It's funny how small things can change your perspective.
In my case, it was a single ray of sunshine coming through a gap in the tattered curtains that didn't quite cover the window to the apartment. It was a bright early autumn morning, around 8, maybe 8:30, one of those days that makes California truly golden.
First, it caught my eye, waking me up from a restless sleep, then it hit Maggie's face just right. She was still zonked out, lying on her back, her naked breasts heaving slightly with each intake of breath.
As I looked, I saw -- really saw -- the nascent lines on her face, the crow's feet at the corners of her eyes, the crease at each end of her mouth, the ever-so-slight etchings of time across her cheeks.
It really highlighted her age, which at that moment was 34 years.
I looked away, sat up and fished for the bong. The little well surrounding the bowl still had a fair bit of weed left, so I packed a hit, found the lighter, fired it up and sucked in the pungent smoke.
Then I looked back at the woman I'd been so madly in love with -- beguiled would be more like it -- and she was the same mature beauty she'd always been.
But I'd been given a brief glimpse of just how old this woman was, and how young I was, and the question flashed through my mind. "Is this who I really want to spend my life with? Is this really the life I want to live?"
Suddenly, I knew it was over.
"Wake up, Maggie," I said as I shook her shoulders gently. "I think I've got something to say to you..."
Ah, Maggie May. What can I say about her that would do her justice?
Her full, given name was Maggie May Cortes, and I'm not lying when I say she was a real mature beauty. Oh, she wasn't a knockout in the model sense, but if you took in the whole package, she was awfully hard to resist.
She was kind of tall, maybe 5-foot-10, and slender, with mysterious dark eyes, high cheekbones, a sensuous mouth and a body that had no excess anywhere. I would eventually find out that her father was Spanish and her mother Irish, a rather wicked combination.
Of course, it wasn't until you became intimate with her that you understood that she had a bit of the earth mama about her. She adamantly refused to shave her legs or her armpits, and, strangely enough, I found it sexy. At least I did at the time.
You have to understand. I was a young hippie, in thrall to the lifestyle of the Sixties, and Maggie was a dedicated veteran from the Haight. She'd grown up in the city, turned 18 in 1965 and she'd been there for all of it -- the good, the bad and the ugly.
Me? I came along much too late to be a true flower child. I was born in 1959 and was just a kid living in Santa Clara when the whole hippie scene blossomed.
But just because I couldn't experience the "real" thing didn't mean I couldn't be a second-generation flower puppy. Oh, as long as I was in high school living at home, I didn't completely drop out, as they used to say. But I did tune in and I did turn on, at least a little.
Fact is, I was a good student, graduating on the honor roll, and a respectable athlete. I had the size to be a pretty good tight end -- 6-foot-2, 220 pounds -- and I enjoyed playing football, even if I didn't completely buy into the jock mentality.
When I graduated, I had a few scholarship offers, and the one I chose was at USF -- the University of San Francisco. After a year at the dorm, I moved into an apartment a block or so off campus and sank myself into the life of the urban college guy.
That's where this tale really begins.
I'm the youngest of four kids, and my nearest sibling was four years my senior. So I grew up pretty much on my own, and by the time I got to be a teenager, my folks were burned out on trying to be strict disciplinarians.
All three of my siblings -- my brother is the oldest, then there are two girls -- were headstrong and confrontational about everything. They bought into the "generation gap" thing, and spent their teenage years at war with my folks.
Ironically, they really weren't into the hippie scene that was going on just up the road in San Francisco. Their rebellion was far more political. They argued -- no, fought -- with my folks over integration, Vietnam, sexual mores, clothes, music, just anything, really.
And they really and truly didn't get along with either of my parents, who, admittedly, weren't particularly understanding about what was going on in the wider world, and weren't very willing to compromise their values to fit changing times...
You have to remember, my folks had come of age during World War II, when lock-step patriotism and conformity was a way of life. Moreover, Dad grew up on the stories of war heroes, and as soon as he could, he left home and joined the Navy.
