Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Junior Year

Over the Summer of Love, three-quarters of the young college-bound males in America seemed to have allowed their hair to grow long, to have started smoking pot, and to have bought an album by either The Doors or Jefferson Airplane, both of whom I loathed. My Cher-haired second girlfriend had left me for another over the summer, which I’d consequently spent pretty well beside myself, but damned if I wasn’t able a few weeks into the school year to lower the boom on a 17-year-old freshman girl with gigantic eyes and excellent long hair who enjoyed making a spectacle of herself while dancing at dorm dances. Thirty-four years later and 400 miles north we would meet again, she as an attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, I as one who, trying to make ends meet while my agent tried to get me a publishing deal, processed words for attorneys for the City and County of San Francisco on comically outdated Wang computers.

I have told you before about, and won’t bore again with details of, my embracing the new hippie zeitgeist by attending class barefooted, in a bead necklace I’d strung myself. All week, I’d hear black militant classmates bellowing about racism, and every weekend I’d go home and give my dad a hard time about not having repudiated racism thoroughly enough for my taste, though his racism had never extended past thinking blacks were predisposed to be better dancers than whites, and worrying that my sister going out with a black guy might create a lot of trouble for her. Gays and women still had to fend for themselves, without me very much on their sides yet.

An election was imminent, and I joined a group of ragtag smart alecs who purported, for comic effect, to be in favor of the election to the Senate of the ludicrous reactionary Max Rafferty. When moderate or even insufficiently radical candidates would speak on campus, we would loudly chant our purported hero’s name (Max! Max! Max!, heard as Smack! Smack! Smack!), causing no little discombobulation, since we looked like yippies. On a couple of occasions, we made ourselves roll around on the grass screaming with self-delighted laughter.

Late in my sophomore year, I’d become chummy with a curly-haired imp I’d remembered seeing my freshman year in a cap like that Bob Dylan wore on the cover of his debut album. I’d unsuccessfully auditioned for his band, which was calling itself The Electric Prunes even though they knew full well that another local band had beaten them to the punch. He was embarrassed about having a Mexican dad, and passed himself off as a Basque. Fantastically musical, he would gather huge crowds every time he sat down in public with his guitar and started singing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band all the way through, except of course for the song that required Indian instrumentation.

On weekends, occasionally barefoot, I sold black-lite posters I’d drawn on Sunset Blvd. I looked enough like a hippie to impress kids from the hinterlands, and to get into frequent shouting matches with young servicemen on leave. I impressed a student nurse in last year’s bouffant coiffure, and we became an item, though she thought me a wuss for my unwillingness to shoot methedrine with her and stay up all weekend. We would meet again on line 33 years later, she as a psychotherapist widow in New Zealand, I as someone who has consulted a great many psychotherapists over the years.

The dormitory in which I continued to reside was crammed to the gills now with little newly minted hippies who might never know what it was like to be hooted at by the football team for their long hair. To get away from them, I took lots of long solitary walks at night, imagining myself to be the loneliest boy in town.

Subscribe, all ye faithful, joyful 'n' triumphant!

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