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The Wedding Vows

            ….Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

Shakespeare — Sonnet 116.

THE FIRST TIME I WAS MARRIED I was married to over 200 naked people. We weren’t quite buck naked. The men had crudely made laurel wreaths on their heads — sometimes just a wad of weeds — while the women had wreaths of flowers around their brows and, for those old enough to have any, small bouquets of blossoms lodged in their pubic hair. All the men had large clubs and all the women large breasts. It was the butt end of the 60s and people in my set tended to have that kind of equipment. What children there were tended to be either infants or toddlers, all still nursing at will.

The men and the women had separated an hour or so before the wedding and, at dusk, the two groups came together from opposite directions.

First, the men came, chanting and grunting and pounding and waving their clubs. At our center was the groom, long black hair streaming down over his back, nude and tanned, under a kind of pagan huppah of a custom tie-dye made for the occasion and four sticks sporting God’s Eyes, also handcrafted for the ritual.

Chanting and grunting, (Yes, the LSD had kicked in an hour or so before and was still not peaking.) we made our way to a bluff of hard black stone overlooking the Great Central Valley in California from the first rise of foothills that step up into the High Sierra. All about our feet were deep, smooth indentations in the black rock where the Indians had, for centuries, ground acorns into a mash with stones.

Looking down from the stone bluff we could see all across the Great Imperial Valley to where the sun was descending behind the Coast Range. It was a green day shading into orange dusk. There were guitars strumming somewhere. In those days somebody was always noodling a long nothing on a guitar. We turned and, as men in groups at the wedding have always done, we waited for the bride and her estrogen entourage. The waiting for the women was perhaps the only traditional moment of matrimony to be had on that day.

The women emerged from the shadows of the pine forest that rolled up behind them to the starker slopes of the Sierras where the timberline looked cold and gray under the lingering slabs of snow that still, even in high summer, caught the light and shined from inside the shadows. They numbered around a hundred. Never before or since have I seen such a large grouping of naked women. All shapes and sizes, all ages. I’d like to say all races but this was early in our forced march into the rust-drenched halls of mandatory diversity and they were mostly white.

And all, at least in my memory, lovely — each in their way.

They’d spent their two hours (as the mystery molecule that was our sacrament in those years kicked in), gathering vast quantities of wildflowers from the valley and the forest. They carried large bouquets and had used the surplus for adornment. This adornment consisted of wildflower tiaras ringing the long hair or all colors that fell from their heads, and as smaller bouquets formed by placing individual stems in large quantities into their pubic hair — and in those days of dedication to the natural body, pubic hair was much more formidable than the current rage for plucking, shaping, and waxing could possibly indicate.

Standing with 100 naked men on a stone bluff as 100 naked women walked towards you singing some ancient melody is something that a man does not easily forget. I have, in my memory, a large set of mental Polaroids from those minutes and they have not faded. Primal, true, baked at high temperatures and very elemental moments have a habit of lodging themselves deep in your cerebral cortex never to be evicted.

In time the groups merged and stood close together in the warm dusk as the bride joined the groom under the tie-dyed huppa through which the sun’s light glowed.

The man chosen to lead the ceremony stood at the apex of the arc we’d formed behind the bride and groom, his back to the valley and mountains to the west. He was a man of strange interests and a fascinating philosophy. At least, that’s how I remember him since, at this remove, I don’t remember any of the odd things he believed, except there were a lot of them. He’d suffered some sort of catastrophic accident involving fire and the left side of his face was a mass of shining scar tissue which was usually pink but became inflamed and glowed red when emotions surged through him. Since this was a moment when both emotions and LSD were surging through him, it was like looking at some strange naked harlequin mask perched atop a short and stocky naked body with a large mat of red chest hair.

Somehow this pastor or shaman pulled himself together enough to begin the ceremony. Since those present at the ceremony, taken en masse, represented a lot of the original tribe that had, in San Francisco in those years, invented the Hippies, we were — so we saw ourselves — the Aquarian Center of the World and the Crown of Creation. As such, we were inventing the world anew. And one of the things that simply had to be invented anew from scratch was the Wedding Vows.

