When Doris Taught Herself the Art of Levitation (digital collage)

My babysitter Doris was a Junior at Lake Forest College, one town over. She was one of those innocent, milk-fed maidens from Wisconsin or Iowa. Even cloistered at a small liberal arts college far from the city, she found it impossible not to get caught up in New Age spiritualism ushered in by the musical Hair that was all the rage in 1969. During her summer break she had taken a roadtrip to Boston and ended up at The Aquarian Age, a hippy bookstore owned by my mother's brother, Michael. She returned that fall reborn Doris Free Star and took to reading lots of books on magic. Although hardly out of short pants, I became something of her confidante. Why, I'll never know. My parents seemed not particularly concerned. Doris might have become decidedly more ethereal, but no less responsible. She could warm up a tv dinner as well as anyone.

It must have been early fall because it was summer-warm. I was running around our backyard while Doris sat on a blanket with her face in a book on magic. I remember turning around to ask her a question, but when I looked at the blanket only Doris's sun dress lay there. A shadow passed overhead, causing me to look up. And there she was, Doris, floating above me, focused and seeming lost in deep thought. However, I couldn't help but notice that she was wearing only her underwear. Well, for a boy my age, she had presented me with what I considered the height of humor. I burst out laughing. "I see your underwear!" I taunted. Doris's concentration was broken and she fell to the ground with a thud. She appeared to have suffered nothing worse than a bruised ego. "Inside with you, this minute!" she demanded and with that I ran into the house.