Wednesday, July 29, 2009

G(l)ory Days

I wasn't ready for it when it showed up in the mail earlier this week. Yes, the mug of the slug in the mirror every morning that I shave, unless I let my face grow long, hasn't been smooth and youthful in many a decade, but since the aging has been incremental I've never been sentimental about it happening. I'm getting better, not older, I keep telling myself. If I live to be three hundred and forty-two I should be close to middling by then.

And then, YIPES!, there he was on the cover of the AARP Magazine, BRUCE!!!! Talk about Glory Days. I'm still not comfortable with having an AARP card in my wallet, and keep it under my auto club card, like maybe the tow truck operator would quibble about a senior discount (I should live so long). AARP is more than just a very organized lobbying group for the over-fifty is nifty set, based on the membership roles (almost sixty million people) it's a middle sized country unto itself.

Springsteen turns sixty in September-I do not recall growing old and I started to see him perform when he'd show up at the Rutgers College commuter Lounge, The Ledge, in my sophomore year, so that would make it 1971, so we're talking....a really long time. I feel it every day but I can't hear it in a single note he sings or the E-Street band plays and as I read the article in the magazine (and, yes, I entered the sweepstakes for tickets to his October show in East Rutherford and you needn't bother because I already used your email address, too) the emotions chased one another, competing with a lot of memories.

As much of the soundtrack of my growing-up years as the Beatles and Every One After made, and make up, the exclamation mark is Springsteen. Even now as an apprentice doddering buffoon, I can never imagine myself hanging with (Sir) Paul McCartney but can see cruising down Route 34 outside of Toms River's Richard's Cafe casing The Promised Land with a guy I once thought of as 'a Newark' (a greaser).

Strange Times in Germany story (and I have the poster from his first tour hanging up in my office). Sigrid and I went to see him in the Frankfurt Festhalle. I think we had third or sixth row seats-but more importantly the Be-Bop Ghost Dancer, BBGD, had a seat directly behind us-technically, directly behind Sigrid. I think I was standing up from the moment I got dressed to go to the show that morning, but BBGD only started dancing as the show began.

He was transported by the music, head nodding, feet shuffling, arms and hands doing a little boogaloo down Broadway weave. Good energy, lousy luck. He semi-smacked Sigrid on the top of the head, grazing her, and she turned around and looked up at him and made her displeasure quite clear. BBGD seemed to get her point and danced alone for a while but then, the music overcame him again and he popped her, again. Sigrid, whose appreciation of The Boss approaches her enthusiasm for a root canal, slowly stood up and made sure the sleeves on her blouse were pushed towards her elbows as she spoke slow and low to BBGD who was, by this point in his own world.

Like lightning, the love of my love thrust her arms straight-forward at a velocity I cannot describe and struck BBGD's shoulder blades with the heels of her hands with such force she knocked him heels over head, backwards, into the row BEHIND where he had been standing. He landed on his feet, on the beat, still dancing. From the look of rapture on his face, I suspect he still thinks Bruce had something to do with his levitation.

And maybe he did. He's been moving me for close to four decades and to underscore how we are twin sons of different mothers, the same week he made the cover of Time and Newsweek, I bought BOTH magazines. Coincidence? Didja hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie for telling fortunes better than they do? Just summer gossip, don't believe a word of it.
-bill kenny

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