Midsommar ★★★★

Midsommar is an unsettling and eye opening experience that dug into my psyche and has yet to let go. But it's still not the most unnerving experience I've had involving a commune.

It was the summer of 1989 and I was just a naïve farm boy killing his summer with video games, hay forts, Mountain Dew, and baseball. I was a good 20 miles outside of town, and my father worked me like a West Virginia coal miner, so getting a day off was a rare treat. My city friends filled their days with Dairy Queen, cable TV, and public pools while I toiled away stacking hay bales and watching Mama's Family reruns while constantly manipulating the "rabbit ears" to maintain a signal. To say I was jealous of their city slickin' ways would be an understatement.

Now, I did have a couple pals in the valley who got me through the long summers. First up was Shane. Shane was nicknamed "Nuke" because of his ability to throw a softball 400 feet in the exact opposite direction it needed to go. He also had one of the most amazing wardrobes in American History and he wore it with pride.

Tasmanian Devil T-Shirts with acid washed jorts; knee high tube socks and shit-stained high tops; and always topped off with a dirty blonde mullet and skin that made him look like an extra from HBO's Chernobyl. He swore like a sailor and was already stealing his old man's Blatz and porno by age 13. He also once booby-trapped an old farmhouse in a way that would make Kevin McCallister jealous. I loved that maniac.

My other pal was Aaron. Aaron was a few years younger but we had a lot in common - love of sports, movies, air conditioning, Sega Genesis, bikes, and cassette tapes of Technotronic for starters. He lived a couple miles away with his hippie parents and we'd meet up most days to raise hell. Things were pretty boring in the valley and neither of us had much money (my old man was still drinking and his parents were, ummm, hippies or public school teachers or some shit), so we had to get creative.

I remember one winter's day he was pitching aluminum cans at me while I swung a 2x4 (a white trash homerun derby, if you will). The 2x4 slipped out of my frosted gloves and struck him directly in the forehead. Blood sprayed across the virgin snow like some sort deleted scene from Kill Bill and a flap of skin drooped over his right eye like an old curtain. As we ran full steam to his parents house we spotted a milk truck and ran towards it in hopes of a ride before Aaron bled out. As the truck approached we both waived our arms frantically to get the driver's attention and it worked! Sadly, he must've thought we were just two punks asking him to blast the horn because as he raced by he let that horn rip and grinned ear-to-ear like some water-brained inbred. I'll never forget it. We raced back to Aaron's house with a phony cover story and it all worked out - a quart of blood and 30 stitches later he was good as new.

Anyway, where was I. Oh yeah, boring summer days on the farm. So one day I get a call from Aaron and he tells me that the Community Farm right down the road had built a pool. Yes, a pool! Every child's wet dream is to have their own pool, or have a friend wealthy enough who constantly invites you over to use theirs. Sadly, I had neither. But rumor had it the hippies down the road may be opening their own and you can bet my bell bottoms I was figuring out how I could weasel my way in there.

Now, that may seem simple but even at a young age I had a general distrust and aversion to hippies. Most of that came from my father (himself a former long hair who probably resented knocking up my mom at 18 and having me thus neutering any plans of backpacking across the Sierra Nevada), and the rest came from an early viewing of Easy Rider. God, that movie was and is a huge piece of shit and possibly the greatest waste of time committed to film. Fuck, I'm angry just thinking about it.

Ok, deep breath. Now I knew I had no connections but figured Aaron's dad, who I had never seen leave for work but assured everyone he worked for the DNR, had a connection to this glorious oasis. And I was 100% right. Word came down from Aaron we were invited to a pool party on Saturday and I was absolutely stoked (I would've biked over to John Wayne Gacy's apartment if the sonofabitch had a pool so my Nixon-esque attitude towards hippies was but a minor speed bump.)

Aaron arrived at my parents house around noon even though the pool party didn't start until 2pm. No matter, we just fired up some Bulls vs Blazers and NHL Hockey and passed the hours until it was time for splashdown. And finally, we hopped on the bikes and pedaled our ass down the gravel road that lead to The Community Farm. I had my finest Op swim trunks on, my farmer's tan perfectly accenting my burgeoning man tits, and fresh crew cut giving a strong "dishonorable discharge" vibe. Point being? I was ready.

As we approached the farm I was scanning the horizon in hopes of catching a glimpse of this Olympic caliber pool I'd soon be frolicking around in. Then I saw it. It looked like a pond you'd use for livestock riddled with ringworm so they wouldn't infect the other cattle, The murky water was as brown as Chrissy Metz's underwear on a hot July day. The diving board was an old wooden plank that had probably once been the front door to Moon Dancer's shack before a 12 mph wind blew it down. Yet, I was still oddly excited. It was technically a pool after all and they did the best they could. Fuck it, let's swim I thought.

So, our guide FlowerMuff or something like that encouraged us to jump on in and the others would join us shortly. And guess what? We were having a blast. Tossing the football and catching it off the diving bored was so fun I forgot that I probably just contracted Hepatitis C. I didn't give a damn - this was great I thought and started to rethink my position on these foul smelling creatures who lived just down the road.

Then the rest of the party arrived and things would never be the same.

I remember catching the football and submerging under the water as a group of 15 or so people was walking towards the pool. As I emerged from the water I saw a woman in her 50's wearing a yellow sun dress. I went back under the water and when I came back up I was face to face to the largest bush I've ever seen. It looked like a hibernating family of angry raccoons. I think she said "how's the water" but I can't be sure because I was swimming away like Michael Phelps. I submerged again and hoped when I came up that pulsating gray clam was in my rearview mirror for good.

Be careful what you wish for.

I popped up on the other side of the pool only to be greeted by several dangling middle aged cocks. Just hanging out there like the cast of The Sopranos in front of Satriales Deli. It looked like an outdoor butcher shop in war torn Kosovo - thin, grayish meat that looked spoiled a decade ago gently swaying in the breeze. I felt like I was in a horror film - specifically like Heather in The Blair Witch Project when she runs from her tent ("Oh my god is that one uncircumcised?!?"). It was madness I tell you. Madness!

I huddled with Aaron who had "what the fuck is going on here???" tattooed on his face as well. As we pulled ourselves out of the murky pond I surveyed my surroundings (and realized my penis had crawled inside of me like a frightened turtle.) Now, I'm not judging here and I assure you I'm no prize. But I was a late bloomer, and other than Porky's or Revenge of the Nerds vagina's were a mystery to me. Plus, those vagina's did not look like my uncle's bear skin rug and these did. And on top of that I’m someone who's avoided seeing my dad's dick his entire life so seeing 15 old hippie cocks flopping around a volleyball court rattled me.

Aaron and I slunk out of the pool and informed our hosts we needed to use the bathroom. Of course we were encouraged to "go wherever" but my lighting quick brain retorted "we gotta poop" and we were directed to the main house to relieve our bowels. We scurried down the dirt path and grabbed our bikes like we were stealing them and started to ride. As we raced down the gravel road towards a place where summertime activities were enjoyed without flopping cocks and wooly gashes I started to feel a little bad for my abrupt departure. I mean, we're all humans right? They opened their home to us and allowed me respite from the brutal summer heat, and I fled like Marilyn Burns in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In my defense I was still playing with Transformers at this point so you can see how coming face to face with the devil's afghan may be a little jarring. But seeing Midsommar for a second time I couldn't help but realize that sometimes life doesn't have easy answers and things are complex. I guess we all need to be comfortable with ourselves and our traditions, because without that you're living your life for someone else.

Even if that means obliviously showing your junk to a teenager.

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