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Cuddly Toy

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One-shot: Cuddly Toy

Monterey, June 1967

A year and a half into attending and covering pop and rock concerts in California, and Ann already had plenty of her favorites. Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore in spring 1966, the Stones at Cow Palace that same season, seeing the Monkees for the first time on a train from Del Mar—okay that last one was barely a concert, but still a big moment for her career and life. But right now she knew she was in the middle of experiencing a legendary moment in music history. Her Tiger Beat press pass was apparently a lot handier than she already knew when she called up Cass Elliot to see if she could get an invite to the Monterey Pop Music Festival. It was being held by her bandmates John & Michelle Phillips and their producer Lou Adler, and everyone in the industry wanted to be a part of it. Much to Ann’s delight, her friends Peter and Micky from the Monkees were also going up state for the festival. Most of the regular music fans were spending the nights in tents and vans around the festival grounds, but the showbiz affiliates were sleeping at the nearest hotels. Ann felt luckiest of all though, being able to spend the weekend at her aunt’s house across town.

The first two days were pretty far out, with the closing act of Simon & Garfunkel as Ann’s favorite; and then she got to enjoy the Airplane again along with Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Byrds the next day. The final day of the performances was the most anticipated with an additional Big Bro set, Ravi Shankar, Buffalo Springfield, the Who, the Grateful Dead and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Ann knew she was going to have a blast no matter who she attended with, but going with two of her favorite band friends made it even more special. It was especially great seeing Peter have a blast viewing so many different music genres live.

Mid-afternoon on Sunday, Ann was walking around the empty seating in between sets when she felt someone sneak up behind her and pick her up.

“Peter!” She exclaimed after a squeal. She heard him laugh before setting her back down.

“I can’t believe you missed most of Ravi’s performance,” he said in disbelief. “I’m still reeling from that final sitar solo.”

Ann laughed a little. “Peter, his set was 4 hours long. I think he’ll forgive me for only catching the last 60 minutes.”

He linked arms with her and directed her over to the open grass area behind the stage. “You’re going to see me introduce the Springfield, aren’t you?”

“Of course! I still think it’s unfortunate John and Lou asked Steve’s band to perform, but not yours…”

Peter shrugged slightly. “It’s no big deal. No junior high kids allowed this weekend,” he cracked lightly while playfully nudging her arm.

As Big Brother were gearing up for their second performance, Ann grabbed a lemonade from a concession stand. Walking back, she noticed Peter leisurely chatting with the band’s frontwoman Janis Joplin by the stage stairs. Before Janis turned to head onto the stage, she gave Peter a hug and he gave her a peck on the lips. Ann froze mid-step in surprise. She broke out of her trance when she saw Cass walk up beside her, and Peter waved to the band before heading elsewhere.

“Your lemonade not up to par, girly?” Cass asked.

“Oh, no. It’s good,” Ann claimed as she took a sip slowly. “So…Leah had other plans this weekend?”

Cass looked a little surprised at the question. “Yeah, she’s in San Diego for the week.”

“Oh…well, you know. I was just wondering because you and Peter are here…”

The singer rolled her eyes dramatically. “Oh, I stopped trying to keep track of that relationship weeks ago. One day they’re shacking up, the next she’s calling me saying how she’s proud to be independent.”

“Ah…” Ann took another sip of her drink. “I didn’t realize Peter and Janis were friends…” She continued carefully.

“Well, you know Peter can get along with anyone,” Cass said nonchalantly. Ann nodded casually in agreement. “And we all love Janis, but she is a little trampy sometimes,” she added offhand to Ann’s minor shock.

Though she enjoyed Big Brother’s show yesterday, this time Ann chose to spend the hour speaking to some of the celebrities attending the fest. Like Cass and Michelle, Brian Jones and Nico, and of course, Peter, Micky and Micky’s girlfriend Samantha Juste. She tried not to feel too self-conscious at how naturally stylish and hip Michelle, Sammy and Nico were compared to herself. When she saw Nico arrive at the event in her glamourous wardrobe with Brian, Ann momentarily wished she had packed something more fashionable than a few floral-patterned white cotton dresses. Just then she heard the festival MC announce Buffalo Springfield were up next in 10 minutes, and she rushed to the front row of seats before Peter could got on stage to present the band. Right as the stage lights turned on, Michelle took a seat next to Ann and Peter strolled up to the center microphone.

