Thursday, January 18, 2007

"The Crush"--Guest story by E.A. Monroe

When I went to spend the summer of ’66 with my best friend and walked into her bedroom, she jumped up and down and said, “I’m in love!”
Photos clipped from the latest teen magazines of all her favorite guys — John, Paul, George, Ringo, and a new group I had never heard of, Paul Revere and the Raiders — plastered the whitewashed bedroom walls.
“The Raiders are the coolest guys on Planet Earth — next to the Beatles, of course! Fang is absolutely the cutest! I adore him!”
The contagion of my best friend’s excitement swept over me. Forget the Man from Uncle. Forget Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuriyakin. They were kid’s stuff, history .Curious, I stared at the faces, my first encounter with an collage of guy's pictures cut from magazines, taped and tacked to my friend’s bedroom wall; she introduced me to the new guys — Drake Levin, Phil “Fang” Volk, Smitty Smith, Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere. “I’m in love with Fang! Oh, don’t you absolutely love Mark! Tell me you love him!” How could I not? One look into those soulful newsprint eyes left me gazing into a mirror. I was Mark Lindsay’s younger twin; surely his long lost, teenage girl soul mate! My friend and I cast aside dull ordinary her and dull ordinary me, and during the summer of ’66, she became Salty Smith and I donned the guise of Silky Revere.After I returned home, Salty and Silky kept in touch, writing adventurous letters in which we described our antics as Smitty Smith’s and Paul Revere’s kid sisters and those of our loves — as much as any small town, naive fifteen-year-olds could know about such things.We reinvented ourselves and the fantasies we spun from teenage imagination sustained me through the trenches of teenhood, family moves to new towns and new high schools, separations from childhood friends, graduation, and growing up. I look back upon those halcyon days of summer and the homemade, ice cream flavor of first love, innocence, and time spent with a dear friend who has remained true, despite separation as we each tread our life paths and the distance between the towns where she and I lived.
High school social activities sucked us into busy lives, and one day Salty Smith’s letters stopped arriving in the mailbox.
During the middle of my junior year, my family moved from our small Oklahoma town to a larger town and a larger high school than the smaller towns where we had always lived and the smaller schools that I had attended, where the kids were related to each other and most of the teachers had taught the parents, if not the grandparents of their students.
One hot July, during the drudgery of cleaning the garage, I boldly announced to my mom, “I am going to marry Mark Lindsay!”She laughed!I was crushed.But, the truly desperate never give up trying to meet their teenage heartthrobs! I had read how one could send a fan letter with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to a favorite celebrity. Okay, I could do that. Better yet, what if I sent an entire box of stationery and at least half of the envelopes stamped and addressed to me?Brilliant!
I bought a box of white stationery laced with a delicate edge. I wrote my adoring fan letter to Mark Lindsay, tucked the letter into the box of stationary and the stamped, self-addressed envelopes, and sent the package to an address I had found in a teen magazine.

As hard as it was, I went on with my life, until one day I received one of my return envelopes in the mailbox. I held the envelope to my nose and inhaled — California, sand, surf and a whiff of cologne, Sandalwood — the scent I imagined him wearing. I savored that envelope. I wanted to lick its sweetness. The letter had come from him; he had touched it! Mark Allen Lindsay! Wow!
I tore open the envelope, more excited than I could remember ever feeling — even more exciting than Christmas, birthdays, and the Fourth of July. A photo fell from the opened envelope. No letter; only a photo — a wallet-sized, black and white glossy autographed photo.I suppose that was my first disappointment, but I put his photo in my wallet and carried it everywhere. I lost count of the times I pulled out the photo and marvel at how wonderful and beautiful he was in the black and white glossy photo. Any day, I expected the arrival of another stamped, self-addressed envelope, a personal letter written on lacy white stationary and tucked inside.
The days slid into weeks, and the weeks disappeared into months.
My mom pressured me to date. I was in high school, but I was not interested in boys or dating. After all, I was in love and I was going to marry him! Whenever a boy called, I always said, “Sorry, I can’t,” or “I have to go to my Grandmother’s house this weekend.” My mom was furious when she discovered what I had done; mothers in small towns talk to other mothers.