Not for us were the tired promises made by our parents and all those who came before our parents going back into the centuries-long before.

Not for us to be gathered in the sight of God ( although He saw us all more clearly that day than we could hope to know), but rather in the sight of our self-selected naked tribe that would later imagine something named Gaia as a shallow but faintly adequate god that mapped to our own egos and self-willed agnosticism.

Not for us to respond to the warning “as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, that ye confess it.” Confession was not in us, not necessary. We believed in being ‘upfront,’ except in those cases where fronting something would bust us in the other’s eyes. In which case, we stuffed it and lied. We did not fear the day of judgment. We lived in the realm of “Hey, no judgments. Cool?”

Exempt from both history and the uncool straight world that was cool with a “criminal war” against the Vietnamese peoples’ right to place themselves under a Communist dictatorship for decades, we didn’t have to take the part about “Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live? “ except as it pleased us to do so.

Love was cool. After all, was it not written in the Sacred Book of Beatles that “Love was all you need?” — here and there and everywhere. Comfort was something you could get off on so that could hang around somewhere in the vows. Honor? Very 19th-century warmonger kind of deal, man. What did it mean anyway? Sickness and health? Say, if we kept eating our macrobiotic, utterly natural salad bar we’d never grow old, sick, or even — yes — die. Health from the magic of the old ones would always be ours. Forsaking all others was, well, right out as the groom and the bride both were to demonstrate later that night repeatedly. Theirs was going to be an open marriage going in and an explosively open one coming out. None of that fidelity for life — or even for an afternoon — operated in that post-pill, pre-HIV era.

With all those half-baked newly minted and untested values in play, the deeper part of the traditional vows — …to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, for fairer or fouler, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.  — didn’t have a chance of even making it into the first draft of this couple’s Aquarian imaginings of what to say when, ostensibly, getting married. If they’d wanted to translate it to their new age palaver it might have read:

… to have and to hold until the next lover walks through our front door, for better until something better comes along, for richer and only for richer, for fairer or knock-down gorgeous, in health but not in an extended illness or if you should lapse into a persistent vegetative state in which case you, my love, are out of here, to love and to use in groups, till being uncool on any level makes me dump you, in accordance with nothing holy in particular, and unto you I plight thee my maybe…

All of which would have been true enough since, over the years that followed, that’s pretty much how it worked out for those two.

They had no use for the uncool traditions of the vows of the straight square world, so they did what many have done since then, they rolled their own vows.

Well, not exactly vows since the promises made were thin as mist and not true as steel. Instead, they created a minor literary masterpiece by cobbling together a hodge-podge of quotations from non-Western, non-running-dog imperialist sources until they had something like a clumsy collage of notions and potions that they were easy about promising each other. Nothing in them that they couldn’t find the out in if it struck their fancy.

They weren’t vows at all as I think back now, but merely a display of their shared coolness. There were a lot of bits and pieces from the Native American realm since that was just getting big in the catalog of cool, and a few shards of poetry… something about not breeding impediment to a marriage of true minds, and it was easy to see there weren’t going to be any impediments at all in this marriage.

The burned and naked preacher read through these while standing at the center of the naked company assembled. I don’t remember much about most of the ‘vows’ except that at a certain point it became very, very evident in a deep rose-purple that either the words or the situation were having a very, shall we say, arousing effect on the preacher. I’ve been to many weddings since including a couple of my own, but that was the only time I’ve noticed an erection on part of the preacher. They are usually much more detached from the moment.

What I do remember about the vows they’d written together was the last line which seems now to reflect so much that has gone wrong with our very modern methods of marriage. It was a straight cop from James Joyce’s Ulysses where, in Molly Bloom’s monologue at the end of the book she says, “…and I thought well as well him as another..”

That said, they were wed. Not forever after, but for a few years or less.

“As well him as another” or “As well her as another,” pretty much sums up the real level of dedication to another human we took on in those years and that has gone forward, under one great wail of rationalization or another since then. Vows that reduce themselves to temporary promises until boredom or better comes along. A light shrug of the soul that, sighing, accepts that nothing between two people is really for life, but only until things become, well, difficult and unromantic, and then it’s back to the chopping block and on to the next new person.