“I’m, uh, here to fulfill a function this particular time around. One which I revel in and glory in. That of introducing the next group—who are my favorites! Because of longstanding friendships with individuals.” Ann smiled as Peter pointed to the guitarist on the right of the stage. “As well as, I like the music. Haha!” Ann giggled. “So I’d like you to welcome, with a great, fat round of applause, my favorite group: the Buffalo Springfield!” Ann jumped up to cheerfully give a standing ovation as Peter hopped off the stage and the spotlight widened for the band. When Peter made it around the corner to the audience, he walked up to her side of the row and she saw Peter whisper into Michelle’s ear. She gave a light nod and stepped aside for him to take her spot then left the crowd. Peter and Ann hugged each other happily as he sat next to her.

“Aw, I would’ve saved you your own seat if I’d known you weren’t going to watch from the wings. Michelle didn’t have to leave…” Ann pondered over the opening song.

Peter laughed a bit. “I don’t think she’s watched a full set the whole time we’ve been here. John keeps pulling her back to play hostess.”

“Still…”

Quickly into viewing the rock show, Ann noticed that the band’s usual second guitarist Neil Young was replaced by David Crosby of the Byrds, and there was another musician to the left she didn’t quite recognize. She remembered early on into becoming friends with Peter, he talked about his own friendship with Springfield frontman Stephen Stills since starting out as street musicians in Greenwich Village five years ago. The way Peter described Steve and Neil’s tempestuous musical relationship reminded her a little of him and his bandmate Mike. Though fortunately none of the latter’s tension had turned violent and no one disappeared from the group for weeks at a time, as far as she knew.

Next after Springfield was the Who. Ann had heard all about their anarchistic shows and how the band members were notorious for their radical attitudes on stage and off. She quite liked their singles ‘My Generation’ and ‘The Kids are Alright,’ but she hadn’t gotten to know much about them as a group yet. The lead singer had the most traditional good looks, but also appeared only a couple inches taller than her Monkee friend Davy. And based on the texture of his blonde hair, she thought the singer might regularly flatten it like Micky used to. The guitarist and drummer were cute, with the latter the most spastic performer. And the bassist came across as the only one she’d legitimately label ‘sexy.’ He was the complete opposite of Peter on stage though and just kept to himself on the edge of the floor. While getting a thrill out of the group playing hits like ‘Summertime Blues’ and ‘Substitute,’ Ann would once in a while take a look for Peter’s reactions. Surprisingly, he occasionally didn’t appear too impressed and sometimes held an ‘eh’ like expression. Halfway through their encore of ‘My Generation,’ featuring the guitarist and drummer smashing their instruments and the singer winging around his mic, Peter grabbed Ann’s hand and set out to the sidelines. Surprised, but not upset, at the abrupt interruption, Ann followed him out of the crowd. When they reached beyond the stage area, he said: “Seemed like a good time for a bathroom break.”

“WHAT?”

Ann was now getting the aftereffect of experiencing the reportedly loudest band in the world up front. He repeated the statement closer to her ear and she nodded, a little embarrassed to not realize the loud music would affect her current hearing. While he excused himself, she stood in line for a cup of water, feeling a bit dehydrated since the last two bands. As Ann waited, she attempted to pop her ears back to normal and turned to look at the stage. She found the hard rock band’s wrecked equipment was being replaced for the Grateful Dead set. When she returned near the stage with her cup in search for Peter again, she found him looking a little agitated. “Hi…everything alright?”

“Yeah…starting to think I need to learn how to say no, heh,” he said uncomfortably.

“Why? What’s going on?”

“Well…apparently there’s been a rumor since this morning that the Beatles secretly showed up and are hiding for a surprise performance….It’s not true, but it’s spread enough that some people actually believe it,” he explained.

“Oh…that’s too bad…what does it have to do with you though?” She wondered.

“John and Lou asked me to go back on stage and tell everyone the rumor’s fake…you know the expression ‘don’t kill the messenger?’”

