In 1973 Betty & I were living in an apartment in Gunnison, Colorado. You may not believe this, but there was NO INTERNET then, nor satellite nor cable TV, no computer games … so we idled our ample spare time … Continue reading
(IT) COULD HAVE BEEN THE BAT PHONE Betty and I more-or-less collapsed into the hot tub a coupla/3 daze ago. The Day After It Snowed. We had partaken of what a long-lost friend labeled as the essential elements of the … Continue reading
CURSE OF MY FATHER
“You will NEVER get a good job,” Dad expounded. Then, thundering, with pointed index finger quavering in my direction, “YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT!”
“Dad, I don’t care.” I stuck to my Principles then. We’d had arguments, but rarely as emotional as this. He, too, had his principles.
He rarely talked about it, but we were all aware of his service in WW2. He had been awarded the Purple Heart and had the scars to prove it. He had fought in the “good fight” — a war with clear and unambiguous intent. But this was different …
He became aware of my intent to “fail” the U.S. Military Draft pre-induction physical exam. I was going for a “psycho” deferment. The year was 1969. The height, or depth, of the Viet-Nam quagmire. Hell no, I wasn’t going to go.
Before the military sunk its clutches into you, there was an Induction Physical, sort of a foregone conclusion that if you were there to be checked and probed and not-too-seriously questioned, you were on the train to boot camp shortly. The Pre-Induction physical was a preliminary to the Induction, where only the most unacceptable candidates would be identified and not pursued any further.
During that time (“Viet Nam War”), and presumably during similar periods of national crisis, all young men had to register for the Draft. One had to register upon turning the age of 18, and I could accomplish this at my high school!
This was a couple years before the unpleasant discussion with Dad. When I came home from school and announced that I registered for the Draft, my parents were surprised. “What?!” One never expects the Spanish Inquisition. But even then, the thought of their little boy slogging through the swamps of SouthEast Asia seemed very, very remote.
Every young man was eligible for “the call” unless you had a deferment status. As long as a boy was in school (be it high-school or college), this qualified for a deferment. After a couple more years, this weasel-way out no longer qualified as a “get out of the meat-grinder” card and one needed a more stringent excuse, I mean deferment. “Hardship cases” were becoming increasingly more difficult to qualify for.
Three of my good buddies had gone into different branches of the military. Larry was in the Navy. Willie joined the Air Force. Roy H was an Army guy, and all of them wrote all their friends expressing the same sentiment – “If my going into the military has served any purpose whatsoever, let it be this. I passionately and sincerely implore all my friends to NOT DO THIS!” and I and all the Friends heeded their call.
I lived in an attic in Boulder with (it varied) between 3 to more than 5 of my friends. Only one of us was in College, so he didn’t have the specter of the Draft breathing down his neck, just yet. The rest of us not only were under the influence of psychedelics much of the time, occasionally engaging in minimum-wage employment, but were continually aware of the however-many-hundread-pound-simian outside the room. That is probably one reason we drifted in and out of altered reality states so much.
Reverend Bob somehow could not and did not “fail” the pre- (and later induction physical, the one without a “Pre”-fix) and slipped into Canada – yes, one of the (in)famous Canadian Draft-Dodgers. I kept in touch with him for almost ten years and wonder where and how and what he is today.
Richard Olson (we knew him as “Dick”, but he has shed his past and his reprobate un-inspired un-enlightened former friends and is achieving some measure of fame as an artist (and mystic, so his bio implies) in New Mexico) also astonishingly did not FAIL the Induction physical and some of us accompanied him to our secret mountain camping spot where he was to hide while the U.S. Military Gestapo/Brain Police searched for him. He hunkered down in the camp-site several days, and one night snuck back to the Attic. The Gestapo/Brain Police never came for him.
One of many mysteries of the era. If Dick, our high-end calibration-standard of day-to-day psycho-ness, PASSed muster, what hope was there for the rest of us?
But when my turn came up, I had already learned. You had to convince the officials, the humor-less government drones conducting the evaluation that you WERE NOT FIT nor appropriate military material.
