Finally the day arrived! It was a sunny Friday in early June, and we were all meeting after school by the swing set, instruments in hand. I stored my organ, it’s errant cord tamed by several twist ties, in my classroom’s cubby. The school day could not go by quickly enough. I kept staring at Alex’s silky, dark brown hair, as it flowed past his collar into rock star territory. I could only see the back of his head from my vantage point, four rows behind him, where I sat next to Chad Reed. Chad had brought elastic bands and paper clips as his ‘weapon of the day’, but I convinced him that he shouldn’t shoot at classmates right now, because Mrs. Canterow was especially moody and on edge since watching a very deep and affecting episode of ‘Longstreet’ (the blind detective) the night before. Evidently, the seeing eye-dog was shot by a bad-guy, and it was very touch- and- go. I’d heard her discussing it in the hallway with Miss Almond. Chad snorted and told me “I don’t care! I’m not afraid of her!” but I noticed he busied himself with drawings of war tanks and block lettered cuss words instead. He did a surprisingly good pencil-shadowed ‘FUCK’ that looked very 3-D, I had to admit.
But the real reason I didn’t want Chad pinging paper clips was so there’d be no chance of Alex getting hit, looking back and possibly thinking I was in cahoots with Chad, like I sometimes (usually) was. I wanted everyone in good spirits when the bell rang at the end of the day. I couldn’t wait to meet Alex, and then walk with him to his house! Of coarse, there’d also be Kristen, Lara, Karen and Joe- but I was reasonably sure I could hijack most of the conversation if I just kept using the word ‘guitar’. I wondered what Alex’s house would look like, and what kind of stuff he had. I hoped I’d like it, as I planned to spend lots of time there.
I was dressing the part today, as well. After hours of perusing my closet (and my mom’s-she had great accessories!) I narrowed it down to three outfits and went with the tried and true ‘eeny-meeny-miny-mo’ system of choosing. I wore a paisley print go-go dress in shades of hot pink, neon green, maroon and turquoise. It had bell sleeves, and I loved the way they flowed as I moved. I also had on white tights and black boots, and had even spritzed on some of my mom’s Tigress perfume- the one with the velvet animal print cap, before I left for school. (Years later, I wouldn’t spend as much time choosing an outfit when going backstage to meet Van Halen) Although I didn’t think I looked as good as the more petite girls (my height was my albatross) – I did have a strong personality, nice hair and a pretty face. If I could get a boy’s attention, I could win him over. It had happened more than once.
After an excruciatingly long day, that moved at about the same speed as the famous Heinz ketchup commercial of the time, and after watching the filmstrip entitled ‘The Moon: Our Nearest Space Neighbors’ (two thumbs down by the way-no three eyed monsters running around with silver spaghetti colanders on their heads-like in ‘Lost In Space!”) the bell finally rang. I jumped out of my seat, shaking my head to erase the black spots created by the sudden turning on of the classroom lights and headed to the cubby area. I noticed also that my ass had fallen asleep, so I had to ‘walk it out’ until the tingling disappeared. I just wanted to grab my portable organ and split to the swings. I practically collided with Renee, who was grabbing a plastic bag that had a muffled chime sound coming from it.
“What are you doing?” I asked her, remembering clearly that I had ‘accidentally on purpose’ forgotten to ask her to be in the band.Renee gave me a funny look and said “I’m getting my tambourine for Alex’s band!’ as though it went without saying.
Alex’s band? Really? I think at the very least this is ‘LISA and Alex’s Band’ since it was my idea in the first place. But regardless of that, how could Renee be in the band if I didn’t personally ask her to be? I already had enough competition for Alex’s attention, and Renee was somewhat of a loosey goosey when it came to cute boys. (Translation: She was pretty!) But that doesn’t change the fact that I’d never seen a ten year old lick her own lips so provocatively in my life!
“You know…This is really ME and Alex’s band!’ I said, The whole thing was MY idea!” With that, I picked up my clunky organ and began walking away. Renee followed suit, not taking the hint at all! In fact, she began tailing me as if I was emitting a magnetic force. With every step I took, I heard the jingling of her tambourine – I felt like I was being tracked by a rogue Christmas Elf. I couldn’t wait to confer with Kristen when we met up at the playground. Maybe she would know how Renee had been inducted into our band.
The organ was a bitch to carry, and I struggled to open the heavy door that led outside. I balanced the organ precariously on my left side, and awkwardly pushed at the door with my right shoulder. The ‘elf’ had obviously stopped behind me, but made no move to help. (Don’t strain yourself, sister!) Once outside, I adjusted the clunky organ-holding it in my arms like a cord of wood, and hoped the walk to Alex’s wasn’t too far. Meanwhile, Renee was back on track, and jingled behind me like a pocketful of change. (If only I could lose her in a couch cushion!) We followed the sidewalk that led to the swings, and I felt a sense of relief when I saw that everyone was there, waiting like we had planned. Alex was standing off to the side of the swing-set with Joe, who appeared to be demonstrating how he could hang a line of spit out of his mouth until it reached the dirt- and Alex, wide eyed and smiling, seemed genuinely impressed. Lara and Karen sat on two swings, right next to each other, making small talk and twisting around in small, laissez-faire half circles. Kristen was standing by the slide, obviously keeping a look out for me. She looked cool in her faded jean jacket, bell bottoms and suede headband. I waved from under the weight of the organ, a little fanning motion, which she noticed and immediately began walking towards me. As she got closer, she quickly glanced over my shoulder, noticing Renee. For a split second, her eyebrows furrowed, a ‘wtf?’ look crossing her face. I responded back with giant goldfish eyes, which I rolled like marbles at Kristen, knowing Renee couldn’t see me from behind. Then I stopped abruptly, which caused Renee to rear-end me, giving me the opportunity to release the phrase ‘Would you MIND?!’ like steam from a boiling kettle. Renee just giggled, pulled out and went around, and began skipping over to where Lara and Karen were.
“What’s going on God Dammit?!” commanded Kristen “Did you let her join the band?”
“Hell NO!” I replied, insulted. “I thought maybe YOU did!”
Kristen shook her head vigorously. ‘Ut-uh! Not me! I haven’t even talked to her since at least last week!”
“Well!” I exclaimed, putting the organ down temporarily on the sidewalk and rubbing my wrists in relief “She’s muscling her way into this group like Yoko Ono!”
“With emphasis on the ‘Oh, NO!” laughed Kristen. This was followed by an automatic high-five.
We both looked over at Renee, who was busy brown-nosing the rhythm section (Karen and Lara) and pantomiming go-go dance moves, which caused Joe to retract his spit line like a measuring tape and gawk. Alex looked over as well, with a bit too much interest, in my opinion.
“We need to get over there-Pronto!” I said, crouching down to pick up the organ.
“Yeah!” agreed Kristen “We don’t need her screwing things up!”, and with that we headed over to round up the group.