We didn’t notice then the temporary nature of the arrangement the two had just agreed to. If we had, we wouldn’t have minded. After all, life was change and change was all good. Wasn’t it? It was, to us, as we learned from our music not important to keep your promise but to “… don’t make promises you can’t keep.” In that, I’ll give them credit for at least being honest if not honorable.

The sun had faded behind the coast range as the ceremony was pronounced finished and we moved off to a party that would continue for another two days. As the darkness slid down from the mountains, I recall seeing the wedding feast being prepared as large fires flared up and goats and pigs were turned slowly crisping on spits turned by long-haired naked men that capered about, dark silhouettes against the rising flames.

Couples and groups were merging here and there about the meadows and in the shadows of the trees, pale ghosts tumbling through the flowers and grasses down the slopes of the hills and off into the rubble of their lives to come.

I found myself with someone I didn’t know… who really needed to know anyone in those days in order to make love to them?… down by the black swimming pool where I saw, in the long evening, the bats swoop down to snatch small insects up from the surface of the water and “splash the other dreamers with twilight.”

The insects came out to mate and the bats spiraled down to snatch them up.

So it was.

And so we went on down all the past gone years, making promises like those made that evening; promises that we would not keep. We’d call them vows as if that word made them sound more serious than we ever intended them to be.

Then it was later in the days of our lives and we needed to stand in the autumn meadows and look down not on a wide valley, but on a narrower way where we’d left, heedless in our lightly given but little-considered word, the small mundane disasters of our lives. We’d fashioned our own new world out of utopian fantasies and LSD-driven dreams and it had been all been formed from gossamer.

The Chinese ideogram for Truth: a human standing by his words. To stand by the word when given, rather than just toss out some fancy words untested by the hard rain of the world and pass on.

Perhaps if we’d taken, on that summer day, not the tissue of words from our brave new world, but the tempered steel of the old vows and stood by them we’d all have learned that it isn’t the Wedding party and the Wedding night that needs to endure in our hearts, but the things that stand at the center of the old vows. We all know them. They are the words that allow no misunderstanding when said from heart’s truth: love, honor, comfort, fidelity. We all know too the promises that come later: to have, to hold, for better, for worse, richer or poorer, fairer or fouler, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, unto death and beyond, under God’s holy ordinance.

Real vows are not the casual things that come to of a stoned summer’s afternoon, but the hard things come to over long lives and many generations. We thought we were a brand new generation, that nothing like us ever was. We had a lot to learn.

[Footnote 2010: Three days after this was written on May 5, 2008, Michael, the groom at the wedding died. His wife from that wedding, Karen, was at his side. They endured.

           ….Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jeff Brokaw January 21, 2019, 5:20 AM

    Crazy times, man. As a piece of writing, nicely done.

  • Terry January 21, 2019, 8:05 AM

    Unforgettable time we experienced in our youth.

  • Mary Ann January 21, 2019, 9:14 AM

    ” We thought we were a brand new generation, that nothing like us ever was. We had a lot to learn.”

    That we did. Over the years I’ve tried to explain to people younger than I that the 60’s were not what they think. That it was utopian fantasy based on nothing solid. It wasn’t all “peace and love” but often thoughtless people using and hurting other people whether that hurt was intended or not. Some of us fortunately have grown up.

  • Sam L. January 21, 2019, 12:57 PM

    Ah, another evergreen perennial, which I remember from some years back. Strange times, those were. Wasn’t my scene, and a number of years before I married.

  • jwm January 21, 2019, 2:31 PM

    I believe that the pair in the iconic photograph of a couple embracing for the Woodstock movie (album?) also were blessed with a lifelong marriage.
    You never can tell.


  • H January 22, 2019, 3:56 AM

    They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast
    Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz
    But when the sun went down, the rapid tempo of the music fell
    “C’est la vie”, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

    • mary January 23, 2022, 3:25 PM

      One of my favorites.