By then, the war was over, and Dad served his four years rather uneventfully, then left the service and set about raising a family.
Since I was the kid in the family, I kept my head down, my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open. I learned a lot from the mistakes my brother and sisters made. I figured out pretty quick that I could get anything I wanted from my folks if I just played nice. I was helpful around the house, wasn't mouthy and did my best to get along.
As a result, my parents let me get away with shit my siblings would have had to fight pitched battles to get.
Among those things was the OK to go into the city for rock concerts. I guess they figured it was a losing battle, plus they liked my best friend that I went with, mostly because his folks always took us and picked us up. We went to all the shows, at least the ones on the west side of the bay, at places like the Cow Palace and Winterland.
It was at Winterland that I saw the show that changed my life. I was 14 in the fall of 1973 when I first encountered the Grateful Dead. That was also the first time I got high, and the cosmic symbiosis of those two events shaped my life for the next 8-9 years.
I was mesmerized by the way Jerry Garcia played the guitar, they way Phil Lesh played lead bass lines, the seamless ebb and flow of the music, a free form of rock I'd never heard before.
I came away determined to have that experience as often as possible, and from then on, almost right up to the bitter end in 1995, not long before Jerry died, I was a dedicated Deadhead.
Oh, once I became an adult, with a job, a family and responsibilities, I didn't go to as many shows as I did when I was young. But I usually saw a couple of shows a year until the end.
Oddly, I've never had any desire to see the "new" Dead. As far as I'm concerned, the Grateful Dead died with Jerry.
Anyway, I talked my parents into buying me an inexpensive electric guitar for Christmas that year, and I taught myself how to play. Eventually, I figured out that I wasn't going to be much of a player, so when I was a junior in high school, I saved up money from a summer job and bought a bass guitar. That I could play decently.
As a result, high school was a stone blast. I played football in the fall, then spent the winter playing in a succession of garage bands, going to concerts, playing a few gigs here and there, then I'd spend three weeks in the spring back practicing football.
As for girls, well, I recall what Eddie Van Halen said about playing the guitar. He said, "When I got good, I got all the pussy I wanted."
I never got "good," but that didn't matter. I was a big guy, nice-looking and I played guitar in a band. So, yeah, I got laid early and often in high school.
And nothing changed at USF, except the women got better looking and more adventurous.
It was during the semester break my junior year that everything changed. I was at a Dead show at the Coliseum in Oakland during the New Year's run in 1980, and the guy I was with started having a bad trip.
I think maybe he got into some bad mushrooms or something, because he got sick and was really seeing some weird shit. I never cared much for shrooms, I guess, because I had to eat a fair amount before they affected me, and they always made me nauseous.
LSD, on the other hand, I could gobble like aspirin, and during that period in my life, I never went to Dead show (or any other concert) without tripping my ass off.
That night, I was just starting to peak, and I had no clue how to deal with my buddy. I'd never seen anybody freak out like that, and I was looking around in a mounting panic when this woman came over to us and took over the situation.
As she talked my friend into a calmer state of mind, I checked her out, and I could feel my groin tingling as I watched her. After she got him calmed down, she gave me a very sardonic look, maybe because she knew I'd been checking her out.
Why wouldn't I? She was wearing a tight sweater, and her unfettered tits were jiggling nicely -- and noticeably -- under that sweater. She also had on a low-slung peasant skirt and sandals. Even at the first, I was mesmerized.
"I'm Maggie," she said with laughter in her voice. "Maggie May Cortes. And you are?"
"Chris Wilson," I said. "My pleasure."
We started chatting, and the next thing I knew we were dancing together as the show reached a crescendo.
When it was over, Maggie offered to help me get my friend home securely. He was still a little shaky, and I was grateful for the help. I was also still feeling the effects of my own acid intake, one of which was intense arousal.
"What about the people you came to with?" I asked, not wanting to intrude on her scene.
"Oh, I didn't come with anybody special," she said. "Just people from around. Besides, I'd rather take you home and fuck your brains out."
.... There is more of this story ...