Lee Pitts: Leftover love
To paraphrase an old ballad from my youth… “Where have all the hippies gone?”
It took me awhile to find them but I finally figured out where they’re hiding.
Have you ever answered the phone and immediately knew you shouldn’t have? Recently an old hippie from my past called, said he’d heard something on the radio that a Lee Pitts had written, and he wondered if it was his old classmate. Sadly it was.
We called him Stoner because he took more trips than a truck driver. Only Stoner was on LSD, marijuana and any other drug he could get his hands on. Stoner went to Woodstock, slept in the mud, rocked back and forth to Country Joe and the Fish and lived on free love. Needless to say, we never traveled in the same circles as he took an entirely different orbit around the sun than I did.
Stoner was in my area on vacation, looked me up in the phone book and now wanted to go out to dinner to talk about old times together, despite the fact that we never had any. I couldn’t think of a good excuse fast enough and was trapped.
I was shocked by Stoner’s appearance. The guy who used to have long, dirty hair now had less hair than a cue ball and instead of wearing a tie dyed T-shirt with happy faces sewn on to ragged bell bottom jeans, he was wearing a suit and tie. Instead of being barefoot he was wearing an expensive pair of Italian loafers. Stoner had been divorced three times but introduced me to his “life partner” Amber, who was easily 20 years younger than he was. First thing, I looked to see if she was bra-less or wearing sandals. The guy who always said he could live without material things had rings on three fingers, a Rolex watch, expensive sunglasses atop his bald head, a phone clipped on to his ear and iPod ear buds around his neck. Turns out the guy who used to listen Jefferson Airplane now was a big Lady Antebellum fan. It made me furious that he now liked to groove to country/western music and I wanted to scream, “You can’t do that. That’s my music. Go back to the Grateful Dead, you acid head.”
Stoner’s real character came out at dinner. Surprise, surprise, he and Amber were lacto-ovo vegetarians and this guy who’d crammed an entire pharmacy into his body every week in school now didn’t want any foreign substances in his food. He ordered bottled water because it was more pure and he tried to tell me what to eat!
He showed me photos of his tattooed and pierced five kids by three different women, one of whom ran an “alternative lifestyle” bookstore in San Francisco. Instead of everything being “far out” his every other word was now “awesome.” And here’s the worst part: When I asked him what he did for a living he said he worked for the USDA! This guy who teasingly called me “farmer’ in high school, laughed at us when we wore our FFA jackets to school, and wouldn’t know a Holstein from a John Deere, worked for the USDA! (Food stamp division.) This guy who burned our flag and hated our government had worked for it ever since he got back from Canada.
When I walked the couple to their car after dinner I was surprised to see a silver Lexus instead of an old VW bus, and it was plastered with bumper stickers for the Humane Society, Nature Conservancy and “Green Sex.” It turns out that Stoner is now an activist for reproductive rights and guaranteed access to contraception. The old hippie who used to protest that we’d all die in a nuclear holocaust now knows we’ll all perish due to global warming. The same old hippies who believed in free thinking and having an open mind are the same people who’ve given us political correctness.
As Stoner pulled away he rolled down his car window and said, “Peace and love brother.” And that’s when it hit me: The old hippies don’t like our country any better now than they did in the sixties, despite the fact that they’re now running the operation! They are still revoltin’… in more ways than one.
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