04 October 2004

You Tell Me Your Dreams And I'll Tell You Mine

I was reading SouthKnoxBubba this morning and came across his post about the booming opium trade in Afghanistan and it reminded me of the time I smoked opium. I think the statute of limitations has run out, so I'll share it with you.

It was on Christmas Eve, 1979. I was working at Harley-Davidson of Glendale in Southern California. I was working on a '57 Sportster that belonged to a guy named Barney who was a hillbilly from Southern Ohio. Nice guy. It was getting late, but I wanted to finish it before I went home.

Now, Sportsters have a train of camshafts, four of them, one for each valve. They come in all sorts of configurations but generally they come in sets. Not on Barney's bike. He had three 'P' cams and one 'Q' cam. He had finally scored the fourth 'P' cam at a swap meet or something, and I was installing it. It was a big find for him because it was the one with the magneto drive on it. Sportsters had quit using magnetos years before.

Since it was late, Barney was hanging out in the shop watching me work on his pride and joy, when, out of the blue, he asked me if I wanted to smoke some opium. I said, "Sure. I'm not doing anything important, just timing your cams and magneto." He said, "Oh, that's OK" and stuck a hot soldering iron (he may have wiped it off first) into his stash and stuck it up my nose.

Well, I finished the job OK. I may have worked a little slower than usual. Came time to fire it up and Barney said to me, "You better let me do it. She's a little tricky to start", so I let him. I was a little afraid to try it anyway as older Sportsters tended to have weak mags and kickstarters and they can slip through and hyper-extend your knee in a heartbeat.

I stood and watched. It took him twenty-seven kicks, due no doubt to a weak magneto. Barney turned to me with a big opium-eatin' grin and said, "Cool, man. You fixed it. Sure started easy. Merry Christmas!" and roared off into the night.

It was indeed a Merry Christmas Eve. After about sixteen kicks, I thought he'd be mad at me, but he was delighted! Everybody sees things different, I guess.

What was the opium like? I can't remember.

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