  • ghostsniper January 22, 2019, 9:21 AM

    Speaking of hippies and such, did you know the Door’s Jim Morrison’s dad was the navy dood that started all that Gulf of Tonkin stuff? Surprising how many of them folks came from that material. Take a look, if you dare: https://www.sott.net/article/155794-Inside-The-LC-The-Strange-but-Mostly-True-Story-of-Laurel-Canyon-and-the-Birth-of-the-Hippie-Generation-Part-1

  • pbird January 22, 2019, 8:47 PM

    Sure a lot of assertions there Mr. Ghost.

  • ghostsniper January 23, 2022, 4:31 AM

    First time I tripped was on Mickey Mouse blotter when I was in the army at age 19.
    I sat on my rack and watched imaginary 6′ crepe paper streamers blow out of the front of giant Kenwood speakers playing Dark Side of the Moon real loud. I went with the flow, it was cool.

  • Princess Cutekitten January 23, 2022, 5:19 AM

    I am glad the marriage lasted until death did them part, even if it was officiated by a naked Hound. 😳. That is quite a story, even for the ‘60’s-‘70’s!

  • TN Tuxedo January 23, 2022, 6:07 AM

    “We thought we were a brand new generation, that nothing like us ever was.”

    So have all the other shallow, faithless generations throughout the years that history promptly — and rightly — forgot.

  • steveaz January 23, 2022, 6:45 AM

    Ah. Youth.

    This sense that we young ones are creating something new is the counterfeit. We weave it out of our own desires and wear it, until we outgrow it. Then we can choose to throw it away and move on. Grow up. Evolve. Or not to.

    Which reminds me…
    It is 4:21 on a rainy Saturday morning at a West Vancouver, BC house party. The streets are slicked with water, and streaks of rainbow colors drape every pillar, leaf and banister with a technicolor dross. The floor is incontinent as it dissolves into layers of kaleidoscopic shards, sharp and glistening like glass melting under foot. The dancers are limpid holes outlined in golden auras, disembodied and ephemeral, spirits flying on tympanic ships among the clouds of light encased in a tonic of aural brilliance.

    There is no shame, fear, ugliness or sin. Only unencumbered joy and winged society and heart-rending beauty. And the blessings of uncontained joy, carried aloft on a tireless, physical endurance.

    – 1994, Triple-Dip Rainbow, Vancouver, BC.

    And then, Darn-it, Monday arrives with a thud. The Party’s got to end sometime. Back to reality!

  • John G Condon January 23, 2022, 6:55 AM

    — Vow of the Haruchai

    ” All the Haruchai joined their minds together and out of their common strength forged the metal of the Vow – unalloyed and unanswerable, accessible to no appeal or flaw, unambergrised by the promise of any uncorrupt end: a Vow like the infernal oath upon the river of death which binds even the gods. This they wrought out of the extremity and innocence of their hearts, to match the handiwork of the Giants and the mastery of the Lords. As they spoke the hot words – Ha-man rual tayba-sah carab ho-eeal – the ground seemed to grow hot and cognizant under their feet, as if the Earthpower were drawing near the surface to hear them. And when they brought their Vow around full circle, sealing it so that there was no escape, the rocks on which they stood thundered, and fire ran through them, sealing their bones to the promise they had made.” ~SRD

    — (Valars’ response to the Oath of Feanor)

    “Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever.
    Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death’s shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die not in Eä, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have spoken.

    A real Vow has an unearthly quality to it, don’t you think, Gerard?

    As for me, ‘reporting back’ still binds after all these years.

    • John G Condon January 30, 2022, 3:34 PM

      Heading back out, Gerard.

      Had a blast. Got to see some old names are still here, and others who have sadly departed.

      Jewel was a major blow.

      Hopefully I won’t be gone too long and that you’ll still be around when I return.

      Take care.

  • gwbnyc January 23, 2022, 8:03 AM

    that took a rilly long time to re…
    …am I talking really loud

  • Mike Seyle January 23, 2022, 8:46 AM

    The harm doled out in youth isn’t always noticed by the perpetrator, at the time. “I didn’t commit; I owe you nothing” sounded reasonable enough as you closed out the relationship. But when those women ricochet through your head some 50 years later, you just might understand you did real harm. You can petition for forgiveness in your old age, yet be served the same fare: They owe you nothing. Those who want to live forever must never have sinned.

