The Fall of Our Love. Stalker and Baby attend Hair the Musical, our first date to a Broadway show. September 2009.
The irony could not have been keener for me. What had been my first date to a Broadway show, ever? September 1969. Hair. I went with Dave, my high school boyfriend; his family gave him tickets as a birthday present. Dave was friends with a cat who became –Stalker. You can’t make this stuff up.
September 1969. Actors naked on stage, long hair, rock ‘n roll. Freaks not on a protest march, not attending a concert in Central Park, the Fillmore East or Woodstock, but on a Broadway stage — infiltrating straight society. Outrageous in 1969, nostalgic in 2009. Now, Stalker and I were in seats overlooking the stage, surrounded by theater goers young enough to be our children. “Yes,” we bragged. “We attended the original decades ago.”
“Wow,” said the theater goers in awe of us. “Wow. My mother went to that.”
Now Stalker’s 1969 luxurious black, curly pony-tail was gone; a cap hid whatever hair was left on his scalp. My own 1969 hair had been shoulder-length, thick, dark chocolate-brown and too curly for the fashion. I wore it parted severely down the middle. Now it flowed more gently, falling far down my back; now mostly white, but disguised with auburn red color. Today he still could wear his high school narrow jeans and white shirt sizes; I had long outgrown shopping in the Alexander’s boys department for flannel shirts — outgrown both in style and size. Today I wore a red jersey wrap-around dress with heels. I had aged enough to have lost an ill-afforded inch from my meager 5’3″ stature; my neck had to stretch extra when I reached up to meet his kiss. But we were at Hair; we were still alive and dancing and rockin’.
This time, unlike 1969, after the last curtain call I was out of the audience and onto the stage. I had arrived at my life’s goal — to get out of the passive sidelines and into the central action of my life. Stalker and I ran down the rickety, windy stairs, and jumped to the center of the stage that was rapidly filling with audience members. A be-in, a love-in of sorts, a final group dance by The People. I was in heaven. How I loved that Stalker loved the stage and knew no fear, no embarrassment, no hesitation to live. With Stalker, I wouldn’t have to be Baby in the corner anymore; I could be onstage with “Johnny,” dirty dancing in the Catskills.
Stalker twirled me around him, as we switched from couples-based Swing moves to free-form dancing-alone-but-together in Hippie style, and back again. We might have been at a Grateful Dead concert — dancing with abandon, unself-consciously, as though we were 17 years old again. We held the promise of Hair, the symbol of our youthful rebellion — being long-haired in a short-haired world; resisting our naivety becoming an embarrassment. What did Yoko Ono later say about her and John Lennon’s bed-in, peace campaign? A little naive to think the war could be over if we just wish it enough? Yes, just a little.
“You are my Yoko, I am your John,” said Stalker as we rode back to the Bronx on the Broadway Local subway. “Always think, before you act, is that what Yoko would do?”
“Another assignment,” said Stalker. “You know what’s coming. Dave. Dave Rich. I need to know every detail. How you met– was it at high school, at Bronx Science? What did he tell you about me, in high school? What did you do together? When did you break up? How did you break up? You must write me another essay, as soon as you return to Portland. Do you understand what I need to know, Baby?”
“Yes, sir. I understand.”
“Good. That’s a good girl.”
But where do I start? With Hair. That is a good place. With what Dave’s mother told me the last time I saw her. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 2001.
“When we bought the Hair tickets, the birthday present tickets for Dave and you,” she said. “Dave said it could not be a Saturday matinée. That’s when we understood what your situation was. We told him he couldn’t marry you. You can understand, can’t you? It would not have been good for him. You understand, don’t you?”
Well, now I do, I thought to myself. Now. Thirty years later.
. . . to be continued