Occupation: Freelance writer
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/12/12
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): American Sign Language
“Apparently there’s a friend of a friend of a friend—it’s always a friend of a friend—I heard from this guy whose friend’s friend heard this—blablabla. It’s about this guy who did so much acid that now he’s in a mental institute and thinks that he is a tall glass or orange juice and he’s afraid of tipping over and he just stands there with his hands out because he’s scared of tipping over because he doesn’t want to spill.”
This story that my informant told me was one that she heard back in high school. It’s the classic cautionary tale (or “scarelore”) against doing drugs. “Don’t do acid kids because… orange juice guy.”
This legend is particularly haunting because unlike anti-drug cautionary tales that flat out tell you that you are going to die if you so much as touch drugs, this talks about the permanent psychological damage an overdose can do. To some, this may be considered a fate worse than death.
She spoke about it as if there was SOMEONE who knew this kid–as if it did happen sometime during her high school years. Out of my own curiosity I looked up this particular piece of lore and to my surprise, this legend has been circulating since the 1960’s. It varied from a guy who thinks he is an orange and thus decides that he has to peel himself and as a result peels off all of his clothes, to the one she described in which he thinks he is a glass or orange juice and is scared someone will tip him over or drink him.
I tracked the references of the orange juice guy back to a 1966 Los Angeles Times article by George Reasons that talks about the views doctors and scientists had about what had become an incredibly popular drug at the time. “Serious scientists, on the other hand, are alarmed by the spread in popular use and fearful LSD could be another thaldomide with hidden side effects capable of deforming a generation.” Various examples were given of youths who had bad reactions to the drug, and the account of orange juice guy was amongst these.
“One involves a heavy user who is convinced he is an orange. He won’t allow anyone to touch him for fear he will turn into orange juice.”
However, no actual name is given to orange juice guy, nor does the author of this article state what hospital he is in (if any) or where he even got his information. Thus, as is the nature of most legends, we can not be sure if this story is actually true, or if it was just created to scare a generation out of doing LSD.
Reasons, George. Los Angeles Times “LSD Ties With Happiness Declared Hokum” July 12, 1966