Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's Father's Day and Everything is Beautiful

Mary was a hippie.

A real, live honest-to-God patchouli-wearing peacenik, the kind so common in the sixties. Hippies were still flocking to San Francisco’s popular Haight-Ashbury district in 1969, but this particular flower child was an adult, with a husband and two kids, living in mainstream suburbia. Next-door to us.

And she drove my dad absolutely, drop-dead-ready-for-the-loony-bin bonkers. Here he was, a committed “God Bless America” love-it-or-leave-it, flag-waving, John Wayne worshipping, card-carrying teamster, and here was Mary. Our new next-door-neighbor, who dressed in free-flowing caftans adorned in every color of the rainbow. She didn’t bother with make-up or shoes, wore her blonde hair long and free, often with a flower tucked behind an ear, and believed in making love, not war. She relished sharing her peace-loving philosophy and every afternoon, would flash Dad the peace sign when he pulled into the driveway after yet another grinding day at work, paving roads and filling potholes.

“The ‘V-sign’ stands for VICTORY, not PEACE,” he would roar whenever he caught sight of her friendly two-fingered salute. As if “peace” were such an incomprehensible thought.

Mary drove my dad ape-shit nuts.

But he wrought a simple revenge in the form of the 1969 Ray Stevens hit, “
Everything is Beautiful.” Even by sixtie’s standards, the song was corny.

Everything is beautiful

In its' own way
Like a starry summer night
Or a snow covered winter's day

Everybody's beautiful,
In their own way
Under God's heaven
The world's gonna find a way.”

Dad changed the lyrics. Just a bit. And every night, after Mary flashed him the peace sign, he would stomp into the house, remove his yellow hard-hat with the “God Bless America” sticker slapped across the front, and bellow his own version of the Ray Stevens song:

Everything is beautiful

Even though it’s not.
Mary thinks it’s beautiful,
And she’s a BOOGER-SNOT

Today, Mary’s long gone, God knows where. Another city, another state, another dimension? And Dad’s gone too, but his absence is because of a brief but valiant struggle with Leukemia. On this Father’s Day, 2008, I find myself playing my scratchy 45 vinyl of “Everything is Beautiful” over and over. The recording may be the Ray Stevens’ version, but that’s not what I’m hearing. What I’m hearing is Dad’s tribute to Mary. It makes me smile. And miss him.

Happy Father’s Day

1 comment:

god googler said...

Thanks for this. You should re-run your Ash-Backwards piece you did for BustedHalo sometime back aways. Laugh out loud funny was your dad.

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