Monthly Archives: July 2015

Still Crying over ET after All These Years

This past Friday was my first Free Friday Flicks of the season. It’s a summer ritual for me involving outdoor movies at the Hatch Shell in Boston and a certain Effin’ Pink Blanket, which you can read about here, (Not Just any Pink Blanket). The movie was ET, which I first saw in a theatre on one of those pre-prom dates. I don’t know if kids do that any more, but that’s when you decide to go with someone to the prom and to show you aren’t just using each other for a prom date, you go out once before hand. Who said chivalry is dead? He was a senior and part of my extended group of friends who were mostly senior guys, and we were juniors girls who matched ourselves up with them. I got Charles, who was the smartest, nerdiest, pocket protector carrying guy in the group. I got a kick out of his super nerdiness and was good friends with his sister, so when he asked me to the prom and then to go see ET, I was happy to go. Also, it was the first and only date (outside of prom) I had in high school, so I thank Charles for that.

So we were watching the movie, and since I’m a natural crier anyway, when the movie gets to the part where ET is dying and dies (sorry for the spoiler…ha!), I’m sobbing away, feeling slightly foolish, but there is nothing I can do about my emotions. And Charles leans over and whispers. “He’s not really dead,” and sure enough his heart glows red, and the music swells, the brother hits his head on the ceiling jumping for joy, and away we go racing to send ET home. Charles neglected to tell me he’d seen the movie before. Which is all well and good, but I turned to look at the Charles through my bleary teary eyes, my nose snuffling, and felt like smacking him. “You didn’t think to tell me that before I started crying?” His grin made me even madder. Like he was enjoying it. And it’s not like he even tried to use that as an excuse to make me snuggle closer and get his hand up my shirt. It started to occur to me that the reason he didn’t have any dates was not because he was a super nerd, but because he might be a tad sadistic.

We did go to the prom and went out the day after with a  group of friends to hang out at a park, but the damage was done. Every time I looked at him, all I could think about was how he let me sob uncontrollably when he knew damn well ET was fine.

So fast forward 30-plus years later, and as I was gathering the Free Friday Flicks group, people’s reactions to ET were fascinating. A number of people hadn’t seen the movie in 30 years, which I think must have taken some effort–how could you not have stumbled on it on TV, or during cable’s “Steven Spielberg week” or “Kids and Aliens” movie week, or some such. Other friends had no interest at all (what kind of philistine doesn’t like kids and alien movies?) Some didn’t want to come because they don’t like to cry in public. To which I answered, I’ll be bawling my head off, so sit next to me and you’ll look normal.

And that’s the thing. ET dying and Eliot’s heartbreaking shouts of despair still make me cry. Not a little, pretty much as hard as I cried that first time. Even though now I know he’s going to be OK. Which makes me think, maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard on Charles after all. Even if he had told me, it wouldn’t have stopped me from crying. But would it may have kept me from being devastated. Or would it? I was 17 at the time. Even now, 30 years later people have all kinds of opinions about ET and Elliot. So who’s to know? 30 years later I’m sitting among my friends and with my son, out under the stars, laughing, talking and still being moved by an alien and his kid friend. I’m not phoning it in, I’m phoning home.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

A Girl, a Friend and Their Band U2

I saw U2 in Boston on Tuesday night with my best friend and fellow U2 fanatic and her college-age daughter who wanted to come with us. Cuz that’s the power of U2, or at least the power of our passion for this band. Even a millennial wanted to see them. See, we’re too young for Woodstock, not into drugs enough for the Grateful Dead, and too old for…oh, yeah, right, there are no really great big new bands anymore. And that’s not just me being an old fart; I have that on great authority, my teenage son. There are great new bands, but the “big” part seems to have gone the way of the network TV. Lucky for us, U2 is still going strong.

Before Tuesday, I hadn’t seen Sonia in about 15 years and last saw U2 in 2005. Encountering both is like no time passing. Sonia and I met in college and bonded over our love of the band–they were just breaking out with their third album, War. It was a connection that launched 1,000 conversations about race, religion, and the meaning of life, and lest you think we’re too serious, there was a healthy amount of talk about boys, various vices, and rock ‘n roll.