    • Mike Austin January 23, 2022, 10:04 AM

      Those whom I have harmed in my 68 years on earth, I can hardly count. It was usually through indifference or lust, and—as far as I can remember—never though malice. As if that mattered to the injured. It is said that a man spends his first 40 years making a mess of his life, and the next 40 years trying to clean things up and make amends. I’m working on it. I have forgiven myself for the evil I have done, which is at least a start.

      As for living forever: No and Hell no. The years allotted to man on earth are plenty. The older I get the more I understand that I have to prepare myself for Eternity. Nothing else matters as much as this.

  • Jack January 23, 2022, 9:28 AM

    Growing up I had a few chums who used hallucinogens but I didn’t join them; the idea of it was repugnant to me. I smoked pot occasionally but I had a few experiences with it that made me feel like I was tripping and out of control and I never enjoyed that sensation. Beer was just a drink but Irish Whiskey was a nectar I loved and it almost killed me while it led to dozens of other issues that were aimed at ruination. Coke was something else altogether.

    I had a discussion once with a friend who had come along and had lived his life much as I had lived mine and over the course of our association we discussed those things, each telling of their experience and sorting through cause and effect. We came to the conclusion that the main reason we indulged in the alcohol and drug thing was because we wanted to be cool, hip and attractive to hot women who ran in the ‘cool’ circles and it never occurred to either of us, or maybe we simply didn’t care, that some of them were weak minded, slothy, unachievable wreaths that would make our lives miserable.

    There were women elsewhere who would have never engaged in the drug and alcohol thing but for some reason we wanted to be seen by the women we thought we wanted. It took me a long time to understand that inclination but it took longer to get away from the alcohol.

    I’ve married 3x and while I’m not proud of that, I will say that I married for the right reasons in all of the instances but my first two wives were simply my mistake. Those women had absolutely no understanding of the vows they were taking and even less intention of keeping them but the 3rd and final one was and still is magnificent and I cannot imagine being without her.

  • Dirk January 23, 2022, 10:20 AM

    Hmm, mistakes, hurt.
    Strange even then I knew at some level, right from wrong. The difference between the truth and a lie.

    I’ve asked myself often in the “recent past” if an apology would ever be enough to make wrong right.

    My answer’s always,,,,,,,, No Sir!

    Don’t know if it’s normal,,,,,,, but I have a deep down burning desire to Correct those wrongs. I feel guilt, makes me very uncomfortable. I’m better then that. I was better then that, even back then. I simply wasn’t mature enough to stop being selfishly immature.

    A hell of a thing.


    • Jack January 23, 2022, 12:12 PM

      I think it’s normal and for a man of character it is a ‘must do’. Guilt in these kinds of things will vary but its only real value, now that you’ve gone well beyond those days and their impulses, is to inspire you to express your sorrow before the Lord, repent of them and then let them go. That’s all He asks and fortunately He does understand you better than you ever will.

      • Mike Austin January 23, 2022, 12:23 PM

        First comes guilt; then comes repentance and shame; then Confession before the Lord; He will demand repayment—Penance. After all of that there is no longer any need for regret. Like its sister emotion, guilt, it is a useless emotion. All it does is to recall painful memories. To what end? Know your frailties, work to remove them, and move on. Do not dwell upon things you cannot change.

        • ghostsniper January 23, 2022, 2:01 PM

          “All it does is to recall painful memories. To what end?”
          To insure that you don’t make them again?
          More specifically, to think ahead and not take the steps that lead to the behavior that caused the painful memories. Call it a conscience. Mine haunts me daily, mostly for ancient behaviors that I have long lost the traits to repeat. I hope I’m a little better now than I used to be, but I was never what I would consider evil. Just a poor chooser sometimes and a victim of circumstances at others.

        • Jack January 24, 2022, 7:51 AM

          “He will demand repayment—Penance”…. That idea is entirely a Catholic construct.

          Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, though will not despise.

