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Just Kickin’ Hippies’ Asses and Raisin’ Hell

He’s 54 and drinkin’ in a honky-tonk ..” – Ray Wylie Hubbard

Happy Mother’s Day. Mine was the best, which is something many might say but is empirically provable in my case. I used to bring friends home from college, some of whom were prone to brag about their own mothers and would have to pry their fingers loose from the front door frame when it was time to leave. They’d be in a funk for half of the long drive down Highway 5 back to Los Angeles until I promised to bring them back again at Spring Break. But nobody wants to hear a broken man cry about this sort of thing on a day of celebration. Of all my many and varied assumptions, the idea that everyone was as lucky as me in this department was perhaps the most naive. I say “was” because I’ve indeed learned differently over the years. Motherhood in itself does not instill these qualities. This point was driven home last night watching a confessional documentary on SNL veteran everyman Darryl Hammond, whose own mother did quite the number on him. Many mothers do quite the number, as it turns out. Even those mildly indifferent to the title can have a profound impact on their confused offspring. So take heed all you moms and future moms — it ain’t like getting a library card and then forgetting to return a book.

I’ve been living in my mother’s home during this lockdown (and make no mistake about it, this was her home. ) I’ve used the word “reset” several times to describe the experience, and I think it applies to multitudes. This deserves a strong caveat and for those most impacted, the word would be laughable and even insulting. Still, for many this has been a period of reflection, perspective, and taking stock. If your health and that of those you love has remained good, odds are you’ve shifted to next-level concerns. Relationships have solidified or been pushed to the brink, and this includes those with ourselves. If interaction with the outside world serves a specific purpose, it’s self-distraction. I discovered this when I first moved to New York City and was, perhaps, most alone. There is no place on the planet better suited for avoiding the internal. Distraction is still the order of the day in Gotham, but in most unwelcome ways for those struggling to breathe or focused suspiciously on their apartment’s ventilation system. That’s the trouble with this thing; it’s sneaky. Were it even worse it would have flamed-out by now, having run its course through the unfortunate. Instead, it progresses in the most insidious manner, devastating one locale at a time before moving to the next. Those prone to thoughts of conspiracy have little trouble seeing a human hand.

Boo-hoo, you had me and you lost me (to quote Darryl Hammond’s SNL predecessor Phil Hartman as Chairman of the Board on ‘Sinatra Group.’) Not sure about Phil’s mother, but his wife did quite the number on him. The longer you live, the more dead people you know. I made this observation at a funeral in my twenties. Not exactly suitable for the Profundity Hall of Fame but accurate none the less. As with most things, there are two directions to go with it: you can dwell on the impermanence or appreciate the fact that you’re still around to dwell on it. (Religion offers a potential third rail, but I’m saving that blog for my Howard Hughes exit years.) For now, I’m experiencing both of the basic options in spades, appreciating her home as she would and did while unavoidably noting that she isn’t here in mortal form. But best not to dwell on this lest they send the masked guys in white by to retrieve me. And why are they always dressed in white? Something else to ponder on this pandemic Mother’s Day, 2020. A good one with perfect vision to you and yours.

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