There used to be a band called The Grateful Dead and, in the sixties, they decided to go on tour and forgot where they lived so they could never stop touring, at least until Jerry died and they were short a leader. Unsure of what to do they formed a bunch of new bands. There were legions of fans who went to a lot of their shows, traded recordings, and even got sucked into the vortex that was the tour and followed the Dead around wherever they went. These were called “smelly hippies.” My college, UC Santa Cruz, has the distinction for housing the Grateful Dead archives. Suck it Harvard.
There was a certain reputation for fans of this touring band to enjoy recreational drugs, especially the hallucinogenic type, to help maintain the illusion that The Grateful Dead were worth all this trouble. This fact, I’m sure, was on our mom’s mind when MILK and a few of her friends went to a Dead Show one summer. Mom nervously OK’d it and gave her a curfew time, then enjoyed the time honored tradition of waiting up to give a teenager a tongue lashing. MILK did not, in fact, have tickets to the actual show. Nor did she want any. She was actually going to the parking lot of a Grateful Dead show, which is like a free circus…but with more monkeys. And LSD.
MILK missed curfew, by a few hours. I knew she’d be fine; the only real risk was MILK getting stoned enough to think a smelly person was cute and bring him home to hang out. Then we’d have some dread locked jerk named “Sage” or some shit mooching off us and leaving friendship bracelets around until I finally threatened him with violence and soap. Hippies can be a real hassle if they get close to their source of income – other people with jobs or trust funds.
Dr. Wife and I were watching a movie downstairs in the den when MILK opened the door with the ninja-like stealth of a teenage in trouble, hoping that the powers that be had some wine and went to bed. We stared at her dumbfounded. She had flowers braided into her mohawk and her skin was painted green. Not just a little bit, she looked like a Star Trek alien. She looked back at us with wide-eyes and a twitchy smile and whispered, “Is mom still up? Do I look high?” Her pupils had swallowed the colored part of her eyes and she stared at us like we were growing horns.
“Is that MILK? Get up here so I can say goodnight!” The voice of doom came from above. It sounded like an innocent enough request, but we both knew it wasn’t.
“You’re so screwed” I said, and laughed in the supportive way only an older brother can.
“NOW!” mom added with no little authority.
MILK walked the green mile to go “say goodnight” to mom.
“This should be good,” I told Dr. Wife and turned down our movie to eavesdrop.
There was some heated muffled arguing and then the greatest defense ever in the history of teenagers was thrown in mom’s face.
MILK voice rose enough to carry easily downstairs, the edge of hysteria audible, “Oh yeah? Well your pupils are big too, maybe you’re on drugs!!!” and slammed mom’s door and locked herself in her room.
Dr. Wife and I rolled on the floor laughing.
“And you two, shut up.” Mom yelled.
And in typical MILK fashion, somehow, she didn’t even get in trouble. Mom never spoke of it again. I had used up most of the “being in trouble” so MILK had an easy time.