I think I was 14 the summer I was Heather’s boyfriend for like a day.
13? I don’t know. It was just at that age at which I was surging with that wicked new chemistry, when nothing occupied my every waking thought, action, statement, or deed except for wanting to be with a person of the opposite sex. I am amazed that any other information of any kind ever made it into my brain at that time. Such miraculous computers we carry around on our shoulders.
Heather had her look together. Her most astonishing feature was her piercing blue eyes, which she had already learned to accentuate nicely. She had kind of a schnoz, but I was into that. Her hair was bleached and blown out, she was tanned, and she wore this fur stole and somehow pulled it off even in a little lake resort town in the middle of summer. She looked like she’d feel soft, and she wore lip gloss really well.
I remember seeing a movie with a group back when the Mall had a theater, and I remember that she had to tell me to put my arm around her.
(To paraphrase, right then and there, I should have known I was through.)
A few days later or at least what seems like it in my memory, she was hanging with another kid, a dude who was taller, cooler, better lookin’ than I. I remember one awkward afternoon hanging out at the picnic tables by the Lake, her friend Leah and I making awkward conversation, and Heather and her new friend canoodling. I was raging.
Leah wasn’t Heather. Her hair was brown and curly and she wore glasses. She dressed in black mostly. She had acne. I knew she liked me. But I wasn’t remotely interested in her, and I was pretty busy being angry and hurt about the situation going on in front of my eyes, too much so to exercise the opportunity to get to know Leah.
But Leah liked Prince.
She was a real fan, too. Like, she was an early adopter. I don’t even know if 1999 was out at the time. Certainly “When Doves Cry” was way in the back of the way way back of The Vault. Leah was talking about what a great album Dirty Mind was, and I had no freakin’ clue what she was talking about.
Now, it’s 30 years since “Purple Rain,” and that post is making the rounds on Facebook. I haven’t thought of Leah in a long time, but today, when I saw the Facebook post about that milestone making the rounds, the synapses just connected. And my brain scolded me fiercely.
You really should have gotten to know Leah, dude.
Heather was such a pill.
While I’m on rememborating things (hey. look at that. I just invented a word.), today is likely the anniversary of the time I got to shake Arlo Guthrie’s hand. And Studs Terkel’s. And Pete Seeger’s. And Josh White Jr.’s. Not much of a story to it, really; Dear Old Dad had me for the summer and we went to a free concert in D.C. to remember the birthday of one Woody Guthrie. At the break I used the fact that I was a kid to sneak back and meet me some celebrities (the backstage was not walled off, exactly).
I asked Arlo to play “City of New Orleans” (my knowledge of him and/or Woody was pretty much relegated to Arlo’s Hobo’s Lullaby album at the time), but he said the show was for his Dad’s music. I did get an autograph from Studs, including the famous “take it easy, but take it.”
I had no idea what that meant.
Anyway. I think Woody Guthrie’s birthday is worth rememborating every year. The man did, after all, write the song that really should be the national anthem, after all.
In Other News
“This is how you play tennis without the net.”