The Attic-dwellers heard many stories. Frank Zappa was alleged to have filled his, uh, space between the buttocks with peanut butter. When the time came for the “bend over and spread” exam, the examiner is alleged to, well, have gotten pretty disgusted.
“What the hell is that?!”
“I don’t know,” Frank (is alleged to have) said, taking a finger and gouging out a big chunk. Putting it into his mouth he said “but it sure tastes good.”
Legend has it that Mr. Zappa’s performance qualified him as a dismissal from those deemed fit to become part of the military. And that wasn’t the only story …
My sister had a friend named Chris who told a story of a friend of his who somehow could tell his body (and his body obeyed) to NOT TAKE A SHIT FOR A WEEK. (I never could come close to that, but …) Said friend of Chris’ followed this regimen until the morning of the Pre-Induction. He woke up, drank several cups of coffee, took ex-lax, and during the day’s proceedings had, among other more-minor embarrassments, several “explosions.”
“How often does this happen?” the examiners asked.
“Oh, maybe three or so times a week” Mr. Potty-Problem replied. He too, was not invited back to try further to get into the Army.
There was the sad story of a guy who drank a couple hundred bottles of Coca-Cola during the two or three days before his test. He exhibited strange symptoms and I’m sure his blood-test turned out ‘un-ordinary.’ (Or, I can’t help but insert that famous line from Young Frankenstein, “Abby somebody.”) And said rumored Coke-over-dose guy continued to have adverse health effects a long time after.
It used to be that if one announced that he was a homosexual, THAT dis-qualified you. Heck, if you said that you’d taken LSD – that was a sure-fire ticket to the coveted Looney Deferment. In earlier times “flat feet” or a deviated septum might not buy a ticket on the train to Boot Camp.
But at the height of Viet Nam, it seemed they were taking just about anybody.
The Denizens of the Attic found out from friends, acquaintances, and the rumor mill that saying you were “queer” or had taken LSD up to a few dozen times no longer was an abrupt end to the Induction proceedings. Heck, when I went in I said I’d taken LSD 80 (eighty!) times and though the questioner looked a little bit dismayed (and I think he looked a little impressed), it was obvious he’d heard worse. And told them (and I) to continue down the hall to the next room. (By the way, I exaggerated on that claim, and most others).
It came to pass that the Attic Denizens gained minor recognition as a sympathetic ear and abode of consultation for those about to make the Bus Trip to Denver to be Poked, Prodded, Given written ‘tests’ and ‘questionnaires’, Scrutinized, Donating Blood (and other) Samples for the Good of The Nation (BT2D2BPPTQSB4GON). Earnest (especially since the situation was dire) young men dropped by a few times a week. Whoever was home in the Attic would invariably sit down, listen, suggest whatever might work and everyone would brainstorm to come up with new ideas.
My time came to put my foot where the money was, or demonstrate the Preach of the practicing I/we had been doing. May, 1969 (I don’t remember the exact date. I’m somewhat sure of the month, though). I received the letter to take the BT2D2BPPTQSB4GON.
I dropped by my parent’s house and Dad must have gotten wind of my intent. The conversation we had ended with the Pronouncement at the beginning of this story.
Long story, short: some day I might write the details (such as I remember) of the proceedings of the Pre-Induction Physical. One of the high- (low?) lights was that as the day progressed, I forgot I had a melted chocolate candy bar in my back pocket, and started to slip my hand into the pocket and then wipe the sweat off my face. (I didn’t know what I looked like ‘til I glanced at my reflection in a window after leaving the exam building).
Needless to say, I succeeded, I mean, flunked the test. I got a notice of “1Y” draft-classification in the mail shortly afterward. 1Y meant “available only in the event of national emergency.” So, you see, the military was practically taking practically everybody.
Several, many, years later I talked to Dad about what I felt was his curse regarding my future. He didn’t mean it – that is, cast a witch’s spell on his own son, I knew that then, but he BELIEVED in certain things about America. Stepping up to perform military service was integral, part of being American. And he believed that there was some sort of “system“ (he must have thought that there was a primitive pre-cursor of the NSA) keeping track of everybody – and if one failed to heed to call to honor, well, THAT would be on one’s “record” – and, among other things, disqualify one from working in any branch of the government.
