Today's Zits may only amuse me, or, if any of them happen across it, those left of the raucous crew with whom I spent the summer of 1970.
One of the house vehicles was the Bonzo Bus, a VW named for the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band, which was so ill-suited for life in the Rockies -- the bus, that is, though also probably the band -- that we would, indeed, stick our arms out the windows and flap to at least amuse the people stuck behind us on mountain roads.
I remember going up Boulder Canyon on the Fourth of July to a massive hillside concert at what would soon become Caribou Ranch in Nederland in my own car, an inherited station wagon, and slowing to such a crawl behind Bonzo that people leant out the back and directed my front bumper up to Bonzo's rear bumper so they could get there before the Fifth of July.
I don't have a picture of the bus, but here's a video of the band for which it was named, playing a song which, appropriately, involves canyons:
Elsewhere in the canyons of my mind:
Bizarro also struck a semi-personal note, only "semi-personal" in that the largest age gap I've ever attempted was 10 years, and that was when I was a sprightly 40-something and the people who had grown up with Nintendos and Segas and other essential skill-building technology were barely out of high school yet.
It reminds me, rather, of a significantly younger friend some years later, regaling me with stories of her adventures in computer dating, one of which including waiting outside a restaurant for her date who, when he showed up 20 minutes late, she realized had actually been on time, which she knew because she had seen his car timidly circling the block.
The relevant one in this case, however, was an older fellow who, in their on-line correspondence, had told her that he shared her love of clubbing and dancing and partying until all hours but, in their first actual meeting conceded that he had in fact loved doing all those things a considerable number of years before and hadn't actually done any of them in a very long time.
I've said before that I had all sorts of merry adventures as a youngster so that I wouldn't have to go through a mid-life crisis wishing I had, but I'll admit that another way to look at it is that I made such a goddam fool of myself as a young man that I didn't need to do it all over again in my dotage.
I am now at a stage of life where either interpretation works for me.
And speaking of old guys and young girls
The rumors and legends about Benjamin Franklin indulging in the pleasures of lovely young women during his time in France are so pleasant that it seems cruel to point out that he was, in point of fact, playing the George Burns role in which you are surrounded by cute young things, but not actually involved with them.
Which is fun if you don't think about the fact that, while you are thinking of them as marvelously beautiful, they are thinking of you as marvelously harmless.
Samuel Johnson, a man of Franklin's era, remarked to the dramatist and play producer David Garrick, "I'll come no more behind your scenes, David; for the silk stockings and white bosoms of your actresses make my genitals to quiver," which Boswell softened to "excite my amorous propensities."
Johnson was 40 when he said it, mind you, which makes the quivering credible but means that only his own dour personality gave him reason to avoid these near occasions of sin.
By contrast, Franklin was Minister to France from age 72 to 80 and his wife remained behind in the States, which means he had opportunity and motive, but it's likely that, if he did ever sit side-by-side with anyone in twin bathtubs, it was not an advertising euphemism but, yes, a harmless reality.
Bathtubs, Ben Franklin and young ladies of the French court being the subject of today's "Quixote Syndrome," -- and my response to odd quotes always being to seek context -- I tracked down Peter Mann's text beyond the source he provides.
I got a real kick out of the cartoon, but Professor Mann does the old boy a disservice, because Franklin, in fact, bathed (though in warm, not cold, water) a great deal more than the average European or American of his time.
I heartily recommend you go read the rest of this 1899 article from Century, one of the truly great old magazines. Although, if you are not yet done with your day, I would suggest you bookmark it for later, because you will get sucked in.
It turns out, according to this article, that Franklin's theory on the beneficial nature of fresh air also went against the common opinion about night airs and miasmas, a fact illustrated by an anecdote from John Adams:
The article goes on about his belief in vegetarianism and his belief that "a full belly is the Mother of all Evils" and that "to lengthen thy life, shorten thy meals," because "In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eat about twice as much as nature requires."
Franklin was even into jogging, albeit around the room and not out on the streets, and recognized the class issue in voluntary exercise: "The poor man must walk to get meat for his stomach, the rich man to get a stomach to his meat."
All of which might have made him unbearable except that he admitted to being included in the class of which he wrote, "You philosophers are sages in your maxims and fools in your conduct."
It wasn't that he didn't do any of the things he advised, but, rather, that he didn't do any of them for very long. I can relate to that.
And yet he lived to be an encouraging 84.
Or, by his reckoning, 56.
Now here's Benjamin Franklin's moment of zen: