Don’t take your mother to Woodstock By Donna Weinheim
I needed my mother. I clung to her pantsuit. I followed her everywhere. Then I turned thirteen. I woke up one day and looked down the path I needed to go down and it did not include my mother. I left her in the dust behind me wondering where her little girl went. I didn’t tell her I wore white lipstick, teased my hair, wore skirts so short you could see my garter belt, and french kissed boys. I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want her to stop me and I didn’t want to get in trouble.
When I turned fifteen my mother asked me in a whisper ”What do gay people do?” We grew up on Long Island and though I considered myself worldly at a young age apparently my mother was not. I looked at her. “What do you mean, what do they do? Do you mean sexually?” She looked around to make sure no one could hear us even though we were alone. “ They do this, this and this.” I was gleeful at the shocked look on her face. I realized she had asked me because she knew I had knowledge she did not. I decided at that moment I wouldn’t tell her anything I did from now on not because I was afraid but because she needed to be protected.
I didn’t tell her I tried marijuana., baked banana leaves and tried to smoke them because of Donovans ‘they call it mellow yellow, saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium, was left outside of a nightclub for hours because I had fake ID, went backstage and stole Bob Dylan’s whistle ring and the Byrd’s hairbrush, distributed the hair carefully to my friends which we wore in lockets, drove to New York City with four girls to see the Cream at Hunter College; Ginger Baker , Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, drove eighty miles an hour on the Long Island Expressway to get home before my curfew. did I mention I didn’t have a license?
When it was time to go to Woodstock, she didn’t want me to go. She wasn’t afraid I would be raped or murdered. She was afraid I wouldn’t have anything to eat. She threatened to go with me. I looked at her amused. I knew she didn’t want to go, and she knew I wouldn’t take her.
I told her I would see her in three days.
I came home three days later covered in mud and starving. She was alternately mad but so happy to see me and feed me. I didn’t tell her we drove for hours in the heat, we left the car two miles away from the concert, there were only fifty port-o-sans for 500,000 people, peace, love, flower power, at night strange communes would set up teepees and dance around a fire, Friday night when Melanie was on stage the same 500,000 people held up matches in the natural ampitheatre that was Max Yasgur’s farm,a girl next to me was writhing arms and legs contorted with a lopsided grin on her face because she was on LSD, I woke up in my sleeping bag to Jimmy Hendrix playing the star spangled banner at six am on Sunday and was not happy to be woken,we tiredly walked to the car ankle deep in mud. I didn’t tell her because I thought she couldn’t handle it.
Only now do I think that no one would ever be that happy to see me when I came home. I wish I had told her.