By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004
She held the depressed puppy in her arms. I had seen the dreadlocked teenager the night before after exiting the concert on our walk through Shakedown back to our campsite. When I got within earshot, I heard the girl mutter, “My puppy for some yay yo.”
I told Molly and she was shocked. Yes, the spun out crusty chick wanted to trade her dog for cocaine. It wasn’t the strangest trade I’d ever heard offered up in the post-modern, neo-hippie marketplace… but it might have been the most fucked up trade I’d ever come across. The next day, I wandered through the crowds whispering, “Kind nugs for your puppy.”
I was willing to trade my marijuana for unwanted pets. I had a brilliant idea to corner the canine market on Phish tour, purchasing as many dogs and other animals, to add to my empire.
“Kind nugs for your puppy.”
Of course, I had no idea what I’d actually do with all those dogs. It didn’t matter because no one took me seriously. I got plenty of chuckles from people who got my snarky commentary on the absurdity of the pre-show and post-show parking lot scene.
So there I was... well past 3:30 in the morning, unable to sleep, jacked up on a couple of hits of ecstasy and the frenetic emotional energy of the last Phish show, standing on an old airport runway in the middle of nowhere in Northern Vermont, when I saw the spun out girl. I heard her trade offer for a second time in two nights.
“Yay yo for my puppy.”
I nearly knocked her over when I grabbed her shoulder and twirled her around so we could stand face to face. She was very short, maybe five feet tall at the most. She was barefoot, her lower legs caked in mud, and her puppy asleep in her arms. Her glassed over eyes were the size of butter dishes, and she looked like she hadn’t slept in over a week. The teenager was jonesin’ hardcore because although we were standing still, she kept rocking back and forth, either to an imaginary bass line or because she was itching so badly all over her body that she didn’t know how to contain herself.
“I’m looking for an eight ball. Do you have any yay yo?” as the words stumbled out of her mouth. She was on the verge of a major freak out.
“Let me get this straight. You want to give me your puppy for coke?”
She nodded her head.
“He’s really cool. His name is Happy.”
She rubbed his head and he wiggled in her arms. He woke up for a few seconds and I saw the pain in his eyes.
“He doesn’t look too happy,” I said.
“He hasn’t eaten in a couple of days.”
“What kind of person are you?” I screamed as my belligerent insobriety took control of the conversation. “Who has a dog, but can’t feed it?”
“I don’t have any money,” she said with a cold, blank stare.
“But you’re willing to trade your puppy for yay yo.”
“He’s the only thing I have to trade.”
“Where’re you from?”
“How did you get here?”
“My boyfriend and I have been on tour since Hampton.”
“And where’s he?”
“I lost him. Haven’t seen him in two days. I forgot where we’re camped.”
“When’s the last time you ate?”
She didn’t say anything.
A crowd of people wandered by and she whispered to them, “Yay yo for my puppy.”
“Seriously. What kind of a person are you? You don’t take on a pet unless you know you can give it proper care and attention. Especially puppies.”
“I love Happy. I just can’t feed him.”
A wave of self-righteousness bombarded me.
“You are the reason Phish is breaking up, man. You ruined Trey’s life. Don’t you know that? It’s irresponsible fuckwads like yourself who follow them around for no other reason than to get off. You kids give true fans a bad name in the clueless media. With other music lovers and most importantly, with the fuckin' cops. Kids like you ruined one of the coolest scenes in the world. You fuckin’ blew it for me. We live in an Orwellian America today. And this was the last bastion of freedom of expression there was!" I shouted then pointed my finger in her face, “And you fuckin’ kids destroyed that and are too fucked up to even notice. I should steal your puppy and give it someone who really wants it.”
“I’ll trade you for some yay yo.”
I had a feeling she’d tuned out my bitter tirade. I was disgusted. I was angered. Phish’s success indirectly attributed to the dark side of the scene, an aspect that was a contributing factor on why the band broke up. The shows were no longer about music appreciation anymore and that girl was one of hundreds, if not thousands of fucked up people with selfish, non-community based interests who flooded the Phish tour with their bad karma, foul acts, immature attitudes, and the inability to handle their drugs.
I whipped out a hundred dollar bill.
“I want to buy your puppy.”
She was mesmerized by the bill for a few seconds and then looked back at me.
“He’s not for sale. I want to trade him for some yay yo.”
“Money is as good as yay yo,” I assured her. “You can trade this for blow or food. I suggest you get something to eat before you snort the night away.”
She stared at the hundred dollar bill for several more moments. Eight balls were going for $150 on tour. That was the seller’s rate. She was not getting fair market value for her puppy. I wondered if she was making the calculations slowly in her head.
“His name is Happy,” she whispered as she handed him to me. She snatched the hundred out of my hand, with her dreadlocks bouncing up and down while she ran off down the runway.
Yes. It was almost 4 AM and intoxicated out of my tits, I bought a puppy from a spun out girl for $100. As I slowly walked through the crowd with Happy asleep in my arms, I smiled. I loved getting a good deal.
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.
August 29, 2004
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