GOODNIGHT KAREN MIHOCH — WHEREVER YOU MAY BE
My apologies to Jimmy Durante for hijacking the closing line from his 1955 TV program.
Every July 20th I revisit a marker in my life. A “you were here” sign taking me back to a more confusing but simpler time. My life-plan was short and similar to many young men of the late 1960s. First, I would (hopefully) get through my Senior high school year, get a car and find a girlfriend.
Secondly, desperately begin applying to colleges in hopes that a faceless someone in the admissions office might reverse the black hole gravitational pull of the Vietnam War by issuing me an acceptance letter.
Here’s why: if your grades weren’t good enough or your family didn’t have the money to send you to college after high school, you were classified “1A.” If you fell into those two categories, it was virtually certain that you had “earned” an all expenses paid trip to the Vietnam War.
With an acceptance letter and proof of paid registration, your local draft board issued you a student deferred classification; a “Get Out Of The War–Free” card.
Congratulations. Now, some nameless “1A” type would take your place and go to war in place of you.
By 1967, I faced reality: no college for you. Frankly, the military looked pretty good to me. However, I had to choose between serving as a two-year draftee in the Army — with a year in Vietnam almost guaranteed — or spending four years in a different armed service branch. I chose the US Air Force.
Incredibly, my first assignment was to Langley AFB. This was only two hours from my hometown area of Northern Virginia where many of my friends still lived while attending nearby universities.
On one trip, I bravely looked up one of the most attractive Class of ’67 girls and asked her out. Her name was Karen Mihoch and in the two years since graduation, was now, frankly, a fully-grown babe. Seriously….
More importantly, she was a babe that (1) remembered me (2) would actually speak to me and (3) agree to go out with me. So we headed to the then (and now) very casually-hip-chic Georgetown area for the afternoon-evening. She was the epitome of the late 60s gorgeous blonde stereotype. She had a great body, er, … a “lovely figure”; willowy but not anorexic, big bangs, long hair, and micro-skirt (where have they gone?). Her final fashion statement featured white “Go-Go” boots, and, of course, that 1960s pinkish lipstick. Whoa.
We ended up at the Tombs – a popular Georgetown University pub and restaurant. We had a great meal and even better conversation. I was hopeful this was going somewhere. As we talked, the bartender casually placed a small “portable” television on the bar for all to view.
He fidgeted with the antenna (not familiar with the term?) and waited for the set to warm up (not familiar with that term either?).
In about a minute, there on the small screen, I watched a grainy, black and white television picture from the moon fade into view.
Wow, from the moon!
Being a huge fan of aviation and space exploration, I recall being desperately torn between watching her — and her inviting, porcelain décolletage — or the television. Should I be talking about her academic goals or marveling at the greatest technological event ever?
But, looking at her was like looking at the heavens as well. What kind of wondKarma payback had her sitting with me? News anchor Walter Cronkite was breathless as he watched Neal Armstrong leave his footprints on the moon.
I was breathless thinking about leaving my fingerprints all over her.
But, it was not to be. Sadly, she had to be back early that evening (maybe due to her family’s reluctance over her dating a military guy; it was the late 60s, after all). We watched that historical event along with the rest of the world, and although we saw each other from time to time, we eventually faded from each other’s lives. Life, I have learned, is sometimes like that.
I hope her life has been as wonderful as mine. But, every July 20th, I revisit “our” moment in time. Has it really been over 45 years?
I bet she is still a babe.
Good night Karen Mihoch, Wherever You May Be.