By Stacy Johnson
My parents are gearing up for their 40th wedding anniversary next month. We wanted to throw a great big party because we just aren't sure if my dad will be here a year from now, let alone 10 years, but it is not what they want. All they want is a dinner out with just the adult children. So, we will give in to their wishes and go out to dinner on Saturday night and throw a small scale family party on Sunday night instead.
In preparation for the slide show I am creating for the family party, I have been going throw picture after picture and it is taking forever because of all the memories, so I thought I would share one. The memory isn't actually of my parents, but it takes place in my childhood home with my best friend...
I loved to sing and dance and play pretend as a kid. Didn’t everyone? We had a great stereo in the living room so my dad could listen to his classical music at the end of a long day. My mom could turn on Glen Campbell and other country favorites while she cleaned house. Elvis was my favorite, but there were others. Mom would carefully place the needle at the beginning of the first song as the album began its first revolution. The rectangular shaped living room was perfect for putting on a show, except the couch would face the wrong way if I was using the fireplace as my stage. I became Karen Carpenter, Barry Manilow, Elvis and the Bee Gees, all rolled into one. While I loved singing in the living room, there were times when we had to be quiet. Our house was so small, the slightest noise would wake the baby and heaven’s knows we wouldn’t want to do that.
One evening, as a surprise, my mom dressed my sister and me in our church clothes; white socks with lace around the edges, black patent leather shoes, matching homemade dresses , and she curled our hair. They took us to see a play called Star Child. I marveled at the huge auditorium and all the people there to see the production. I’m positive I sat there quietly and enjoyed the entire performance because there was so much singing and dancing, how could I have done otherwise? Knowing my love of music and the enjoyment that watching the show brought me, my parents purchased the soundtrack. My very own cassette!! I was beside myself with joy and I treasured the gift even as we listened to it in the car the whole way home. I began to memorize the words. Tomorrow, I would go to the perfect place to perform and perform, I would…in the carport.
The very next day, I swept it out and rearranged the boxes of extra carport things against the wall so that the red brick half wall could be my stage. The pillars would be the boundaries of my stage and I would be able to look out at my audience seated on the old couch against the opposite wall and they would have a great view of me.
Later that morning, Mark came over. Mark was my best friend in the whole world. It didn’t matter that he was a year older… and a boy. He even let me ride his red dirt bike while following behind me on my white banana seat girl bike with the basket on front, but I digress. I showed Mark my cassette and asked him if he wanted to put on the play with me? I’m not sure how enthusiastic his answer was, but he participated nonetheless.
I got the old portable cassette player out and plugged it into the wall. I pulled out my play microphone, (it might have been a hairbrush for all I know). I pulled myself up onto the skinny half wall and belted out, “Man eating crocodile we’re after your lunch, here we come, the hunt’s begun, we’re after our prey…” I would come to understand years later, that the song was about women on a man hunt. It was innocent enough, a bunch of woman in search of husbands. Poor Mark, he was my hunt. He pretended to be an animal and I would use a rope and tie it around his neck and pull him back to my “stage” by the end of the song. We must have worn that cassette out, singing and acting out the songs that day.
A few days later, I asked Mark if he wanted to come over and do the play some more, he replied, “I already told Johnny that I’d go ride dirt bikes with him and then we’re going to his house to shoot the BB gun.” I think I might have bruised his manhood because he never sang with me again.