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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8, 1968

If you've ever spent a moment on this blog, you're aware that I'm sentimental and maybe sappy. I'm a person who feels things deeply, and it's been said that I am very loving. I nurture and encourage and cheer for those I care about. I feed and fetch for those I treasure. I'd make a very fine Labrador Retriever. I'm known to collect and bond to some odd little signs or icons such as an image that pleases me or a date on the calendar or a tune. I internalize those things and they become an integral part of me. The date of April 8th, and specifically April 8th, 1968, is such a thing. Why that date? Why not September 14th or some other target on the calendar? I wonder. Were the stars aligned in some way on the day of my birth that portended April 8th would be an important day for me some 15 years later and for the remainder of my time? I don't know. I'm not that brilliant. But I know about April 8th.

Because the date is special to me, I went searching to see what had happened on it in history. Oh. Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for Spain in 1513 and the U.S. House of Representatives met for the first time in 1789. In 1879, milk was sold in glass bottles for the first time, and on April 8, 1912, two steam ships collided in the middle of the Nile, killing 200. In 1935, Congress approved the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and on 4/8/1939, King Zog of Albania fled the country (for reasons I did not further research). On April 8, 1946, the League of Nations met for the last time and on the same date in 1952, the year of my birth, President Truman seized the steel mills in order to avert a strike. The Supreme Court later ruled Truman had overstepped his authority, which pleases the union representative in my soul. In 1963, Lawrence of Arabia was named the movie of the year at the Academy Awards and in 1974, Hank Aaron slammed that 715th career home run to break Babe Ruth's record of 714. Chicago was the first rock group to play at Carnegie Hall on April 8, 1971 and on this date in 1986, Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of Carmel, California. In 1992, on April 8th, Arthur Ashe disclosed he had contracted AIDS.

Some notable persons claim April 8th birthdays, including Ponce de Leon (Looks like he claimed Florida for his own birthday gift!), the American actress Mary Pickford, ice skater/actress Sonja Henie, U.S. First Lady Betty Ford, the comedan Shecky Greene, TV host John Bartholomew Tucker, Peggy Lennon of the Lennon Sisters singing quartet, conservative Republican U.S. Representative Tom DeLay [sorry, Badger!], Dukes of Hazzard actor John Schneider, John Lennon's son Julian Lennon, and the actress Robin Wright Penn. Whew! The world has also lost a few notables on April the 8th, including the actress Claire Trevor, singer Laura Nyro in 1997, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame, U.S. contralto singer Marian Anderson, rock producer Phil Ochs, the artist Pablo Picasso, and the Roman Emperor Marcus Antonilius. Yikes.

But what about my April 8th? The one in 1968? It was a Monday, the first day of what we called Easter vacation, now known as spring break. It was sunny and warm in southern California. Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated three days previously. Both the 40th annual Academy Awards and the opening day of National League Baseball were postponed from April 8th to allow the country to mourn. The new socialist constitution of East Germany took effect and WKPI TV Channel 22 (PBS) in Pikeville, Kentucky, began broadcasting. It was a busy day! Number one on the charts in the U.S. was Otis Redding's posthumously released (Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay. In the U.K., the Beatles would earn another gold record on 4/8/1968 for Lady Madonna.

