summer of love, decades of sex

Billy Action was a backgammon and card playing Lothario in Woodstock in the 70s and 80s. Maybe beyond, but I left in ’84. He went out with Gayle, who owned Yink Ink, a company that made hand-painted clothing. Yink was a code name for sex, coined to obscure conversations her parents might overhear. Gayle told me once that she giggled inside every time she heard her mother say the word.
            I can only guess what precipitated these t-shirts, but Gayle had the brilliant idea of printing a few dozen and giving them out to everyone who would be at the weekly softball game. Billy played for Woodstock Wonders, a team sponsored by Albert Grossman, baron of Bearsville. The games were played at the Rec Field late afternoons and weekends.
            The players for both teams and all the fans came to the field that day wearing their shirts covered by jackets. The front “Yes” with the thumbs up was visible. At some cue, everyone took off their jackets and turned around, revealing the “I Slept with Billy Action” side. Even a dog on the field was wearing one. Somewhere in the quag of my closet I have a photograph of the moment. It’s not a very good one, but I’ll dig around and post it when I find it.


i cave

I went into a cave yesterday. I shouldn’t go into caves. I know this about myself. I shouldn’t go into caves because once when my younger son was two he got stuck in one of those horrible plastic tubular playground things that for people like me is more like a catheter to hell. I’ve always been a bit claustrophobic, but that day in the bright blue and red pipette cinched the deal. He was lost and scared, and wouldn’t follow his brother out, but needed me to come in and rescue him. I considered for a moment leaving him there, but I really love that kid, so I did what every mother would do; climbed through the burning fires of polyvinyl chloride damnation to save her child. It may have seemed less dramatic to the onlookers, but they didn’t live it.
            Why did I go into the cave? Because it was big. Bigger than an airplane. Bigger than an elevator. Bigger than any tubular playgound I’d ever seen. I convinced myself that it was the word “cave” that was getting to me. I watched the movie about the cave. There were so many happy people oohing at stalactites and ahhing at stalagmites I was sure I could be one of them. We took a 10-minute trolley ride through the jungle to the mouth of the cave. Which looked like the mouth of a giant claustrophobic-eating monster. I’m sure the happy people thought so too, and in we all went, because we’re brave like that.
            A few hundred feet into the cave I slipped and fell on my ass, banging my elbow and worse, my camera, on the slippery monster-throat walkway. The guide helpfully suggested I be careful, obviously having noticed I was a happy and carefree spelunker with a devil-may-care attitude about the perilousness of the circumstances. “This is me being careful,” I explained, backside wet but otherwise fine. In body.
            In retrospect falling was an astute tactical maneuver. My advice, should you find yourself claustrophobic and in a cave, is to fall down. You will spend the rest of your cave walk worrying only about remaining vertical. When you walk through the room of the cave where the millions of bats are surely sleeping and will not suck your blood or get caught in your hair, and you are gagging from the stench but terrified to let go of the railing even though you just stuck your hand in a fresh glop of guano, you will be too busy to think about your claustrophobia. And you will have me to thank for that, no co-pay, no paperwork.