In 2009 Brock Dundee and I drove 3000 miles through the Midwest; Chicago to St. Louis to Kansas City to Iowa City to Minneapolis and back to Chicago. Most of the trip was off the Interstates. Neither my traveling companion nor I saw a single hitchhiker on the side of the road, as if Homeland Security had renditioned that American icon into a secret prison someplace hidden from justice.
At truck-stops, diners, 7/11s, and bars I asked hippies, motorists, students, and friends, if they had recently seen any hitchhikers. Everyone said no.
Hitchhikers like hobos and beatniks had gone extinct.
People were scared of everything, but Americans were once brave.
I started hitchhiking as a teenager in the late-60s. My high school was located outside of Boston on 128. I ran track. No bus lines or subway train ran between my town and the high school. Hitchhiking was the only available transportation outside of walking ten miles.
Every afternoon around 4 I would stand at the 128 onramp. I was 14 years-old. Dusk would fall fast in the late autumn and strange men would stop for me.
Once I was in the car, they would ask if I had a girlfriend. Answering 'yes' or 'no' didn't matter, since their questions became more lurid with each passing miles.
"You ever have dreams about naked men?"
My hand rested on the door handle.
"Not even Tarzan or Hercules?"
"Do you like gladiator movies?"
Their interrogations were remarkably alike regardless of their car or age. It was almost as if they were reading from a script. They also smelled of Aqua Velva. Some of them looked like priests. None of them were Tarzan. By sophomore year I had the dialogue down and they drove me home with high hopes. Some even offered money to let them suck my cock. $10 was the cost of Levis.
"Sorry, I'm saving myself for my girlfriend."
I remained a virgin throughout high school.
It now seems like a waste.
Then again I was more into science fiction than gladiator movies.
Oh, those bikini invaders from Venus.
For a classic film warning about cruisers, click on this URL