The Dark Side

Author’s Note: My friend and business partner, Don Judson, asked me recently if I’d seen the documentary, Pink Floyd – The Making Of The Dark Side Of The Moon. I hadn’t. But I fixed that this past weekend. Don and the film prompted this reflection.

Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon, was released on March 1, 1973. I was 19 years old. I lived in a fleabag, third-floor, walk-up apartment on Goodwill Avenue in Meriden, Connecticut, my hometown.

That summer, my third as a lifeguard, a long-haired stoner (as was I) who lived in a fleabag, third-floor, walk-up apartment across the street, played The Dark Side of the Moon loudly and constantly. I was grateful because as long as neither of us moved — and as long as both of us kept our windows open — I wouldn’t have to buy the album. I don’t know what the going rate for lifeguards is today. But in 1973, being a lifeguard, even the head guard at Beaver Pond, wasn’t a high-paying gig.

One morning (I didn’t have to be on duty until 1:00 p.m.), there was a knock at my door. When I went to answer it, the stoner was standing there. We greeted each other, and I asked what I could do for him.

“Oh, hey, man,” he said, sounding for all the world like Tommy Chong. “Could I borrow an egg?”

“You don’t have to borrow it,” I replied. “You can keep it. Is one enough? I have plenty more if you need them.”

“Oh, no, man. It’s not for me,” the stoner said with a look on his face that suggested he thought I was as high as he was. (I wasn’t, at least not right then.)

“Okay,” I said. “Then who is it for?”

“It’s for my lizard, man.”

Don’t Go Back

Given the era in which I grew up, I was duty-bound, of course, to do my share of psychedelic drugs and then some. And I readily admit that, with the exception of a few bad trips, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. But as much as I enjoyed it, I never lost the keen awareness that I was experimenting. I was doing what I was doing for the experience of doing it. I was doing it for the same reason I got tattoos later in my life. I didn’t want to wonder what doing those things was like. I wanted to know.

I have no idea what happened to my friend with the lizard. I hope he turned out okay. I have other friends from those days who didn’t turn out okay. Some of them ended up burning themselves out. Some of them didn’t turn out at all.

One time when I was in my forties, I was visiting a friend. He asked me if I wanted to drop some LSD. I said, “I don’t know about you, but I made it to my forties so I wouldn’t have to be curious about that stuff anymore. I’m not. Thank you. No.”

When he finally discovered he wasn’t Peter Pan, he killed himself.

There are times at which I dearly miss the dark side. But I have no desire to go back.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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