Mr. Harris

Mr. Harris

It's hardly surprising that Walden College's first and finest longhair is a second-generation freak, beloved spawn of two eccentric Californian-Americans. Aside from an early-days dorm visit, readers only became acquainted with the Harrises when Zonk and Mike were busted for a weed seed during their infamous "Call Me When You Find America" road trip, and thrown in a small-town hoosegow. Zonk's mother was heartbroken that her green-thumb son might not be able to help with her spring garden, all the more grievous as it was she who first turned him on. Fortunately the lads are sprung, thanks to the cash in Mr. Harris's wallet.

From time to time Zonker's dad passed family lore along, regaling him with tales of Colonial-era ancestors Nate and Amy Harris, the latter a woman of spirit ("Seriously, Nate. I want to be a Minuteperson.") who aspired to literacy. ("I want to be able to converse knowledgeably about Descartes and Gibbon and the essays of Mary Wollstonecraft.") Zonk's parents, who met as undergrads at UCLA, were themselves caught up in historic times; his father had to "sail for the European Theatre to fight the Nazi scourge." Mom is still bitter: "DARN that Adolph Hitler!"

The intergenerational bonds are strong, and more than once Harris fil took refuge at Walden Commune when he and his beloved became temporarily estranged. (Zonk: "She just needs to be by herself once in a while.") During one such residency, when Zonk was, uncharacteristically, hitting the books hard, Mark and heartbroken but enthusiastic Harris the Elder head for high ground: "C'mon, let's go get wrecked!" Hours later, Zonk has the mind-blowing experience of hearing his father say, "Oh, wow." Mark: "I think he meant it, too!"

The 1990s were a low point for Family Harris. Announcing that the real world had "not worked out" for him, Zonker moved back home, delighted to realize that not having to pay for rent, telephone, laundry, or food, improved his financial picture considerably, leading him to muse: "I might get a Corvette." His parents immediately canceled their credit cards and looked into obtaining a court order. "Did I mention we live on a fixed income now?" With Zonker finally re-launched and thriving in the Weed Biz, mellowness was finally restored to Casa Harris.