Day 18: Bandwagon Hippies Vs. For-Real Hippies

June 6th, 2015

My parents in the beach circa 1972

My parents at the beach circa 1972

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing experiment. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and the Facebook Group to read stories by other 500-words-ers.

My dad is a for-real hippie. Like, such a badass hippie that he didn’t even really go to Woodstock. A recent conversation:

Me: Did you go to Woodstock?

Curt: Well, not really. I mean, I went there, but I didn’t go in.

Me: What?!

Curt: I was hitching around the country at the time and got in the car with some people who were headed to New York, so I said sure, why not, I’ll go. There was some sort of music festival going on there.

Me: Wow! Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Curt: Yeah but when we got there, there were so many people, long lines of cars. It was a total mess. I didn’t go in. I got in someone else’s car and hitched a ride somewhere else.

I liken this to how, in twenty years, my daughters’ friends will be like, “Did your parents go to Burning Man?” and my kids will roll their eyes and inform them that their parents were real hippies, not bandwagon hippies.

As a true-blue hippie, my dad is an artist and a musician. He loves people, lives for a party, is fond of drugs, and doesn’t mind crowds. Sometimes I think he might actually be a Burning Man sort of guy. But I try to picture him there, and it doesn’t quite fit. For one thing, he is zero percent interested in doing things just because all the other cool kids are doing them.

For instance, he has always loved bluegrass and used to drag my brother and I to weeklong bluegrass festivals in hillbilly places like southern Virginia every summer, where we’d camp in a van or a tent and watch adults party their faces off while we ran around largely unattended.

These bluegrass festival were the bane of my childhood, and I have a lot of terrible memories of them. There was the time we snuck a bunch of bikers into the festival in our camper. This would be a good memory for another type of person; I hate breaking rules. Then there was the time we spent a night in the emergency room in some podunk southern town because my dad’s girlfriend fell and broke her leg while high on LCD or something. I hated going to bluegrass festivals and, as soon as I was old enough to exercise free will, I refused. I stayed home and read a book, probably. As a kid, the twang of a banjo was enough to give me PTSD.

Ironically, as an adult, I actually happen to love bluegrass (guess I got that gene, much to my mom’s chagrin) and was therefore very excited to take my dad to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park one year when he happened to be visiting. I thought he would be super into it: a free bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park right near Haight Ashbury, which the hippie in him has fond associations with. All the big names, tons of bluegrass lovers.

But my dad was not impressed. He’s not into that newfangled bluegrass; he only likes the genuine stuff, it turns out. They call it old-time music, or Appalachian music. White guys with hay between their teeth playing banjo and fiddle.

And also, as I mentioned, he isn’t into doing things just because everyone else is doing them. As I write this, and the more I think about it, perhaps my dad isn’t a hippie at all. I’m starting to think, based on my own description of him, that he might actually just be a redneck. 

Share Button

One Response to “Day 18: Bandwagon Hippies Vs. For-Real Hippies”

  1. anemone says:

    hahahaha! they are very similar. there are some great marriages between hippies and rednecks!

Leave a Reply