Eventually, I dated; I even went on-and-off steady with a boy from my high school and I went to all the teen hops and movies. The feelings weren’t the same though, for I could never love anyone else as much as I already loved him. But, like youth and summer, love fades when the expected letters never arrive in the mailbox. Life drifts into tomorrow, and a teenage girl sets her gaze upon the horizon where the final year of high school and college looms. She grows up.One Saturday night, after cruising the Boulevard, I sat in the passenger’s seat of a car with my girl friends at the PowWow Drive-In. All the kids parked their cars and hung out at the PowWow, because eventually all the high school kids, and kids from nearby towns, who were cruising the Boulevard that night would make the rounds.Music crackled through buzzing speakers tucked beneath the PowWow’s tin awning that covered the parked cars — Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. Otis Redding crooned the mood I felt that night as I watched the cars packed with teenagers circle the PowWow, and listened to boys and girls shouting to each other, their laughter raucous and carefree, car hops delivering orders, the slam of car doors, the blare of a car horn, wheels peeling out on gravel.
Sitting there, feeling the future rolling toward me upon a wave of departing summer, I knew I was never going to meet Mark Lindsay, much less marry him. I was a teenager headed toward graduation and college.
Somewhere, beyond the PowWow Drive-In, my future waited and my future wasn’t a black and white glossy photo that I carried around in my wallet.I don’t know why I did it. Maybe I needed the liberation. I took his photo from my wallet, pinched its edge between my fingers, and gazed at his face, an unchanging face captured in time.A warm breeze, smelling of cheeseburgers and limeade sodas and whistling the late-sixties music of the PowWow Drive-In, floated through the open car windows. I leaned my arm out the window, lifted his photo to the breeze, and opened my fingers. Mark Lindsay fluttered away upon a summer wind.
“Hey! Look! A photo of Mark Lindsay!” a girl screamed to her friends. Debby. I remember her name was Debby, one of the popular girls, and I remember the joyous rapture that brightened her face when she held up the black and white glossy photo of my long-lost soul mate.And I smiled.I have often wondered whatever became of the photo. Perhaps Debbie carried him around in her wallet, and from time to time, she took out the photo, looked at him, and remembered how she found the photograph blowing across the gravel beneath the awning of the PowWow Drive-In. Did she ever wonder where the photo had come from? Someday, I may ask her.On that sweet summer’s night, I let go and never looked back.

22 comments:

ivan said...

Elizabeth,
I had a devil of a time retrieving this story from your own blog.
Blogger also spat back what I had put up...I somehow picked up your entire blog, including comments.
I overloaded poor Blogger.

God help the author whose publisher
is about as computer-literate as a mollusk.
I could have done this story more justice if I could have had all the italics and relevant white-space and paragraphing.
As it turned out, this is the best I could do while Blogger was still accepting me.
You can tell people you have been published by Island Grove Press, online. Island Grove Press is a Canadian company registered in Ottawa.
Congratulations on catching the eye of this old writer-publisher and I really wish I could have done a better job.

Ivan

EA Monroe said...

Hi, Ivan! You did a fine job.

I know what you went through trying to grab that story! I truly thank you and you know how much I appreciate everything you've taught me!

Yes, and all the trouble we (and Josie) have gotten into running around as the Three Quarks!

Now, let's go drink a beer! You deserve one after all that Blogger Business!

ivan said...

Liz,
Writing well is the best revenge, I say, and we three Quarks, (myself, Josie and you) are surely going to try our damndest to eff the fates.
I am trying to twist Josie's arm to have me reprint something of hers, especially now that she has that newfangled computer with all the bells and whistles.
I should be able to get pristine Word copy.

Speaking of fates, how is your poor hubby after falling on that glare ice this morning?
Taped-up ribs are the most miserable form of torture I can think of.
Poor John.
How is it that whenever an author is about to get something published, she is somehow vulnerable and something weird happens? Hppens to me all the time, and I am not a totally unlucky dude.
Them "fates" again.
I am stroking my rabbit's foot.

So glad to give THE CRUSH some more air time.
As you might gather, I very much like your work, and Josie's and
Heather's.

EA Monroe said...

Hubby's doing fine. He's got pain pills!

You're my first-time publisher, Ivan! So, I've never experienced weirdness connected to publishing before (work doesn't count since everyday is usually weird there) -- well, other than that story I did not too long ago about smashing my fingers the day after I wrote my first story. Hummm... maybe I need a rabbit's foot!

ivan said...

The gods get jealous.
For some reason.
You want to go fishing in forbidden streams? Hunt unicorns?
We're gonna come and getcha.

~stroking my rabbit's foot~

Shesawriter said...

That story got me thinking about my own childhood star crushes. Wow, talk about a blast from the past. I feel ancient.

EA Monroe said...

shesawriter -- everyone has to ante up on their first time crushes and heart throbs!

Ivan, what about yours?

H.E.Eigler said...

ea - great story! There aren't many grown women who wouldn't identify with this piece.

Ivan - I feel for you, blogger gave me a run for my money today too. Looks like you managed very well. I look forward to your next "guest blogger" segment!

ivan said...

Thanks, Tanya.
Coming of age stories are really something, aren't they.

ivan said...

Liz,
You wouldn't guess it, but I was overly-precocius if not a Georgie-Porgie when I was "just a wee bairn" of a lad.
You know, all little kids fool around, "play doctor" and all that.
But in my teens, I was extremely awkward with girls. Saw them as goddesses. Bought lots of magazines.
Then I took a jump at around the age of twenty and got so busy
my friends got to calling me The Scarlet Pimpernell--no, not the antique spy.
I'm really into serious self-loathing when I think of my twenties.
"Harry the Rat."

ivan said...

Heather,
Nice spiffy look to your blog now.
Three months pregnant or not, creativity seems to be intact.

