Tag Archives: memories



It is Valentine’s Day. Have you gotten a valentine? I have always felt like Charlie Brown when it comes to Valentines.

I often sat in the classroom, when in grade school, daydreaming about Susan McNeel. She was an adorable girl in the same grade as me. I gave her a ring for Christmas in the first grade. She was my first unrequited love, at least I think it was unrequited, I never asked her how she felt about me. I was a very solemn brown eyed, round headed boy, very much like Charlie Brown. I was so caught up in my fantasies I could easily have done what Charlie does in the cartoon below.

Not receiving a valentine can be very bruising for a little boy. I think this accounts for my cynicism regarding the holiday today. I can remember giving a beautiful red hat to a woman I was madly in love with as an adult. It didn’t fit her, and I couldn’t return it. I don’t remember what happened to it. Yet another Valentine’s Day gift tossed into the dustbin of history. I read in the paper today about a museum devoted to the artifacts of broken up relationships. That hat could have gone there. An artifact of a stillborn relationship. But I also recall a friend of mine sending a valentine to a woman he was infatuated with. I had been trying to get him to approach her and ask her out for many months. He started to send the valentine without his phone number, but I persuaded him to add that so she could call if she wanted. He was close to crapping his pants, but he did it. She called, and they even went out. I will leave the memory there, while it is still wonderful. I seem to recall valentines I received which were kept for years, until it reached a point where I could not refresh the thrill I felt when I received it. However, as I recall, in grade school little girls could be very cruel to little round headed boys. My self-esteem was pretty tattered after getting through first grade. Although I never opened myself up to ridicule to quite the same extent as Charlie Brown in this final example of childhood angst.

So there you have it. Love. How is it possible in this modern world of irony? Young people often think of Charles Schulz as conservative and out of touch, but he was ahead of his time in expressing the reality of childhood. When you have the courage to put your heart out there and express your feelings you can’t expect tenderness in return. Everyone is on their guard against such tenderness. They have been hurt far too many times in their lives. Yet Love still beckons, even for the hardest hearts and those who appear to have given up on life. We secretly yearn for that thrill of discovery. The discovery that you are truly loved, not for anything you have done, or you have, or because you look a certain way. Because you are. Nothing more. Our likes come and go throughout the day, depending upon our mood, or how our body feels at the time. Sometimes we can be pretty cruel, especially to strangers on the internet. But Love is something else. Like is a caprice. Love is forever. Love is commitment. Love is why we even bother. We like vanilla. or we like chocolate, but we Love the whole astounding magnificence of it all.

Lady of the Lake


My sister Linda is perhaps the hardest sibling for me to write about. She stands on a distant shore, and my telescope isn’t quite powerful enough for me to see her face clearly. Linda has always lived in that beautiful world full of love and light. No disappointments, betrayals, lies, anger, pain, sorrow, or sickness. That is the beautiful world of Linda’s soul. Elvis’ song Memories is playing as I type this. Quite a coincidence! She is an Elvis fan, and Memories captures exactly what I’m saying. Memories is about a wonderful world of our memories, forever elusive, slipping away as we reach for them. Memories not of what actually happened but our enchanted perception of what happened. The past almost takes on a fairy tale quality. Linda loved this kind of memory, all of the stories told and retold, of the farms where we all grew up, the dogs we had, the ghost in the upstairs of the Allen house, and the snapping turtle down by the pond. (oops! that last one is my memory!). She transforms these stories and memories, into something unspeakably poignant, beautiful, and heart breaking. Her ability to enchant the funky, dirty, disappointing world around us is why I call her the Lady in the Lake. The mysterious woman who rose from a lake and handed King Arthur, the sword Excalibur. I can’t really articulate any better than I already have why I make that comparison, but my intuition tells me it perfectly describes my sister, Linda.