I’ve been trying to write this post all week, but the thing is I could write a book about me, Sonia, and U2, or at least more than a blog post. And I think I will, eventually. But for now, I’ll just say, seeing U2 with Sonia was like coming home. They are in a reflective mood with this new music and we are too. Yes, they forced it on everyone for free. Get over it.  I promise to hold my tongue when the new album from your favorite band I don’t give a hoot about shows up for free in my iTunes. In concert they also played a lot of the older songs we bonded over, and they are still making new songs that we both like. Use any cliché you like–transformative, moving, an affirmation. U2 has always been in sync with us. Every album says something to us, and we always have something to say to each other. This visit we talked about new stuff, and we reminisced about old stuff, some of it funny, some of it hard. But all good.

I posted a picture on Facebook of me and Sonia at the concert, and we’re screaming with joy and laughter. I could talk more about what it means to us, but the picture says it all. And that’s it– I loved catching up with her, loved getting to meet her awesome daughter who I babysat as an infant, and I loved hanging out with our U2 boys in Boston.

Sometimes, years later, with losses and loves, failures and successes, it’s as simple as a girl, her friend and their band.




Rockin’ in the ‘Burbs: Top 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Rick Springfield

My sister’s birthday is just three days after mine in August, so this year we decided to treat ourselves to double birthday gift of seeing Rick Springfield in a very small venue in Cohasset, which is on something we Bostonians call the “South Shore.” It’s also known as the place of “new money,” from like 100 years ago, as opposed to the North Shore, which is known as the place of “old money,” which I guess is somewhere between the Pilgrims and when people started making money. I have “no money,” which is why my fabulous sister treated me, but I digress.

We saw him at a very intimate venue called the South Shore Music Circus. The website says it seats 2,300–it’s like a circus tent with the stage in the middle and the seats going around 360 degrees. Half was closed off for Rick’s performance, (yes, we are on a first-name basis), so there was room for about 1,000 people and there were only a couple of hundred of us. So we were close to Rick. Wicked close, but we behaved ourselves. Here are the top 6 things you might not know about Rick Springfield:

1. The man has not, as my friend Mike says, “gone to seed.” The guy is 65 years old, and still has his rocker bod, his hair, his guitar muscled arms, and has had just enough plastic surgery to make him look good, but not freakish. He looks 50 and he’s hot. How many rock/pop icons can you say that about?

2. The guys who liked him in high school and got beat up for it because Rick was “strictly for girls” are vindicated. Not only is he still rockin’, he played four different guitars with licks that would make you cry and/or your fingers ache to hold a six string, including a blues guitar with a slide. As he said in the Q&A after the show, “You can tell them all to fuck off.” Amen, Rick.

3. He grew up in Australia, and when he was still a teenager, he and his band mates went to Vietnam in 1968. To entertain the US troops. They had to hunker down in the bunkers a few times during the shelling. Vietnam. 1968.

4. The people who go see him are old. Except my sister and me. We’re totally hot and have NOT gone to seed. But whoa, those other people. They may think they are our age, but they are nothing like us. In fact they are waaaaay older and weirder (see item # 5). We’re totally cool.

5. We sat next to a woman from Kansas who decided to vacation in Boston because Rick Springfield was playing here. She showed us her pictures with him that time they were staying at the hotel together after a show, and from the time she  paid $300 for a meet and greet. ‘Nuff said.

6. Rick is a class act. About 2/3 of the way through his set, his roadie came out to have an extended talk with him. Rick’s funny, so he made a joke, “Look over there!” while they talked. the roadie left, and without missing a beat, he started talking about how he came to write his most well-known song, “Jesse’s Girl.” He took a stained glass class and lusted after a women in the class who was there with her boyfriend.

