Saturday, March 20, 2021

Spring 1965: Chasing the Boy with the Guitar

Garrett, Indiana, Spring 1965

One of my earliest memories:

It's a warm night in the springtime.  We're  living on Randolph Street in Garrett, Indiana, so I must be about four years old.  My bedroom window looks out on the alley and then the back yard of the house in the next block, where there's a little grey-stone patio.

It's late, long after bedtime, but I'm still awake.  I go to the window.  Across the alley, some teenagers are sitting in green-striped lawn chairs on the patio, in kind of a circle, listening to a boy play the guitar and sing.

Mrs. Brown, you've got a lovely daughter.
Girls as sharp as her are something rare.

He is facing my direction.  Maybe he is singing to me!

I know I'm not anybody's daughter, but he said "lovely."  That means he loves me!

I push against the wire screen.  It must be broken -- it comes off easily.  I push myself out of the window, and land on the hard, warm grass.  The teenage boy keeps singing, looking in my direction. 

Our house on Randolph Street

Walkin' about, even in a crowd, well
You'll pick her out, makes a bloke feel so proud

He's seen me walking around!

I walk across the back yard.  My new boyfriend is cute!   He is wearing a pale orange shirt and short pants, and sandals.

Don't let on, don't say she's broke my heart
I'd go down on my knees but it's no good to pine

Next comes the alley, all gravel, hard and sharp against my bare feet.  But I'm willing to endure it to let him know that it's ok, I won't break his heart again. .

Then suddenly the music stops.  The teenagers are all staring at me.  I hear murmuring "Look, it's a kid!" "Where'd he come from?"  "Is he lost?"

They are interrogating me, accusing me.  Scared, embarrassed, I start to cry.

Herman's Hermits
 A teenage girl wearing sandals crosses the alley and sweeps me into her arms.  My boyfriend follows her. I get a glimpse of his smooth tanned chest, smell his Aqua Velva cologne.  They take me around to the front of the house, knock on the door, and deliver me to my parents, who yell a lot.

The screen in the window is fixed the next day.

I don't remember ever seeing my "boyfriend" again.

I've always thought of  "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" as a gay song, though I can't really find any gay subtexts in it, and Herman's Hermits is my least favorite boy band.

1 comment:

  1. But they are a boy band. Maybe 60s boy bands weren't gay, but after Wham, it was assumed boy bands were gay. By my generation, when I was a kid, everyone assumed New Kids were gay. When I was in high school, 80s and early to mid-90s music was assumed straight, or really obscure acts. Even things like Madonna. But the boy band craze and things like Britney? Everyone knew that was gay. All the boys knew I masturbated with other boys but assumed I was straight because 1) I'd had girlfriends, and even slept with one, and 2) I had exactly zero albums of Britney, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Sugar Ray, or 98 Degrees.

    It wasn't that being gay was bad, or listening to the boy band craze. When American Idiot came out, my new college clique REALLY eviscerated Green Day for being middle-aged men with an audience of twelve-year-old girls, and for trying to be edgy by hating a war everyone hated. (Oh yeah. Cancer's bad. Look at me, I'm so edgy.) No one ever had such issues with boy bands.



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