“Don’t rain on my parade!” The young woman who whispered this to me did so as I pointed out that the exact idiom used in 1965 had been just “cool,” not “like cool.” Being a dialog coach for her student film project was not working as planned. First off, I’d lived a long time since the sixties, and our language use continues to grow. Second, so much ’60’s jargon I hadn’t used for decades.
Additionally, most of her idiom seemed derived from movies that got it wrong in the first place. We’d go to the movies to laugh at how folkies and hippies were being depicted. There especially seemed to be an artificiality to the language: put five groovy’s in one sentence and make it authentic was the logic.
I couldn’t transport her and the scriptwriter to Beacon Hill in the sixties. So I sat her down with some old reel-to-reel audio tapes I dug out from 1971. Despite moldering away in the basement for decades, they brought back old memories with a huge contact high.
I’d been living in Eastie then, and some old friends from Baltimore had driven up on a whim. It was Reading Week for me at the university, but the prep for exams took a back seat to guitars, songs, good weed, and many, many songs. The talk was natural and exactly what she needed to hear. Afterward, she finished her notes and asked, “Whatever happened to them?”
I skittered away from the blunt truths of drug overdoes, alcoholism, stupidly avoidable car crashes, religious cults, and conversion to radically conservative forms of capitalism. “Unfortunately, we all grew up.”


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