Lefty Parent

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Circle of equals

Two Inch Heels Part 3 – Chur

September 8th, 2019

It was Friday morning September 28. As we had agreed, my new travel companion Jack and I left Munich, Oktoberfest, and our army brat hosts, and hitchhiked south. Our plan was to travel together for a week in Switzerland and then return to Munich, hopefully for me to finally hook up with Angelica and Helmet.

This was my first time actually trying to hitchhike in Europe. I had cut my teeth on this means of transportation the previous year, in the States, for the 100 mile journey home from school in Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor. It had worked out pretty well and seemed a fairly dependable way to get home, particularly if there was basically only one highway to traverse to get to the destination, and it usually ended up taking about the same amount of time as taking the bus or the train, and certainly the price the right. Several times one of my rides was another young student type like me, who offered up all or part of a joint to smoke together.

But here and now leaving Munich, rides came slowly, maybe half an hour to an hour wait before someone pulled over, a lot more waiting with your thumb out than I was used to back home. But the weather was pleasant and Jack and I enjoyed talking about our time in Munich and travel plans going forward.

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Two Inch Heels Part 2 – Solo

September 2nd, 2019

It was Tuesday September 25 as I walked alone now, my big red backpack on my back, through residential streets of west London to the subway stop that would take me to Victoria Station and my train to the Continent. I felt the locals I passed were looking at me like some sort of oddball. If Angie were still with me they would have seen instead just another couple young “hippie Yank” travellers, a matched set.

At several points along the way I almost turned around, went back to Angie in the hotel, and bailed on what was now a solo odyssey, that was feeling like it was going to be an ordeal. But I could not bear the sense of defeat I knew I would feel if I gave up. Like it or not, for my own still tenuous self respect, I had to continue. I knew at some level I was throwing myself into a hugely developmental “deep end” that I was in no way looking forward to but determined to traverse somehow and return home transformed, a triumphant European traveler.

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Two Inch Heels Part 1 – Angie

August 18th, 2019

[This is a rewrite of the second half of part 1 of my original backpacking thru Europe memoir]

It was late afternoon Monday September 17 when her mom drove Angie and me and our big full backpacks the thirty some miles to Metropolitan Airport outside Detroit. I felt an unnatural calm, akin to the reverse stage fright I would get before going out on stage in a theatrical performance. I was once again throwing myself in the deep end of the metaphorical pool of life experience. Like when I had first decided three years earlier to perform on stage, particularly my first big lead part singing and dancing in the musical Oklahoma. It was how shy, reticent me conducted my development, resisting and procrastinating until the fear of being a total chickenshit overwhelmed the fear of the leap into the abyss.

If Angie was having any second thoughts about our trip at this point, I did not notice. I was so deep within myself. She was quiet as well, sitting next to me in the backseat, probably going through her own version of something like a pre stage performance routine. Her mom seemed uncomfortable with our silence and kept trying to make conversation. All she got was short answers from both of us.

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Two Inch Heels Part 0 – The Endeavor

August 18th, 2019

Me as “Peabody” in The Flahooley Incident

[This is a rewrite of the first half of part 1 of my original backpacking thru Europe memoir]

It was Monday September 2nd 1973. Labor Day actually, though if I still had my “house boy” job at the Briarwood Hilton, I probably would have worked that day to get the time-and-a-half holiday pay. I was walking down the sidewalk on the north side of Wells across from Burns Park returning home from Angie’s house. Now turned September, it had still been a summery Ann Arbor day, but now a breeze had come up out of the north with that first real fall chill in it.

“Impending doom” is probably too strong a phrase, but a sense of some dread engulfed me. For the past twelve straight years that first chill had meant that I would shortly, always grudgingly, be reporting back to school. That institution my parents and other adults of their cohort imagined would allow me and mine to learn the skills to eventually take our place as successors to the civilization they were now responsible for. A civilization, from my point of view, whose history was a litany of wars, genocides, slavery, colonization, racial oppression and the subjugation of women.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 15 – Captain Kangaroo

June 1st, 2019

The thing in the basement that you could watch things on, my mom called a “television”, and what she watched were “programs”. Her favorite programs were “soap operas”. I tried watching them with her a couple times but nothing happened except grownup women and men talking and mostly being sad or mad. She also watched the “news” which I liked sometimes, like that time when we watched a rocket take off.

Dad also called it a “television” but he called the things you watched “shows”. His favorite shows were “westerns” where grownup men with guns and cowboy hats were shooting bad guys who usually tried to shoot them first.

