In high school, seven people wrote in my yearbook “Dear Weird Barbara”. Graduation is this Thursday, so I was thinking about these things. I also was on the committee that organized the prom, but I didn’t go because back then (1971), I didn’t have a date. No one asked me. I couldn’t go stag because it was 1971. My friend Susan stopped by my job, where I worked as a dental assistant, and she showed me her wrist corsage, and her dress, and her purse, and her shoes, and her boyfriend… . It’s been forty-six years and you can tell I’ve worked that through and I am over it.
I didn’t have crushes on the Beatles or the Rolling Stones like my contemporaries. I liked Elvis long after he stopped swiveling those hips and when he ate a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I sang along with Nat King Cole in my sunken living room. My relationship with Frank Sinatra was long and enduring. Though we were 38 years apart in age I hoped some day he would be in the neighborhood, need a glass of water, push the button to come up to apartment 5G and the rest would be history. That dream followed me wherever I moved to from New York to Illinois to Massachusetts. I just thought even though he had married Nancy, Ava, Mia, and Barbara, that our paths had not yet crossed. Just think about the last woman he married, Barbara Marx. Don’t you think I was in his subconscious? Well, I do. I was a mental stalker, long before that was a thing. When my FHB and I met, I asked him what he thought of Francis Albert Sinatra and he said he didn’t care for his music. Sometimes, you just have to take a chance on love, until the right one comes along. When I was single he was married and when he was between wives or with a wife etc. I was married so it just wasn’t in the stars. Then he died, and I mourned. I was single then. Too bad.
I had dated some “bad” boys along the way. There was one guy in college who was travelling to California between semesters and invited me along and he was somewhat of a Marlon Brando type. He was a great cartoonist and we were in the same political science course. I didn’t know him well, but I thought a road trip might change that. I tried to figure out the best way to tell my parents. I was over eighteen and thought just telling them that I was taking a vacation to the coast and that I was driving with a friend would be enough information. Needless to say, it was still several years before I saw the Pacific. Somehow, as cool as I thought I was, they didn’t. Seemed like a good idea in the moment. It was the 70’s. Another interesting fellow took my picture in Central Park while a friend and I were hanging out there. He said that he would call me and show me the pictures and we could have dinner. He seemed nice. When he did call, he said to tell my mother his name was something different than he had said it was in the park. My mother wanted to know where he lived. I asked him (this is when I would put my hand over the receiver and whisper to her as she stood next to me). He told me he lived in Manhattan in a place called Phoenix House. Sounded like a mythological place to me. My mother pushed the button on the phone as she said “You are hanging up NOW”. I didn’t know Phoenix House was a very well known drug rehabilitation place. I figured he was probably on staff there. My mother was not convinced. A bit naive I was. There was no dinner and no pictures.
I asked my mother to consider hypothetically, if Frank Sinatra was lost in our neighborhood, and somehow he found our apartment, would she let me let him in. I knew that she might crack under the pressure, as she had seen him at the Capitol Theater in New York City in the 1940’s and she told me she “swooned”. She told me that if Frank Sinatra showed up at our door, she would knock me out of the way. I guess I know where some of the weird comes from and where the interest in the “bad boys” also came from. My father would roll his eyes as she sang along with Frank. My FHB sort of does the same, but he sings along. Oh the bad boys come and go, but the good ones you should hang on to. It’s Witchcraft!