Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thumber time, and the livin' is easy

Editor's note: The author of this blog is having extensive dental-oral surgery today.  He wrote this the day before yesterday, not knowing what kind of condition he would be in when all the gauze, dental tools and rubber-gloved fingers were removed.  He is a big dental baby, owing to the antics of a dentist in 1965. 

Well, I see that something else that was popular in the 1960s has come back.  No, I'm not talking about ridiculous armed invasions of foreign countries.  I see that John Waters is hitchhiking his way across the USA.

Waters, who is legally known in our town as "Baltimore's own John Waters" is the director and/or  writer of "Hairspray," "Pecker" and "Cry-Baby," among other films.  He also writes humorous books and articles and is a certified treasure for the witty things he says and does.  I once had the honor of perusing the cheapie book rack at a Borders Books right next to him, but, in the face of genius, I was unable to come up with a single bon mot, so I browsed in silence.

But here is the article that says he's thumbing his way from coast to coast.   There is a certain Kerouac sort of vibe to this, a chance to live a picaresque lifestyle while someone else pays for the gas.  I hope John gets back safely.

In the dimly-recalled 1960's, I hitchhiked all the time.  It was an acceptable thing to do.  Most days after school, soon as detention was over, I'd weave my way up the various food places on York Rd and then get to Fairmount Av, with my right thumb my ticket to the old homestead on Providence Rd, out near the reservoir.

The Runaway Bribe
I would get rides from these types: workmen on the way home, suited businessmen on the way home, teenagers on the way to who knew where, and some other kid's mother.   I never heard of anyone being picked up by a creep or pervert or anything of the sort.  The worst I can recall was being handed "Agnew for Governor" material by some goon, but I put that right in the file when I got home.

By the time I had my own car, hitchhiking was a thing of the past, making its last cultural impact in the 1973 Johnny Rodriguez record of "Ridin' My Thumb To Mexico, " which must have been awfully uncomfortable.  Not the song, but the act of riding a thumb across the border.

Hitchhiking was a great way to get around the nation or the neighborhood.  Now we have to worry about someone on LSD bath salts wanting to eat our face, so it's better to ride in one's own ride.  What a shame. That sounds like something from a John Waters movie, to tell you the truth.

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