pretend that he was invited to this party by someone here or was hoping that we wouldn’t notice that he was a stranger. The dogs, picking up on our apprehension, could sense that this person didn’t belong and started barking at him.
As he’s standing around the campfire, trying to blend in and pretend like his grand entrance didn’t just take place, we start asking questions to try to figure out why he’s here and how to defuse the situation.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Do you need to be somewhere?”
At that moment, he was not capable of intelligble speech and was slurring his words, and he seemed to realize that he couldn’t bluff his way out of this.
Then, someone asked, “hey, can we help you?”, in a way that showed that we were concerned for his welfare, even though he was trespassing and blatantly crashing the party. Although his actions were extremely concerning and left us uneasy, he did not seem threatening but rather very lost and confused.
To this, he said perhaps the only intelligible thing he could muster during our brief encounter, and he clearly thought he was making an astute political observation and showing how woke he is.
“No one needs anything on this continent!”
Now, we realized this man was likely tripping balls on something rather than just being drunk. Perhaps this would complicate our ability to get him on his way safely, but there seemed to be a sense of relief that we were likely not dealing with a belligerent drunk, which all of us had seen too many.
After his retort, one of us at the fire, a bartender by trade, realized that he could put his drunk-herding skills to use. He stood up and said “Hey, come on brother!”, and The Man Tripping Balls seemed eager for someone to give him attention and acted like he just made a new friend. He giddily accompanied the bartender as he walked him toward the street at the front of the house.
The bartender seemed to be assuaging The Man Tripping Balls as best he could, telling him what he wanted to hear and keep him moving. None of us heard the rest of their conversation, but The Man Tripping Balls seemed to be happy enough continuing on his way, and the bartender sat back at the fire about a minute or two later. He explained how he takes this approach with unruly drunks, to try to convince them to leave the bar and tell them exactly what they want to hear, thus lowering their threat levels and de-escalating the situation, as well as keeping them from causing additional trouble. This was a valuable lesson that I’m sure I will make use of at some point.
The awkward almost-danger behind us, we all started laughing at how absurd the situation was, especially how the appearance of the deer just preceeded The Man Tripping Balls. The fence was already rotted through and probably needed to be replaced anyway, luckily it was only a very small section that was destroyed. Because we live in a college town where many people get themselves in trouble due to alcohol, a few of us shared stories of drunk people being so inebriated that they tried to crash at the wrong house. In fact I faced just such a situation a number of years ago, when a random drunk tried to crash on my couch, and one of my roommates had to kick them out. Someone said that they had sympathy for someone in this state when it was below freezing outside and let them sleep on the couch, much to the displeasure of their other roommates.
As much as I should have been upset at this man for doing a very bad job of tripping balls by not staying in a safe, familiar place, for damaging my friend’s property, and for briefly making us feel unsafe, in a way I envied him, as I tried to picture what happened in the moments just before this situation transpired from his perspective. Though, I’m sure I would feel differently if it was my fence that he’d broken.
This is how I pictured the events just preceeding our encounter:
A lost, lonely and confused man is tripping balls and wandering through dark, unfamiliar backyards, until suddenly he sees a deer. Is it real, or is he just tripping so hard that he’s vividly hallucinating? Intrigued, he approaches the deer, and still unsure if it’s real or not, begins to chase it. He may have realized that the deer is in fact real and realized how serendipitous it is for him to have this encounter with nature that most people wouldn’t be able to have even if they were sober, and feels at one with the universe. But then, after a moment, this fleeting connection with nature has vanished, as he finds himself in the alley, and now sees a group of people sitting around a fire. He tries unsuccessfully to foster this same sense of connection with these strangers that fate has brought him to, but they eventually show him the minimum of human kindness to help him to continue on his psychedelic journey.
I will never know what happened to this man, who he was or precisely how this event came to be. As far as I can tell he managed not to get arrested, and I can only hope that he remembers at least that portion of his night, since if I were in his position, it probably would have felt like a religious experience.