Mendel Letters 42 — Wild Thing

August 14, 2021

Dear Mendel,

In my teen years I was into heavy rock and psychedelics. Wild thing, oh what you do to me. Wild Thing! I guess I was a bit of a wild thing, or maybe I just wished that I was.

I still remember when you had the “talk” with me the summer between high school and college. I was seventeen. In a serious tone you explained that it was now okay to have sex with girls as long as I was careful, but I shouldn’t drink or use drugs. Of course despite my teenage longings I had had no relationships and none were on the horizon. I carried an emergency condom in my wallet, all my friends did, but it was more for show than anything else.

Meanwhile I had been experimenting with marijuana and drinking pretty regularly, mostly beer but some vodka, for more than a year, as an antidote for oppressive high school tedium and for sexual frustration. In 1966 the Troggs recorded Wild Thing. The heavy beat vibrated my entire body, especially when I was high or had a buzz.

One weekend in our senior year, 1967, a group of us we borrowed two family cars and drove up to a summer bungalow colony in Putnam County. It was before season and one friend’s parents said we could use the place. On the Thruway we had a 70-mile an hour water gun fight between the two cars. Just before pulling into the bungalow colony we stopped at a grocery. One guy was already 18 so we bought two cases of beer, if I remember correctly one was Rheingold and I think the other was Ballantine. We were into cheap beer. The swimming pool was empty so we smoked and drank in the pool, set off fireworks, and cooked hot dogs. I don’t remember how we slept. Someone ratted on us so I was not invited to that friend’s apartment again, which was sad because he had a great electric light hook-up that flashed along with his stereo system.

When we were drinking or high I couldn’t just stumble home, but another friend’s mom would put us up, happy that we reached there safely, whatever our condition. The weekend before we started college the national science fiction convention was in town at the old Statler Hilton Hotel near Penn Station. The conference had many of our science fiction writer-heroes. Robert Heinlein won the 1967 Hugo Award for best sci-fi novel for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I remember meeting Harlan Ellison, who wrote science fiction with a horror twist. One of my favorites at the time was “A Boy and his Dog” who were trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. State delegations at the conference threw parties to win support for hosting future conferences. No one asked how old we were. With free and unlimited alcohol, I drank until I was sick, passed out, and when I woke up staggered with my friend to his parent’s. My stomach was riled for days. I learned my lesson and that was the last time I drank just to get drunk.

City College began the next day.

Your son

Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.

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