Among the Hippies

You Won’t Find Me in This Photo

Although I arrived in Southern California right around the time the Hippies sprang into existence, I was never one myself. I had just undergone brain surgery in Cleveland, and my worries were too basic for me to work on being cool. I was, in a word, decidedly uncool. I didn’t have a beard, though in 1968 I started to grow a mustache, not because it was fashionable, but because it reminded me of my Hungarian Huszár (Hussar) ancestors.

All around me, people were wearing tie-dyed shirts and blouses, headbands, and other regalia suggestive of Native Americans and Asians, the only Hippie trait I adopted was long hair. I had always disliked the crew cuts and flattops that my parents liked, so I let my hair grow when I came to the Coast. As for beards, I tried but it was way too itchy.

Some of my friends were Hippies, and by and large I got along well with many of them. I tended, however, to avoid kids who took their stance too seriously. I smoked grass from time to time, but I was probably more likely to get an asthma attack than to get high. As for more serious drugs, like LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin, I didn’t mess with them.I had no way of knowing how long I would live without a pituitary gland, so I didn’t want to experiment too much. I was into surviving.

And so, more than half a century later, I am still infesting the Earth—with perhaps the prospect of continuing a few years longer. My continued survival came as a pleasant surprise to me.