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A citizen's view - Tom Robbins deserved his King for a Day

So, Sept. 2 came and went, there couldn’t have been a finer day in La Conner spent. There was a “King” in town, complete with a crown, and a shiny white old fire truck. Yeah, mega author Tom Robbins was kinda awestruck. The town was full of its regular crew and then there were the curious and people who didn’t have a clue. Who’s this fella anyways, what did he write, what did he say?

Well he wrote words that he turned into novels and one into a movie! Yeah, he wrote about eclectic characters and notions that could raise your eyebrows and maybe, make you drink some brew.

As I sauntered down the parade route I saw Jitterbug Perfume, a psycho psychedelic skateboarder, Stewart and Joyce, Bill, Mike, Mari and enough strangers to pretty much fill the sidewalks on First Street. Fancy cars all covered with colorful beads and a bike like an orca, all as the tide slowly flowed past. I met a woman who’d read them all and had fought her way through Seattle traffic to get here just after the parade. Of course I met a few folks who knew not of this wizard of words, they didn’t quite know what to think.

Mayor Hayes gave a ceremonial gift to the “King,” who’s known for being reclusive, a character who likes his seclusion. He likes to craft sentences that could melt the minds of his readers. I read one once that I have yet to fully comprehend, but then that could just be me, not him. I’ve been known to be more than a bit dim.

Along came the Meow Mix van, yeah, the one that looks like Garfield. I couldn’t help myself, the music that emanated from the things caused my feet to flutter and my arms to fling. Completel with notebook in hand, I kept time to the rhythm as we paraded down the street. Oh how grand a place to dance to the beat! Nobody threw rocks, or socks full of them, so I had a smile a mile wide. I didn’t see any pileated woodpeckers, but I did see a big ol’ beet, so seeing my favorite vegetable was a real treat.

When I once asked him what his favorite vegetable was, he quickly responded “cigars!” Yeah, he’s like that, yes he is. I thought he might say Spam, but then that wouldn’t have made a lick of sense, although that wouldn’t have been a sin. No, his sentences are sensible in a sobering sort of way, they cause thoughts to sprout out your ears and laughter to leap from your tears that assuage your fears as you read the works of a sage. Yeah, a seer, a be-er, a hairy headed dear, a writer whose headed dear, a writer whose head is obviously quite clear.

By the time I danced the length of the parade I was a bit hot and sweaty, so I got distracted by a bottle of water and a chair and a bunch of people, both with and without hair.

Our favorite bubble blowing nerf-mobile “Toynota” made an appearance and I think the driver was more psycho than the aforementioned skateboarder, but then that’s just my opinion. He looked like he just flew in from bubble bubble land, yeah his grizzled and frizzly beard covered his face, but it couldn’t hide the smile that was nearly as wide as mine.

At first I thought it might be a bust, but now I’m thinking we need to commission one instead, complete with a mussed up head of hair and a cigar. Maybe we could carve him in a big ol’ can of Spam, now that would really be another roadside attraction, or distraction, whichever you prefer, actually most of us would agree to it being both!

Alright, alright, alright already, there’s no need to get testy, just because I’m pesky doesn’t mean you can mean and nasty. Yeah, we’re all here for a season, some of us for teasing, some for tweezing, some fore tearing up an eye. King Tom Robbins, what a day, what a guy.

In 2021 Glen Johnson won the Skagit County Historical Museum’s annual essay contest.


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