Kathy thought she could fly. She couldn't. She was apparently very happy to be going to college at the prestigious Bay Area school. She hadn't been exceptionally popular in high school but she wasn't an outcast, either. Not a raving California Blonde bombshell, but not a mousy wallflower. Just a nice girl who happened to date my best friend for a while. That happened after I was off to keep the world safe for democracy (in the Army in Germany). He told me all about it when I came home on leave in November of 1965. They were over by then. But they had made each other very happy for a while; read that any way you want...a gentleman doesn't tell (my buddy wasn't a gentleman; he told me everything...but I am).
I got out of the Army for a couple of months in the summer of '67. It didn't work out, being a civilian; the folks who I had gone to high school with had changed. Some of them had gone off to college and weren't around anymore. Some had gone off to the military, either by choice or by draft and weren't around anymore. A number of them had tuned-in, turned-on, and dropped out. I wasn't interested in going back to school, had already done the military thing, and I wasn't suited to the hippie life; I was too fond of soap and shoes. I just didn't have a good fit anywhere. Besides, MC was in Phoenix and I wasn't...so nothing seemed right.
In a rare flash of brilliance, I realized that the solution to my malaise was to marry MC, go back into the Army, and go to Germany. Genius. It worked out pretty good, too. MC came out to San Diego, we got married, and I went up to LA the next Wednesday and re-entered the Army. What does that have to do with Kathy?
I got my instructions from my recruiter, a bus ticket to LA on Tuesday pm, a voucher for a meal and a room at a hotel a couple of blocks from the Induction Station. I rode the bus, ate the meal, checked in for the night, and went to my room. I found I had a "roomie", a young fella who was, like me, there on Sam's dime. We got to gabbing a little and discovered that not only was he from my home town, he went to my high school. He had been a couple of years behind me. He remembered me from school and had known when I went to Vietnam and knew about my spiffy little GTO and lots of other stuff about me that was a little surprising...and creepy.
Then in a lull in the conversation, he asked me if I had heard about Kathy. I said I remembered the name because my buddy had dated her for a bit. My roomie asked if I hadn't heard about the girl who tried to fly out of her dorm window when she was on an acid trip. I did recall having heard something like that. He said the girl was Kathy and he had been in her dorm room when she went out the window. I was more than shocked. It just didn't fit the image of the Kathy I had known.
He told me all about it, not that there was all that much to it. A little sugar cube and then wait for the show. There were a few of them up there and a couple of them thought the experience would be more meaningful if they were naked. Some soft lighting and music and the next thing you know, Kathy walked over to the window and flew right out. It was a short flight, from the window to the sidewalk in front of the dorm - about 1 1/2- seconds.
At the time I heard this story, I was twenty years old, less than a year out of Vietnam, a buck sergeant, drove a '65 GTO, had a new wife, and it seemed that that prestigious school was a different world from where I was. There had been some talk of pot-smoking among the troops in the Green Place, and some of my friends at Fort Huachuca had been regular users, but drugs just weren't in my world...a beer or shot or two...but none of that hippie stuff. I just sat there listening to the tale and wondering what that must feel like, being so out of control that you think that stepping out into thin air is a good idea.
That was 46 years ago. Drugs and the stories they create are more common a part of our society now. We shake our heads and tsk and say, "What a waste..." but we haven't done anything to make it better...in fact, it just keeps getting worse every year. The druggies' battle cries, "It's my life, man, I can do what I want..." or "What I do is none of your business..." or "You're just an old man, you don't get it..." That's nothing new, drunks have been saying the same things for generations. Unfortunately, none of that is true. We live in a society and what we do does have an effect on others. If you drink and drive you don't just endanger yourself, you are a menace to everyone else who is on the road with you. If you are high, your judgement is impaired, despite what you claim, and you are a danger on the road...or with heavy equipment...or firearms...or anything else. I am an old guy. I got to be an oldguy because when I was a young guy I gave up most of the destructive behaviors I had been embracing (thank you MC). I am pretty sure I would not have made it this far if I hadn't.
How prevalent is this? Here is a sobering illustration. I read an article about drinking and driving in California which stated that on any average day, one out of every eight cars on the road are driven by a drunk or drinking driver. I was standing in a parade formation on the warehouse road overlooking the Pacific Coast Highway outside the fence. I was bored, standing there at Parade Rest waiting for the whole thing to get going. I thought of the article and, again because I was bored, started counting the cars that went by on the highway. In the 45 minutes that I stood there counting, about 650 cars went by ( it was a long time ago, I don't remember the exact number) which means that about 82 drunk or drinking drivers drove past the front gate of Fort Ord in less than an hour. That is my business, thank you very much; I have to be out there with them.
Young folks who are reckless with their lives do affect others; if no one else, the family and friends they leave behind. If Kathy had landed on another student, do you think that guy would have felt it was none of his business what Kathy did?
I am tired of it all; we need to do better as a society.