I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.
Jane Austen ~ Pride and Prejudice
Face was called “The Face” by his closest friends Johnnie and the Worm. Small wonder! His face was remarkably beautiful. (They called me Mrs. Face.) I discovered early in our marriage that (1) Face, Johnnie, and the Worm were tight buds, (2) they studied the book of Proverbs, and (3) they were rippers. (Face the Ripper!) That is, they never missed an opportunity for a laugh. They were heretics who submitted to no one’s stake. They were a clan descended from the same sacred cow of merriment. They were Dysonites who approached no deep human problem without some bewilderment and some humor. It was into this clan that I had married.
Face had other friends at the communes: Guthrie, (with whom he dropped a lot of acid in high school and with whom he once hitchhiked to the Bay area in search of the Altamont pseudo-Woodstock), and Killy, in whom he found a kindred spirit of quiet humanity.
Note to self: Killy’s wife Miriam was for some reason annoyed at Face and Killy’s friendship and often sniped at me about Killy’s “shadow”. Her contemptuous comments were not deep enough to be humorous, but rather the product of a small and petty mind. I wanted to punch her in the nose. Instead, I held my mud and rejoiced when Johnnie and the Worm’s arrival at the commune claimed Face’s time and attention.
The Face-Johnnie-Worm clan was sometimes mistaken for a clique; however, they had none of the narrowness of spiritual coherence that exists in hell. (Chesterton) As I said, they were merely heretics, and did not give two figs for what the other communies thought of them As a result, they were elevated to the In Crowd – or rather the In Crowd tried to incorporated them. It did not work. Neither did the attempts of the Wannabees to clothe themselves with their tartan.
The thing was, Face, Johnnie, and the Worm were definitely cool, but what the Wannabees and the In Crowd failed to understand is that coolness has no offspring. It cannot be reproduced, only mimicked. Coolness is always unique, and anyone who is unique is cool. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of this; instead, millions of martyrs sacrifice their uniqueness in a futile attempt to clothe themselves with someone else’s coolness. Poor souls.
Face’s clan made no attempt to be cool – they just were. They thought no more of their coolness than a fish does of the stream in which it swims. However, they were very aware of the deep human problem that is pseudo-coolness, and spent many joyful hours laughing at the diversion it offered. As Mencken wrote, the human race provides enough follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies to last a lifetime.
The Story of Face and Abigail
Abigail was Johnnie’s wife. She came to the commune with her brother when she was sixteen; it was there that she met Johnnie who soon claimed her as his own. At the time Face was living at the commune. It came to pass that Johnnie went to Los Angeles to look for work and a place for him and Abigail to live – he was not keen on spending the rest of his life in poverty at the commune. He left Abigail behind.
Now there was at that time a certain animosity toward the clan of Face, Johnnie, and the Worm because of their heretical coolness. But as a “three-fold cord is not quickly broken,” the hostile element left them alone. Abigail was included in the circle o’ protection because she was engaged to Johnnie. Thus while there were certain of the sisters jealous of Abigail’s meek and quiet spirit, she was spared their uncharitable machinations. However, that changed. Soon after Johnnie left, the Worm traveled to Colorado, leaving Face and Abigail alone and subject to attack. It came in the form of Elton, a visiting brother who accused Abigail of rebellion. She was cast from fellowship and confined to the women’s dorm.
Face called Johnnie and apprised him of the situation. Johnnie told Face he would wire him money to get Abigail on a bus; he urged Face to get her the hell out of Fresno ASAP. Face walked into the women’s dorm unannounced and told Abigail to get her things. Then without a word to anyone, they walked down the stairs, through the living room, and out the door to the nearest bus stop. They took the city bus to the Greyhound Bus Depot where the money wire was waiting for them. Face bought Abigail a ticket to Long Beach, and Johnnie met her there a few hours later.
When Face returned to the house the wrath of God fell upon him…No, not really, but a couple of the brothers and sisters were mightily torqued off. A short time later, Face also journeyed by bus to Long Beach and moved in with Johnnie and Abigail. There he remained until one day in June he returned to Fresno in search of a wife.
Note to self: Why is it that I happened to be Isaac’s Rebecca?