Trouble was (and still is), basically that’s all I’ve ever been able to work for. I humorously told him that yes, indeed, he had put a curse on my work-future. I felt I had never really had “a good job.” And a large part of that failure in my work history was that I seemingly was only able to work for the government.
1969: dishwasher in the student cafeteria for state-funded college (WSC).
(1970 – 1973 didn’t work for the government! Mostly construction carpentry and dishwashing. Oh: a few months microfilming insurance policies for John Hancock in Boston. I was promoted to supervisor!)
1973 – 1975: real-estate appraiser for Gunnison County Assessor.
1975 – 1977: as part of college student-aid, truck-driver, machine-shop assistant and parts-fabricator for Colorado State University.
1976 – 1977: temporary seasonal mail-man and package-sorter for USPS (back when it was a government agency). Brief stint sorting mail while laid-off from DOE in 1996.
1977: forest-fire fighting and search-and-rescue crew, under auspices of Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.
(1978 – 1979: detour into oilfield services in private sector. Laid off during bust after the boom-cycle ended.)
1979 – 1998: subcontract engineering tech, later technical writer/editor, for U.S. Department of Energy.
1998 – 2016: Inspector (9 years) then Engineer for Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.
My father has been ‘gone’ a dozen years now. But he always had a good sense of fun and funniness, and when we talked about this – my so-called work history, it was obvious he saw the humor in that.
NEVER A TICKET TO THE WESAK An entity, through depth of present incarnation; or a combination of intradimensional inquisitiveness, embodiment of cosmic scope, and being attuned to the vagaries of the perturbations of the here and now — just might … Continue reading
well … like 8!
yes, where i live is somewhat ‘in tune’ and aligned with what this season should be like for the latitude. cold and snowy. easy to see it as bleak.
Running: i’ve been joking that the every-other-daily jorg is when i feel the best i’ll feel all day. i have a direct hand on the throttle administering the pain, instead of being the passive (and unwitting?) recipient of it.
Hockey: Ricardo Cabeza said that his soon-to-be five year old granddaughter has started to ask religious and ‘god’ questions. i joked that my ‘church’ has not had a meeting for a month, and there is a delay of another week. my team’s next game is not for another week-and-a-half. yes, the church of the stick & puck.
my wife (!) would like to play. perhaps i’ll surprize her and get eqpt / proper skates (she really likes her LLBean quasi-figure skates, which would not be allowed in the hockey league! as they have toe picks. after a while, there might be women-only leagues… as the women who do play are mostly in “my” league — the novice league. and… my son should play! he would be really good. in a different lifetime, if we had lived in minnesota or north dakota, or … he probably would have played. little opportunity living “in the desert” as we do. until recently.
The roons: with the kids long-time gone, the cats / dogs / horses / turtles / fish / and tortoise are the kids. some days (usually NOT when it’s icy and cold) i feel like a sort of gardener, the custodian of the adjoining piece of paradise. yeah, right. oh well, this part of the creation, the continuity, the infinitum, the … nexus of the time/space/ continuum in which i inhabit.
Betty is visiting her mom in W. Palm Beach for about a week yet. I had planned to do what is perhaps my most therapeutic art work — work on the scrapbook. haven’t yet. maybe tonight. i did, however, transform a couple of my more-or-less completed short stories into ‘small book’ form, print some out, and mail them to perhaps a dozen unlucky recipients.
Food and beer: ricardo and i visited the Nepalese last night. we are fairly regular customers there — much more so than any other place.
Mr. Cabeza says he is a bit depressed, his most recent candidate for significant other just up and dumped him. He stays busy, what with a jazz band, being bingo caller, comrades-in-arms (or whatever type of comrades) to do stuff with, and the never-ending drama of his families lives. Interestingly, he is on good terms with his ex-son-in-law. The very same ex-nephew-in-law Betty and I go golfing with.
I suggested to him that I show up at bingo, and win all or most the jackpots. “What?! Again!? This guy wins again!” — and we split the proceeds afterwards. Yeah, in a dark alley with dirty used envelopes.
