Saturday, May 28, 2005

Margaritaville II: Changes in Longitudes, Changes in Laundry . . . Dudes

In late '79, I left Baylor and headed west like many Arkies and Oakies before me. Unlike most of them, I had a degree in hand and the aim of getting into either Stanford or Berkeley. The former turned me down, but the latter turned me on. So, I attended Berkeley.

But I lived near Stanford.

Either way, I had to shed my old clothes -- army surplus stuff didn't fit elite culture or counterculture. Changes in longitude, changes in laundry, dude.

My first semester at countercultural Berkeley, I met Professor Walter McDougall because I was taking his graduate seminar on Modern Europe. He was a Cold War conservative. I was an Ozark liberal. We got along.

McDougall has been on my mind recently because I'm reading his book on the links between domestic and foreign policy in America -- Promised Land, Crusader State -- and because I've been thinking about Margaritaville.

McDougall loved margaritas -- as I found out. After the first semester had passed, I invited him and all five of my seminar cohorts down to Atherton, where I lived as a 'turtle' with Mrs. Rosenfield. They arrived in a single, small car within which McDougall had . . . somehow . . . already been mixing margaritas.

Quickly meeting and greeting Mrs. Rosenfield, he headed for her kitchen to mix more.

"I just need a blender," he said.

I found one and left him to his labor of love. I had a smoking barbecue to attend to. Some minutes later, an emergency called me back to the kitchen. McDougall had prepared one pitcher of frozen margaritas and had started a second. To keep the first mix frozen, he had placed it up in the refrigerator's small freezer. Finishing the second, he had turned to the freezer to retrieve the first, but it wasn't sitting right and had come flying out and crashing to the floor, spraying its entire contents all over Mrs. Rosenfield's small kitchen.

In his surprise, he dropped the second pitcher.

So, he took off his shoes and made a third.

I'm not sure why he took his shoes off. Maybe they were drenched in margarita. Or maybe it was because he was using his socks to wipe up the spill.

"Uh, Wally," I suggested, "why don't you take that pitcher of margarita out to the others. They're in the garden. I'll take over here."

McDougall was agreeable and headed off with that cold margarita. I watched longingly as it disappeared from sight, then got down to the long business of cleaning.

Our cat, Thorstein Veblin, came to watch at leisure, sardonically observing the irony of such a conspicuous consumption unconsumed.

"Don't say a word," I warned. Veblin just looked at me, amused.


At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post...maybe there's some Raoul Duke-oriented prose in your "lighter-side" repertoire?


At 11:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You know, I've never read Thompson's "Fear and Loathing," though I think that I may have the book somewhere under my bottles, so I had no idea who Raoul Duke was. Thus, I googled and discovered that he isn't anybody. He's a pseudonym, an alter ego of Thompson who's reflected in the character of Doonesbury's Uncle Duke.

I learn something 'knew' everyday.

Some folks are gonna get the wrong idea about me, I fear. Actually, I've never been the wild and rowdy sort. My writing just makes me sound that way.


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