“I went home and tried to write a song about Gary and his girlfriend, but I realized, there is no rhyme for ‘girlfriend’.” He told us the story, sang the song, and then had to shut it down at 10:20 pm, because the Circus is smack dab in a suburban neighborhood and they complain when the music goes past 10:30. Really? 10:30? This is why people hate suburbia. Maybe you should have bought a house in a different neighborhood. When I lived in the Fenway and the Red Sox were in the playoffs, I heard the damn fans screaming all night long, but you didn’t hear me bellyaching about it.

Damn suburbanites. So I could have probably told you 10 things about Rick, but the crabby, unhip, “new money” people in Cohasset prevented me from learning any more. Maybe I’ll have to go to Kansas when he plays there next, for vacation you know.


Photo credit: e

Confessions of a Lazy Bostonian

Boston just celebrated another Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Fourth of July. People come from all over the country to be here and experience the concert, the 1812 Overture with Boston’s ringing church bells and firing cannons, and of course the fireworks. For a number of years, the event was even nationally televised, which I was proud of until I realized it moved the fireworks to be an hour later to synchronize with other nationally televised fireworks, like those in New York. Why do I have to get home at 12:30 or 1 am because some poindexter television programming executive thinks New York fireworks are more important? When the televised contract wasn’t renewed, I breathed a sigh of relief that the fireworks could return to the earlier time slot, and I could get squished home in the human river of attendees at a decent hour.

But the funny thing is, I haven’t made it down to the Esplanade since then. Which reminds me, let me apologize to all the tourists who find our names unpronounceable. On Thursday I was by the river near where the concert and fireworks are held and a tourist couple asked me, “How do you pronounce that place with the fireworks, ‘Es-play-nade’?”

For the record, it’s pronounced “Es-pluh-nod.” And that’s the same with or without the Boston accent. Then they wanted directions to that place with the shops and restaurants that begins with an “F”. Ah, Faneuil Hall, another hard to pronounce/remember word. I pointed down the street and told them to go that way, and then to ask again in a few blocks. That’s my strategy rather than trying to explain how to get somewhere with roads that twist and curve unhelpfully and the term “city block” is more of a quaint suggestion than a useful measure of distance.

But back to the Fourth—when I was younger, my friends and I would go in groups—different groups of friends for different years, and we each had a favorite strategy or place to see the fireworks from, based on years of trial and error.  The main objective for all of them was to swoop in around 6 or 7 pm in a place that wasn’t wall-to-wall people, have a bit of time to socialize and eat, then watch the concert on the big screens they set up for anyone not actually sitting in front of the stage, see the fireworks, and get out. Two intrepid friends actually kayaked and watched the fireworks on the river. Two others braved the all-day-on-the-oval experience. I’m a trooper, but that’s too hardcore even for me. My idea of a good time does not include being stationed all day in one spot guarding the boundaries of your blanket against enthusiastic patriotic encroachment.

The first year I didn’t go down to see the fireworks in person was when my son was just four months, and I couldn’t face the sheer amount of stuff I would need to bring him. Not to mention I was still a new enough mother that I couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to quiet him if he decided, being a new enough baby, to howl like he was getting murdered. But as I watched the fireworks on TV that year, it so awfully paled in comparison to seeing them in person, I vowed like Scarlett O’Hara to never miss them in person again. And I didn’t for a long time.

But then the friends began to scatter and in the pre-during-post divorce years I didn’t have the energy to throw myself into that party of more than 100,000 people. I do have my Bostonian pride, though, and told myself I’d get back to it once life had settled. And then I moved to my current apartment up on a hill, and I discovered I can actually see the fireworks in the distance from the end of my driveway. So life is now happily settled, and I’m finding it really hard to make good on my promise. I could be talked into it, but there is no one to do it—my friends still scatter to other places for the Fourth, and my teen son prefers to stay camped out at his computer until the fireworks come on, when he’ll join me at the end of the driveway to oooh and aaah.

So I feel a little guilty that people come from all over to see this, and I was lazy and stayed home. But at least I didn’t watch it on TV, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I selflessly made room for an enthusiastic out-of-towner to have a grand time on the esplaynade. What’s more patriotic than that?