This Saturday, my friend and UW junior Benicio del Incognito — whose name has been changed to protect his identity — took two tabs of LSD and went to the University of Wisconsin football game at Camp Randall Stadium. While the Badgers beat the Purdue Boilermakers 41 to 10, Incognito smiled in awe as he stared through his sunglasses and said things like, “The sun off the Astroturf — it’s beautiful.”
Incognito placed two pieces of blotter paper under his mouth at 12 p.m. He held the acid under his tongue for 20 minutes, chewed it up and swallowed it. His mouth immediately turned numb. We walked to a pregame at a house on Lathrop Street. A group of about 40 people — students and adults — were gathered in a backyard. They drank cheap beer, shoved freshly-grilled red meat down their throats and socialized at loud volumes over the sounds of Diplo and Miley Cyrus.
Nearly an hour after taking the acid, Incognito — who had been socializing with several groups of people — came up to me. He wore a huge smile on his face. I wrapped my arm around him and he said, “This is awesome. There’s so much sensory overload. Just look at that willow tree.” He pointed at a willow tree a few yards down, which branched unassumingly over another backyard pregame. Half an hour later, he approached me and a group of friends. He pointed at the sky and said, “It’s a lovely, overcast Wisconsin day, like the legends told of.”
“It’s just like a cacophony of sounds,” he said. “Everything’s still really green around here, so it feels not unlike a jungle.”
He continued to socialize. Several times I checked in on him, but got little insight into his sensory experience. “The problem is,” he said, “right now, I’m really just lacking words. Like, symbols.”
For a while, Incognito walked away from the pregame to explore Lathrop and the area surrounding Camp Randall. When he came back, he pulled me to the front yard and told me of his travels.
“When I was in the bathroom upstairs, I turned the sink on and just stared at the mirror. My face, more or less, at that point, faded away. But the sounds of the water were everywhere. I could feel it washing over me. It was the most immersive experience in the world. Now imagine that but with the sensory red overload of gameday. That’s what it was like standing outside of the student section 15 minutes ago.”
The pregame came to a close, and we rushed to the stadium. After nearly losing Incognito at the ticketing area, we walked up the giant, concrete stairs into the main student section hall. Groups of screaming students surrounded us on both sides. Chants of “eat shit, fuck you” echoed off the walls. Incognito began comparing the scene to a riot. When a group of Wisconsin fans surrounded a man wearing a Purdue shirt and began repeatedly calling him “asshole,” Incognito began discussing the groupthink common in many sporting events.
Finally, we situated ourselves in section N. Clouds covered the sky but allowed the sun to peek through for the majority of the game. On the field, the Badgers scored a touchdown, and Kyle French capped it off with an extra point field goal.
“Wow!” Incognito said. “Where did all this come from? Beautiful days, Kyle French making things!”
After staring at the field for a couple minutes, he looked at me and said, “It’s almost like a video gamey experience.”
About midway through the game, Incognito took his eyes from the field and directed them to the jean jacket he was wearing. He began rubbing one of its buttons with his thumb. “This little microcosm of an experience is perfect,” he said. He began discussing the duality between how clothing represents a person and a person’s true self. As he pondered these things, Purdue intercepted the ball on the field. Incognito was completely unaware of this.
In the third quarter, Incognito turned to me, smiled and put his arm around my shoulder. “For a fraction of a moment,” he said, “everything is perfect in the world — the sun shining, the ‘Toy Story’ clouds in the background.” He quickly turned his attention the field and shouted, “FUCK YOU, PURDUE!”
When the first four notes of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blared through the Camp Randall speakers, Incognito’s jaw dropped. He later told me that, in that brief moment during those opening notes, everything it meant to be a Wisconsin Badger was one within the stadium. “It’s as if there is a sense of communing with the universe in a Badger sense,” he said
And with that, the game ended. Wisconsin won, and Incognito ventured back into the jungle of Madison.