Out in the desert this morning I settled onto a favorite sittin’ rock to savor the silence while Brandi chased rabbits. A wave of nostalgia washed over me, nostalgia for the America I used to know.
Times were tough in the Great Depression but we could usually spare a dime for a brother who was worse off than we were. We sang along with the union maid and then one day she became Rosie the Riveter making the weapons for the bloodiest war this old world had ever seen. The boys from the CCC camps became GI Joes. We knew that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself.
We danced the jitterbug to swing orchestras. We sang Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. We treasured our spacious skies and amber waves of grain. We liked Ike and we built Levittowns and generations of our sons and daughters got college educations their parents could never have dreamed of.
Things weren’t perfect, especially for people of color, but we were Americans, stuck like a dope with a thing called hope, and there were answers out there blowin’ in the wind. We passed a Civil Rights Act and a Voting Rights Act and proudly claimed the leadership off The Free World.
We asked not what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country, and we joined the peace corps and went eyeball to eyeball with the Soviets over Cuba. We went to Woodstock and marched on Washington and finally got the hell out of ‘Nam because we really didn’t want to be mad at no Cong.
We got a lot of things wrong but at crunch time, when the chips were down we got it right.
Come Tuesday, I was thinkin’, there on that sittin’ rock, we’ll do the right thing again.
Suddenly a figure materialized before me, stompin’ up the hill from Box Canyon. He wore camo fatigues and his combat belt held two grenades and a holstered .40 caliber Smith and Wesson. He had an assault rifle slung over his shoulder, Rambo style, and his cap said, “Make America Great Again.”
“You got a gun, Old Man?” he barked.
“Old guy like you, shouldn’t be out here alone without no gun. We ain’t that far from the border. All kinds of rapists and druggies crossin’ over every day. They find an old man with no gun, they’d slit his throat without thinkin’ about it.”
He vanished into the brush. I heard the sound of an ATV engine starting up. In a cloud of dust, the apparition vanished.
On the way home my nostalgia gave way to sadness. Nobody has danced the jitterbug in a coon’s age. Rodgers and Hammerstein are ancient history. Only thing blowin’ in the wind is particulate pollution. Things move fast now and if you can’t keep up, get off the road.
“You can’t grab pussy with arthritic hands,” I told myself. “It’s not your America any more, old man.”