Let's leave the world behind and go to Inglewood, California. It was a lovely Los Angeles suburb at the time. Truly a nice place to live, with good schools, a large shopping area, tree-lined streets, tidy middle class homes with flowers in the gardens. My Granny always wanted to live in Inglewood rather than L.A.-proper, because it was such a nice place. I was stretched out on the living room carpet, transcribing lyrics from one of the tunes on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album. The 33 rpm record spun on the Heathkit stereo turntable my father had built. I'd scribble some words and then lift the turntable arm, just to gently put it back on the vinyl to catch the next phrase or two. Bob Dylan is not easy to transcribe. I was killing some time. I tend to be (still today) prepunctual. I'd dressed, applied makeup and fixed my hair, leaving way too much dead time to deal with before 10:00 a.m. He was punctual. I didn't have to wait until 10:02 a.m.
Across my threshold that morning, with the sun shining over his left shoulder, stepped a young man. We'd only talked on the phone, and had specifically set up our first meeting to take place right at the beginning of spring break. I didn't know at the time that the really good looking youngblood would be a person who would become and remain important in my life. I just knew that I liked him. A lot. Immediately. This man and I have been many things to one another across the decades. And - oh, yeah - there was that 30-year stretch when we didn't know if the other still existed. I've written about the relationship before, with probably the best rendition being this one. However, an interested reader could go to my posts with the label 1968 and read from the oldest going forward if the story of two insignificant people allures.

No, the purpose of this post was to simply celebrate the fact that sometimes in life we meet another human being and something in the cosmos begins to whir. Sometimes we're fortunate enough to be able to recognize that something just clicked and this fellow human being is one we want to spend time with. Get to know better. Keep. It has been stated that when he and I are in the same room, the light bulbs spin in their sockets. I think that is a good analogy. That is the kind of energy produced when these two elements are placed in close proximity. I think about the John Lennon lyrics, " . . life is what happens while you're busy making plans . . ". It hasn't gone the way we'd have predicted. It hasn't gone the way we sometimes wanted it to. It hasn't gone according to Hoyle and it hasn't gone by the rules. It hasn't gone by the book and it hasn't gone the way anyone else might have designed it. And it hasn't gone.

Here are the photos, taken by our respective mothers. They were taken within a couple of years of 1968, at most, so this really is the way we looked. Blogger friend Kass had asked me in comments once if I had pictures of us at the time. I confessed that I did have some, but I was reluctant to show mine. Oh, I know what I look like, so that's not the deal. And I remember that white eyeshadow was outlawed the very next year after the picture was taken. I love my John Lennon glasses that had real glass lenses, and I remember that watch with the wide blue band. But I am troubled by the look on my face. I remember the morning well. It was my birthday. My mother insisted on taking the photograph over my objection. My mother and I were engaged in mortal wrangle at all times. So the face you see belongs to a very angry young woman at whom a camera could be aimed, but who could not be forced to smile. In fact, I believe I see a little jut to the jaw that says, "If I snap my neck from all the muscle tension, that's OK. But I will not smile."

Who knows where the time goes? I don't feel very differently. And what will happen next? I don't know. I'm not that brilliant. And I'm reminded that when people are put together, watching the chemical reaction is rather like looking into the kaleidoscope, all the little colored pieces moving into another configuration and then, yet another. One can't predict that.

I may not be brilliant, but I know the good goods when I see them. It's good to have connected with the Badger. Now I think I'll go learn some new things. Those are my most frequently used labels. That's what I do. Connect with others and learn new things. It's good to have you in my life, Badge.

In my ears right now:

Something that charmed me: I've been talking up April 8th for awhile now. Home dudes like me, of course, and they like the Badger. They also like to hear my stories of the days when I was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth. I was welcomed this morning with a flower on my desk and a cup of Starbucks. "Happy April 8th! Truly, 42 years, Les?" As some of the homes were checking out, Matt commented he was going to meet his new girlfriend's mother tonight. It is the good woman's birthday. Then Cesar said, "Hey, it's Thursday! It's my mom's anniversary." Oh. April 8th, huh, homes?

Photo credits for the final four shots respectively: Mother Badger, Mother Now, Limes Now, The Badger


  1. Happy "meeting Badger" anniversary.

    About that '68 picture: MODesty becomes you; )

  2. Thank you for the pictures. I have stared and stared. I will probably stare some more. I'm like that. I have pictures of myself at that time with my hip jutting out. What attitude!

    This particular song of Judy's is very sad somehow.

    I wish you and Badger a very intentional anniversary!

