Plastic Roman Soldiers and Nixon's Comin'
Back when I was in college, I briefly belonged to an anti-nuclear organization. I say "briefly" because it turned out that, apart from one other person and me, the group was populated by hippies and Jesus-hippies. During the third, and final, meeting that I attended, the only other non-hippie and I (for some inexplicable reason) started making fun of the four students who had been killed by the National Guard at the Kent State protests back in the Sixties. One of the hippies (I can't remember if it was a Jesus-hippie or a garden variety hippie) happened to overhear us and was, not surprisingly, taken aback.
"What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground?" the hippie angrily yelled at us. It wasn't so much a question as a lyric from the song Four Dead in Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, the Professor, and Maryanne. Caught completely off guard, I did my best by pointing out that I would, more-than-likely, call an ambulance. By the way, this is still my official policy when finding dead bodies.
Later that night, while drinking beers in my dorm room below my Sid Vicious poster, my friends and I discussed the ethical implications of "Knowing her and finding her dead on the ground":
"What if you knew her, but you didn't really know her all that well? Are you still obligated to call an ambulance?"
"How 'bout this: what if you knew her, but you hated her guts? Then it might be fun to call her mother and tell her that her daughter said to meet her at that spot because she had 'a big surprise' for her."
This got us wondering what the next line in the song was, as we were hoping that it might fulfill and "instructional" purpose in case any of us were to stumble upon a dead body in the future. We went down the hall and asked my friend Stenn who knew the words to just about every song ever written. He informed us that the next line in the song is "How can you run when you know?"
"Jesus. How can you not run? I mean, she's dead, right? There's nothing you can do to help her. And, correct me if I'm mistaken, but the song implies that people are still shooting. Hanging around would be the equivalent of committing suicide."
Stenn said that he thought the lyrics should be "What if you knew her" - in the Biblical sense - "then found out she had the crabs. Better shampoo down below" because, according to his experience "nine-out-of-ten hippie chicks have the crabs."
calamitas -atis - misfortune
teloj - in the end, finally