|Big brother and I in Finland 1973|
I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste
was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test
- David Bowie Changes
Back to Finland where I met “an older woman” (June). I was 19 and she 23. That’s a helluva gap when the 19 year old has a certain naiveté about matters of the heart and genitalia and the 23 year old is quite worldly in both. My chance encounter with this British hussy was to have enormous consequences in my life. There was the whirlwind romance which was as much an exploitation of me as anything else. Then her departure for the states and my wanderlust which saw me off to the UK. There I stayed with friends in Bournemouth and June’s family in Wales and nobody in London. I pub crawled with a reckless passion and lived off fish and chips and went to soccer matches (Arsenal!). But I also longed for June who was staying in the Bay Area. She had her hooks in me but good. Eventually I ended my travels in pursuit of her. Stupid. Entirely on me. I can badmouth her in retrospect but I was just an idiot.
So I was stuck back home with crazy mother. Dad had finally wised up and divorced but then married the first bimbo who came along. Step mother made dad fairly happy for the rest of his days but boy could he have done better. She was a non stop smoker and talker who despite yakking constantly never said a damn thing. She also drank like the proverbial fish though she spent her later years in one long dry drunk. The family was never impressed but dad was so whatever.
June had little use for me and was trolling the area for other men who she could take greater advantage of. Given her sultry good looks and let us say charms that was no problem.
I was miserable. Aunt and Uncle made the mistake of inviting her over to Thanksgiving because dad was in Tahoe with his new flame. It was all good for awhile but I knew what was coming and drank accordingly. Sure enough she went off fueled by her own alcohol consumption. I have vague awful memories. Worst day of my life and may its horror never be exceeded.
Back to Chico I went to seriously pursue a degree and girls my own age and of course bacchanalia. The latter was particularly easy to find.
Keggers were parties where there was -- depending upon the anticipated size of the gathering -- one or two or more kegs of beer. Usually you just kicked in a couple of bucks (if that) and chugged away. They were usually indoor/outdoor affairs and in Chico typicallu drew a nice balance of males and females. The bigger ones even had live bands. They were a great way to meet people which is to say pick up chicks. I always drank until I had the courage to talk to girls and of course if I drank too much I ended up slurring to them. Somehow hangovers were not overly dramatic in those days largely owing to sticking to plain ole beer.
I did manage to mix scholastic pursuits into my life but this was of secondary importance. It was all about fun and the future was not to be considered. Dreams and fantasies about future days could and would be indulged but any sort of plans and goals were so much a bother introducing as they did strong doses of reality -- something I’d had bad experiences with.
Somehow I managed to settle on a major in journalism and this led inevitably to a place on the school newspaper. Not only was I good reporter but I loved having a byline and quickly achieving a modicum of notoriety. There is also an element of power and influence attached to being a journalist even -- maybe especially -- on a small college town school rag. I was on to something and had something to hang my hat on. Dad was proud of me as he started receiving copies of the paper with his son’s name in it.
My skirt chasing inevitably led to a few romances. While I was skilled at finding dates and lovers I was none to keen on keeping them around for very long and totally inept at the art of the break up. I did not have the attention span to stay with a relationship for very long and couldn’t be bothered letting a girl down easily or for that matter at all. Then I met Becky. There was something about her that was quite different. Here was a girl who I could profess love to and seek a commitment with. We’d barely met before we moved in together. Thirty Nine years later I scratch my head about this one. Becky was of modest intelligence lacking intellectual curiosity and not possessive of any great talents save perhaps sexually. In any case I fell madly in love with the notion of being madly in love and proposed marriage. It was Becky who saw that we were mismatched and after nearly a year moved out and left me alone and miserable.
I got over it. It took awhile but meeting other women and drinking and of course the news beat were all pleasant distractions. After a few months I felt relieved that I’d gotten out of the relationship before I made a very big mistake or before we created a bouncing one.
Meanwhile the newspaper was constantly rankling the school administration and we had become too good to be merely a school newspaper. The Wildcat was going to become the Chico News & Review an independent newspaper and I was to be a co founder. Shit was about to get real.