The “real” world hasn’t been kind to Linda. The scars were apparent in her voice when I last talked to her. Perhaps hearing from me brought back a lot of painful memories. Maybe I caught her at a bad time. But everyone tells me she is happier than at any time in her life. She has many friends. She loves the little church she attends. She is living a life of her own choosing, for a change. I am so happy for her! However I can remember Linda when she was very happy. She and I were very close when we were both kids. We had a little club all our own. Linda would confide little things that only a little brother could be trusted with. Of course, I can’t recall any of those secrets now, I’m not sure I understood them then, just that my big sister was whispering to me, her beautiful brown eyes wide. I felt so special! She is whispering to me! her little snot-nosed brother! A warm glow surrounds those memories, of summers at Keith’s, Linda and I sitting on the steps, just enjoying the sun. As I grew older, I became a huge embarrassment to Linda. I was so uncool. If Lawrence was Elvis, I was Jerry Lewis. In fact, for many years my name was ‘Stoop’, as far as Linda was concerned. (you know, short for stupid?) It just made me want to act even more like a doofus. I suspect her friends were confused. “Does she have a little brother or not? The other day, she claimed that dopey kid wasn’t her brother.”) I have no defense. It seems I have never been terribly concerned about what other people think. (as this blog proves) But Linda had an image to uphold, just in case Elvis Presley should visit Warrensburg. You gotta be prepared! Ditch the goofy little brother! Elvis never came, but a succession of other guys did. I was the thorn in the side for almost all of Linda’s suitors. I’d tease them, ask them dumb questions to throw them off guard, and Linda hated it. She always banned me from the premises, but I’d still manage to slip in. One guy, Paul, (I think that was his name), wasn’t fazed at all by my antics. He thought I was funny, I liked him, so did Lawrence and David. I guess that was all the more reason for Linda to dump him. She doesn’t want to get hooked up with someone like her brothers!! God forbid! Give me someone who doesn’t have his head in the clouds! I also remember one poor unfortunate soul, (I think his last name was Otten.) who had the habit of saying “we’ll see ya'” when leaving Linda at the end of the date. I would always say “Is there someone else out there?”. I think Linda might have asked him that, too. Poor Guy.

I might not have become such a fan of Elvis Presley had it not been for Linda. Our love of Elvis was probably our strongest bond. Otherwise, as the years went by, and I became an adult, my relationship with Linda drifted, until she ended up on that very distant shore. Much like myself, Linda has always had one foot in another universe. I have a feeling it is a universe I wouldn’t mind living in. There is something so pure and fragile about Linda. And yet I can hear her saying, “Fragile? Are you kidding me? Only a really tough broad could have endured what I have endured.” Fair enough. I recall the younger Linda, with the delicate face, and eyes that could break your heart. I remember one of the last times I saw Linda. I was visiting Lawrence and everybody, and it was a beautiful day. I felt sad that I couldn’t just live with Lawrence Debbie, and Shannon, and not return to no man’s land. I saw Linda walking up the sidewalk, her bright smile filled her face. I felt so much love! I suspect I looked the same, because I loved her so much just then. We chatted for a bit and she told me she hoped we would get a chance to go out to the ‘farm’, where we once lived. I regret to this day that we didn’t take that trip. Linda and I could have taken a stroll through Avalon, and sat by the lake from which she sprang.

Beauty and the Beast


In order to understand my recollections of Marjorie and Steve, I must go back to a memory that actually isn’t my memory. Others have told me, and well….here’s the story. For reasons I have never fathomed, I had to use a ceramic pot for a toilet when I was very little, just a toddler. This pot was in the back room, no locked door, anyone could cruise in, but then I was just a baby, so nobody cared about a baby’s feelings. They don’t have feelings, right? So on one occasion, as I was availing myself of the aforementioned pot, Marjorie brought home her new boyfriend, Steve. And Steve is being given a tour of our small little farmhouse. He comes to the back room and there I am! Now I suppose there is a rich tradition going back many generations of laughing at babies taking a crap in a ceramic pot. But that doesn’t make me feel any better. Steve laughed and laughed, and I think Marjorie was there as well, my Mom and Dad, Linda, probably Keith, maybe David, Lawrence. Hell, I think there were probably a few neighbors invited in to take a gander. I was mortified, enraged, and so embarrassed that I can say with confidence that I am still embarrassed to this day! This set the tone for my relationship with Steve. And Marjorie? I don’t know if she laughed, but I knew she was the person that brought this jerk into my life. Guilt by association! I say I don’t remember this, but I do have a kind of recollection, I can recall the anger and hurt and embarrassment. Never do this to your kids!! They do feel violated, and it will fuck them up. Take it from me.

