- Photo by Payton Beck
- "I had a pound of mushrooms, man," says Buster. "Have you ever seen a pound of mushrooms?"
Do you remember the totally true comic from a few weeks ago about the drunk, high, naked people who were kept in a gondola at the Seattle Great Wheel for more than an hour? To recap: They were acting really strange, one was in a blue unitard, and Ferris wheel staff didn't know what was going on in there or what to do about them but noticed the booze and drugs and nudity, so they called the cops, and when the cops finally showed up, the wheel operators got yelled at but the partyers were let free.
One of the partyers, the man who was wearing the blue unitard, e-mailed me after recognizing himself in the comic. He said his name is Buster and invited me out to his house in Stanwood for an interview. He lives off a tree-lined road and has a sparkly gold Ford Torino in his garage, and also obviously a sparkly blue unitard. This Windex-blue statement piece is both spare and voluptuous, with a deep-scoop front and stirrup leggings. Buster has owned it for years. "I found it in the wash one day. It came from my baby-mama's mama. She wore it in high school. I don’t know where she got it, but it’s like a family heirloom," says Buster. "They want it back."
Buster remembers how he ended up wearing it to the Great Wheel. He had been hanging out with two close friends, three down comforters, and seven friendly dogs. “It was a classic cuddle puddle. We were really, really high on mushrooms. I'd been staring at the overhead light for hours. It had one of those fixtures that looked like a giant nipple. The dogs were big and furry and crawling all over. My dude Pinchy was just laughing and laughing and laughing. Fuddy Duddy was in the middle, she rubbed one out, and that was hilarious. Mostly we just chilled.”
Eventually, the sun came up. Though the three of them hadn’t slept at all, they suddenly felt wakeful and jittery, as if they'd been charged by a strange electricity. An agenda took urgent form when Pinchy mentioned a mutual friend of theirs, Sam. "He's this musician friend of ours who lives in Seattle somewhere," says Buster. "We realized we needed to save Sam from his pitiful life. He'd just gotten fired, and he was hiding in his little apartment with his 50 cats, his cat food, and the biggest pile of cat shit I’d ever seen. It became our mission to save him.”
Buster assembled what he called a "Save Sam kit" before he left. This involved a box packed with beer, weed, and other thrilling sundries. "I had a pound of mushrooms, man. Have you ever seen a pound of mushrooms?"
“No, I'm afraid I haven't.”
“Separately, they're really light. So one pound is huge. But I crammed 'em all in," Buster says. "We also brought our magic banana, to point at things. It gave us superpower.”
There's more. "I needed to look good for the mission, and that called for my unitard. I wanted to be Captain Fucking Uni-Thang." Careful accessorizing finished his look: purple DCs [skate shoes] “to match the blue,” and a clip-on tie.
Then Buster piled his kit, his eight dogs, and his two friends into the “most hilarious car I'd ever owned: a Chrysler Town & Country minivan I'd outfitted with 20-inch Giovanni rims. It was a two-seater, with carpet everywhere, and had a fold-out camping chair in the back." The drive to Seattle took over an hour. "We couldn't get a hold of Sam. We called and called. He wasn't answering his phone. OK, we hadn't told Sam we were coming to save him. And we didn't know where he lived.”
Despair swiftly turned to enchantment when Buster spotted the Seattle Great Wheel, all gorgeous and glistering. As it patiently rotated through the sky above the waterfront, Buster "knew I needed to get inside it, right now. So we forgot about Sam, parked the van, cracked the window for the dogs, bought some clam chowder nearby, and got in line. We were trying to be on good behavior. It felt like people were looking at me. My junk was out there, it's pretty visible in the unitard. I knew I looked a little sexy, but I wasn’t worried about it. I felt empowered."
Once they'd boarded their gondola and commenced the ride, Buster remembers that Fuddy took off her shirt and Pinchy removed his pants and underwear. “He's a good-looking naked man. I can't tell you how many threesomes I've had with that dude. But this time, none of it was sexual. We were partying, drinking beer, watching the lights, and it just felt good to get naked."
After a short time, their gondola halted at ground level and a platform attendant slid open the doors. "Pinchy's pants were still off, so he picked them up, stood, and walked casually towards the door. There were empty beer bottles, one rolled out. The guy kind of screamed when he saw us, and he slammed the doors shut, locking us inside. Then the wheel started going back around."
"We're all like: 'What just happened, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.' Were we in trouble? I was pretty sure we were in trouble," says Buster. He felt it necessary to prepare, should authorities step in. "The weed was fine, I had a permit for that. But I had to get rid of the mushrooms. So we started eating dose after dose after dose until we’d finished them all,” says Buster. Many of us would have done the same in this situation.
Inside their gondola, “We waited and waited, and the wheel went around and around. There was a red panic button on the ceiling, I must've hit it 5,000 times. We tried everything. I was screaming, punching things. We put our bare asses against the window. I called my band manager.” (Buster plays ska trombone for the Skablins.) “I was panicked and angry and wasn’t making sense, but she eventually understood. She called the cops to rescue us."
As the wait continued, shit got real. "It felt like two hours passed. Fuddy's a diabetic. She was turning green. She needed her insulin, but it was in the rig. All the dogs were in there too, I was worried about them. Pinchy peed in a bottle after he’d been holding it so long. I gave up and pissed all over."
When police finally arrived, an operator stalled the wheel, parking the gondola that Buster, Fuddy, and Pinchy were in at ground level. “I was cussing and shouting, I practically vomited on them. They let us out right away, they didn’t search us. The fire department came, too, and paramedics brought Fuddy food, checked her out. She wasn’t OK at first, but she made it through, she didn't die, she did get better. I was really mad about that whole part. It sucked."
Exhausted and incensed, the three left, got to the van, checked the dogs (they were fine), and voyaged home. “I didn't think we'd done anything horrible. We hadn't smoked at all. We're weren't shooting up. My recycling fell out, but whatever. Now my mushrooms were all gone, and I wasn’t even that high, and Fuddy still felt like shit. And you know else? We realized this on the long drive back. We never found Sam. We never even got close to finding Sam! Fucking Sam."