Updated for "The Old Hippie's Corner", Part VII of the "Weekend in San Francisco" Series:
From Part VI: "I see Sage bouncing down the trail towards me now and it will soon be time to return to my tall tale. A brief look at the odyssey of Janis Joplin from Texas to California to find her fame is perhaps a fitting way to close this brief reflection on Sixties' music."
Sage! It is difficult to capture in words the feelings of a seventeen year-old male when a second chance arises to meet a girl that has so stirred his hormones. Her departure that day from the Pacific Valley Store with Davy Crockett and Buffalo Bill had brought an abrupt end to a Big Sur big fantasy. In retrospect, that brief encounter will make the marquee of my rocking chair memories. I beg my younger audience not to scoff at this metaphor. I'm a few years younger than rockster Mick Jagger and can still rock off the rocker. But mind you, a rocking chair on a good porch deserves respect.Â It is an old and reliable method to slowly rewind the events of one's life from the same reel that flickers at the speed of light when you reach the final concert.
Sage now moves in slow frame, so beautiful and coming so close. The tails of her purple silk shirt dance with a faded jeans partner. Her long henna hair swings with silver earrings, sways with silver necklace.Â I must pause. I want to get this right. Rewind. That's it, the perspective from older eyes, a traveler's eyes that have seen the world. It is her face. A Mediterranean face at home in any neighborhood of temperate latitude, a countenance without borders.
Please rewind again. But, what is it? Is it the soft olive skin or a Roman nose that gently parts the waters of those dark liquid eyes? Is it the dramatic asymmetry of expression, a left eye at a slight elevation from the right? Oh, forgive this self-indulgent rambling! These are questions that creak underneath the endless rock of rocking chair memories. There is a tall tale to be told, hit play and let this seventeen year-old have the chance to rejoin his fantasy.
Â "Hey, aren't you the guy with the freaky car?" Sage asks.
Big Molly's fly swatter weed and adolescent urges jumble my reply, "Uhâ€¦that'sâ€¦my friend'sâ€¦uhâ€¦Borgward."
"I'm Sage, what's your name?" Sage extends her small hand toward me. I grasp it not as a handshake but as if one was about to fall off the planet, "I'mâ€¦Shortcut."
"Shortcut! What kind of name is that?" Sage pulls me gently back to terra firma and close enough to smell a hint of patchouli.
I point down the trail, "Uhâ€¦Molly there, your friend, just gave me that name."
"Ha! Molly gives everyone and everything a new name!" Sage giggles and then passes her silver bracelets slowly past her eyes and then jingling, jingling to the sky, "She gave me my name!"
"Yeah, that's because I'm from Texas." Sage pulls me from the trail to the creek. We sit down on a big flat rock. The rock is warm and chases away any chill from the returning fog. Her patchouli, a smell I would become accustomed to later in the Sixties, brings everything a young man has to offer to rigid attention.
Â "Molly thinks Texas is a big desert with sage brush and everything."
"Oh...sure, I guess."
"Well, it's NOT! I'm from Austin, rolling hill country. That's not a desert!" Sage releases my hand and gently returns me to the custody of gravity, "Do you want to get high?"
"High? Uhâ€¦yeah sure," I watch as Sage pulls a tightly rolled joint from behind her ear. Gravity struggles to keep me fixed to that rock. "Poor Molly, she's never been anywhere except here and a trip to San Francisco for her pa's funeral," Sage pulls a matchbook from her jeans and lights up.
"She told us about her father."
"Yeah. Sad shit," Sage exhales and passes the joint to me, "I'm going to take her big ass to Hollywood, you know to cheer her up. I want to see Morrison at the Whiskey."
"Cool! I'm from the Valley," I cough my toke and bite my tongue for screwing up a big chance at doobie savoir-faire.
"The San Fernando Valley!" Cough.
"Is that near Hollywood?"
"Just over the hill." Cough.
"Oh yeah. So like I said, I'm from hill country. It's pretty," Sage kicks off her leather sandals and puts her feet in the creek. I unlace my Keds and do the same.
"You see, this could be the Pedernales and those California poppies over there could be bluebells," Sage swishes her feet around, pointing to the orange California State flowers on the opposite bank.
"What's a bluebell?"
"Oh man, you're as bad as Molly!" Sage places a hand on her tie-dyed shirt, "Texas bluebells, and blue as my top!"
"But your top isâ€¦purple?"
"Purple! The low vibration of blue, red and blue in cosmic embrace!"
"Heavy Duty Dave told me that."
Not in the mood to hear any more about the dubious commune guru I say, "Gee, I've never been to Texas."
"I've never been to Hollywood so we're even!" Sage jokes as her small toe collides with my big toe in a submerged tease. My senses do a high-dive into a pool of Patchouli.
"What's a Purr-DUH-nales?" I ask coming up for air.
"What's a San-Furr-nan-DUH?" Sage mocks my linguistic ineptitude and squeezes my cheeks playfully as a French teacher trying to teach a nitwit student how to pronounce deux. We roll off of the rock into the damp grass. Sage continues the lesson, "The Ped-er-na-les is a river outside Austin. Haven't you ever heard of the L.B.J. ranch?"
"Yeahâ€¦" Sage is lying on top of me. The teacher has the full attention of the student.
"The L.B.J. ranch is ON the Pedernales!"
"Oh-oh. I think he might want to send me to Vietnam."
"Ole Lyndon might be looking for you right now!" Sage punctuates her warning with a gotcha grab to my waist. She looks down on me with those dark eyes, free eyes, eyes without borders. I close my eyes and feel her face draw close to mine. Her silver necklace is cold to my chest; her cheek is warm. That first slow dance, is it possible? The closeness. I hear the Flamingos singing "I Only Have Eyes for You." I feel her lips touch mine. The Doo Wop harmonies begin, my face is in her hair and it smells so good. "I Only Have Eyes for You" goes to the bridge and this reel fades to black.
More to comeâ€¦
7 June 2006
Â©Colonel Possum Publishing Co.