“Oh. That is awkward…” Ann agreed. On stage the hippie jam band was already introduced and began their first song. “Looks like you missed your cue…”

“Yeah…” Was all Peter lingered before trying to lighten the mood by stealing Ann’s cup and taking a sip.

“Hey!” She exclaimed playfully.

He smiled innocently before handing the water back to her and they walked back to the audience. The first two rows of fold-out seats had been kicked over and some of the attendees were up on their feet trying to touch the stage. Ann felt concerned for a second, not expecting the festival to get rowdy after so much gaiety the first two days. “This…seems a little extreme for a Dead gig…”

“Agreed,” Peter said while looking around. “If we find Micky and Sammy, maybe we can just ditch the rest of—”

“Pete! Jump on the stage and tell everyone what’s going on! Now or never!” The two friends turned around to find John Phillips on the opposite side of the venue waving for Peter to get center stage. Ann then looked back and noticed more people began erratically climbing the walls and entrance doors to the arena.

“God damn it,” Peter mumbled and headed back to the crowd. Ann followed and gave a supportive smile before moving to the front again to see his message. As he hopped back up, the band looked confused and a little annoyed at the interruption. “Hi, this is me again…I hate to cut things down like this, but, uh, there’s a crowd of kids—” He pointed to the front row of people attempting to climb the stage. “And this is to whom I’m talking to. The kids crowding around over the walls and trying to break down the doors thinking the Beatles are here…They’re not here—”

“The Beatles aren’t here!” Dead bassist Phil Lesh interrupted into his own mic with clear irritation. “They’re not wanted anyway!” He added with a glare at Peter, and some crowd viewers cheering on the bandmate. Ann was frustrated on her friend’s behalf.

“Yeah…Just don’t break down the walls…carry on,” Peter awkwardly ended and rushed off the stage. Ann felt anxious at the whole incident, not just seeing the unfortunate stage moment, but also over how crowded the front near the stage was getting. She felt a sharp shove when she decided to run back to the side again and bumped into Peter.

“Good job!” She attempted to console him with a pat on his arm.

“Yeah, next time John and Lou can do that shit themselves,” he stated upset as he glanced back at the show. “You want to get out of here?”

Ann’s eyes widened. “What? No! The Jimi Hendrix act is right after the Dead. We can’t miss that!”

“Ohh, right…” Peter remembered.

“We can skip the rest of the Dead though. I can’t get into their really long solos…”

She then downed the rest of her water cup before looking for the trash. While she was at it, she placed her purple button-up sweater on as it wasn’t as warm from the lack of sun since the night performances started. As Ann looked around, she found the rowdiness had died down, but now most of the people around her were acting stranger than usual. Some had their sunglasses still on even with the darkness and a couple who walked by her looked rather bloodshot. Then she found Peter by the soda machine.

“Uh…I think I’m the only one here who’s not high…”

“Oh, I can get you some—” She saw that his eyes were dilated and before he finished his sentence, he froze and stood agape staring at her.

“…Peter?”

She let out a tiny shriek as he gripped her into a tight hug and placed his head on her shoulder. She stood there unsure what to do, especially since she couldn’t move her arms presently.

“Oh no,” she heard beside her with a laugh. Ann turned her head awkwardly to see Michelle in her cherry red sundress amused at the occurrence. “Looks like the reflex kicked in.”

“Oh…” Ann figured she was referring to ‘dropping’ acid, which Peter was apparently feeling right now. “…How long does it last?”

The pop singer lazily shrugged. “Depends on the trip. If you’re lucky the come down is longer than the high.” Ann smiled tensely. “Have fun with that!” Michelle ended as she skipped off.

Ann groaned as she tried to get out of her friend’s grip on her. “Peter…I can’t breathe…” Slowly, but eventually, she managed to get released from his arms to find him with a lackadaisical grin. She then convinced him to sit on a bench by the bathroom stalls. As they sat, she let him play with her hair absorbedly as he said things like ‘this is spectacular’ and ‘terrific’ sparingly. At one point he got distracted by her shoes and glanced at them while leaning on her lap. After a little over 15 minutes, Ann saw him blink a couple of times like a setting was turned off. He looked back at her as if nothing had happened. “You want to maybe sit a few rows back for the Hendrix bit?”

