Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Long and Winding Road

Yesterday, Son and I were on a Mission from GodTM to help some friends configure their new Nintendo Wii to connect to the Internet via a wireless network. Son was quite up to the task, since it involved GDad ordering him to play video games. Plus, said friends have a hot tub that Son really likes.

On the way to friends’ house, we saw three college age young people – two boys and a girl – hitchhiking along the highway. Since it was really hot out, and I was feeling like I needed to be entertained, I pulled over and asked the standard, “Where are you headed?”

“Capital City.”

“Well, I’m going to Suburb.”

“Where’s that?”

“It’s on the west side of Capital City.”

“Well, that’s close enough, I guess.”

“Hop in.”

The three of them packed themselves into the back seat. Son, in the front passenger seat, got a look of serious concern as the pungency rolled over us. The three had very obviously been outdoors somewhere without bathing facilities for several days.

They introduced themselves as Haley, Xander, and Jamie. Haley was wearing one of those tight mini-t’s and shorts. Xander was wearing a black sleeveless t-shirt and jean shorts. He also had big dreadlocks. Jamie looked like Shaggy, except with a pony tail, tank top, and shorts. As they introduced themselves, the ol’ gaydar redlined on Xander and Jamie. I imagine that they had me categorized as a harmless suburban WASP on the way to visit my broker or something. I explained our mission, and it seemed to throw them off a bit.

Xander asked, “Where are we?”

“Well, you’re actually just inside Capital City, and I could go around the outerbelt, or I could go through downtown to get to Suburb. Where are you going?”

“The Greyhound station would be nice. We need to get back home to Las Vegas, California, and Chicago.”

“OK, downtown, then.” Son looked like he was trying to hold his breath. “Where were you coming from?”

Xander appeared to be their leader, insomuch as Hippies have leaders. “We were in Medium College Town.”

“Were you visiting Medium College Town University?”

“No, we were camping with a bunch of people.”

“What was the occasion?” I asked. People with exotic agendas fascinate me, and I wanted to see how much they’d tell to someone who didn’t have the shibboleth.

Jamie piped up. “It’s a gathering that’s in a different place every year.”

“So it’s sort of like an itinerant Burning Man.”

“Yeah, only not as expensive.” At this point, I was intrigued. They were being pretty evasive. I figured that it was either a big Hempfest, some kind of anarchist/freegan thing, or a hippie version of a GLBTQ(etc.) Pride March. I was pretty certain that it wasn’t all about Jesus.

We were silent for a few moments, then Xander started to pop his lips. “Pop. (pause) Pop. (pause) Pop. Pop.”

I started to laugh, and I yelled in a faux Scottish accent, “Donkey!”

Haley laughed, “That was a great impression.”

Xander pouted, “I wasn’t trying to impersonate Donkey.”

Haley laughed again. “I meant him.”

Xander continued to pout.

I dropped them off at the Greyhound station. They thanked me and started to get out of the car. I told them, “Have fun storming the castle!”

Xander reached up to shake my hand, but we had one of those awkward handshakes gone wrong. Xander recovered by saying, “Keep picking up hitchhikers.”

As I drove away, I said, “Those kids were nice.”

Son replied, “Man, I wanted to roll down the window, because of the smell, but I didn’t want to be rude.”

“That’s why GPop and I tell you to shower every day.”

“Yeah. I will.”

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