He wouldn’t go along. So, I still have to either buy the winning lottery ticket and/or start being real nice to rich senior (more ‘senior’ than I) citizens…
Hanukkah, Islam, and: i think X-ukkah (think X-mas) has passed this year. betty still wants a new more modern teevee (will it be toooo technical for us? it’s been YEARS since we knew how to program the VCR. we’ve gotten used to the flashing “12:00” all the time. THAT used to bother us, a few years back.) and a couch. my son gave me a GOOD bottle of scotch and some fine cigars. that’s fine –> stuff i can ‘use’ NOW and soon. no more stuff to eventually end up in the attic or garage or bequeath to the landfill eventually.
wha gwan in muzik: at least Señor Cabeza plays, is current. As is my bro-in-law. But me? definitely on the down slope of my not-quite mediocre career. maybe i’ll have my annual two daze “in the sun” horrifying the crowd at an athletic event i have been announcer for in early may.
The always impending end of time: seems like it. it’s never far away. but of course, any ‘end’ is a beginning.
Orgasms, flatulence, drooling — no shortage of the flatsch and drools. i include ‘orgasmz’ due to the infamous line from the movie “adventures of baron von munchausen.”
Lookin’ forward to stuff –> it’s always good to look forward, to eagerly anticipate, to aspire. i should be IN the moment more, rather than suffer through the “monday” (mundaneness) of any schedule. schedules? suck! but perhaps the open secret is to accept the yoke of a schedule, the necessary stuff, with the same open-ended/open-minded attitude one might have if the day were long with no appointments. heh.
i decided to start another of my insipid failed uninspiring essays. but this one is intended to have more than just a minute touch of therapy. heh.
it’s all part of the big adventure — but most the time for me it’s hidden behind the curtains. ah, to know it all as i did when i was 20 or 21 or so. what i KNEW then was not “facts” but the certainty that it was all connected. had a positive ‘out’. we’d prevail. the dude abides.
the peak of the sun’s eventual disappearance possibility (wint-solstice) has passed, the sine wave of the annual solar exposure curve definitely is waxing. sometimes i’m axually off to werk before the sun comes up, though.
darn work. that too, has waxened and waned, but the waning continues. a couple years ago the semi-retired was ongoing, but the leash has shortened.
i used to feel i had some “ownership” over my work-realm, but THAT has evaporated. i go through the motions. every once in a while i consider just up and giving the notice. like back in 1998. up and quit. i segued into the present employment three months later. doubt if THAT would again …
Running: part of the ritual. with more time, or volition, and/or wise time-management (possibly my character never will again allow that. ingrained habituals moan and groan and die with diffyoccultly.
Hockey: it’s started again. the one night per week of the mixture of terror, self-loathing ’cause it’s MY FAULT we’re already at the league cellar (if i stopped ALL shots, we’d win, right? — it would help if the rest of the team scored more, AND didn’t allow the other team so many one-on-one’s with the goalie. game before last there were a handful of two-on-one’s, and one three-on-one!)
The roons: we are in a shedding mode, rather than acquisition.
Islam, and: jewishness. Xtianity. a repeat of last bloRg: that it’s all part of the big adventure, the biggest part of the adventure. the mis-adventure. ah, to KNOW IT ALL as i did when i was 20 or 21 or so. what i KNEW then was not “facts” but the certainty that it was all connected. had a positive ‘out’. we’d prevail. the dude abides.
material boy and gurl: we did acquire the “new more modern teevee (will it be toooo technical for us? the couch is on hold for now. the new thingy in the house seems to have taken care of the 3 holidaze i got betty nada: anniversary, x-ukkah, and her recent birthday.
had a dream two or three nites ago which was “back” in / at Sierra Moreno. i mulled over how to write it down, perhaps write a novelette of the mis-adventure captured therein. there i was, except (as usual) i wasn’t “i” — running a sort of minerals-exploration crew. maybe we were looking for treasure. i think it was something else. el dorado …
we were in a familiar town — i’ve dreamt of it before. similar terrain to near here — semi-arid, low hills gradually giving rise to higher ones, with perhaps the high peaks in the distance. scrubby pines, arroyos. the town was not remarkable — nothing really note-worthy, mostly wood-frame older buildings. there was a congested ‘downtown’ — or central area with people milling about.
