Sunday, April 22, 2012

When Rock Was Us

Today marks the day 45 years ago when I partnered in marriage to the blue-eyed blond guy who asked me to ice skate one night and sealed our fate. We've stuck it out through love and laughter, snarls and snaps - all the stuff of life. So, I guess I'm waxing nostalgic. I wrote the following a number of years ago for Chicken Soup. Alas CS passed on it, but I hope you enjoy the read - especially if you're an old rocker. 

I looked around the table at the six of us. The same six who have played pinochle on Saturday night for over twenty-five years; three guys, three gals, all married couples. We look the same to each other, as though we aren't aging, because love doesn’t see wrinkles and age spots. But Karen is a cancer survivor and Marie’s battle with infantile paralysis (polio) over fifty years ago has left her with multiple health problems. Ben’s only brother was killed in Vietnam. My husband, John, served in that awful war but came home whole. All of our parents are deceased. This card game marks time for us. It’s proof that we’ve survived another week; proof that we care enough to tell each other about it. On this particular night though, something was different. A spur of the moment decision by Ben, our host, to play a new CD soon had us all wrapped up in pleasant reverie.

It’s natural to divide life into ‘eras’ and the one that had us floating that night once screamed Rock ‘n Roll to a monstrous generation of teenagers. The music was from ‘American Graffiti’. It even seemed possible that we were hearing the music as we had the first time. Between snacking and bidding we each had the satisfaction of recalling a prom, an old flame or some glorious moment enhanced by a thrumming backbeat.

The familiar tunes rolled out one after the other and we bumped along with music whose singers had names like Fats, Chubby and Elvis. The important thing was that some long ago happening was recalled and played out in our minds as we listened. Like a fantastic still shot from an old movie it was our own youth come to vivid life just for an instant around the card table. No recent bad day at work or trouble with our kids could ever diminish the delightful recalling of the first time we heard ‘Rock Around the Clock’, ‘Pretty Woman’ or ‘Surfin Safari’. I could easily imagine a great swirling gust carrying the six of us to some long ago teen strewn dance floor.  

“And now ladies and gentlemen,” croons the DJ, “a slow dance.”  Okay, so this was the moment you had talked to yourself about in the mirror that morning. Would your steely resolve to be a study in utter coolness overcome the rising panic in the pit of your stomach? Or will the spotlight just over the gym teacher’s head ping off your braces as you throw your head back in a charm-laden smile? You don’t even have time to worry about it because a set of earnest eyes meets yours—and then it happens.

“Do you wanna dance?”

The question comes as from a long way off and it seems like your answer is in slow motion. Of course you want to dance. You’ve got to be able to look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow morning and relive every excruciating moment, so you say yes. You get up and after the first nerve jarring steps you somehow manage to disregard your damp palms and your friends who crowd, giggling along the cinder block gym wall. But then everything else fades as Paul Anka aches out the lyrics to, “Put Your Head On My Shoulder.” You’re waltzing on a memory making cloud, and it touches something deep down and soul satisfying. You feel lifted from the dance floor and transported . . .

. . . to the pinochle table where someone asks, “well are you gonna bid or not?” And then you’re tugged back to the time-softened faces and basketball bellies of good friends. Hearts and spades stare up from your hand and you re-focus for the familiar role of Saturday night card player. And you bid. You realize it’s a different era of your life now. One   where the laughter is more than genuine, the friends forgiving and then the night rambles on in good-natured remembrance.

I’ve heard it said that age is just a number. I don’t agree with that sentiment at all. Age is everything we are. Yeah we’re older and a bit jaded. Our bones creak a little when we get up to leave, and sleeping in our beds sounds better that doing anything else in them   But the six of us – we’ll take it. Wouldn’t want it any other way in fact. We’re born when we’re born and know we have to take whatever the times give. So we’ll keep our era, thank you, saluting the days when our generation ‘rocked’ and grateful for the occasional bargain pack of CD’s that allows us to visit it once in a while.

Image: Phil                                                        Free Digital Photos


  1. Susan --

    Happy Anniversary!



  2. Oh, thank you so much, Steve! We had a lovely dinner and some all alone time - away from home. =0)

  3. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM


    U GO GIRL! Wishing you many more...