She sat there blankly. “…Are you kidding me?”

“What?”

“Are you serious? You were completely out of it for almost 20 minutes,” she said in bewilderment.

“Oh,” he chuckled. “Is that what it looks like on your end? You look great in this filter.”

She was a little frustrated but still flushed at that. “When did you even take the acid?”

“Right after John asked me to tell the crowd the Beatles aren’t here,” he answered.

“You’ve been tripping this whole time?...”

He waved his hand horizontally. “There are ups and downs through the high. It’s not like weed or alcohol.”

Ann just continued to sit there bemused. A couple of minutes later they started strolling back to the show section when they saw Steve and Dave, and stopped to chat. As Ann passively glanced around the area, she spotted the guitarist and the bassist of the Who leaving the backstage lounge tent. Perking up, she instantly headed over to tell them she enjoyed their act. Only feet away and she felt someone’s back bump into her side. They both turned to see who the other was. Ann recognized him as the lead singer of the same band. “Oh, hi! I loved your show,” she claimed with a big smile.

“Thanks, luv,” he said with his own grin.

She giggled at his intriguing English accent. “Yeah, you guys were so boss. You have a great voice…” She lingered the sentence realizing she still didn’t know their names.

“…Roger,” he helped with an amused look.

“Roger! I saw your bandmates before we bumped into each other,” she expressed.

He looked ahead of them. “Oh, that’s Pete and John.”

“One of my friends at the festival is named Pete too!” She automatically exclaimed, but instantly felt juvenile.

He didn’t appear to notice her reaction. “So what’s there to do around here at night?”

“Oh, I don’t really know. I’m from down south and visiting too…”

“Oh? Are you a model or actress?” Roger asked coolly.

Ann couldn’t help but giggle again at him suggesting she was pretty enough for those positions. “No, I’m actually a magazine correspondent—and editor, and photographer…there’s a lot of multi-tasking in journalism,” she detailed.

“Gear,” he replied, though Ann wasn’t sure what that term meant. “You ever write about rock bands?”

“Oh, yeah! Well…sort of. I write for Tiger Beat and Monkee Spectacular, the appeal is supposed to be for teen fans of pop acts…your group is a little wilder than our central focus, heh,” she explained with a shy smile.

“Ah,” he nodded with a cheeky grin. “Monkee? Like the goofy TV band?”

“Yep!” ‘They’re funny, not goofy…’ She thought to herself.

Roger casually crossed her arms across his front and asked: “What are you doing after the festival tonight?”

“Oh, I’m not sure. I have a few friends here, but we haven’t planned anything, I don’t think…”

“You want to visit my hotel room?”

Ann tilted her head curiously. “Why? What’s in your room?”

He let out an indulged chuckle. “Hopefully some fun if you’re game,” he responded with a wink.

Ann’s smile vanished and emotion left her face when it hit her what he was suggesting. “Oh, uh—you know, I really shouldn’t bail on my friends like that, but…thanks anyway,” she rambled before rushing back to the other side of the show grounds. When she saw Peter, Steve and Dave leisurely making their way to the seating, she quickly stepped up beside Peter and grabbed his hand.

“Annie, looks like Brian Jones is introd—are you alright? Your face is all red,” he asked a little alarmed.

“Yeah, I just, uh, met the Who…” She vaguely left off as they walked. Peter looked behind her and saw John and the drummer, Keith, set off a firecracker by one of the outdoor bathroom stalls.

He smirked and nudged Ann’s elbow. “You might be too sweet for hard rock.” Ann snorted slightly at that. It had been almost a year since she got her first promotion at Tiger Beat, she didn’t need people treating her like a teenager still. Peter placed his arm around her upper arm. “Stick with TV popstars who aren’t allowed to use foul language.” That made her smile instinctively despite her down mood.