But more about the jerk, later. I remember Marjorie as this beautiful woman that just happened to be my sister. She seemed like a cross between Lucille Ball and Ava Gardner. She had such a beautiful smile, and an easy laugh. She had kind of a fiesty quality about her that made her a lot of fun to be around. She carried herself like a movie star. If Mom was the Queen, Marjorie was the Princess. It was hard for me to really get to know Marjorie, but I recall some times we had when just she and I sat quietly, and she talked to me as if I were an equal, although I was ten years old, She respected my intelligence, and thought I was very funny. There weren’t enough of those times. Strange how even though I was a young kid, long before puberty I was able to see the sexiness of my sisters. And they were very sexy! I was proud to have sisters like them! (what can I say? I was a ladies’ man in the first grade, giving a girl I had a crush on, a fake diamond ring). I hope they take that as a compliment, it isn’t meant to creep them out! But I have creeped people out my whole life so why stop now? (But speaking of creeping people out….but I’ll get to Steve later.) Ok, so if you are still reading this…Marjorie had such an elegant, self-possessed manner that it was a shame that it was wasted on Windsor. I thought she would be famous, when I was little. I think I felt the same way about all of my brothers and sisters. They were all celebrities in my young eyes. I remember that Marjorie and Steve’s home felt like the waiting room in a dentist’s office. Very clean, orderly, and formal. And you could have all the bologna sandwiches you’d like while waiting. But no cooking. Plenty of magazines. Ok, I’ll stop now. I fondly remember sitting up late (quite the treat for a kid), watching the Tonight show in their bedroom. Steve and I would discuss politics (even when I was a little squirt, I was a Democrat at age nine). Steve was, as everyone in the fucking universe knows, a Republican! He let everyone know how conservative he was and how great Nixon was. Gee, do I sound annoyed? We played chess and Steve always won. Boy was that ever fun.

Ok, we’ve heard about the Beauty, time now for the Beast! It is to Steve’s credit that he took in stride all of the outrageous remarks, and deliberate tactlessness I unleashed on him when I was a kid. (when I stopped being a teenager, he stopped taking it in stride. Not such a funny story). But I would tell him he was full of shit (this was as a teenager), and he would just laugh. Once Steve asked me how long I thought I would stay ugly, and I said “well, let’s see, you’ve been ugly for how long now? About as long as you, I guess.” What was even better about that incident was that about an hour later, Steve says “I don’t think I’m ugly!” I had gotten to him! Score one for the pimply-ass kid. Steve really went out of his way to get me to like him, and he almost succeeded. But then something would happen, and he was a jerk once again. It is kind of pathetic, because I never spared his feelings, I made it clear how I felt. And he still wanted to be friends (or perhaps, more accurately, my Dad). I gotta hand it to him, he was persistent. I was Steve’s unrequited love. ok, now it’s creep out time again, speaking of which, I couldn’t hold a candle to Steve in the creep out dept. We’re talking about his hairy butt hanging out in front of the inlaws. Dude! Get a belt! Here’s Steve on the telephone: What am I doin’? Just sittin’ here scratching my balls! Great stuff! He should have had his own HBO special! I don’t think Marjorie would tune in to that one, though. Probably not Andra or Megan either. But Steve gave generously to those who needed help, he helped me get through college, he helped me out many many times. As well as other relatives. He was not a Scrooge by any means. He took an active interest in my welfare. (I thought it was too great an interest, at the time. I was fiercely independent, never took advice, I’m still like that). He bought me a console stereo for Christmas just before college, and I played that thing to death. I remember Lawrence defending Steve when I was being particularly harsh towards him, saying that Steve had helped many people anonymously. “So how come you know about it?” I replied. But that’s not fair. He was a good guy in many ways. But, I won’t deny it, he and I didn’t get along. We fought each other in fun, and then, after I was grown, we fought in earnest. I remember a time when Steve and I were screaming at each other over the phone. We got as down and dirty as two totally tactless assholes can get. Shit! I guess we were made for each other! I think Steve just smiled at that remark. God damn it! Did I love this son of a bitch? I recall the pain and sadness in his eyes when I last was talking to him, as he was giving me a ride back to the KC airport after Keith’s funeral. It was as if I was gazing into his soul. He seemed to be saying, “Please don’t hate me.” Perhaps he remembered our harsh exchange a few years earlier, perhaps not. Maybe I imagined it. I’ll never know.

