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This is my personal non-scientific experiment.
The bar is filled with people but the only thing I see is him. He is beautiful; with his ice blue eyes and his chiselled features. My heart is pounding, my blood rushing through my veins, my back and palms are sweaty. The Hawaiian-dressed DJ is playing disturbingly loud salsa music but I can only hear him. His voice is comforting and nearly hypnotic. My hands are restless and the urge to touch his incredibly well proportioned body is almost too much. But I keep my hands to myself otherwise I will seem too eager. That I know.
I’m on a date and I’m on MDMA.
This was my debut. I’d never taken MDMA before nor had I been on a date.
But I’d read about people who use MDMA to initiate new relationships because it makes them more open and affectionate. I’d also heard about a couple who use it very successfully, almost like couples’ therapy. And I have friends who take it when they’re going out because it is almost as if it generates a symbiosis between themselves, the music, the dance and their friends. MDMA does something to you. It makes you feel closer to the world, your mood improves and people become so much more beautiful.
I got curious. I wanted to know what it felt like but I also wanted to find out if MDMA truly could bring about this feeling of being in love. Can we actually generate love artificially?
We’d never met before. Me and this man. Only virtually through Tinder. He liked my photos and I liked his and voila, a match was made. The only thing I knew about him was his age (35), that he worked in the same industry as me and that he was attractive. He had potential I thought.
“Hi. Nice Photos. You wanna meet up for a beer?”
My mission was clear and I had no time to beat about the bush so I chose the direct approach. It worked but we still ended up sharing loads of nonsensical information before we actually met. I wasn’t blown away but he seemed sharp, funny and unpretentious.
It was a foundation for a prosperous date. Now all I had to do was to get hold of some MDMA.
I won’t go further into that. Just to state that it is not easy to get hold of if you aren’t a regular user with a reliable contact and if you don’t want to buy it from some random guy on a bridge in Copenhagen. I smoke pot and I’ve done magic mushrooms and cocaine before.
I’m not afraid of drugs but I’m terrified of bad drugs.
It is Friday evening, close to 6pm, I’ve finally managed to find some MDMA and I’ve decided what to wear. A black outfit, flat shoes, my hair down and red lipstick. Safe choices all round. I text the man. He doesn’t know that I’ll be on MDMA when we meet and I have no intention of sharing that information.
Paradoxically, I want his impression of me to be real, although I’m far from convinced that there is any such thing as real and unreal feelings. At my most cynical, I still believe that love is a chemical process over which we have no control.
By the way I did discuss my MDMA-date plans with a doctor and he explained that my level of interest in the man will influence the experience. I guess it’s a bit like smiling at the world and having it smile back at you.
I’m at my friend’s house now. She’s the one who got me the MDMA.
We’re on her bed as she takes out the capsule with the yellowish crystals. She has tried it numerous times before so I’m in safe hands. Even though the doctor told me that the only thing I could do wrong – apart from buying some really shitty stuff – was to drink too much water, not knowing what will happen is still a little unnerving – as revealed by the ashtray.
It’s getting closer to half eight. We weren’t meant to meet up this late. It’ll seem like one of those dates that have one purpose only: sex. This annoys me and I’m getting impatient. We spread out the crystals on some paper and crush them. I lick my finger, dip it into the crystals and bring it back up with a pinch of crystals sticking to it. I lick my finger clean and wash it down with some Fanta. It still tastes synthetic and bitter. A lingering foul taste. It bites my taste buds and I frantically move my tongue around my mouth in order to swallow it all down.
20 minutes pass and I can’t feel a thing. “How far are you?” he writes. “I’m a little late, something came up”, I lie. Well, it’s not all lies I excuse myself. Another 45 minutes pass. I still can’t feel a thing. “Well, I’m almost drunk enough to dare showing up”, I jokingly try to keep him interested. It has been an hour and a half but my body doesn’t respond. I contemplate taking some more but I don’t want to be completely off my head when I meet him so I decide against it. Instead I order a taxi and head out to meet the man.
The Job Interview
There he is. Outside, underneath one of the heating lamps with two beers. He is better looking than his photos.
“Hi”, the man says.
“Hiiii”, I say precariously.
