Sunday, January 3, 2010

* Hot Dog! The Insane Root that Takes the Reason Prisoner: THE ORANGE STORY

BANQUO to MACBETH (after the Witches vanish into thin air.)

Modern English:
Hey Macbeth! Were those three witches real, or did we eat shrooms (or some other hallucenogenic growth) ?

Macbeth Act I, Scene 1

Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner?


I hitch-hiked from Connecticut to Oregon in five days in 1971 with only two delays. I got stuck at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel (where Holden Caulfield plans to START his hitch-hiking adventure in The Catcher in the Rye) and in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

At the Holland tunnel I hitched unsuccesfully for about 20 minutes with hundreds of cars easing by me into the double laned tunnel. It was a hot August day and finally a greasy biker guy stopped to pick me up. This was before helmet laws and there definitely were no handle grips on the rear fender area for me to hold on to.

The result was, I clutched this guy's bowl-full-of-jelly belly for dear life, not only through the tunnel but afterward on whatever highway we emerged to join (Garden State?). Sixteen-wheelers were flying by us, and we them, as my hair flew in 50 directions.

Whatever homophobia (was that even a word in 1971?) I may have had about clutching a guy around the waist dissolved with the terror of the trucks, noise and wind.

From wherever he dropped me off I got a series of uninterrupted rides to Cheyenne, Wyoming, spending one night like a cowboy somewhere along the way sleeping on the ground in my "space blanket" a huge piece of tin-foil which fit neatly into my backpack. The ground was pretty rough but no one had warned me that the "space blanket" doesn't breathe, so I woke up in a capsule of perspiration, from neck to toe.

Outside Cheyenne, Wyoming, the hitchiking came to a halt.

There were two, two-lane highways and not a car in sight.

Not one.

You could hear rattles in the scrub by the side of the road and I assumed those sounds were not made by castanets but by snakes, so I didn't even dare take a snooze by the side of the road. And since I don't tan (just burn like a true Irishman) I baked in the sun with increasing anxiety as the hours went by (this was before sun-block had been invented too).

Finally, I heard a car coming over the horizon and it turned out to be a VW van painted in psychedelic colors with hippies hanging out of every window, waving and shouting as they approached.

Surely, I thought, they will pick me up, but they just flew on by, shouting and singing and waving.

One of them threw me an orange as they drove by.

I ate it.

The next thing I knew, after hours of seeing no traffic on the road at all, within 20 or thirty seconds of eating the orange another vehicle came over the horizon: this one was shaped like a 20 foot long hot dog in a bun. It rolled right on by me too.

Then immediately after that followed something I have never seen before or since (and can't even find on Google Images, as you will note below): a car with a trailer hitch on it; and, on the trailer hitch, a helicopter.

It zoomed by me too, with no indication of even considering the possibility of picking me up.

Then, two hours again of ZERO traffic.

My conclusion at that time was that there had been hallucinogens in the orange and that the hot dog and helicopter hitched to a car were simply figments of my imagination.

I never told anyone about this for 20 years: Both of my parents went to their graves without hearing this story.

Then about 17 years ago I read an article in The New York Times about the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile which had been traveling U.S. highways since 1949 advertising the one and only Oscar Meyer Weiner.


P.S. I made it to my brother's wedding just in time.

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