The Dark Lord and the Wildman


This post is the result of the memory download that has occurred since I wrote the previous post “My Dream of Diane”. I have been flooded by memories of that time, and how strange it all seems, like the life of another person, which is why I wrote that post in the third person. At some point I may try to fashion an extended version of the previous post which includes much more detail, but for now, I wanted to provide some background for interested readers.

My adolescence, teenage, and early manhood was dominated by a strange relationship I had developed with a very charismatic boy/man who I shall refer to as the Dark Lord. Because he was, and I would assume is, an extremely private individual, for, as will become apparent, obvious reasons, he will remain otherwise nameless. He cast a spell on me right from the beginning, when he introduced himself as a new student, to the eighth grade class I was in. He was a handsome boy, with a mesmerizing intelligence and intensity. He piqued my curiosity. Previously, I had pretty much cornered the market on intensity in my little school. I was the class clown, the school oddball, and now I sensed a competitor. He attracted a lot of attention, and, yes, I was jealous. I can recall some early fights between us, but don’t recall who instigated them. We were definitely rivals. Then, one day he and I were sitting next to each other in class. I can recall looking at him, wondering what it was about him that was so fascinating. I wasn’t sexually attracted to him, he just had a quality that drew you to him. I probably was staring at him, because he turned to me and our eyes met. He stared into my eyes with all the intensity he could muster. I thought to myself, ‘there is no way I am going to look away, I am the master of this sort of thing. Nobody is more intense than me. I invented intense!’ I definitely thought I had a reputation to uphold, as the craziest kid in the school. So we stared into each others eyes for quite a while. I never flinched. Finally, the teacher interrupted our staring contest, by saying “I know you two are in love with each other, but could I please have your attention?” I was especially embarrassed because this teacher was friends with Keith, my oldest brother, and I suspected our little bout would get back to him, and I would be teased endlessly for it. I don’t recall the Dark Lord’s reaction, but I do know that we became basically inseparable after that. Whether I was under his spell, or he under mine, is debatable. But he told me later that at that time he knew I wasn’t like any of the other kids. I was different, and he had to get to know me. Over time, as we grew older, he developed a dark, enigmatic personality, which in retrospect seems more than a little absurd. But this is why I call him the Dark Lord. He cultivated a menacing, hypnotic look, and made cryptic remarks followed by a mysterious pause. It sounds comical, but he had it down to an art form, and many girls fell under his spell. Although he was also very funny, and a skilled cartoonist, he definitely had a Charles Manson quality about him. In fact, I did three tarot card readings of him in a row, during one lunch break, and each time his significator card was the Devil. Whoa!! I still wonder about that. When I saw what the Dark Lord was doing, I developed my own act. I decided to portray the exact opposite pole. I became the light to his darkness. I would approach kids in the hall and touch their third eye, saying “Bless you, my son” or my daughter, as the case may be. I was a big hit! All the other kids loved my Jesus act. Finally, one day I was doing this, and I hear the Dark Lord behind me yelling “Crucify him!!!”. I was pinned up against a locker and the Dark Lord pretended to nail my wrists to the locker. Of course, this was all in good fun! But teachers and the principal were concerned, as were my parents. Everybody thought our infatuation with each other was unhealthy, and I’m sure they were freaked out by the whole Good/Evil business. We were very much an Odd Couple. He was essentially impossible to get to know, all artifice, and dark performance. He could never allow himself to look foolish or vulnerable. I, on the other hand, was outrageously honest, and fearless, liable to say anything. I was extremely forth coming about myself, and other students were greatly entertained by my antics. I had no problem with appearing foolish or vulnerable, in fact, I embraced it. I dressed outrageously, copying Elvis with brightly colored scarves around my neck. I was amazingly ugly, with horrible acne, extremely skinny, and you-name-it, but it didn’t get in my way. My yearbook picture my Senior year was so bad I covered it up so no one could see. So this established the beginning of he and I’s relationship.

