By Fred Owens
Kamala is the pretty one. Of the female candidates for president, California Senator Kamala Harris is the one who is good-looking. You can expect undeclared candidate Joe Biden to make an inappropriate remark about that. He will catch hell -- Wipe that grin off your face! How dare he refer to a distinguished colleague as pretty.
I would never do such a thing myself. Call a woman pretty or lovely or beguiling? Never. But she is strong, courageous and a force to be reckoned with. I've been sorting out my adjectives to that effect. Good-looking? Nope. Attractive? A lot of guys will try to sneak this one in and say she is attractive, but you know what they mean. Attractive is out. So Joe Biden will be put in his place because of the remarks he will soon be making about Kamala Harris.
But it gets worse. Freshman Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not only pretty, she's young and thin. God forbid you should say anything about that. The young men have been trained to act like they don't notice what they notice about her. And the silence has been kept. I have searched the media and found countless articles pro and con articles concerning AOC and her emerging impact on the political scene. I have not found a single reference to her appearance. How long is that going to last? Some man will break ranks and say something inappropriate and there will arise a storm of controversy about appearances.
Appearances matter to me. Appearances are even fascinating. I sit and watch people at the cafe. I invent stories about their lives based on little more than the kind of hat they're wearing. Or I see someone walking down the sidewalk, People walk differently. A certain stride gives a clue to the personality of the strider. Appearances matter because they open the door to the inner character of a man or woman.
Thank you for listening. And now it's .....
Story Time. Part Two of the Sage Epic
He hooks up with the Go Go Girl at the Brass Rail, this is prior to his meeting with Sage, who is the main character in this story
We need to back up now, to Barry Byrne’s smoke-filled apartment on Yonge Street in Toronto. It was June, 1969. I had just graduated from college – the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College – I have already written a story about my college days, so we can skip that.
Barry was four years older than me. He was a perpetual graduate student and had no intention of actually finishing school. Barry and I had gone to the same high school back in suburban Chicago. He was in the high school class of 1960 along with my older brother. My brother was four years older than me, so that meant that Barry was also four years older -- which might seem like an unnecessary fact, but I liked the way it defined Barry and our friendship. High school was our constant topic of conversation in his cramped apartment over-looking always busy Yonge Street – picture drab old furniture, dirty windows, bottles of beer, overflowing ashtrays and joints passing back and forth.
High school was Jesuits, all boys, tough and cold, but serious in the academic sense. That prepared us for an easy time at St. Michael’s College where the school was run by the Basilian order of priests – an easy-going and very refined group of men who enjoyed the pleasures of life, those permitted and those forbidden.
Barry and I could kick that around for a while and then head out into the evening to the Brass Rail down the street – a caberet club with go-go girls dancing on table tops. Barry was in love with one of the blonde floozies and sat in quiet adoration and left her large tips while she shaked it and showed it. I don’t remember her name, but the other dancing girl – I learned her name because I met her just the next afternoon at a backyard party at Super House.
I guess I have to tell you about Super House now. It was an old house on Robert Street right off campus, three stories, nine bedrooms, all rooms filled with students about to finish school and face reality. Naturally we stalled. We had all graduated, the dozen or so of us who either lived at Super House or just came there to hang out, eat communal meals, listen to psychedelic rock on CHUM=FM and smoke weed.
That Saturday afternoon in late June, we were still there and still stalling -- career, marriage, destiny, vocation, profession – O Lord spare us. Let’s just drink beers and BBQ in the back yard.
The table dancer was there. She was gorgeous, incredibly sexy, brought to the party by Tony Falcone, who always found the women I dreamed about. Tony brought her as an extra. He had his own date. He just said – didn’t actually say, but meant – be my guest, she might like you.
Her name was Susan Bird. I had already seen her dance half-naked at the Brass Rail and there she was looking pretty good with her clothes on too. Standing there and making it very easy for me to talk.
That was the thing about Susan Bird. She was so wholesome and natural. We slept together that night. I ran my fingers down her stomach and saw the markings. Those are stretch marks, she explained. I had a baby when I was 16, but I couldn’t keep it. My Dad made me leave school and go to a home.
I couldn’t think of anything to say about that. I had heard about unwed mothers, but I never expected to encounter one. A more mature fellow might have asked her about her emotional health from what must have been a very upsetting experience – to be pregnant, to give birth, and then to give the baby away and never see it again.
But I didn’t think of that. I thought – I’m really glad I didn’t actually say this – but I thought, gosh, you were having sex when you were 16. I wish I had sex when I was sixteen, but it was all I could do to even kiss a girl.
Well, Susan Bird had come into my life to make up for all that. I never thought she was cheap for being a table dancer or having more experience than me. Of course, what about me watching her dance? Me, the big man who knew what he was doing, yeah, sure. I kept my mouth shut and accepted this gift.
July 16, 1969. I guess we were still hanging out at Super House and enjoying the end of our carefree existence. I was deluded. I thought those carefree days would last forever. I remember the date because we watched the first man to land on the moon. I couldn’t stand it. I refused to watch. I objected fiercely. My politics commanded this. We have a war in Vietnam, we have poverty throughout the country and around the world. First we should solve our problems on earth, then we shoot for the moon. That was my conviction. I could not enjoy the moon landing. But I could still enjoy Susan’s Bird’s loving touch.
She wanted a home and family. Not right away but soon enough. She never hinted about that. We made no plans. But it became clear a few months later that we were on different schedules, like she wanted to settle down in a few years and I wanted to settle down never. She was such a good soul. I should have met her half way. We should have discussed things like this but we did not know how.
I forgot the Playboy bunny part. In 1969 our lives as men were filled with unrealistic images of statuesque nudes in the pages of Playboy magazine. There were no such actual women built like that – curvaceous, breast-arific, hip-alicious. A dream. An erotic fantasy. Except for Susan Bird. She was built like that. She was the living doll. She couldn’t help it. The good thing is that it didn’t seem to bother her – the stares from men as she walked down the street.
It didn’t bother her, so I it didn’t bother me. It was just fun….. that summer in Toronto, where the trees are oak, elm and maple, where the summers are hot and humid, and the winters are long and bitter cold.
I was headed for California, to Berkeley, to live out the hippie dream. I had no idea what the dream was, which is why I followed it. We’re going to the West Coast, no different than pioneers on the Oregon Trail, just following the setting sun.
Susan came with me. She was a good sport. I told her, Get a backpack and a bedroll and we will hitch rides across Nebraska and Colorado. Stay on Interstate 70, across the empty land in Nevada, stop at a casino in Winnemucca and lose a few dollars in the slot machine.
She wore sandals with two-inch shoes heels. No heels on a road trip, but I forgot to tell her that. You hitch rides with a babe like that, you get rides right away. The good thing, at least for us, is that the drivers who gave us rides were always gentlemen. No creeps. Perhaps my manly presence was protective – I wish. But they were just good guys giving a likely young couple a ride.
It’s a long, lonely drive across Nebraska, nothing but miles of corn and you can stop in Ogallala for lunch if you think that might be interesting. The driver wants company, to keep him awake and pass the time.
America is so big. You can really see that when you’re hitching rides in Nebraska, standing on the edge of the pavement on the on-ramp going west. It’s so quiet and empty. You hear the hum of the autos and the earth-shaking rumbles of the semi-trucks. So it’s not that quiet in terms of decibels, but it just feels quiet and empty and big. You can just stand there with your thumb out and wait and be one with God. I loved it and Susan didn’t mind.
Thus ends PART TWO of the Sage Epic. If anybody has actually read this I would be highly pleased and I would love to hear your comments, especially the critical comments.