I don’t mean to brag, but I was once in a rock and roll band.
Okay, it wasn’t exactly a rock and roll band.
I mean, we didn’t play any instruments.
I guess I should say, that I was once, one half of a duo. My friend Sue and I got to sing before my brother and his buddy Bruce, took the stage.
They had real instruments. Well, I should clarify. My brother had a real guitar and Bruce had a rubber practice drum pad. But his drum sticks were real. Bruce’s parents weren’t willing to invest in all that noise until he proved himself worthy.
But stardom cannot always wait for parents.
And that is why we were there, on a sunny afternoon, congregated in the next door neighbors’ back yard.
I was a mess. I could not believe what was about to happen.
The looming stage had once been the board for Calvin’s race car track. Or it might have been the box that had been under the train that we’d all played with, turned over.
There were about ten or so miss-matched lawn chairs, borrowed from various yards, set up in front of it.
And there was a microphone up there.
Apparently, since Bruce could only have the rubber practice pad, his parents must have thrown in a microphone.
Sue and I had been practicing the song, These are a few of my favorite things, all summer in her basement. In case you don’t recall, Julie Andrews sang this in, The Sound of Music.
“When the dog bites. When the bee stings. When I’m feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things. And then I don’t, f-e-e-l, s-o, b-a-d!”
But no band can live on just one song.
So, we had two.
The other one also came from the same movie.
Oh my God. My mouth was dry. I wanted to run and hide.
My cup is shaking right now, as I bring this fresh, hot, coffee toward my lips and reminisce about that day. Or maybe it is shaking because I went to that retirement party last night and I had a real good time.
My little sister, Louisa, set up a Kool-Aid stand, just to the left of our stage.
People were milling around in the thick grass with a few bright yellow dandelions poking through.
Patty and Susie cut through the peonies before Sue’s mother came outside.
I was pacing.
“Oh no. Why is John coming down the street?” I screamed inside my head.
“I am out,” I whispered to Sue.
“Millie, you have to do this.” she said. “We sold all of these tickets.”
I was willing to give everyone back their nickel. No skin off may back.
I stood in the Kool-Aid line.
It was cherry.
I gave Louisa a couple of pennies, drank it like a shot and crushed the Dixie cup in my little hand.
“Hey, it’s one o’clock,” somebody yelled.
The only people who were missing now were the mothers of the, soon to be, super stars.
What in the hell were they doing? This shitten thing had to happen before I lost my cookies right there in the grass.
Mom came scurrying out the side door with a dish towel still in her hand. She must have been cleaning up after our peanut butter and jelly lunch.
The honored guests were seated front and center, as the mother chairs had RESERVED signs taped to them. But really, there was not a bad seat in the house. You couldn’t go wrong.
Sue stepped up there on that stage and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to our show. And now, The Raindrop Sisters, would like to perform, a song that needs no further introduction.”
Everyone was clapping.
My feet were stuck.
“Millie!” she says, with her hand over the microphone and looking at me through eyes that could kill.
I went into automatic pilot and I didn’t even know I had automatic pilot.
Standing up there on that plank, behind a microphone and looking out at all those faces, is an experience that everybody should have.
There we were, pelting out our untrained, untuned voices, at the top of our lungs, right into that microphone, “Doe a deer, a female dear!” we screamed.
“Ray a drop of golden sun.”
Come to think of it. It might have been a broom handle that we were screaming into. I cannot imagine that Bruce’s parents could have afforded a real microphone.
We went right from our first number into our finale.
“Rain drops on roses and kittens with whiskers.”
We were really feeling it.
Stardom was our fate.
“And then I don’t, f -e-e-l, s-o, b-a-d.” Were the last, long and drawn out, high notes, of my singing career.
We did not receive a standing ovation. But it was obvious by all the clapping and jeering, that the audience was real happy that we were done. Some people did get up to get some more Kool-Aid.
And then The Raindrop Sisters, stepped back off that stage and back into the real world.
We took the two unoccupied seats where the B&C Boys had been sitting.
It took them a minute or so to set things up. They needed a couple of folding chairs and Bruce needed a box to set his rubber practice pad on and the broom handle needed some adjusting.
So, while the rock stars were tuning up, most of the audience went and bought another cup of Kool-Aid, which, was kind of a rip off.
Louisa was using those little bathroom Dixie cups and she was selling them for two cents a piece. You could drink them in one gulp.
And then the show was about to start again.
So everybody scurried back to their seats
The B&C Boys did a magnificent arrangement of, Puff the Magic Dragon.
It was real good.
Except for the singing.
And you couldn’t really hear the drum sticks on that rubber pad.
The guys took a bow and the show was over.
Their stupid band only played one song.
What kind of a band only knows one song?
Hell, we had two.
And then, once all the whistling, cheering and clapping ended, came the clean up.
And speaking of clean up.
Do you know who cleaned up that day?
She made a bundle with her little Kool-Aid scam.
She kept all of those pennies. She didn’t split them with my mom, who, by the way, bought and made it.
And what about the rock stars?
What ever happened to the super untalented people, who had risked their reputations by getting up there on that scary, turned over train set, and sang out of tune in front of the entire neighborhood?
What ever happened to them?
They split sixty cents, four ways and then their bands split up.
But that was all good.
I walked to Knoche’s store and bought a couple of those long packages of sour grape and sour apple gum balls with my money.
And because of that day, I can say that I was once in a rock and roll band.
And of course Louisa can say that she once screwed everyone at a rock concert including the band for two cents a piece.
And she was only seven.