Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Naughty or Nice?

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Back in my college days I participated in an annual fall event called “The Freshman Rush”. This event happens on virtually every college campus every year. It may have a different name but the premise is the same, the upper class guys tried to hit on the incoming freshman girls!

In my case the setup was that we upperclassmen would volunteer to help the incoming freshmen and their parents with their luggage and belongings, as they got settled into the girl’s dorm. As you may have figured out, it was just an excuse to be the first to meet the new girls.

I met this one girl I’ll call Penny. She was from my old hometown (an In!). A pretty girl, with long blonde hair. Penny was the quiet shy type; I could tell she was impressed that a sophisticated upperclassman like me was interested; so I asked her to next month's homecoming dance and she accepted!

Penny was very busy getting settled into the college routine and we didn’t see each other much the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile I was seeing a girl named Julie, just the opposite of Penny. Where Penny was the “girl next door”, Julie was “smokin’ hot”! Penny was demure and dressed conservatively, Julie was outgoing and wore tight blouses and very short mini skirts!

One day Penny approached me on campus and said she’d seen me with Julie and if I’d prefer to go to homecoming with Julie I could. Now I don’t know where that came from. I fully intended to go with Penny; I liked her and told her so, but I must not have been sincere enough because she refused, said goodbye, and ran off.

It bothered me but I must admit, not for long. There was still “hot” Julie! We did go to homecoming and on a couple of other dates. We were getting ‘closer” and one night she agreed to come to my apartment and listen to records!

My two roommates gave me high fives and vacated before she arrived, I had albums stacked on the record changer, lights down low and a really good year of Budweiser on ice! She arrived looking gooood as usual. We sat on the sofa and had some beer and she put her head on my shoulder.

Then, just when I was ready to make my move she did it! She said, “Paul, do you know why I enjoy being here alone with you?” Oh Oh! This can’t be good and before I could reply she said it: 
Because you’re such a nice guy.” Nice?! 
I feel safe with you.” Safe?! 
You’re not like the other guys.” I’m trying to be! Give me a chance! 
I know I can hang out with you and you won’t have your hands all over me. Thanks.” and she gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was official: I was a “nice guy”!

Okay, I realize now that’s a good thing but not then, I wanted to be bad. The next day was Friday and I had agreed to drop her off at her house for the weekend. When we got there, she leaned over and gave me another kiss on the cheek and said “thanks, see ya”, and before I could get out and walk her to the door like a nice guy, she jumped out ran up the steps and inside and I never saw her again.

In one case, I wasn’t nice enough and in another, maybe I was too nice. I don’t know but I hope Julie and Penny were as lucky as I was and found who they were looking for.

I finally did and she was a nice girl and I was a nice guy, that was more than forty years ago and I have no regrets on the way things turned out, we make our mistakes and we learn from them, I did, and figure being a “nice” guy worked out pretty good.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My First Backpack

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

J.F. graduated Bullard High in 1970 two years before me. These days he lives in the foothills and plays with an acoustic group. I knew J.F.'s whole family of origin, including his brother Lee, who was my age. Back then, J.F. was already making a name for himself as a bassist/vocalist in a rock band that underwent various names and personnel changes.

About the last quarter of the '69-'70 school year, J.F. started strolling around the BHS campus with a canvas backpack strapped onto his shoulders. What was so unusual about this, one may ask? Simply that nobody else did this back then. We kept everything in those school lockers with combinations we had to memorize--a different one each year.

But two years later it was catching on and more students began carrying them around and I wanted one, too. For years now they're so commonplace that people like actress Lydia Cornell from Too Close for Comfort was making use of them. My wife Lynda uses one. But in 1972 it was still a comparative rarity.

I'm guessing J.F. might have picked up the idea of using one from reading Jack Kerouac, who started using one in the '50s (he called it "a rucksack") while keeping company with Gary Snyder ("Japhy Ryder" in The Dharma Bums). Then again, I could be wrong. J.F. himself discontinued the practice after a short time. But gradually, the concept caught on.

I just wish that had been the case while I was growing up. I never liked lugging a lot of books, plus my Pee-Chee folders and binder, underneath a single arm. It was especially a pain while trying to maneuver a bicycle. 

At one point I asked Dad if I could get a metal basket attached to the front. He said "No," baskets were "just for girls." Dad would never admit to it, but he was something of a misogynist and he didn't think "real men" should have a "feminine side." But witness these days how many guys ride "girl's bikes" with no one thinking anything of it. In fact, so have I.

But the compromise he came up with was a total farce. Namely a clamp fastened above the rear wheel. I hated that thing so much because my books would keep sliding out of it and falling onto the ground, leaving me to stop, stoop over, pick them up and put them back into the clamp--that is, until the next time they slid off of it!

I still remember the Saturday morning I woke up preparing to start the Freddy the Pig book (by Walter R. Brooks) that I had checked out from the library over on Fountain Way near my junior high school. So I began searching around and thought "Uh Oh." 