H.E.Eigler said...

Thanks Ivan - I'm up over the 5 month point now....the bun is over halfway baked!

ivan said...

Heather,
Five months!
Wonderful.

Gives me flashbacks of the past, somehow, the embattled writer and his five-month pregnant wife--then landing a super job with the Toronto Sunday Sun, where I became a Rock critic--suddenly, life was good.
To a man, it was "going off at both ends."
But no sooner was my gorgeous son born--that I had to once again set up a garret in the house to be
the great novelist.
Just struck me that I must have been one devil to live with.

ivan said...

p.s. to Heather,

I've been a bit too busy and I haven't yet visited SmokeLong Quarterly, where correspondent JR says you have a fiction piece.
I will be having a gander.

Gee, talk about being productive!

H.E.Eigler said...

Ivan - I wish it was true, but he was mistaken. I do link to Smokelong but it is only because I enjoy their publication. Not because I'm pubbed there. Trust me, if I had an acceptance from them I would shout so loud everyone would know it!

Also, just curious, how many children do you have? I recall mention of a daughter, and now a son. One of each? It sounds nice :)

ivan said...

Oh, I see.
You'd explained to J.R. as well.
I did have a look at SmokeLong's list of authors--swore I saw the name of one or two in the big slicks.
Ah, well. I like to think Island Grove Press kicks ass--and it does, I mean, look at what the girls can do!
I have one daughter, thirty-three, has a beau whom I so like--but she is against marriage.
Darn. You go to Glendale York in Toronto and you come out a stone feminist. But what a technical writer she is, and the money she makes! No wonder the independence?

My son is 38, married; given me two lovely grandchildren, a boy and a girl.

My department head at Seneca College said, "Are your children going to turn out to be monsters like you, huge brain on a puny body?
I think he was trying to get into my pants, not an uncommon practice among English Department heads.

Huge brain? I barely qualify as a mildly retarded high school teacher--and aren't so many of them that way?--Especially the Phys-ed types (Do they still have phys-ed?). One University of Buffalo alumnus kept calling me a "rink" at Ryerson U.
Rink-a-dink?
I guess he thought all Journalism majors were commie faggots.

Jaysus, I am too garrulous.
What time is it getting to be?

Sela Carsen said...

Haven't been around in ages and what do I see? Island Groves Press "kicking ass!" as Ivan so aptly phrased it.

Heather, for a moment I felt like a little girl again, half on the cusp of ... something mysterious. Boys were utterly mysterious, especially the coolest of the cool. Especially to a gangly geeky girl like me.

I was always drawn to the "goofy" character in the boy bands of my youth. More accessible, perhaps?

ivan said...

Nice to see you back, Sela.

Congrats again on your publishing success and break a leg on that piece for Spinetingler Magazine.

You know, for years we have had Canadian stories about sensitive young girls growing up in small communities, but to my mind, you have to go a long way to beat what dear E.A. Monroe is putting out.
I am a man, but for some reason, I really feel part of my own life described in Liz's memoirs.
Perhaps it's because I have been to the sock hops and slow dancing to "Oh Donna", and jiving to "My Baby Does the Hanky-Panky"--all that...Thank God for a protracted adolescence. Being in the Air Force in a co-ed environment made it seem like high school all over again, and I seemed eighteen for a long time.

Ah, once upon a time there was a tavern...

ivan said...

Just thinking of Janis Ian's old song, "Seventeen".
"For those of us who played the game.."

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, My Baby Does the Hanky-Panky! Do I remember dancing to that song!

You are a peach! Thanks for "relating" to those crazy memoirs of mine. And thanks again for posting The Crush. You will have to let me return the favor some day!

Overly precocious -- describes my son. Teachers used to drag me into the principal's office and conferences and tell me my son was too grownup and needed to play with more children his age. He was bored with school, wanted to quit and get a job. He was only 9 years old.

ivan said...

Your son a "Cookie Monster" too?
The high-end Stanford-Binet kids
always have trouble relating to a school routine that might be too boring for them.
Like when you have a chronological age of nine, but a mental age of 16.
Don't know how you handled it all, but in my own case, I was exttremely lucky to have had teachers who understood, had me in plays, set me up in spelling bees
and gave me books three years ahead of my actual grade.
Then I switched to a public high school, where "ethniks" were not really welcome and they kicked my ass.
I do believe all high schools in the Fifties had this dominance-submission game between teacher and student and it wasn't till I switched to a more benign institution that I was allowed to
take up any project I wanted, with full support.
Liz, good writing jogs memories, makes the reader say "Yes, that's what I felt then"; that's what makes it good writing.

Like many another solipsist, I am usually not too interested in anyone else's projects, but then when I find stuff that's even more interesting than my own ongoing conundrums, I take notice.
So you deserved to be noticed, you and Heather and the amazing Josie.
Best way you can return the "favour" is to allow me to see more of your writing.
They used to tell me at the Toronto Star, "Talent hides in the strangest places."

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