i drove off with a few others in a SUV / 4-wheel-drive. it seemed more ‘work-related’ than a recreational trip. i was trying to follow a route, or path, but it wasn’t long before the terrain was impassable to the vehicle. i was addressing the other workers, suggesting we deviate off into three groups to try to achieve the objective. even in the dream, the ‘objective’ was somewhat vague.
when i awoke, i briefly considered the story line. WHAT were we looking for? in keeping with the theme of Sierra Moreno, it might HAVE to be something fantastic, something not of the present, the real world. a nexus of force and energy coincident with the periodic emergence of some extra-dimensional serpent-force line?
i read one of the (zelasny?) ‘chronicles of amber’ series — wherein the “real world” — called Amber, is at the core of many ‘shadow’ worlds, one of which is the “earth” we know and love. or whatever it is we’re doing in and with it.
the big dog discorporated from the physical manifestation late last week. i buried him out north in the desert, up near a big mesa at the edge of the bookcliffs. we’d also ‘lost’ a fish earlier in the week. i thought back to the veritable pantheon of departed family-mates. two horses, a donkey, perhaps a dozen or two cats, the two german shepherds, two turtles (and two ran away), more fish. part of the swarm, the sheath of consciousness enveloping the planet. see comment on Amber, Chronicles of, previous paragraph.
there would be other layers. of what, we can only conjecture. oh, speak up now: YOU know some of those layers, what they’re “made of.” a maelstrom of crushed dreams and frustrations? a cloud of turbulent swirling terrorist death threats? and there’s gotta be not-so-scary stuff — the big puffy cumulous happy thought sphere?
anyhow, there is, contiguous with the planet, the accompanying life force. i don’t know, but sometimes i think it is all ONE, just seemingly separated into the illusion of separateness. but it may be billions and billions of discrete units — when viewed “from a distance” appears to be one big mass.
that is what i thought of when considering the recently departed. all the departed. the lives to come. hopefully there’ll be a lot to come.
do the life forces migrate / transbulbulate to other planets?
in the hot tub last night i was thinkin’ of … oh, never mind. but i was pondering the inevitable. oh, what to do, what to do … (when (and not “if”) it comes).
moovin’ along on the depression train: i can’t retire yet, well, i can retire, but i/we can’t afford to, yet.
i wanna ‘close’ on a seeming positive note, but heck, maybe this IS positive …
DONKAROONY DRAGGAROONY (An Embarrassing Way To Die) Picture yourself being dragged down a gravel road by a galloping jack-ass. Dragged by a rope wrapped around your ankle — the other end of which is attached to the halter on the … Continue reading
Dr. Richards, two encounters, forty years apart? Possible DISCLAIMER: Betty talked to me about an acquaintance (“swimming buddy”) who died recently. After reading the obituary and conducting a chronological analysis, I wondered … did I have a “running and cross-country ski-racing buddy” … Continue reading
Hey kids (a few years back I’d periodically toss out the daily roughage to a couple goats: “Hay, kids”). No, really — when and if you attain senior citizen status, and read the obits to see who you’ve out-lasted, and eventually … Continue reading
What why when where who whither ten-thousand things? (H)o-keh, for me, it was twenty-thousand things. 20,000 instances and occurences this life I’d do over, if I could. I checked the Tao Te Ching again, and, apparently, my memory was faulty. … Continue reading
I’ve known Paul for most of his life — in spite of my impending Alzheimer’s. Maybe it IS because of the Alzheimer’s. Anyhow, I remember a new-born baby ‘fresh’ from the hospital. Must have been 1956.
He was still in high school when he drove from Basalt to have Thanksgiving with Betty and I in Gunnison in 1973 or ’74. He’s much better with directions now, but when he got to Montrose, instead of taking U.S. 50 he continued south on Highway 550. I think he made it at least half-way to Durango in a blizzard before he turned around. Dinner was late that night.
