One of my all-time favorite songs was “Wild Thing” by the Troggs. When I think back to the 60s, I realize how tame my life was as a teenager. I remember being so nervous that time my friend Dave showed up with a mickey of gin in his bowling bag. He hoped to entice the girls into having a snort with him around the corner. All I could think of was being caught and getting into trouble big time. Needless to say I turned down the temptation to join in. Then there was the time Dad gave me a stiff drink of navy rum with coke to celebrate my 16th birthday. I gathered he did so to put me off drinking. It worked somewhat. I still can’t stand the combination of rum and coke 45+ years later. There was definitely no “Wild Thing” in me during those years!
As I got older and ventured out a little more I wasn’t sure who to trust. When I went to parties and watched someone pour a 26er into the punch bowl and then insist I have a cup I turned them down. It meant being called a prude, of course.
When I finished high school I began to get a little braver. On my first solo journey across the country I found I enjoyed drinking German beer while singing and dancing on tables at Expo 67. It lasted until they ID me. Being invited to drink champagne on a 50 foot yacht with jet-setters was fun too, and somehow I still managed to stay out of trouble!
My life got a little more exciting when I took on a top role for a local organization and then I later represented the city I lived in for various functions. It also gave me some confidence I didn’t have before. By then I found out I enjoyed a glass of red wine occasionally. I was underage though because the legal drinking age was still 21. I felt pretty wild sneaking in the ladies and escorts door at the Burnaby Hotel the first time.
In the late 60s we were on the edge of being part of the flower children, smoking pot, using magic mushrooms, and dropping LSD. My intro to pot was a room-mate gone paranoid and I helped bring her down. Forget that idea for being wild! The only friends into magic mushrooms did their own picking and hanging out in the woods for a few days and having love-ins. That didn’t excite me in the least either. The first LSD flight by someone in downtown Vancouver ended up to be the guy’s last flight so I scratched that idea.
Actually, I was a pretty boring person for the first half century of my life. My only claim to wild fame early on was doing things like street racing in that cool Mazda Rotary we owned or learning how to double clutch. Then there was the occasional fooling around in the bushes! Raising kids and being designated driver for local parties kept me pretty low key otherwise. I knew there was a wild thing deep inside of me but I kept it pretty well hidden.
My kids were almost teenagers before I ever tried something illegal like pot. A friend offered me some Columbian gold to enjoy at home with my husband. He refused to try it but I did. I was high for 2 days because I thought you smoked it like a cigarette. It was sure fun while it lasted, or at least I think it was. My memory didn’t work very well for awhile. The next time was a couple of years later. Another friend gave me some of her home grown stuff to try. I didn’t know if I’d ever get my throat working again after 2 puffs. All I know is it was sore for 2 weeks. She gave me some seeds too if I wanted to grow my own. That never happened!
I had a lot of explaining to do though when my daughter found my dried up ancient stash a couple of years later. I was so embarrassed getting caught. I immediately became a horrible parent and then I made it worse by suggesting she try growing the stuff!
I probably began to come out of my shell a bit in my mid 40s. Going back to school and having to really delve into who I was as an individual helped a lot. I found there was a lot more to me than being a wife and a mother and a daughter. Up until then I’d done some part-time jobs, run a couple of businesses, and done a lot of writing but I had no sense of who I really was. Other than doing some traveling with my family and kids, my only real breakaway until then was the short time after high school.
It was time for me to become a “Wild Thing” and for the next 15 years I really broke out, in my mind anyway! I drove down the west coast to California, up to Alaska, across to Newfoundland, and down to Key West. Then I took the “free” road from the Texas border to the Guatemalan border and lived on the Mayan Riviera for a few months.
Of course I also had to work to support my travel habit. That included living on the prairies for awhile where I learned how to train a horse, calf out, inoculate and castrate cows, and even drive a grain truck. Then I was off to China and Vancouver and Toronto, working for an international company.
I finally took a breather in 2005 and settled into a great job working with people with developmental disabilities. My wild side tamed down once more but a couple of years later another opportunity came up. In 2007 I packed my bags and I was off to Mexico again, this time for a year.
I learned about the Mexican culture and how family came first for them. I listened to their music and loosened up to the beat of a different drummer. I absorbed the heat around me and breathed in the ocean air. I laughed and cried and enjoyed life.
I began to understand my “Wild Thing!”
I’m in my 60s now and I have a better idea of who I am. I’ve seen Singapore and Hong Kong and Thailand and Bali and Vietnam this past year. I have more traveling to do, God willing.
Sometimes I get caught up with everyday life and the drama that goes with it. That’s when I have to sit back and take a deep breath and remind myself that I can be a “Wild Thing!”