Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where Are You? (R)

ONE, TWO, THREE, WHAT’RE WE FIGHTIN’ FOR?

 

These are the moments and stories that my godsons would have dreaded in their Hanna Barbera saturated childhoods. So ironic that, in the throes of their acneed teens, these stories are now all they want to hear from their “Aunt Velma.” No, it’s not my handful of star spangled dinners at Mortons or my one brief sit to the right of Mr. David Letterman they want to hear about, it’s “Did you really do acid?” and “How big was Sly Stone’s afro for real?” Our sons and daughters are after our past, or at least Hollywood’s version. Their hearts have been captured by those dusty copies of Sergeant Pepper’s and Electric Ladyland we ended up with after the divorce. Our chil­dren have been seduced by the romantic revision the media has woven out of that decade, looking on our g g generation with awe for its mere existence. We are the be­fuddled veterans   heroes by default   not wanting to deflate them by admitting that most of us were too busy just surviving from New Year’s ’60 to New Year’s ’69 to have reverently chronicled the time and place of our first bell bottom purchase.

Okay, you got me. August 23, 1965, the day of Susie Ralston’s 17th birthday party. They were purple and cost me ten bucks.

Keep on truckin’ to 1967. The days blur in retrospect, but I was present and accounted for. I knew what was happening in the world around me. I was aware of the movements and the anti movements. I was hip to the latest sounds and moves. My mother sent me the latest recipes from Mcall’s. But truly, and this is the point I’m making about the significance of being a part of the Aquarian Age, I was just trying to keep my grades up. Concentrating on Faulkner’s stylistic use of voice and Poe’s morbidly sexual imagery took precedent over the signing of the space demilitarization treaty or the first Super Bowl. But there was one of our number who was becoming deeply affected by the course of human events. And I never would’ve suspected it would be her.

“The five hundredth U.S. plane has been shot down over North Vietnam, Vel. Five hundred crews won’t be coming home. …. Velma?”

“Sorry, what were you saying?”

To see those green eyes flashing that kind of passionate indig­nation was to feel like the world’s greatest sinner. I took my head out of the books long enough to hear her detail the plans for a road trip to New York to join the big protest march from Central Park to the U.N. It was just a little over a week away, Fred and Shaggy were going, would I come along?

“And miss classes?”

In her favor, she did not completely write me off at that moment as a hopelessly out of touch tool of the Establishment, though her disappointed sigh cut through the whole of my vital organs. So I went.

I found myself wading in a sea of people I could have (and might have) gone to high school with who were all chanting about the needless deaths of thousands of people I could have (and might have) gone to high school with. It rubbed off after a while and soon I was less interested in taking snap­shots of the Flatiron Building than I was in demanding sweeping changes in our government’s foreign policy. I became another sheep automatically bleating whatever slogan rippled spontaneously through the flock without a clear idea of what kind of response was expected. I had never bothered to ask Daphne just what her solutions to the Vietnam problem were, but I relished seeing her that fired up. Strands of hair plastered across her sweaty forehead as she pumped the air with one fist, the other arm snaked around Fred’s waist; hip-to-hip they marched, a single unit protesting machine, the very image of young love and social consciousness.

I would like to think it was just being that young and excited; I would like some excuse why I fell into jingoist, hoarse throated shouting matches with the pearl clutching middle of the road public that eyed our stinking circus with something akin to spiritual panic as it wound its way through the streets of the world’s city to the doorstep to the world’s City Hall. Yes, on the gray haired side of twenty seven years later, I would still like some excuse for what happened next.

One minute Shaggy’s passing out “party favors” to his surrounding march mates, the next he’s being shoved hard to the pavement by a highly indignant beat cop. In that instant, most of the crowd simply stepped over or around Shag, assuming he’d tripped. Until I shrieked his name after seeing the blood on his face and systematically launched myself at the policeman who was poised and ready to take on all comers. I delivered one heartfelt but ultimately pathetic slap that my anaemic cousin Rhonda would’ve laughed off which was re­flexively answered with a solid THOCK across the temple by the cop’s night stick   a short, dull sound that nonetheless seemed to ring like the chimes of the old First Lutheran back in Plum City. The curtain sped down and I hit 5th Avenue in a blessed, motherly darkness.