I got on my bike and rode it toward the school, using the same route I had taken going home. As soon as I'd gotten a block or two away from the school, I found the book, sitting in a mud puddle from a recent rainstorm. Mom had to pay the library a fine of $3.50.--thanks to that worthless clamp on my bicycle. And I never did get around to reading that particular book, fond as I was of the "Freddy" series.

I eventually started walking to school more, rather than bicycling. The distance to school wasn't that great. Not until I started High School, anyway.

So when my 18th birthday came up in the spring of 1972, my senior year, I requested and received my first backpack. I carried that thing around pretty much everywhere. It became something of an appendage. I eventually stopped using my locker at school, and that saved a lot of time for me getting around between classes. And I started bicycling to and from school again, having both arms free to maneuver the bicycle made a tremendous difference.

I don't even want to count up how many backpacks I've made use of over the years. Suffice it to say a lot of them. I still like to be able to lug a lot of different things around at once. I still like having both my hands free. Except when I'm holding my wife's hand.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Lunch Money!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Back when I went to school hot lunch cost twenty five cents (a pretty good sum in those days) but one just couldn’t be seen brown bagging it, or worse carrying a lunch box. So every morning Mom left a quarter on the kitchen table so I could get my nutrition for the day.

Back then we didn’t have choices, you got a spoonful of whatever glop was on the menu! Okay, in all fairness, it was nutritious (I think), and some people actually liked them and sometimes when they had things like pizza, I did too! For the most part, I did not.

This actually worked out well, since I was also at the age where I wanted spending money but was too young to get an actual job. Fortunately the school I went to also had a “snack” counter where one could purchase an ice cream sandwich for a nickel. I might add that an ice cream sandwich, in those days, was more than three bites, unlike today’s.

Five cents for an ice cream sandwich that would tide me over till I got home and had dinner. Fortunately Dad worked the 8 to 4 shift and liked to eat by 4:30pm, so it wasn’t a long wait. That left me with 20 cents a day or a whole dollar a week! I was rich! Mom would not approve so I never mentioned it, although she did marvel at my appetite at dinner every night!

One of my first purchases was made after school when  taking the long way home (there’s a song in there some where). I stopped by Al’s corner market to purchase four packs of Beatles bubble gum cards, and kept going to Al's for more until I had the entire set. This is where that karma thing comes into play, some years later while I was at college, Mom threw them all away!

One time I saved up my 20 cents a day to buy Mom and Dad bedside lamps for their anniversary. Dad’s was in the shape of a ships anchor with a thermometer in the middle, cause he was in the Navy. Mom’s was some interwoven white plastic thing that was very “in” back then and maybe would be again today. They both liked them very much, or at least led me to believe they did.

With 20 cents a day saved by the end of the week you could buy two forty five rpm records for 45 cents each and have change left over! I remember buying She Loves You (yeah yeah yeah) on Swan records and Can’t Buy Me Love on Capitol on the same day! I still have them both.

A year or so later I got a job bagging groceries for one dollar an hour, what it used to take me a week to save! From then on it was $2.99 albums! I was rich again! Oh how simple my needs were back then….sigh!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Breakfast Anytime

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

My wife and I frequently order take out dinners from a neighborhood diner. One of my favorite dishes to order is a Primavera Omelette (eggs with cheese, mushrooms and vegetables), hash browns and a buttered biscuit.

Usually I order once I go in and sip ice water and read the newspaper while I wait. Often I'll watch the cook at work and I've noticed a lot of patrons like to order breakfast food for dinner, most often pancakes, eggs and sausages. Normally at least one customer will order breakfast food when I'm there, always in the evenings.

This is something I didn't always see, however, I never regarded it as any kind of real eccentricity. I love breakfast food and never have understood why it should be confined to mornings. And yes, that includes cereal, either hot or cold.

In the late 1970s, I worked graveyard shift at a self-serve gas station on Highway 41. This was during the so called "energy crisis" with the odd/even rationing on the horizon and ours was the only station open 24/7. Our night shift would close later as well. I lived by myself and frequently took my meals at a coffee shop about half a mile south of the station.

One evening I decided I'd like a cheese omelette with hash browns for dinner. After ordering, I sat sipping my coffee and heard some profanity from the kitchen. Most likely the cook.

Ok, close enough, right?
A few minutes later, the waitress brought my plate out to me. I noticed one very runny, unattractive egg adorning my omelette. I shrugged, ate, tipped, paid and mounted my bicycle to get to work.

So why didn't I complain about the runny egg, at least one reader must be asking. Good question.

I had to deal with the public too. For eight hours I took cash, made change, switched the pumps off and on, sold gas, oil, and cigarettes, and did my best, like Simon and Garfunkel, to "keep the customer satisfied." Not always easy. I wasn't always at my best. Sometimes of course it was the customers.

So maybe the cook thought "What's up with this nutcase? It's dinner time and he wants BREAKFAST? Do they all do that on his planet?" So I was feeling atypically generous that night, and if that was indeed the case, I could make an allowance for it. But it didn't stop me from ordering breakfast for dinner when I ate out. And I feel vindicated that these days it's more commonplace.

And on this note, I also love cold pizza in the morning.

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