He accompanied us to Mexico to join the parents for Christmas 1974. A long road trip, continual chatter, singing “she’s a pretty little hamster goes to the beach and likes to drink water” (a song about Betty). We took a break from the parents and the house and opted for a camping night out along the beach to the north. I don’t think any of us will ever forget the cowboys with their guns … (it turned out alright). & I won’t, right-off-hand, mention something else which, heh, influenced the situation …
Of the few 14-ers (about 10?) I’ve summited, he was a companion climber for more than anyone else. Grays, Uncompahgre, and Antero. Grays was a quick day-trip when we lived in Ft. Collins. He’s become a much more accomplished mountaineer than I, but I was worried when his choice of footwear for the mountain was tennis shoes. In the snow. We camped during Uncompahgre and Antero. Well, I had access to a nearby cabin for Antero. That was snowy too.
We did a successful climb of the northwest ‘Teta’ near San Carlos, Mexico. That entailed going up a cave or chimney near the top. Creaking old lumbering buzzards flew away as we emerged, annoyed that they had to move.
And those seemingly annual (probably more often) wine- bread- and cheese-fueled rock-climbing races, which he always won. I would be in good shape today if I could do half the climbs we did in one day at Vedauwoo.
Wine? — and pinochle. Seems many a night in our mutual college daze, and possibly earlier than, but definitely later than, we’d play cut-throat (3 way) pinochle, usually with a gallon or so of, usually, red wine. We’d play ’til 2 in the morning, or ’til whenever the wine ran out. Does 1500 points sound like a lot? And then …
Later, with bo-Berda, we’d play 4-way, usually NOT ’til 2 a.m. nor fueled by that much wine. My infamous and deservedly-almost-forgotten ‘pinochle dinosaur’ series of cartoons emerged during score-keeping of several of such events.
Being seven years younger, I didn’t really ‘hang out’ nor associate with him much until he was in his later teens. Betty and I moved to Ft. Collins for me to (finally) finish my collegiate studies in 1975, and Paul came up a year later. He moved in with us, of course. It was expected and convenient for all. I remember him building a bed frame in a small interior room, so large that that piece of furniture could never the leave that room unless broken apart. Another time, under the influence of our favorite illegal substance, the three of us had a jam session with ‘dime store’ instruments (a plastic melodica, a slide-whistle, kazoos, etc.) that I will always remember. The muse can manifest and exert influence regardless of the type of medium…
We were relatively serious students, but also had quite the social life. Hardly a weekend went by without a borbathlon, Joe’s Annual Picnic, three-way softball games, midnight nude high jumping, running (?) for student government, more esoteric attempts at musical jam sessions, tossing experimental frozen squash with a detour to terrify some friends from Nigeria, more drinking, and more drinking. Driving the physics department liquid helium truck to Laramie and Boulder. Stopping to climb more rocks in Virginia Dale. Oh yeah, during our joint-sojourn (don’t ask how he “signed up”) campaigning (for lack of a better werd) for student government, he announced that his platform was biodegradable. This was YEARS before thinking green was politically correct.
Our paths crossed often on the CSU campus. I probably should have just gone to sit in an occasional class he was taking. But — he must have been really bored or wanted a quiet place at a specific time of day to read the paper, and occasionally he’d wander in and sit next to me during my Psychology class lectures. What stands out is when there was an exam, he’d grab a copy of the test and answer/guess as best he could.
It was minutes before an important test, maybe the mid-term, and everyone was frantically cramming and brushing-up and doing last-minute memorization. He calmly surveyed this quiet but desperate scene and asked aloud: “What is this test about?”
Several heads swiveled to stare in disbelief. I calmly provided a one- or two-sentence answer as to what specific area of psychology we were to display our mastery of. It might have been “abnormal tendencies” or “aberrant behavior.”
At the next class the professor asked “Who is Ben Zazen? He isn’t on the roster for this class.” I went to look at the posted scores and was pleasantly surprised to see that Ben Z had scored in the mid-60’s — close to a D-. Pretty good for not taking the class.