          And there are others. Please show me a basis in Holy Scripture where Jesus demanded repayment and penance.

          • Mike Austin January 25, 2022, 10:23 AM

            No. I wrote here at American Digest several times that I will never, ever, engage in theological debates. I was involved in apologetics for years. But no longer. Such differences as exist between Christian denominations will be worked out by Christ, not by me.

    • gwbnyc January 23, 2022, 1:13 PM

      apologies don’t make things right, I imagine. they do correctly place the responsibility of the wrong on the bearer. and then only if the apology is made correctly, in correct spirit.

      in my opinion.

      • Mike Austin January 23, 2022, 1:51 PM

        True. If an apology is possible, then it is necessary.

  • James ONeil January 23, 2022, 10:24 AM

    I married once

    is enough.

    • Mike Austin January 23, 2022, 12:28 PM

      I married thrice. Divorced thrice. Enough already. It turned out that I was not good at marriage, but was much better at divorce. I would never consider putting myself through all of that again—to say nothing of some poor woman. So goodbye to all that. I am now retired from all such.

    • ghostsniper January 23, 2022, 2:04 PM

      Same here, 38 years next month.

  • Callmelennie January 23, 2022, 10:35 AM

    When you refuse to say the words that every bride and groom before you, who had all stayed married their entire lives, you were placing your (childish) self before the institution of marriage. You did not submit your infantile bratty self to the institution, so of course the marriage didn’t last .. and, in the process, you remained a brat

  • Tom Hyland January 23, 2022, 11:06 AM

    I used to have a lot of friends… so many that I was picked to be “Best Man” something like six times at various weddings. Brad from high school days married Dana at Squirrel Creek Ranch in Grass Valley… they actually lived there… and now it’s a B&B. Amazingly beautiful location. Brad & Dana never quit cocaine or having sex with other people. Their’s was an “open marriage.” Amazing it languished 10 years before the SHTF and a divorce that will live in infamy was etched into my psyche. It took another 20 years to drink himself to death. They didn’t have kids. Have you ever read this poem? https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48419/this-be-the-verse

    • LP January 23, 2022, 4:40 PM

      …and don’t have any kids yourself. That’s just wrong. Even if the fools that were your parents and your parents parents are fools, that’s just wrong, because life is good. I may not be the best person in the world, but I have this wild child, this beautiful baby that I spend every Sunday with, and every week he learns more language, and has more stories to tell me, this two year old…who tells me more lovely stories, and who actually loves spending time with me.

      • Tom Hyland January 23, 2022, 5:00 PM

        Well… you never met Philip Larkin. And there’s plenty more who had a life experience that would attest to his words. Also, I’ve known some VERY shitty parents and what they did to their kids is unforgivable. Don’t be so naïve but… whatever.

  • Tom Hyland January 23, 2022, 11:07 AM

    I used to have a lot of friends… so many that I was picked to be “Best Man” something like six times at various weddings. Brad from high school days married Dana at Squirrel Creek Ranch in Grass Valley… they actually lived there… and now it’s a B&B. Amazingly beautiful location. Brad & Dana never quit cocaine or having sex with other people. Their’s was an “open marriage.” Amazing it languished 10 years before the SHTF and a divorce that will live in infamy was etched into my psyche. It took another 20 years to drink himself to death. They didn’t have kids. Have you ever read this poem? https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48419/this-be-the-verse

    • Mike Austin January 23, 2022, 12:30 PM

      Never had read it. After just doing so, I realized that I had lived it.

    • John G Condon January 23, 2022, 12:39 PM

      Sins of the fathers….

    • Mike Seyle January 23, 2022, 1:22 PM

      The last line of that poem caught me so unaware that I spit my beer across the monitor. Speaking of which, I think I must be the only one on this site who still drinks. Shows how advanced a group this (mostly) is.

      • Mike Austin January 23, 2022, 1:49 PM

        I have not given up booze entirely—not yet anyway. And right now I am enjoying a vodka orange juice.

