Monday, March 21, 2016

Bye, Bye, Birdie

Here we go again. Sitting at the computer, minding my own business, when the radio begins playing “Bye, Bye Baby” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (or, in my case, Blonds), and suddenly it is 1953 and I am back at Northern with my friends Zane and Stu. I had a terrible crush on Zane, and we had just gone to see the movie version of the musical. For some reason…my mind was accountable only to itself even in 1953…I associated the song “Bye, Bye, Baby” with Zane. I still do, to this day.

I think Zane and Stu and I thought of ourselves as something like the gay Three Musketeers. Stu was incredibly talented in a number of areas, but a classic case of A.D.D. before anyone knew what Attention Deficit Disorder was. He was always starting grandiose projects and never finishing them. Very tall, thin, and with red hair, Stu’s flamboyance stood out anywhere he went and his sexual orientation was not too terribly hard to guess. He was the campus cut-up at college, but away from campus, among people he did not know, he attracted a lot of unwanted attention. Though his reaction to being stared at was to defiantly kick up the flamboyance level several notches, I knew it hurt him.

Zane was to the theater born. Actor-handsome, and of Greek heritage, he shortened his real first name from Zenon to Zane. He was suave and confident, and represented a lot of the things I wanted to be. And, as I say, I had a huge, unfortunately unrequited, crush on him.

One night, in one of their rooms, they decided that they should practice their makeup skills on me, and brought out a makeup kit they’d borrowed from the drama department. I wasn’t particularly wild about the idea…especially when they brought out the lipstick and eyelashes, but went along. About half an hour later, they declared they were done and told me to stand up. Stu then brought over a mirror, faced away from me. Holding it up in front of my face he turned it around to give me the full effect of their efforts—a rather tarty-looking woman. I was so revolted that I fainted. Literally.

We had made plans to meet in New York during summer break. I was totally excited by the prospect, but my father was not, and we had a number of rows over it. Finally he gave in: “Okay, so go to New York with your queer boyfriends.” That was the first time my dad had ever said anything like that, and I was truly shocked. He had met Stu and Zane many times and had never said a word against them. He of course knew full well that I was also queer, and I guess he was just afraid that three gay boys alone in the big city of New York might get into more trouble than we had bargained for.

We had made reservations at a hotel called, if I remember, the St. James. Stu and Zane were to arrive a day or so before me. When I arrived and checked in, they were not in their rooms, and I decided to go out exploring by myself. Naturally, I headed for Times Square, which in 1953 was not quite what it is in 2008. And there, in a city of 8 million people, as I walked down 42nd St., I looked across the street to see Zane and Stu.

My memory for such momentous events in my life is usually very clear, but for some reason I cannot recall details of our stay, or even be absolutely sure that this was my first trip to New York. I imagine it was. In any event, I know we had to have had a marvelous time. And if it was my first time I do remember that the first show I ever saw on Broadway was Rogers & Hammerstein’s Me & Juliet, which used the music Hammerstein had used for the immensely popular TV series, Victory at Sea, and Cole Porter’s Can-Can.

Oh, to be 19 and with friends in New York City again!
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

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