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Sunday Scribblings: Instructions

September 24, 2006

How to Be a Product of Hippies: The first 21 years.

1. If you aren’t born at home, be brought home to a shack, preferably one remodeled from a chicken coop or a barn. If possible, neither parents should be gainfully employed. They should be “living on love” otherwise known as “living by their wits” or more accurately, through odd jobs and state assistance. Make sure your father either has hair the same length as your mother, and/or give her a run for her money, with overflowing facial hair. Have him listen to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” on the way home from the hospital. It will make him think of you.

2. Be named after the following: seasons, weather, Biblical characters, Greek mythology, misheard names from movies, moods, or deities.

3. Spend early parts of your childhood either completely naked, or slightly adorned by beads, a pair of sandals or moccasins.

4. If your parents don’t stay together, plan to spend weekends at your dad’s makeshift home, surrounded by metal sculptures, Southwestern rugs, and tie-dye t-shirts, listening to the Doobie Brothers, and watching dad roll his “cigarettes” and drinking beer. Mom will start sporting tinted sunglasses, and wear scarves in her hair, while finding out the price of a goat, you will keep in the back yard, along with the Chinese ducks and apricot trees.

5. Be warned: when someone offers you carob, it is not the same thing as chocolate. Not even close. Be baffled at adults’ insistance that it is better for you. Also, when you are served spaghetti, it will be thick, green, flat noodles, tough as rope. This will be better for you, as it is made from spinach. Get used to the vitamin scent of healthfood stores and goat’s milk instead of regular old milk. Learn that tofu, that incredibly thick and bland thing that shows up in your spaghetti comes from a bathtub, in someone’s house.

6. Learn that President Reagan is the anti-christ. Curse his wrinkled, rosy cheeked face, like your stepdad, when he comes on the TV. Write letters against nuclear war to him. Be upset that nothing happens. Be outraged when the Republicans continue to win. Feel that the government is not to be trusted. You are twelve.

7. Be totally embarrassed that your parents love to party. Lay in bed, listening to them howl and cackle with their friends in the living room. Listen to a story being told by your stepmom’s friend, about when she wasn’t with your dad, and how they threw hash in some omelettes one morning, only to have her parents show up unannounced. Laugh to yourself when you imagine your stepmom’s stuffy mother declaring that the coffee was making her “dizzy.”

8. Go to high school and get ridiculed for your name. Think it makes you deep. Believe in things strongly. Continue the thought that all Republicans and people with money are morally corrupt. Everywhere you look, people are MORALLY CORRUPT. Believe that you will find yourself once you go to college, which won’t be just any college, but a small liberal arts school that no one has heard of. Think it makes you deep.

9. When you are away at college, discover feminism, discover outrage. Believe that the commune you lived on as a half naked babe was a toxic environment and that your parents were selfish to bring you there. Date another biblically named hippie child. Love his sensitive, but politically minded soul. Together, you discover all the meanings behind what it was to be brought up this way, this way being a hippie child.

10. Over Christmas break get in fights with your parents over your “upbringing.” Tell them how wrong they were. They in turn will tell you how corrupt your “generation” is. How your generation doesn’t “get” what it really means to be radical and on the front lines and filled with wisdom.

11. Vote in your first election. Feel excited. Call your parents. They voted for him too. Celebrate. For he first time ever, you feel that the “good guys have won.”

12. Graduate from college with a BA in the arts. Your thesis will be a documentary of your soul, or 25 views of the Male Psyche, or an entire semester of self-portraits. Believe your work is important even revolutionary. Then get a job as a waitress.

  1. brenda permalink
    September 25, 2006 7:12 pm

    this is really good, I thought it was funny, but my parents were not hippies….although Rick and I have a few hippie tendencies –….unschooling, homebirths, wierd names….yikes!!! we had a tofu phase too and some other phases you did not mention….but hey! you turned out great!!! maybe there is hope for our 6!

  2. Jake Pierre permalink
    September 26, 2006 1:32 pm

    Sum,your power of memory is like a velvet lined steel trap. Nothing escapes the tender and firm grasp of your mind.May your gift continue to serve the writer in you.

  3. la vie en rose permalink
    September 26, 2006 1:33 pm

    this is beautifully written and so funny. i was raised by bible beating southern baptists which may be the exact opposite of your childhood. i could write my own set of instructions on surviving that one…

  4. my backyard permalink
    September 27, 2006 2:14 pm

    I enjoyed reading this. Very nice details about the culture you grew up in. And humorous, too.

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