Goon Lives

Paradise Beach, Mykonos
Photo courtesy of

Goon was a kid from my high school named Greg. He got the nickname not because he was big and lanky and looked like a goon but because Mr. Davenport, the PE teacher, shortened it from Gouganis, which was his last name. It stuck. Probably because he was big and lanky and he looked like a goon. He was only at ACS for a year and when he left we forgot he had ever existed.

Then, one summer after my senior year a bunch of us went to Mykonos, at the time our favorite island. We would take the bus to Platyialos, which was as far as you could go in those days, and walk around to the beach we called Paradise and the beach before it (that we never thought about asking its name), but we liked because of the little cave we stayed in out on the peninsula. It was during this trip that Goon returned from the states and for a few short days was a part of our lives.

We were not well liked by the hippies of Paradise beach. This was in 1971 and many of them were on the way to or from India where they had bestowed upon themselves an inner grace and serenity that they displayed for all. But we got on their nerves. We yelled and laughed and did funny dives off rocks and while they grooved on the sunset we destroyed the ambiance by having rock skipping contests and rank-out sessions. We called them "India People" and they called us "Day Trippers." We took it as a compliment.

"That's right pal. We live here. Eat your heart out." we would say. They would take acid in ceremonial fashion like a religious rite with a profound respect for the lessons they would learn on their journey. We would drop acid and dance on the tables at George's, the only Taverna on Paradise in those days, and continue our rock-skipping and rank-out sessions, while debating on who was better, Ritchie Blackmore or Jimmy Page.

But for all his Gooniness, Goon was accepted among the India people to a degree we could not understand. With us, he was big, goofy, Goon, often the butt of our jokes and goodnatured enough to be able to withstand continuous needling. To the saffron robed India People, he was like a God. They listened to him intently so as not to miss any of his words of wisdom. This surprised us but not as much as when he disappeared with the two most beautiful India chicks for two days. When they returned it was obvious that they had become unified in some spiritual-sexual ceremony. It was more than Christopher, the poet of our group, could take. I found him alone in a dark corner of the far Taverna on another beach drunk on retsina. "It's Goon. He's driven me to this." He told me through clenched teeth.

It was to be my last island trip with Christopher who sunk deeper and deeper into drugs and self doubt, eventually going to work for an insurance company. But Goon re-appeared a few years later when Leigh Sioris and I returned to Paradise. Goon had become one of the foremost experts and collectors of model trains. At a young age he had risen to the top of his field and I wondered if perhaps it didn't have something to do with his experience with the India girls on Mykonos.

So as I put Mykonos behind me I wonder, does Goon still go there? Maybe I should not have been so quick to leave the favorite island of my youth. Maybe I should have taken the bus to Platyialos and walked past the miles of cafes, hotels, swimming pools, fancy restaurants and beach chairs and the hordes of tourists nude-sunbathing, oblivious to a future of cosmetic surgery and dermatologists. Maybe I would find Goon, now portly and middle aged, holding court with beautiful jewelry-bedazzled blondes at his side while his yacht lay at anchor with the dozens of other yachts in the tiny bay, talking about his youth and the gang of teenagers who thought they were hot shit but couldn't even carry on an intelligent conversation or get laid by an India chick and were probably selling insurance, waiting tables or hanging posters in small southern towns.

I should have stayed. I bet he would have bought me a lobster dinner.

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