      • ghostsniper January 23, 2022, 2:23 PM

        Just last night I was sitting at the table in the nook sipping a bud tall boy and my wife sauntered past and casually said, “This morning I read that people that take statins are not supposed to be drinking alcohol.” So I went out on the 27 degree porch and sat there in the dark and finished my brew.

        30 years ago I might have blown up and jumped on her about berating me over my drinking again. But I am old now (66) and we’ve been together longer than not, so I know her like a 13,847 page book that I have read 1 page per day for the past almost 38 years. It’s a unique book, in that, with each page I read another new page gets added. Some day the book will end but not today. Now, I don’t jump any more but I think it through. I understand 2 things. If I jump on her the consequences will be terrible (because I have a conscience), and there’s the chance that she may be right.

        After 20 minutes sitting on the cold porch with my mutt Shannon shivering between my legs and my mind reestablishing equilibrium I go back inside and throw the can away and do not get another one. I don’t want to go but even more, I don’t want her to go first. To stay here without her would be unbearable.

        • Mike Seyle January 23, 2022, 2:57 PM

          38 x 365 = 13,870. But your “almost 38 years” did the trick. You are a deliberate man. And you save turtles.

        • Bilejones January 23, 2022, 4:04 PM

          You are exactly, give or take a year or so, where I am and your thoughts are oddly familiar.
          The bane of my life is that L’esprit de l’escalier always occurs to me in time.
          I am learning to choke them down. I contemplate a journal of The Best Things I never said.

      • Tom Hyland January 23, 2022, 5:02 PM

        “Alcohol to a man over 60 is not only harmless, but is a positive benefit. It has an effect on the heart muscle… it seems to be very salubrious… and a man who drinks a moderate amount… at least according to my program… is not harmed but benefitted which is good news to me.”
        – H L Mencken

  • Dirk January 23, 2022, 12:32 PM

    I hold in my hands the definition of “perfection of character” it is THIS, “To live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.

    Received this awesomeness from a friend in the far off land of California,,,,,,,, Chico to be precise!
    Thank you Friend!


  • steveaz January 23, 2022, 1:02 PM

    Mike says it for me. If anything, I regret the indifference I showered on my suitors in my twenties. Terrific women turned away in sorrow, bafflement and ingratitude.

    My first week back in Arizona, I met a sixty-two year old gentleman in the airport shuttle. He said he’d dithered away his vital years, and that he had written himself off, and out, of the gene pool. But mirabile dictu at the age of sixty, he married a 22-year old gal from Monterrey, MX and she’s pregnant with his second son.

    The take home was: If you’re lucky, God’ll give you fifth and sixth chances to get life right. Just gotta stay in the game.

    • Terry January 23, 2022, 7:29 PM

      Well, . . . “The take home was: If you’re lucky, God’ll give you fifth and sixth chances to get life right. Just gotta stay in the game.”

      At 76, I think my time to “get life right” has about run out.

      Thanks for the encouragement however. I have learned what I would do differently. Everything.

  • Dirk January 23, 2022, 2:09 PM

    Guys,,,,,the love of a good woman is priceless! I continue to be amused at just how many good women there are. I also recognize pain,,,,,regarding matters of the heart are brutal.

    Think the rules are simple.

    Be clean in body and hair, “ if ya have any”

    Be honest in life’s matters.

    Be kind towards anyone your considering matters of the heart with.

    Be frank in matters which concern you. Communicate!

    Be bold in falling in love.

    Be silly, kind and humorous, make her laugh, make her feel safe, make her your best friend, your woman.

    Be dead ass honest in matters of finance. “My wife still thinks I’m a trust fund baby!”Lol.

    Be a provider, if not money provide security, love and comfort. Many “well off “women would happily share their nest egg with the right man, for the right reasons.

    Be chivalrous, stop and smell the roses, share sunsets, sunrises with her, it’s simple it costs nothing and your lady will love it. Be kind !!!!!

    Love truly is blind, your politics, hers don’t matter when you ask her to join your team, share your name , for life.

    Girls don’t bite, girls are sugar and spice everything nice.

    And finally the love offered by a good woman is an amazing feeling, it’s to the bone.