Photographically he might still but definitely used to know his stuff. I remember a close up of a steaming freshly-deposited pile of doggy doo-doo. The pavement had to have been laid within the hour — so the steaminess was almost mystical. That photo might still win awards, not to mention serving as an occasionally appropriate screen-saver.
I was at my daughter’s high school graduation, and the so-called telephoto on my camera made her one-half-inch high instead of the speck she was at that distance. Paul took some shots which made it seem she was twenty yards away. As I typed this, a photo he took of our pet toad in Ft. Collins peers over my shoulder.
He asked me to play ‘the wedding march’ when they got married at the Colorado National Monument, summer 1982. It was my second (and last) wedding — to play at, that is.
When we moved into our house, he assisted a bunch. He sat on the stairs with some tools and took apart the heavy metal stair lift (a sort of elevator for wheelchairs) and we hauled it outside. I helped them move a few months later.
The most enjoyable/memorable part, for me, of the 2004 Peters reunion was going canoeing with him on Lake San Cristobal.
This isn’t ‘positive’ but we (with Chris) put my parents more through the (w)ringer than they had already wrrung themselves into before my sister’s wedding. That was summer, 1972.
Mom and Dad had only one daughter, and were presiding over the first wedding of any of their kids. Being their only daughter, there was (as customs and society and tradition dictated) more impetus to put on ‘a good show’ than if the circumstance involved a son. I think we all can identify with that. But what they must have sensed, in the proverbial “deep down inside,” was how futile clinging rigidly to that idea ultimately was. My brothers and I were not exactly adherents to concepts such as “tradition’ nor “polite expected behavior” — heck, we were all in the phase of our lives where we didn’t even call what we were doing, day-to-day, as winging it. Yee-haw!
So … picture us pulling up at the restaurant where we were to meet the rest of the family. Mom and dad were inside at the wedding-day breakfast for (a) important wedding-day personnel, (b) anyone who happened to show up then. There was a big mirror-like window inside from which they could see us clearly. We got out of Chris’ car, long hair blowing in the breeze, a veritable avalanche of beer cans bouncing out along with us …
This too isn’t positive, but it was a hoot. When he and the ‘rents were living in Aspen in 1969 or so, he invited me to go and ride bikes. This was probably after the “bicycle ticket” event mentioned in the “Chris” section, following. I followed him, not knowing what to expect, only that something weird was up. Sure enough, after weaving and sprinting down a few blocks, a police officer in his car gave chase. I would have stopped and “given it up” but Paul took off like a rabbit. I followed. He’d tantalize the cop for maybe half a block, then dart across a yard, jump a fence (he’d get off and haul the bike over) and down an alley. After a brief series of windsprints and steeplechasing yards and fences and other obstacles we’d lose our pursuer. Only to have Paul start weaving and … soon to have either the same or another police officer give chase.
Aspen must have just inaugurated a “get tough” on bike-riding at night without lights, not in the right lane, not stopping at stop signs, policy. Again, see the “Chris” section.
Best drummer in the family — good enough to play with professional groups. Also the only one in the family to brew his own beer, used to make wine (I don’t know if he still does this), and can identify the various grasses in your lawn. Also, another thing I will never be able to do which he does well is to back up a truck with a trailer attached. And back during our mutual college daze, the “d” werd was aided and abetted by his almost-weekly batch of brownies containing an at-the-time illegal substance (but legal in our state now). Baking would occur Friday nights — we’d wake up and study the next morning with tea and brownies … until the textbooks and notes would start swimming and then we’d all (Betty too) go out to do whatever …
Professionally, work wise, I think Chris is the most accomplished. His professional architect registration nowadays takes an aspirant five years of college, then slaving away for someone(s) who will vouch for you, then you have to pass the test. And, presumably, an architect has to maintain a modicum of engineering, mathematical, and technical proficiency.
Well, Francie (professionally) is somewhat of a saint, as she has ‘fought in the trenches’ (public school teacher) during her professional life.
If Chris was reduced to living in a van down by the river, he could still get by as a musician. Though Paul is ‘polished’ and adept enough to probably play many or most styles of drumming, Chris has a knack with things with strings.
