I really, really dislike unkindness in any form. This includes being rude, crass, thoughtless, and self-centered.
Years ago now, I had an online friend who went by the name Ygg, short for Yggdrasil, the sacred tree of Norse mythology. Norse mythology aside, she was Goth. She might have invented Goth. Lots of black lipstick, black corsets, black crinolines, and a splendid black cape. She was married to a heavy metal musician who did IT stuff in his spare time. Both of them are certified geniuses on the IQ scale, good looking, extremely talented, and scary smart. I used to joke that if they ever had a child, it would be the Messiah.
We were both members of an online fan group for the author Tom Robbins. People who like Tom Robbins enough to go looking for a fan club know how odd the members are likely to be. Ygg’s oddness didn’t faze me in the least.
What did faze me that time we ran around D.C. together was Ygg’s sheer kindness. She was unfailingly polite, the consummate hostess, thoughtful, and well-intentioned to everyone she encountered from the bus driver to her husband.
I didn’t equate Goth and heavy metal with kindness. It kind of floored me. That’s when I made a conscious decision to try and be more kind.
Don’t even think about feeding me a beet. It’s not going to happen.
Tom Robbins is a favorite author of mine. Tom thought highly of beets. Let me just quote him for a moment:
The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…
Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins
Yes, Tom thought highly of beets.
So did my father, I think. Although I don’t remember ever seeing him eat a beet before that fateful summer. He may have initially planted them for my mother who liked pickled beets. Which are, arguably, the worst of all the beets.
Three Dog Night burst onto the scenes in the early ‘70s with the release of their single, Joy to the World – written by Hoyt Axton. It first appeared on their 4th studio album but was released as a single in February of 1971.
I remember it fondly. It took over the airwaves of Jacksonville, NC where I was living at the time. I was 11 almost 12 when the single came out. As the kids say now, it went viral.
What a glorious time of my life that was. My world had not yet gotten dark and heavy.
The song is infectious – from the opening of Jeremiah was a bullfrog “to the refrain of Joy to World all the boys and girls. it inspired surprise, joy, and dancing. You just couldn’t help yourself.
My girlfriends and I were rocking out to the song in my living room one day when my mother came home from work. Mom, uncharacteristically, grabbed the tambourine we had – the one I don’t know why we had as none of us were musical – and began beating it against her thigh and dancing around the living room. I had monkey pod wooden fruit – a banana and a pear, I think – that I was banging together in rhythm to the song and we danced. We were all singling loudly and probably offkey. I can’t remember who all “we” were, but I had a group of friends and I think we were all represented that day.
I did my first solo road trip in 1980 over Labor Day. I was 21. I had a brand new 1980 Mustang, a few dollars, and was itching to drive. My friends, who couldn’t go with me, were appalled. Alone! What about serial killers? My parents didn’t blink an eye. I grew up doing 3000-mile road trips. Of course, I would want to take the car out and about.
I had a few dollars but not a lot of dollars. I plotted the trip carefully. Milwaukee to Huntington WV where I could stay with my best friend from high school.
Oh, what a glorious drive it was. I was young. I was single. I had a gleaming new car. I had 8-tracks of my favorite music and I had no particular time I was expected to be anywhere.