Oddities only strike ordinary people. Oddities do not strike odd people. This is why ordinary people have a much more exciting time, while odd people are always complaining of the dullness of life.
G. K. Chesterton ~ Orthodoxy
When sixty-odd hippies try to live like the first century Christians in a commune in Fresno, there is not a lot of “ordinary” about. In fact, Ordinary is a rather lonely fellow – especially during an apocalypse – so I try to visit him now and again. Crocheting is very useful for visiting Ordinary for a brief length of time.
Once in a while, however, one needs an extended visit to ordinary. On those occasions, Face and I depended on his family to supply a fair amount of normal. I met Face’s parents not long after we were married. They stopped by the commune to say hello and inspect my teeth (They approved.) I got to know them better a few weeks later when Face and I ran away from the commune and lived with them for a week. It was nice; it was normal; it was very ordinary. I thought that I could get the hang of Face’s family. Then Thanksgiving happened.
On the surface, Thanksgiving with Face’s family is an ordinary event. It is an annual gathering of brothers and sisters and their spouses, of uncles and aunts, and of cousins at Face’s grandmother’s mausoleum of a house. As one of the cousins, Face was invited – expected – to attend. I was looking forward to meeting the extended family. Nice. Normal. Ordinary.
When we arrived, one of the uncles was standing on his head in the corner to prove that he could do it. Two of the other uncles were wrestling on the floor, having decided that would be the best way to settle an argument. The television was blasting forth a football game, a multitude of women were bustling about the oversize kitchen doing various food things, and assorted small children were “running their heedless ways” in every nook and cranny. Presiding over all this serenity was Face’s grandmother, a mountain of a woman (300 pounds) with an indomitable will and a pack of feral Chihuahuas, sired by John-John, who roamed at will throughout the house. Welcome to Ordinary! One of the uncles summed it up the best: “I’m so happy I could just shit!”
The Worm got married in December to a lovely, good-natured woman named Dixie. The Clan (Face, Johnnie, and the Worm) decided to honor the occasion with a road trip to Ordinary – in this case, Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Face’s mom loaned him her car and her gas credit card. The guys rustled up about twenty dollars, and we were off. Johnnie, Abigail, the Worm, Dixie, Face and I all piled into a Ford Galaxy for an ordinary adventure.
We arrived in Los Angeles at night and sallied through the streets until we landed in West Hollywood around 10:00 pm. Now Friday night in West Hollywood cannot be properly appreciated from the confines of a car, even if it is a Ford Galaxy, so we found a place to park and hit the streets.
The odd thing is that even though we were in fact slumming, we were not suspected of such because of our dress. Our own brand of oddity was perfectly acceptable in West Hollywood. It was normal. We bebopped around for an hour or so; then we got back in the car, hopped on the 101 south, and headed for Cayucos.
Cayucos is a small town on the central coast of California, about twenty miles north of San Luis Obispo. Face’s parents had recently bought a house there, which they generously made available to us to crash for the night. We arrived at the house in the early hours of the morning and stumbled off to bed. I was glad that the Worm and Dixie could have some private time, seeing as they had been married for only four days.
Late the next morning, I made breakfast for everyone. (Eggs, glorious eggs!) We took a walk on the beach; then we put the house back in order before returning to Fresno. A good time was had by all, except Dixie who confided in me years later that she was not too keen on spending her honeymoon with four other people. However, she had married into the Clan and was expected to clothe herself with the same tartan.
That particular road trip is rated in my mind as one of the best; there was something magical about it, something special, something striking. This makes me think that perhaps I was not such an oddity after all, despite the fact that I was a hippie living in a commune in Fresno. Perhaps those brief excursions into Ordinary while crocheting during the apocalypse affected me more than I realized. Perhaps they kept me tethered to the ordinary while living in an odd situation. Whatever the reason, I was having a fairly exciting time of it.
Note to self: One can miss a lot of what goes on in the world while observing what is going on in the world.