I read a piece by Rosie the other night, and a rabbit hole appeared. She wrote
I am just old enough to have been pervaded with and forever infected by hippiedom – with that far out philosophy, with those general interests, with that taste for eccentric, narrow-hipped, wild-haired men – but not quite old enough to have really been a part of it. Also, not American. That would have helped. There were so many cool things hippies could do that I, somehow, couldn’t. The zeitgeist caught me, briefly, in its vapour trail as it swept on and on, and out of sight.
Out of sight, man…
Ah, the 60’s. The dawning of the Age of flower power and peace/love, man.
And that, is the sum total of my experience of growing up in the time of the hippies. Of course, the culture permeated and prevailed, but I wasn’t a hippie. Heck, I only started to say, “Cool” in the last decade or so. As usual, I am behind the cultural curve. I’ll probably start saying things like “Dude! That bed pan is freezing!” when I’m in the geriatric ward.
Like Rosie, I was surrounded by the hippy movement, but I participated only in tokens. That’s “token” as in I paid homage in small ways. Not “tokin.’” That I didn’t do until decades later when I hooked up with a hippie who never let go of the 60’s. See? Behind the curve, again.
Sure, in the 60’s and 70’s I grew my hair long, I wore love beads. And hip-hugger jeans! I had a pair of pink denim, with bell bottoms. I loved them. Until the first wash when, for some stupid reason I poured bleach into the machine. The jeans were ruined. As I write this post now, I suppose I could have tie-dyed the jeans to cover the mistake, but it never occurred to me, then.
But the hard-core hippie stuff? Living off the land, in communes? Resisting and rebelling? Sit-ins and fighting The Man? Pfft. As if! I was still in high school, studying like the good student that I was. I was attending confirmation classes at church – three years, every Monday evening, like the good Lutheran that I was.
All I knew of LSD and drug overdoses was from the occasional dire warning from teachers. “Tripping” was such a foreign concept to me. Their cautionary tales felt more like Aesop’s Fables – a fiction that happened to other people in far away lands, a long time ago.
My parents didn’t say much, but I was aware of an apprehension, an uneasiness with the state of the world. They worried, I assume, about all that free love, all of those swamis and gurus, all of that long hair and all of those naked body parts.
Interesting to note: they didn’t stop me from attending an assembly to hear one of those gurus. I was swept up in the rapture, the adulation. I loved the message. I was ready to follow him as his disciple. Until, that is, I got home and re-read the pamphlet, and considered the consequences. Who, me? Leave home? Be out there, in the world? You can bet your sweet bippy I had second thoughts. Within 24 hours, I declared the whole thing a sham. Not necessarily because I knew better. But because I was a candy-ass.
These days, I am mostly oblivious to trends. I’ll never be a trendsetter and I’m comfortable with the notion that I’ll be forever behind the curve.
The curves of my behind, on the other hand… that, of course, makes me a hippy of another sort.
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A short while ago, Carol introduced me to Rosie and I have been enchanted ever since. I love stumbling upon writing and writers that defy description but that leave me feeling like I have found a secret garden. I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want to taint or otherwise bias your expectations. I suppose the best I can do is invite you to pop on over to La Tour Abolie and try for yourself!