Scooby Doo and the Gang Illustrate Some Literary Genres: Memoir
by John Leary
As a kid, I did my share of meddling. Misdemeanors and the like, petty vandalism. Drugs and worse. I used to hang with Freddie and Daphne and this guy they called Shaggy and his dog. The dog was named Scooby and was actually part of our group. I mean, certainly, we all had pets at one point or another in our lives, but this dog made sounds, semi-human sounds, so he seemed to be talking, and it seemed as if he was entitled to vote on important decisions.
I tongue-kissed Daphne only once. She was going through some hard times, and Freddy seemed to have a vague sexual dysfunction she would only allude to. It was about that same time that he started wearing the ascot.
We spent several years driving around in Freddy's van. He had a gun in the glove box, and he had a paper bag full of money he kept when the dealer he worked for went to jail, so we drove, aimlessly. We solved a few mysteries and for a while that became our thing.
Shaggy was called "Scaggy" at first because he was so ratty and smelly. His whole body smelled like bad breath. His real name was Norville Rogers and once we were all stoned on his front lawn and his mom came out and someone said, "It's Scaggy's Mom!" and for a moment that was the funniest thing we'd ever heard. Daphne was laughing making that snorting sound and I was laughing so hard I couldn't get my breath and thought I was going to barf. Shaggy's mother said "What?" and Freddy thought quickly and said "Shaggy. We call him 'Shaggy' because he needs a haircut." And the name stuck. Shaggy was always really skinny, but he could drink gallons. I heard he got really fat for a while and got involved with some satanic cult. He was actually on trial, I heard, for human sacrifice, but he got off. I also heard he got drunk one night and sliced up a friend's dog pretty bad with a carpet knife and he had to leave town.
A few years after we all split up Shaggy showed up on my doorstep one summer evening. I let him in and he stayed for four months. I was teaching English to immigrants at night and getting piecework at Livermore Labs during the day, so we didn't see each other much. Probably there was some unexplored thing between us that we had to get out of our system, because we had sex every time we had a free moment together. Then when we had our first fight, he was gone.
I heard when the late eighties came along Freddie died of AIDS pretty quickly. Shaggy told me. Shaggy runs a sandwich shop now on some surfers' beach down in Mexico. When Shaggy was planning on moving to Mexico, Scooby was an old dog. Shaggy didn't want to take him to Mexico so he gave him to a friend in trade for a quarter bag of shrooms, and this guy was working at a dotcom for a few years and pretty much working around the clock and Scooby would come into the office with him but by then the dog was really old and blind and peeing everywhere so the other employees made him take him home and he was cooped up in a little shitbag apartment in Sunnyvale and hell, eventually he just died.
I saw Daphne a few years ago. She was in town for a sales conference and somehow managed to look me up. We met at an Applebees' near her hotel. She'd had a bad first marriage and I was expecting her to talk about a string of men that followed. But she'd met a guy, they'd been married for nine years, so maybe it was going to work. No kids. She hadn't quit smoking and she was a lot heavier around the hips, though she dressed like she hadn't noticed. She was in middle management, the VP-Sales at some manufacturing company outside of Atlanta. She spoke with a soft drawl. She said she was doing fine, really good. Hell, she was doing as well as any of us. As well as any of us can reasonably expect to do.
In the day before going to meet her at Applebees', I'd find myself staring into space, remembering the night we kissed. We were exploring the Haunted McIntee Mansion when Daphne pulled me into the pantry. She kissed me. We kissed for a few minutes. Her soft lips tasted like bubble gum. Then I looked at her and she turned red and ran away. I stood there thinking, "Jinkies! I'm a lesbo!" but then later I fell through a trap door in the conservatory and landed in the basement and Freddy came running up and put my face into his hands and looked at me and he was so gorgeous. I thought, "No way can I be a lesbian when there's men like that." But then I thought, "But isn't Freddy gay?" So what did that make me?
That night we set an elaborate trap for the Spook and caught the old caretaker, Mr. Saunders. After the sherrif took him away, we were in the van and Shaggy smiled and said he and Scooby had broken into the "haunted pharmacy" down the road and grabbed a bunch of pills. We all ate some. I kept flashing to when we took off Mr. Saunders mask, and I remember thinking: Nothing in life is real. Even the unreal isn't really unreal. It seemed profound.
Daphne and I sat at our little table at Applebees' and after pie and coffee we talked for about two hours, until conversation ran out and we parted by promising to keep in touch.
I've never lived up to the goals I set for myself. Government grant money always seems to run out. I never had the discipline to pursue a PhD. I think I was always the smartest in the gang, and I knew more about nearly every subject than all of them combined. So, but, I never had to concentrate on any particular subject. If you want to move forward in the sciences, you have to specialize. I look back on the days when we were all driving around together in the Mystery Machine as a crossroads of sorts, the days when I first lost my way. And yet looking back on those days, remembering the certitude of the days in which we moved, the ways we never failed to unmask the crooks, it all made me think life was a simple thing that we had discovered.
About the author:
John Leary lives in San Francisco where he is trying to get something going.