We hug and sit down across from one another. What do we do, which newspapers do we read, where did we go to school, are we interested in books, art, bikes or tranquil forests? I feel like I’m being interviewed for a job. It’s everything I feared a date would be. Awkward and fucking anxiety provoking. Exactly how it wasn’t supposed to be.
If the MDMA suddenly kicks in it’ll be seriously awkward, I think. When we’re texting I thought he was funny and informal. Now I’ve the exact opposite impression. And on top of that I’m not feeling well. I feel as if my self-image is quietly dissolving.
I badly want the MDMA to kick in.
After an hour and loads of strained laughs I go to the toilet. I look in the mirror. My pupils are no bigger. I look like myself. I’m desperate for the MDMA to do its thing. So I dip my wet finger in the bag and lick it clean. Half an hour later the atmosphere eases up. I become more talkative. I feel a little restless and my cheeks feel tighter. I can’t stop smiling. We move on to another bar across the road. The man has been there before and he loves the place. As we walk across it’s obvious that the MDMA is working. I feel incredibly restless and I start sweating.
In a Bar with Bukowski
“Wow, this place is wild. I love it,” I say euphorically as we enter the Hawaiian bar filled with people and salsa rhythms pounding from the loudspeakers. It’s difficult for me to curb my enthusiasm as I say “Wow, this place is wild” – five times in a row.
If I had to describe the bar today I’d say it looked like the set of a shitty film with badly paid actors who hammed it up tremendously. Normally I’d hate a place like this. He goes to the bar, all self-confident, and orders two identical drinks. “They make the best drinks here,” he says almost proudly. I push through the middle-aged masses and grab the drink. “It’s the best drink ever,” I shout straight into his face. Everything is wonderful, all the people are wonderful and he’s fantastic.
We sit at a table for a while unsuccessfully trying to have a conversation about Bukowski and his books which I’ve never read – it is close to 1am when his knee suddenly touches mine. My whole body gets activated as if he is the first man to ever touch me. Finally something I can relate to.
My body is like jelly and I’m burning up, I’m that happy. Now I really have to struggle to keep my hands off him. My seat is made of leather and it feels like velvet to my hands, which only increases my urge to rub them up and down his body. But I don’t. It doesn’t fit well with Bukowski. However, I’ve allowed myself to lean across the table so that our faces are only a few inches apart.
It feels like forever before he grabs my hand and pulls me in for a kiss. Our lips touch and for a few seconds I think that we’re alone. My entire body is trembling. It’s the perfect kiss. I can focus on nothing but him. We simply kiss and look at each other until the bar closes.
I don’t want to go home.
The last kiss
I only want to do one thing. But I also feel that it’s a bit too much. This is an experiment. I need to stop before we get there. We’re outside and I’m desperately trying to keep the conversation going so we don’t have to part. He places his hands on my shoulders and moves them in small circles. It’s as if my body is electrified. I tingle and my blood is pumping. There are people around us and I have no control over my body. I’m thinking that this could become really embarrassing and so I pull away.
He has walked me home and we’re outside my front door. Restraining myself from just dragging him inside and ripping his clothes off is really hard. Everything he utters is wise and witty. He’s glowing and he touches me in a way that is both caring and direct. “Shouldn’t we see each other again soon?” he asks. “We certainly should,” I reply without hesitation. It’s the only thing I feel like doing. He grabs my neck and kisses me one last time.
When I wake up the following morning I can’t feel myself. I sit up and stare blankly into space. It’s as if I am weightless. I’m tired as if I haven’t slept for days. Now I know the meaning of the word apathy. I check my phone to find out what time it is and I notice that the man has texted me.
At that moment my world simply could not be more confusing. He thanks me for a nice evening and reminds me that we agreed to meet again. I feel nothing. The only things I remember are the long conversation about Bukowski, his pretentiousness and the incredibly long run-up that actually felt more like a job interview than anything else. I put my mobile phone down again and never answer.
But in the moment, for a few hours at that bar, on those steps, I felt like I was in love.
UPDATE 2023: While the UK website is no longer live, the original of this article is available here on the Danish ILLEGAL website.
Michelle Færch is a journalist in Denmark. Tweets @MichelleFaerch