Not Your Usual Fanny-Packer

Cartoon by Rick Zimmerman
Cartoon by Rick Zimmerman

As I calmly nursed the ailing rust-pocked and chugging 1952 Ford Country Squire woodie up the gentle rise of Old Route 66 coming into Oatman, Arizona, I was most definitely taken aback and surprised to spy a fluorescent pink fannypack, with livid turquoise zippers, strawberry stitching, and a bright goldenrod daisy medallion, wrapped about the hips of this bizarre character!

He was apparently — understatedly and understandably — not your usual fannypacker.

To start with, there was the odd roadside location. After all, Oatman, a small mining town in Mohave County’s remote Black Mountains is not a spot one where might readily expect to encounter such a fastidious, and, well, suburban, travel accessory. This former gold rush town was still experiencing a long slow decaying slide begun after the 1953 construction of a new highway bypass, and can now boast of only slightly more than six score residents (if it embraces the entire surrounding zip code, that is). I had arrived amid the deserted shacks and battered adobe huts to snap some photos of the town’s roaming wild burros and to perhaps try my hand at mid-August sidewalk breakfast preparation using the famed Oatman Egg Fry.

Easing my foot slightly off the accelerator, my eyes rose from the quite fey fannypack to that wild burnt orange burst of Wavy Gravy locks, not sure yet whether I was examining a rowdy Janis wannabe or a skinny Slash imitator. But soon the slightly protruding fringe of a matching beard from a sharply chiseled chin indicated it was the latter. (Hey, the hairy legs weren’t yet enough of a clue to this one’s gender. Could have been a liberated lass that wasn’t really into that ol’ sexist leg-shaving routine.)

My olfactory senses were next assaulted by the hefty and ripely pungent doob protruding from this dude’s fist. Judging by the truly mind-bending and -expanding euphoria that overcame me upon just the briefest of inhalations through the station wagon’s open window, I figure this guy’s got an even better supplier than Snoop Dogg. That same fist happened to be grasping the neck of what must be one of the few and exceedingly valuable replicas of Jimmy Page’s famed Fender Telecaster guitar (y’know, the one used for nothing less than the totally awesome solo of ‘Stairway to Heaven’).

Wrapped gaily about the wrist of his other right-angled thumb-poking appendage was the kind of androgynous hippie scarf popularized by the likes of Steve Tyler. Meanwhile, his overall itinerant bard attire was fleshed out by other de rigueur rock apparel, like the rumpled and rolled skinny chinos, a loose-laced pair of clunkily oversized high-top sneakers (black, of course), and a tight and well worn violet velvet blazer over a torn t-shirt. Lennon-style tinted granny glasses further punctuated his image.

And to top it all off, he sported the ultimate highway troubadour’s accent — a riotously decorated felt higher-than-high top hat, such as the Mad Hatter might have worn, if that Mad Hatter was a cross between a drunken Johnny Depp and a pscilocybin-gorged Jerry Garcia.

Made me wonder: just what exactly did that fannypack hold?

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