In my absence, I am led to believe it was actually Fred who interceded on my behalf. Interceded so forcefully that it took Shaggy and three other protesters to pull him off the cop. It was a minor skirmish all told, barely a ripple in that great anarchic river.

I swam up from the deep black of unconsciousness. surfacing in the back of Fred’s van and into another atmosphere. A half hour had passed and we were apparently on our way back to Providence in a rolling smoke house.

“Hey, she’s comin’ back!”

Shaggy leaned over me and politely attempted to wave away the fog of reefer smoke, those glassy eyes clearing with a sweet look of concern.

“Like, how do you feel, Velma? How’s your head?”

He handed his joint off to Daphne who took a hit and held onto it.

“It’s throbbing a little,” I said, taking gentle inventory with my fingertips, “but I feel weird. Kinda, um, slow.” And it was true, I felt genuinely light headed and I knew it wasn’t just from loss of blood.

Fred snorted, “Second hand high!”

“No! Are you serious?!” I bolted up, a little more mortified than necessary, causing my head to pound enthusiastically.

Daphne turned around in the passenger’s seat. “It’s okay, you’re not going to Hell.”

Shaggy was nodding, a gesture which for him always looked like a duck bobbing for water bugs. “It’s cool, sis. It’s, like, a natural painkiller; strictly medicinal. You’re not the only one who got brained by the Man.” He shoved his face at mine pointing out the nasty gash across the bridge of his nose.

But I was too distracted by the path the joint had now made from Daphne’s hand to Fred’s. The quarterback took a long hit.

“What about Fred? Is Fred in pain?”

Fred flashed a very lazy grin at me in the rear view mirror. “No, but I’m really stressed.”

“You’re driving!”

“Yeah, and it’s been one mellow jaunt so far, hasn’t it?”

“You don’t get it! I’m talking about a ton and a half of vehicle going over sixty miles per hour being piloted by a pot smoking numbskull with reduced reflex responses and impaired judgment!” They giggled, all three of them giggled as I huffed. “Okay, laugh, you goons! You just keep laughing when they’re pulling our scorched corpses out of the wreckage!”

Only Fred laughed this time, “Mmm, barbecue anybody?” Shaggy actually perked up, “Hey, yeah?”

Fred’s habit of purposely deflating any point I tried to make infuriated me. I sat back and seethed.

Daphne sized me up with her soft, stoned eyes. “Lighten up just a bit, Vel, it’s good for the complexion. Here ” Daphne held out the retrieved joint out to me the same way my mother used to present the first forkful of a casserole she knew I was bound to dislike. And I couldn’t tell if she was so sure I wouldn’t or so sure I would, it was a poker faced challenge. I felt the return of that little voice, that little voice that had me kissing Shaggy, that made me reach out and snatch the smoldering roll of weed and shove its spit damp end between my lips. I sucked in for all I was worth.

Somewhere in my mind, through the violent coughing fit that ensued, my little voice hiccupped, “Take that, Daphne Blake!”

Shaggy patted my back and Daphne ventilated the van by rolling down her window. I eagerly inhaled that fresh air, Daphne watching my wryly. “You’re not gonna start apologizing to your dad again, are you?”

The back of my throat was burning, a rush of warmth spread all the way down to my toes, and my eyes swam through a new spring of tears to find the redhead. “What?” I croaked.

But it was Fred who answered gleefully, “The whole time you were out you kept babbling about how sorry you were, ‘I’m sorry, Daddy,’ ‘Please forgive me, Daddy’!”

Shaggy swiveled back around, “Yeah, like, what was that all about?”

I was wiping at my tear streaked cheeks and a tremble started in my shoulders that I knew had nothing to do with the marijuana. “Go ahead, Daphne. You tell ’em.”

She couldn’t help but smile and I couldn’t blame her. “Poppa Dinkley is the sheriff of Plum City, Wisconsin.”

They laughed very hard and very long (it was very good pot). By the time the pig noises died down, I was ready for another hit of the demon weed. I reached for the joint from a surprised Shaggy.

He approvingly watched me take a much more careful drag and asked, “So, like, how does it feel to be a revolutionary?”

The second toke hit me in a very tingly wave, I liked the place I was at very much. “Jinkies!” I think I exclaimed and we laughed all the way home.

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