• Ohope author and personality Barry Rosenberg is working on a new book of yarns based around some of the fascinating, and
    sometimes famous, people he has met in his travels. He continues to share some of these colourful stories with Beacon readers …

FOR sure, I wasn’t the only one madly in love with her at the time of our brief encounter. Nor would I call it an exaggeration to say there were a few million of us males in that heart-stopping condition.

Was it her remarkable face: the blonder than blonde hair, those lips, the amazing cheekbones? Of course, her voice had so much to do with our ardour. She wrote all her own stuff, sang it (along with her own guitar accompaniment) as though you knew, you just knew, she meant it solely for you.

So there we were, tooling around the States in the old VW bus, me and my doggie, a hippie mutt ever there was one, with the highly appropriate name of Farout.

Everybody loved the dude. I just trailed along, him setting the way with his great grin, the tail that never quit wagging, his playfulness.

“He’s really called Farout?” the ladies would coo. And at the sound of his name he’d run over, stretch high up on their thighs, encouraging strokes and scratches.

With this in mind I steered the kombi along the dirt road to where I’d heard these musicians hung out, and she sometimes visited. I hoped she might be there, and that she liked lovable dogs, especially those with cute names like Farout.

Soon as I parked the van and opened the door, he jumped out and following several minutes of getting-to-know-ya sniffs of the countless other dogs hanging out, he went up to each person sitting outside smoking and holding beers, endearing himself to all.

But no, she wasn’t there.

I stayed a little over a week. In conversation I let it be known that it would be kinda nice if she would, ah, put in an appearance, know what I mean? They laughed. I suppose they’d heard it all before.

“Yeah, she shows up now and again,” a fella noted.

“Especially when she’s written a new piece and wants our take on it. Lady’s pretty shy though. I’d take it slow with her if you’ve got that on your mind.”

More laughter.

It was an enjoyable several days. To be there while these guys, whom I had known solely through their records, were working through new numbers in their converted studio was a treat. But the lady never made an appearance.

One day a neighbour brought around some psychedelics, and we all indulged. I enjoyed a wonderful several hours traipsing around the lovely woods, communing with the universe.

It was close to midnight when, exhausted from the day’s labours, I crawled into the ratty old sleeping bag laid out on a squab of foam on the floor, zipped up and crashed.

Joni

During the wee hours, I thought I heard people talking in the main room, one of those a woman with a melodious voice. But it probably was weaved into my post-trip dreams.

Hours later, very late morning, I heard the same voice: “Barry? Barry.”

I opened my eyes. My face was pressed against the wall.

“Are you awake, Barry?”

I turned around, twisting the bag awkwardly around myself. This is what I saw:

Her, sitting cross-legged just alongside me, a grinning Farout curled in her lap.

I sat up. She leaned over, her face – that face – mere inches from my own. Then she reached out and gently splayed her fingers around my long beard, stroking it, giving a gentle yank.

“Hi, Barry,” she smiled. “I hear you’ve been looking for me.”

Substance hangover wrapped around my brain, I sat there staring groggily. Half a minute?

A minute? No more words; none. Then:

“Nah! I’m still tripping. Go away!”

Flopped back in my bag, twisted around and again pushed my face against the wall. From behind me, laughter. Gales. A bunch of them crowded around the doorway, gawking, guffawing.

I got up a couple hours later, fully awake now. Nobody around. No Farout.

I scrambled out of the bag, stumbled to my feet, dashed out the door and stood happily behind some bushes. Bladder emptied, I made my way back to the house.

A few people began kidding me. “She left and Farout ran after her. You’ll probably never see either again.”

Well, I did see them, an hour later. I felt stupid, humbled, a damn fool as we sat on the grass talking for several minutes.

Then she got up, kissed me on the cheek, squeezed Farout till he whimpered, got in her car, drove off. Both of us, man and beast, staring sadly at her retreating vehicle.