We were, allegedly, the first people ever given traffic violation tickets by the City of Aspen for erratic and illegal (and also under the influence) bicycle riding. I think this was in 1969. He looked at the ticket, handed to us by the chief of police himself, grinned ear-to-ear, saying “Thanks!”
Chris and I attempted the south, or east ‘Teta’ in San Carlos. The last pitch was sheer rock, so we sat and played harmonicas just below the summit.
Speakin’ of harmonicas — Chris used to try to include me in most the musical undertakings he was part of. I miss playing live music, but Chris gave me several more outlets and experiences than I otherwise would have had.
Chris would visit when I was a “starving artist” in Boulder. He was part of the ever-changing incarnation-of-the-week Cliff Athey’s Frank-Zappa-wanna-be band at Tulagi’s night club once. He played the fiddle.
When Deb and I would visit up in the Roaring Fork valley, we had a few hellacious multi-continent risk games — the most infamous with Mike Danelli — who built a table-top risk board with cup-holders, ash-tray spaces, and more than a dozen continents. Wherever Conan-the-Barbarian was from — THAT continent was there, also Atlantis and Lemuria I think, etc. and etc.
I believe that Chris has really, sincerely, honestly tried to steer his daughters onto a path much more straight and narrow than that which they have taken. And he’s put up fairly well with the crap the fates have dealt him, most of which is seemingly undeserved.
Now, some of what I’ll reminisce may seem derogatory, but it’s not. When my brothers and I were late teens/early twenties, we were not making our parents comfortable with our perceived (lack of) progress towards self-sustainability, etc. Francie was like a third parent, only that she would get on our cases mercilessly while the ‘rents usually held back, somewhat. Being in my early 20’s, I would refer to her as my “35-year-old younger sister.”
Then (I think it was the divorce) it was like her brain snapped. For many months, perhaps longer, it was embarrassing to go out in public with her. She’d throw food up in the air at restaurants and comment loudly without even a modicum of restraint about people who looked weirder than we.
During the transition period between a prematurely middle-aged college student to a regular college student she had a memorable, um, slip. Well, I don’t think it (the ‘slip) was intentional on her part. I was visiting / hanging out at the parent’s house in Aspen. Francie was off at a birthday party elsewhere in town. The phone rang. “Jay …” (giggle giggle) “… what’s it like to be …” (giggle) “… stoned?”
“I think you already know,” I answered.
She had eaten a piece (or two) of the birthday cake. “There are some green flecks in it. I’m leaving right now and will bring a piece home for you.” I looked forward to it. A half-hour later she completed the walk home. She had eaten most of my piece of cake, but a few crumbs remained. I scrutinized them, seeing several parsley-like green bits.
For many hours afterwards I sat in the living room, mostly astonished as she talked incessantly. Often she rolled on the floor, laughing, off the couch, hopping back up on it, then more rolling. And more laughing. I am fairly sure she hasn’t indulged in illegal substances since (or rarely) but she certainly did enjoy that one experience.
Betty’s brothers and sisters are, after all, kind of like MY brothers and sister, being “in laws.” Basically I like all three of them, but one of them is a frequent challenge, and another has been an occasional challenge. Bill, however, I have a lot of respect for.
Betty says it’s because I don’t know him and his history that well, but from what I’ve personally seen and experienced and talked with, he has a good heart. He is sincere. He doesn’t wish ill on anyone.
Nobody is more pre-occupied with nor has seemingly dedicated her life for her kids more than Ann.
And Bill, Ann, and Alex used to rarely miss many family gatherings. Alex and Ann were in Grand Junction for either or both of my kid’s Bar/Bath Mitzvas. All three were at Rachel’s and Tom’s weddings — not an easy trip from the east coast for any of them. Much appreciated.
Alex was a lively participant in one of my family’s “Peters” reunions!
As far as I remember, Rick has been invariably pleasant to all of us. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say anything derogatory about any family members. Not even about Francie!
Serious about cooking, and his music. Possibly the best-est musician in the family. Certainly knows the theory! On the sad side, he is a poster child for what Jack Kerouac once postulated: that we all, ultimately, choose our own form of suicide. Rick is smoking himself to a much shorter life-span than would -a.