Becoming practical


They even looked different this time: darker, more ragged, like the bums Daddy claimed they were when she saw them here a year ago.

I was so much more naďve then.

I thought hippies were hip and I wanted to be just like them.

What was I thinking?

Momma humored me, I guess, helping me to help them when they needed a ride to New York.

Momma pretended not to notice the girl was pregnant or that the boy didn’t want to get a job.

I even wrote to them after they left, keeping up the connection so I knew what became of the baby.

I even felt happy when they wrote a year later to say they were coming back to Portland and promised to see us soon.

When they called from the bus station to say they had arrived, I still felt good.

Then I saw them.

They looked so sad climbing into my car – and they smelled from two weeks on the road.

They brought with them only what they could carry, including the baby, and they reported horror stories of near disaster almost from the day I last saw them: car trouble, trouble with the police, and worse, trouble with dope.

The boy couldn’t kick the stuff, and daddy threatened to have them both arrested if they brought it into our house.

He hated the idea of putting them up even for the sort time it took for them to find their own place.

The boy flatly refused to cut his hair. And out here, his long hair would keep him from getting a job.

In the end, they applied for and got welfare, found an apartment on the north side of town.

Daddy hated them even more after that, calling them communists and loafer. He forbade me from seeing them again, fearing, I guess, that some of if might rub off on me – even though I told him I was over all that hippie crap and that I even supported the war in Vietnam.

Yet I did see them again, despite all daddy said, meeting them on the street a few months later.

They wanted to know how I was and the health of my parents.

I acted as cold as I could so they got the message.

I can’t believe I ever saw anything in them or how I fell for all that “peace and love” crap they seemed to believe.

I guess these two made me realize how I’ve finally grown up and become the practical person my parents always wanted me to be.



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