After high school, I suspected I might not continue to know the Dark Lord. After all, we didn’t hang out together outside of school. But I ran into him at the local library. He was sitting with this ridiculous looking girl. She had on way too much makeup and lipstick, a very short skirt, and most of her breasts were showing. This was pretty outrageous for such a small town. The Dark Lord introduced her as his girlfriend. I asked her name, and she says “I’m not really into names.” Right away, I knew something was amiss. This girl is a prostitute, it’s as plain as the nose on my face. Is the Dark Lord out of his mind? I took him aside, out of earshot, and warned him. “Something is not right about your girlfriend. She is bad news. You had better watch your back.” Unknown to me, the Dark Lord had become, in just a year, the primary drug dealer in the county. I didn’t know that he was the primary source of pot, LSD, you-name-it, for kids all over the area. At that point, I had only had a little encounter with pot, when I was invited to a party in which there were ‘magic’ brownies. I wasn’t that impressed and had no plans to get into drugs at all. But all of that was soon to change. In any case, this girl made no attempt to hide the fact she was a hooker. It was obvious to anyone with half a brain. She would shout out to guys on the sidewalk, as she drove down the street, “Hop in! I’ll take you for a Magical Mystery Tour!” I hated her, because I knew what was going to happen to my friend. Basically, the Dark Lord was just a naive kid, who wanted to impress everyone with how hip and cool and evil he was. Inside he was a scared little kid. It is amazing in retrospect that I had more insight into what was going on than he did, even though I was just a snot-nosed kid myself. Unfortunately, the Dark Lord did not heed my warning, and he got busted shortly thereafter. After some major aggravation, mostly on the part of his Dad, he managed to avoid jail. I don’t know all the particulars. If I had had any sense I should have avoided the Dark Lord after that episode, but I didn’t. I loved him. We were an inseparable team. I was mesmerized by him. Both he and I embarked on an LSD, mescaline, peyote, marijuana fueled journey of self-discovery which I have not regretted. We absolutely trusted one another, and felt a spiritual bond with each other. I think I was probably the closest thing to a friend the Dark Lord had. It was very difficult for him to open up to me, but there were a few times when he did. In many ways, he was a tortured soul who thought he found a kindred spirit in me. He never told me, but I suspected that he developed a trust and love for me when he realized how I had watched his back in regard to that setup (the prostitute had been given a plea bargain in exchange for getting the goods on the Dark Lord). I really think he regarded me as a holy light in his life, that the role I played in high school wasn’t entirely in jest. Unfornately his guarded personality and difficulty in discarding his carefully constructed persona, prevented our really becoming close friends although we spent a great deal of time together, much of it under the influence of one thing or another. I have no idea where he is now, or even if he is alive. He may be in prison for all I know.

Diane and the Dark Lord had a brief encounter. I had wanted her to meet him, and invited him to come to the student union so he could meet the love of my life. They went camping together!! It totally made me jealous at the time, and I regretted introducing them to each other. But, to my knowledge it was the only time they were together. And it sheds some light on what Diane said to me when I confided my love for her. A bit before they met, I told the Dark Lord all about how I was in love with this incredible woman, and he told me that I was actually in love with the Goddess she represented. “It is very important to distinguish between a person and the divine feminine.” he said. He was always saying crap like that. He never said anything ordinary. Now, looking back, it seems ludicrous. Basically he and I were a cult of two. But I was dishing out my own share of bullshit in those days too, so, it wasn’t always clear who was bullshitting who. But I think the Dark Lord was better at being a cult leader than I was. I could never keep a straight face. In any case, he had said that I was not in love with Diane, but with the Goddess within. Now, all these years later, I realize that he might have said something like this to Diane. It would not surprise me if they had discussed me, after all I was what they had in common. It is even possible that the Dark Lord sabotaged my relationship with Diane, because he didn’t want to lose his only disciple. Anything is possible. Who the hell knows. It was a long time ago.

