Friday, June 03, 2016

Astronauts: A Love Story

   “I dunno. Are they any good?”

   “They’re a surf band, like the Beach Boys, but from Colorado.”

   “Playing at Dayton’s auditorium? The place they have the Christmas exhibition?”

   “Eighth floor auditorium. It should be cool. It’s only a dollar.”

   “I need someone to go to with me to Dayton’s. There’s going to be a teen board event, I’m going to model some clothes. There will be a band playing afterwards.”

   “Saturday afternoon?”

   “Two p.m. It costs a dollar.”

   “Plus 20 cents for the bus rides. I’ll ask my mother if I can go.”

   The auditorium was filled with teens. Mostly girls, there for the fashion show, although the boys who came to hear the band were old enough to take an interest in the girls as well.  The event began with the fashions—girls dressing up for each other. As the young women displayed their clothes, the gangly fourteen-year-old boy standing at the edge of the crowd couldn't help but notice the tall girl standing on the other side of the stage. She was tall, with eyes that held a spark of intelligence. He wanted to talk to her but lacked the words (and the nerve) to begin a conversation.

   She just wanted to see the fashions.

   The fashion show ended and the band began to play. Their set list was filled with tepid rock songs and a surf instrumental or two, nothing that your mother would object to. It was 1965, after all. The Summer of Love was two years away, a distant future in the teen-aged mind. The Astronauts looked sharp in their color-coordinated outfits and matching instruments. Even their amplifiers fit into the color scheme. They ended their show with a minor Buddy Holly song, I’m Gonna Love You Too:

You’re gonna say you’ll miss me
You’re gonna say you’ll kiss me
Yes, you're gonna say you’ll love me
Cause I'm gonna love you too

I don’t care what you told me
You’re gonna say you'll hold me
Yes, you're gonna say you’ll love me
Cause I'm gonna love you too

After all, another fella took you
But I still can’t overlook you
I’m gonna do my best to hook you
After all is said & done

It’s gonna happen someday
You’re gonna see things my way
Yes, you’re gonna say you’ll love me
Cause I’m gonna love you too

      The words, trite, nevertheless made an impression on the boy. He scanned the crowd, looking for the tall girl but she was gone. I’m gonna love you too, he thought, but her face was already fading from his memory.

    The 45th class reunion was a low-key affair. 2013 had seen a number of its classmates die, the dead list grew faster now. But the man who had once attended a teen dance at a department store was still alive. He was talking to a group of his classmates. One member of the group was a woman he had dated once in their Senior year. They had drifted apart after high school but still kept in touch. He had always been crazy about her, but nothing serious came of it. The group was reminiscing about the bands they had seen in high school.

   “Remember the Saturday afternoon shows they had at Dayton’s?” the man asked.

   “I only went to one,” said the woman, “My friend Phyliss made me go. She was on the teen board, for the fashion show. The band was The Astronauts.”

   “I was there!” said the man, “They were pretty good.” The memory of the event transcended any criticism of their performance. She had been there. She was the tall girl. Later, when they met in high school, he thought there was something familiar about her.

   “I’m gonna love you too,” he thought.

   Even though they lived their lives apart, he always had.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Cousin Mary said...

I hope that they played "hot digging" - my favorite of their songs....

Anonymous Cousin Mary said...

Typo - I meant "Hot Doggin'"

Blogger Professor Batty said...

They played all their "hits," although I think they were transitioning out of their Surf/Hotrod phase by the time we saw them.

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