Zonker Harris

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Zonker Harris (his full name is revealed in Doonesbury: A Musical Comedy to be Edgar Zonker Harris) is the stereotypical hippie character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury. He made his first appearance as a perennial pot-smoking pest plaguing B.D.'s football team in 1971. He moved with Mike, B.D., and the gang to a rural commune (named Walden in homage to Thoreau's 19th century idyll).

Zonker's family consists of his mother, father, "Uncle" Duke, his nephew Zipper, and his sister. His mother and father have a habit of fighting which leads to the mother leaving for a short time to clear her head (but always returning in time to water the plants). Whenever this happens, Zonker's father becomes upset and visits Zonker, within minutes of the argument. On one occasion, Zonker's mother never actually left. His father thought she did, however found her in the garden after calling his son for help. Zonker's sister never appears in the series, however is the mother of Zipper Harris. Zonker's ancestors from Colonial America are mentioned several times in the series. Nathan Harris was a minuteman (who could literally be ready in one minute) as well as an activist for civil rights and was responsible for "freeing" a nearby slave (who was under the impression that they were in Virginia, where slavery was still legal. They were, in fact, in Massachusetts). Nathan's wife, Amy Harris, was equally revolutionary, fighting for women's equality in the Constitution and taking up an apprenticeship with Paul Revere to become a silversmith. Neither cause worked out very well however, as men weren't interested in women's civil rights and she was unable to even cast simple pewter tankards. She quits her apprenticeship when Nathan assures her that he needs her as a companion and equal as well as a wife.

While at Walden Commune, Zonker spent most of his time watching TV, getting high, and swimming around in a small puddle (called "Walden Puddle"), which he considered to be a sacred and holy place. In his early years in the strip, Zonker had the ability to talk to plants. (Mike also talked to the plants during Zonker's stint as Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa.) In later stories Zonker appeared to lose this ability, but it has sprung back up occasionally, and he has been seen conversing with a marijuana plant, and a scrawny Christmas tree in recent years. Other than these few exceptions, this power seems to have left him, and he misses it terribly. When wondering out loud why he had it in the first place, he was told "It was the drugs, man". Ironically, it was a plant that informed him of this.

Zonker is habitually unemployed, and is very protective of his slacker lifestyle. He has taken on temporary jobs as a bartender and a postman, but always leaves these careers as soon as he gets bored with them. The only "work" to which he has shown any diligence is acquiring a suntan. Throughout the 1980s he spent more and more of his time trying to develop "the perfect tan", and even became a celebrity (on par with a professional athlete) for his accomplishments, with George Hamilton as his idol. Eventually he wised up to the damage the sun was doing to his skin, and has since appeared in public service announcements about sun safety.

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