Finally, I want to give a bit more background on what my life was like when I became enthralled with Diane. It is hard for me to relate to the person I was then. I had quite a few friends, which was, and is, very uncharacteristic of me. I drank fairly heavily on the weekends, did LSD and pot, and had a group of about five or six guys, plus Diane, that I hung out with. I can’t believe that I was actually a bit of a ringleader. Although I didn’t call it that at the time, it was my ‘posse’. We did all kinds of shenanigans. The one that sticks out in my memory was when we decided to check out the ‘Leeton light’  The Leeton light was a ghost tombstone, in the Leeton cemetary. To be totally accurate, it was a light that no one could account for, not even Ripley’s Believe or Not, who investigated it. Me and my posse determined that it was a ghost tombstone. We went down there late one Friday, with the lovely Diane in tow. She had always had an otherworldly quality about her, but with the moonlight falling upon her face, and the ghost upon the hilltop cemetary, she was magical. I volunteered to be the guy who went up into the cemetary with a walkie-talkie and a flashlight. I may have had someone with me, I don’t remember. From the road, the gang was telling me over the walkie-talkie, that I was standing right next to a glowing tombstone. They could see the light shining on my pants. They could almost make out the name on the stone. I informed them that I wasn’t standing next to a tombstone, the nearest one was fall too far away to be shining on my pants, and besides, none of the stones I saw were glowing. It was a total mystery. When I returned, I looked for myself through the binoculars and could see a glowing tombstone, and, like the others, I could almost make out a name. Although it was creepy, I didn’t feel scared. Everybody was freaked out by the whole episode. I still can’t explain any of it! That was also the night I lost my large sapphire class ring. It flew off my finger and into the weeds by the road. I could never find it.  Although I tried to include the Dark Lord in my exploits, and make him part of the posse, it was to no avail. He was uncomfortable around a lot of people he didn’t know, It was the only time he seemed awkward. I recall a time when I went out to his inner sanctum, an attic at the farmhouse where he lived, and he seemed at a loss for words (odd, for him), because I came cruising in with five other friends. He remembered me when the only friend I had was him. Now here I was! Popular! Who would have thunk it! I was growing up and developing a maturity which allowed me to come out from under the Dark Lord’s spell. Interestingly, the Dark Lord came to visit me (whereas before it was always the other way around), on several occasions and took a genuine interest in me, it seemed. He still didn’t reveal much of himself, although he had given up his Charles Manson routine, and seemed more himself.

One day as I was returning to my dorm, I heard someone imitating Neil Young, singing “Helpless”. I exclaimed “Neil Young is here!!” and this short, good-lookng kid, with an unbelievably cheerful personality popped out of a doorway, holding a guitar and singing. He said his name was Kevin, he had just enrolled for the next semester, and was there to meet me. He had heard I was a real ‘Wild Man’, he said with his eyes bulging, and a big smile. “I’m no wild man.” I said, “Quite the opposite.” But he said that several guys he had talked to said that he had to meet Russell Miller, that he was the coolest guy they knew, a real ‘wild man’, and gave examples of my wildness. I certainly didn’t see myself that way, and it is still hard for me to realize that a lot of guys (and I suppose girls as well), perceived me that way back in 1975. Like I said, it feels like I was a different person then. I did shoot off my mouth a lot, and was into every weird, outrageous thing you could imagine. I had a crazy sense of humor, and was very much the hit of the dorm cafeteria. I guess I had a bit of a reputation. Kevin wanted to be a part of that, he wanted to join the posse. You couldn’t help but love Kevin, his enthusiasm, and cheery personality was infectious. We became friends right away, and hung out quite a bit. I have a poignant memory of me showing him around Windsor, not long before I left college for good. I remember an amusing time when Kevin met the Dark Lord. Kevin was excited (of course he was always excited, but this time he was really excited) to meet the Dark Lord, that he had heard so much about. But the Dark Lord didn’t quite know what to say, and it was one of the very few times in which I saw the Dark Lord actually being shy. The last time I saw the Dark Lord was when I rode with him and his girlfriend to another state, and I had them drop me off at a Taoist retreat, a sort of commune I had wanted to live in. I told him I wanted him to write me a letter, and he took out a piece of paper from his pocket and wrote the letter L on it, and handed it to me. That was my letter. Then they left and I never saw the Dark Lord again. I had quite an adventure at that Taoist retreat, but that is another post. I hope this gives a bit more of an idea of what my world was about back then. I remember it as a magical time, somehow enchanted. I never had as many friends, all of them charismatic and fascinating individuals. But the Dark Lord was an extraordinary individual, troubled, but talented. I hope he is ok. I hope he learned to be comfortable just being himself.