Molly called it a “TV” and watched “shows”. Her favorite was “Sky King” of course, which she liked to watch with her dad. It was like a western because they wore cowboy hats and where they were didn’t have any trees, but the good guys flew airplanes instead of shooting guns.

Molly’s mom called it “television”, but she did not like it so she also called it the “boob tube”. She thought watching it a lot “rotted your brain” and made you dumb. She did watch the news, but I don’t think she liked that either.

I called it “television” sometimes, but mostly “TV” because that was what Molly called it. I also called them “shows” like Molly and my dad, and my favorites were “cartoons”, which Molly watched too sometimes.

The show I liked the best was called “Captain Kangaroo”. He was a grownup with white hair on the top part and the bottom part of his head, but he talked more like a kid. He was always trying to figure things out and he would talk to other grownups but also puppets and a big clock with eyes. And best of all he would talk about a cartoon and then you would see it.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 14 – Cider

May 11th, 2019

Molly was excited when she came over to get me. I was going with her and her mom and dad to the Dexter Cider Mill. It was a cold, cloudy, windy day, and I almost forgot to bring my jacket, but my mom reminded me. Molly and I walked across the street together, looking both ways like our parents had told us.

Molly’s mom and dad were coming out of their front door and Molly’s mom called out to her, “Molly, you and Coop can sit in the way back if you want!”

Their car was called a “station wagon”, because it had more seats than a regular car. A regular car had a front and back seats. But a station wagon had another seat behind the back seat. Molly called it the “way back”, because her parents had told her it was the seat “way in the back” of the car. Molly and I both liked the way back seat because it was far away from the adults in the front seat. Also because it was different, when you sat in it you were looking out the back window of the car. You could not see the adults driving, so it was easier to pretend you were driving, even though the car was going behind you not in front of you.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 13 – Tom Swift

April 26th, 2019

Dad read books and sang songs to me when it was bedtime. He told me it was the favorite part of his day, to sit in the wood rocking chair across from my bed and together get “lost in a good story”, and then “raise our voices in song”.

We finally finished reading the Tom Sawyer book. I was sad when it was done, because I liked hearing about all the things that Tom did. I did my best to keep pretending I was Tom sometimes down in the basement or out in the backyard. I knew that Tom was special because his life was an adventure that was in a book.

“So Coop”, dad asked as he sat in the rocking chair, “What should we read tonight?”

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Clubius Incarnate Part 12 – Television

March 29th, 2019

My mom had shown me that you could “divide” things into four “quarters” by drawing an “imaginary” line across the middle and another one up and down the middle. Where those two lines crossed was the “center”. She said it worked for things that were square or round. She liked doing things like that, thinking with lines and numbers, and writing them on a piece of paper.

So it worked for square things like the basement. When you walked down the stairs to the bottom and turned left, that was my quarter. It was perfect for me because I was left handed and liked to go that way anyway. It had my toys and the shelves my mom and dad made out of bricks and boards to put the toys when I wasn’t playing with them. They never did anything in that part of the basement. I could always play there whenever I wanted to. They called it “Cloob’s area”, though now they were calling it “Coop’s area” because of my new nickname.

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Coopster Created Part 11 – Mister Jim

March 15th, 2019

It was a cold, gray, windy Monday on the planet Ann Arbor. Monday February 11th 1974 to be exact. Though now that I was no longer soldiering through Europe with my pack on my back, I wasn’t keeping a journal and writing down the dates. Overnight, the blowing snow had covered the outside of my one small basement window, the one I could see from my mattress on the floor. I had been out earlier in the cold wind shoveling the snow away from the window, and the rest of the driveway, per the list of chores my mom had left me, that I was determined not to get behind on and risk getting a negative comment from her.

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Clubius Incarnate Part 11 – Cooper

December 7th, 2018

I heard the doorbell ring out in the living room. My mom was in my bedroom with me helping me button up the special shirt she had bought for me for dressing up. She said it was a “Campbell tartan” because “Campbell” was my “middle name”.

“Jonathan Campbell Zale”, she said. “That’s a name you can run for President with some day!” Her eyes twinkled when she said it. I knew that was something very special for boys to do when they grew up. We were dressing in special clothes to go to a party across the street at Molly’s house. My mom was wearing a bright white shirt under a blue “dress”. That was one of those things that only women wore that was open at the bottom instead of pants or shorts, which was what she wore the rest of the time. She had on the black shoes, “heels” she called them, that made her very tall but also walk kind of funny. Her lips were very red and shiny.

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