  • TrangBang68 January 23, 2022, 2:28 PM

    I went to some weddings like that in the early seventies, but the day that I always reference off was a day in August 1967. It was the day the last episode of “The Fugitive” was on where Richard Kimball caught the one armed man. I remember that because it was reference point to get back from my first acid trip.
    I dropped some Owsley Purple Flats hand delivered from Hayward , California to my Rust Belt town. I took a hearty dose with my two best friends. First time he heard “Sergeant Pepper” and thought we discovered a whole new world. We did . A year later I was in the Iron Triangle in War Zone C in Vietnam and spent the 70’s drugging myself into psychosis. One of friends died of a heroin overdose in early 1970 and the other committed suicide in the 1990’s after burning out on first heroin and then crack. I’m well now by the grace of God and married 40 years last fall.

  • jwm January 23, 2022, 7:24 PM

    I had one ridiculously bad marriage in my thirties. It was a dumbass thing on both our parts. Haven’t seen the woman since some time around 1990, same year I had my last drink. Alcohol is not my friend.
    I had given up on the idea of marriage by the time I was in my mid forties. I just figured it wasn’t in the cards for me, and I was fine with that. When I was forty eight I asked the gal who worked at the frame shop if she’d like to go bike riding. She said yes. We’ve had twenty two years of marriage, now, with scarcely a cross word between us. It’s been fairy-tale perfect, and how I came to deserve such a rare treasure is a mystery. I’ve heard a lot of guys our age remark that their worst nightmare is outliving their wives. Count me in that club. But I can’t pray, and won’t even let myself hope to be the one who goes first. What if the same angels who gifted me with this marriage did so in order that my wife wouldn’t have to die alone? I can pray only for knowledge of God’s will, and the courage and strength to walk in that path.
    We all experience the spontaneous pangs of regret for miscellaneous wrongdoings. I hate the shit out of ’em. Best response is a silent, “God have mercy”. I understand that He does. I’ve always been good about making what amends I can for my screw-ups. Odd, just a year ago, I ran into a fellow with whom I’d had some very unpleasant dealings back from when we founded the bike club. I choked when I saw the guy at first, but took the deep breath, walked up to him, and apologized for past behavior, and all the fallout that came from it. He accepted the apology, and that took my load off. But even if he hadn’t, I did my part. I heard a couple weeks ago that the fellow had died unexpectedly. Make your amends now.
    I’ll end on a high note-
    TrangBang68, you mentioned dropping purple flats. I did a bunch of those, and some green ones, circa ’68, 69. The ones we were getting were pharmaceutical quality tablets, hard, and shiny. I’ll have to see if there’s a site identifying old doses Owsley? Brotherhood? Sandoz? Sunshine came along later. It came in pills as well, but they were obviously bootleg, despite the incredible quality of the acid. Blotters and Windowpane came later. Last time I dosed was spring of ’18 at the OBC custom bike convention in Las Vegas. Rolled out Saturday night in a group of close to a thousand stretch cruisers. I remember getting stuck in the middle of a bunch of brothers f’um Detroit for a bit. Rap, and acid don’t mix. I pedaled like hell until I made it up to the front of the pack where the sound bike was blasting classic rock. We mobbed into the first stop trippin’ balls. Lights. Colors. Bud burning everywhere. Everything in motion, and a handful of my favorite oldies blasting away on the stereo. It was fun. Life was good.
    And then, 2019.


    • gwbnyc January 23, 2022, 9:06 PM

      “their worst nightmare is outliving their wives”


    • Dirk January 24, 2022, 8:25 AM

      JWM, awesome awesome awesome. May your fairytale live a long and wonderful continued life.


    • TrangBang68 January 25, 2022, 6:03 AM

      I did a lot of poly-substance better and worse living through chemistry in the late 60’s and the 1970’s. That Owsley acid was definitely primo. Of all the drugs I did, acid is probably the only one in my 40 years of sobriety I have fond thoughts of occasionally. I believe it actually had some personal development pluses. I think it opened “the doors of perception” and showed me a bigger world than the dirty factory world of my youth. I’ve never been afraid to venture since (except for a few years of drug induced psychosis). What a long strange trip it’s been indeed!