  3. @ Kirk ~ It's good to have friends of long standing! Kirk, once again, you FLOOR me with things you know about that you're too young to know about. MODesty, indeed. Although I was a SoCal girl, I wanted to be a little Swinging London dolly bird. Do you know the term?

  4. Which term? Swinging London? Sure. Dolly bird? Ummmmmmm...Sounds like something I might have heard someone say in Alfie or Georgy Girl.

  5. @ Kass ~ Girlie, I think my body language there, added to the facial expression, pretty much screams about Mommy Dearest, don't you? I was not a happy birthday girl.

    Who Knows Where the Time Goes does have a touch of melancholy. I feel a little melancholy to look back on all the time already lost. That's why I work so hard to squeeze everything I can out of the time I have left.

    It is very special to have known someone for so long and from such a young age. There is an understanding that develops. Sometimes he is known to say that I understand him better than any other person has ever understood him. He's likely right. But that doesn't make me special. I met him young, I've listened to him raptly and I've known him a long, long time. One gets connected when all that is in place. Alas, I will not see him today. As I type this, he is practice-riding one of the courses in a 3-day cycling race in San Diego County. But I'm an adult. I don't have to celebrate special events on any designated day. I can celebrate whenever I feel like celebrating.

    Did you see Erik's late comment to you on my post of yesterday? Your T-shirts are on the way! You beat me to the draw and I found him first. I just didn't move as quickly as you did.

  6. @ Kirk ~ You're onto it, pretty much. You'd have heard it in Alfie or Georgy Girl. British men called (well, likely still do) young women dolly birds or birds, the way American males called us chicks. I was so British Invasion crazy I wanted desperately for some young man to call me a bird. Funny, today I wouldn't like that. My birds are noisy, squawky, messy, feather-dropping projectile poopers. I don't want to be that, even though I love my birdies.

  7. Gorgeous post, Les. I love the way you take us on a journey, one short episode in your life with such ramifications.

    If I set my mind to remembering a particular date in a particular year, I'm not sure my memories would be so vital and clear. But of course this was a special time for you.

    I shall have to check out this Badger. Any relation to Once was Badger?

    All these Badgers, mothers and once were Badgers, I get confused. I love Badger from Wind in the Willows. Any connection there?

    I also love your photo from that time. You were a stunner, even in a surly state. Thanks.

  8. @ Elisabeth ~ Well, thank you! I do love to tell my stories. It is a tremendous catharsis for me. I like to do both the writing and the telling. It gives me peace, somehow.

    Yes, Elisabeth, he is Once Known as the Badger, and Mother Badger is his mom. I know you mentioned Wind in the Willows badger once before and Mother Badger truly liked that!

    Mutual friend Kass asked me something one time in comments that made me blush and ponder. She wondered (in writing) if I have that syndrome where one remembers everything that ever happened to them, the good and the bad. I finally typed the response that I've never been diagnosed with anything like that, but it pretty nearly describes the way I recall things. I can nail down dates from decades ago, what we ate, what car we arrived in, the fragrance I was wearing, and what happened the next day. I'm not sure why. It's always been that way.

    Thank you re: the photo of me snarling. I was pretty convinced I was a very ugly girl. You probably understand the reason for that from our e-mails together. And you likely understand why I was such an angry girl, particularly at my mother, who knew what was going on. I've had a saying I've used all my life. "I'm OK with the brain that was issued to me. It's served me well. But if I'd been blessed with looks, I'd own the world!"

  9. First of all you were a fine looking young lady in 1968 and your an attractive old broad now.
    Badger's got good taste.
    Now as to the meat of your post I researched this Zog fellow. Born Ahmet Muhtar Bej Zogolli in the small village of Burrel, Albania he later changed his name to Zogu which means bird in Albanian. I was just going to wing this hopefully humorously, but its actually an interesting story. Mussolini invaded and Zog was forced to abdicate.

  10. @ Friend Tag ~ You made me blush. Thanks for serving me a reminder I've still got bloodflow to the cheeks.