For the Hendrix performance, Ann and Peter discovered the first five rows were now missing chairs and people near the stage were sitting on the ground. Ann pulled Peter to Micky and Sammy when she found them in the second ground row near the center. He waved and the couple greeted them excitedly. The rock trio were already on to their second song of ‘Foxey Lady’ when Ann took a seat in between Sammy and Peter. The concert was rather stimulating after the events from earlier and even more impressive was that the three musicians got such volume and atmosphere just from three instruments. It was pretty cool of Jimi to play ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ in dedication to Bob Dylan recovering from his serious bike accident. Like with the Who, Ann tried to see how Peter was responding to the performance. She saw some occasional signs of dismissal, but also brief instances of wonderment. Though from the long-lasting expressions on his face, that last part might be the acid still holding on. Micky did look like he was having a blast, but then again, he could be high too.

By the time Jimi, bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell ended the set with a cover of ‘Wild Thing,’ Ann didn’t think anyone was expecting the guitarist to bash his instrument into the floor, make suggestive movements with his hip, and then set the guitar on fire. Her eyebrows rose in amazement, and she heard Micky and Sam express astonishment next to her as well.

“Is it me, or is this kind of lame?”

Ann turned to Peter in shock. “Are you joking!?”

“I mean, we literally just saw the Who do this…he just added arson,” he pointed out airily. It then occurred to Ann that all this destruction and violence probably didn’t mesh well with the flower power ideologies Peter had heavily adapted to since the Summer of Love began last month. Not to mention he was so passionate about music, it probably spiritually hurt to see the instruments carelessly broken. A lot of Ann’s friends had become fascinated by the hippie movement since spring and Peter was the most enamored of them. He traded his mop top and buttoned-up shirts for colorful paisley tops and T-shirts. His hair was still somewhat short, but also more freely parted, and he grew sideburns. Ann wasn’t surprised Peter had become popular with the young girls like Davy, with his soft features and funny screen persona, though the fans probably didn’t realize he played up the latter for the show. It almost made her wish her bosses didn’t encourage her to give Davy the most attention. And she didn’t see anything wrong with hippies like most of the modern parents, but their culture didn’t really grab her interest either.

After a few moments, Peter felt Ann still looking at him and gave her a wink. The action caused her to blink out of her state, not realizing she had gotten lost in her thoughts staring at him. When Jimi and the others left, the two friends hung around the side of the stage as the roadies switched gear. Peter whispered into Ann’s ear that her hair looked amazing ‘that shade of blue,’ with the comment reminding her once again how long acid trips can last. Then he suddenly kissed the top of her head, which caught her off guard momentarily, but not unpleasantly. Seconds later Micky and Sammy showed up to them.

“Pete, I think we finally found our opening act for the summer tour,” Micky started excitedly.

“Who? The Association? We don’t need to be accused of being squarer than we already are,” he said lightly.

“No, man. Jimi!”

Peter and Ann stood reactionless, while Sammy’s smile showed she agreed with her boyfriend.

“Well, come on! You just saw how incredible the show was,” Micky insisted.

“Micky, I don’t think 10-year-olds even know who Jimi is…” Ann cautioned.

“So? They will eventually.”

“Yeah, great idea, Mick. Let’s terrify hundreds of girls with melodic pyrotechnics,” Peter sarcastically chuckled.

“He might not do that all the time,” Micky considered.

“Yeah, I hadn’t heard of him doing anything like that before tonight…I think that’s mainly the Who’s thing,” Ann added.

“Doesn’t he live in England?” Peter still wasn’t swayed.

“I live in London and I’m traveling on tour with you all,” Sam reminded.

“Well…good luck convincing Mike,” Peter ended the suggestion with. “You want to find an all-night diner or something? I have this hunch Monterey doesn’t exactly have the same club life as Hollywood.”

Ann raised an eyebrow in surprise. “You don’t want to watch the Mamas & Papas end the festival sets?”

“Nah. I doubt they had any time to warm up,” he shrugged. “Besides my fake band is better than theirs,” he added in jest. She knew he was referring to the M&P records sharing a lot of the same session players as the first couple of Monkees LPs.

As the foursome was leaving the festival site, Ann saw that the Who were still around and shouted that she was looking forward to their next tour. John and Keith waved and shouted greetings back over to her. She then noticed the Pete in their band leaving with his arm wrapped around a beautiful woman with long, brown hair, and Roger didn’t seem to mind her abrupt exit from earlier.