We were sitting around smoking weed listening to Dusty Springfield. Cocky boys. I’m trying to remember whether or not it was daytime or nighttime. I remember it was hard to see your face through the smoke. This might have been Long Island or maybe it was Connecticut. I don’t think it was the City. On the other hand, it might’ve been the City. R. went downstairs -- this was on the fifth floor, wasn’t it? -- to get another six-pack. Please don’t eat and run, oh my darling it’s been so long. We were the privileged ones, getting stoned in the suburbs, taking our little suburban dramas into Sodom to try ‘em out on the dirty sophisticates there. There was no effin dirt under our fingernails. No, if we had to work for a living, we were gonna use our heads, not our hands. We didn’t want to disappoint our parents. What did they know? They had their fables of deprivation, how it felt trying to keep body and soul together during the depression. Shoot, that was another place, another time. Then came their righteous war. Making the world safe for brats like us.
Imagine this -- there were empty lots on Hunnewell Avenue back then, stuck between those cookie cutter Cape Cods. Empty lots with dirty piles, weeds, rocks, a tangle of scabby bushes. There we’d go and play with our BB guns, juvie GIs killing Japs and Krauts. Nobody cared if you put out somebody’s eyes or got beaned defending your foxhole. Boys will be boys, always ready for combat. What’s a few stitches here and there? As long as you’ve got one good eye, you can still aim and shoot.
This was good shit we were smoking. It was hard to stand up and find the toilet. I remember D. passing out in the middle of taking a piss. It took a long time before we realized that the record wasn’t playing -- the needle was bouncing back and forth in the spiral around the center hole. Tell me, Dusty, what do you do when love dies? I rubbed my foot but it wouldn’t stop tingling and burning. R. had taken off his shoes and socks and was picking little fluffs of matter out from between his toes. Someone dropped a cigarette on the carpet and it started to smolder. For some reason, this was thought to be hilarious. We let loose a chorus of giggles until Big E. stood up and ground his boot-heel into the burning hole. The fire was out but the room smelled like death warmed over. Can you believe these weisenheimers who deny our kinship to the apes?
This is how we lived our lives. We tried to take things seriously but the world had become a surrealistic pillow. How did the greatest generation, hardworking, practical, morally responsible, expect their children to come to grips with a surreal world? Dr. Strangelove had taken Raquel Welch to The Land That Time Forgot and begotten a tribe of stoneheads. The greatest generation tried to protect us from Real Life. They had seen how bad things could get in Real Life. They were in full retreat from Real Life and took us into their air-conditioned suburbs with them. It’s been quite something living inside one’s noggin all this time, poot. With that effin Cyclops perched in the living room. Hey, when did the living room become a family room? Who turned the TV into the internet? Or is it vice versa?
I’ve got dreams to remember. Today is my birthday, I was born fifty-seven years ago. And there’s still nothing to prevent me from being as ignorant as a brick, as fat as a hippo, or as ornery as a cactus. Within the confines of this freedom I can do anything I want. Imagine a supposedly grown man clinging to this belief. I still have that Dusty Springfield record. I’m gonna put it on. Why don’t you join me, poot? Let’s listen to "The Windmills of Your Mind."