    I thank you for the info on King Zog/Zogu, Tag. I have no research assistant and I was up-to-my-armpits busy today. Business is booming and I can barely breathe. I think it is hilarious, in view of comments between Kirk and me above, that Zog means bird. Puts another whole spin on it!

  11. Thanks for directing me to your earlier post. I think I'm caught up on the comments.

    That's funny - I had imagined Kirk was our age.

    BTW, the carpet cleaning turned out great. I'm glad I consulted with you.

    OK, you caught me. I was just staring at those photos again. I can't see the resemblance between young and current Badger, but I can see Leslie in both your photos. Badger looks like the guy from Princess Bride - the one who is in love with Robin Wright Penn (who is celebrating today). Do you know who I mean? Cary something?

  12. @ Kass ~ Just about to set out on my walk at 3:20 a.m., and grinning that you'd commented again. Kirk amazes me, Kass, because he's fully 10 years younger than I, but he "gets" it about my/our times. He knows and understands about many things that predate him.

    Ha! The carpet and Lola. I'm glad. I like that I know about something concrete and can help others. It makes me feel confident and secure. A couple of places where I usually do not reside.

    OK, about what we look like: I shall have to Wiki Cary Elwes for the Badger. That's not a movie he'll have ever appreciated. Perhaps it will have been foisted upon him at some time, but he will not have paid attention. I expect he'll like being compared to Cary Elwes' appearance, however. Ironically, not two weeks ago, in e-mail to Mother Badger, I was saying that I don't see a 60-year-old man when he walks in the door. Yes, my brain processes that he is bald and too thin and there are lines in his face. But my heart only sees the man in the photo from the 1960s. He remains forever young to me.

    My own appearance is dicey to me. I look so much like my dad that, given a mustache and beard, I would actually BE TomNow. I don't look like my mother could have had any part in the creation of me. In the face. However, in the past year or so, I have noticed something. When I get out of the shower and glance into the mirror, there SHE is. My body is like hers in size and shape. I don't like or dislike this. It just IS. It surprises me, though, because I have spent all of life being told that I am a carbon copy of him. That's not entirely true!

    And now, here I go for some mileage while I wait to hear from the cyclist at the start/finish line after the ungodly start time of 6:43:20 a.m. First stage Time Trial in a 3-day omnium. Got my pom poms dusted off and a really loud voice to hoot and cheer!

  13. One day of many, yet I remember this one vividly; and the good news is there is still a day ahead of me forty-two years later. An old(er) man in a McDonald's I stopped at along the way in Cajon Pass said that it was a beautiful day (yesterday). I remarked that every day I wake up is a beautiful day to me.

  14. @ The Badger ~ Aw, Badge, I'm touched that you saw the post and commented just an hour before the first stage of your 3-day race. It was quite the spring day in 1968, wasn't it? It colored a little slice of the rest of life. May there be many more beautiful days contained in the rest of life.

    By the way, I've stopped at that McDonald's. Do you remember the time in my endless journeys of '03 that I got off the I-15 there and walked at the lake? I also popped into the McDonald's for a salad and a pit stop. Then onward to Las Vegas where you waited for me.

  15. I need kleenex!!! This is too lovely.

  16. @ Rachel ~ I thank you. I think our story is an interesting one, and this post wasn't an attempt to tell all of it. But, believe me, we two writers have spoken more than once about putting our story(ies) into words. You'd need Kleenex both for laughter and for tears. And I guess that's just about as good as it gets.

  17. Thank you for taking me on this journey and sharing so much.I just had to check out Badgers blog and I am now a huge fan!!Warmest Regards,Cat

  18. @ Cat ~ I am so pleased to have you pop onto my bus today. Thank you. I plan to spend much time at your blog and on eBay and at Etsy, following you. Your work entrances me.

    I'm glad you took a look at the Badger. He is an admirable man. I hope you saw the photo of him on the podium. The grin on that old, familiar face puts me in mind of the pictures of him grinning, 8 years old.