Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ode to Eydie or Sittin' With the PooPoo Girls

Growing up with a great jazz drummer for an uncle is actually a blast. It's cool on so many levels.
First, he's a great man, just a really good guy. My Uncle Ronnie is one of the funniest guys you'll ever meet. The best joke teller.

You want to laugh? Maybe you're having a crappy day? Here's what you do. Find some working musicians. The more talented and seasoned the better, then just pose the simple question; "Anyone heard any good jokes lately?" Pause, and let the funny ensue.

Pants-peeing funny. I Promise.

You want an open-minded, liberal, arts loving childhood? Have a jazz legend as your uncle. You learn about tolerance, equality, and great, and I mean GREAT MUSIC!

So why the sudden ode to my favorite uncle, you may query?

Simple. Eydie Gorme passed away last year. Eydie from Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme (just in case there's another Eydie Gorme driving a tractor or knitting a quilt in the Midwest somewhere.
I doubt
 it, but I like to cover myself)
We were about 9 or 10 years old. We, as in my cousin Laura and I. Laura's parents are Aunt Pat & Uncle Ronnie. Pat is my aunt on my mother’s side. Laura and I are about 5 months apart. Put in the crib together since Day One. Left kind of on our own to laugh while our parents had a blast together. Doing whatever they did in those crazy 60's, 70's... We never asked for specifics. Laura and I are both kind of afraid we might hear something that would make us throw up in our mouths just a little. Don't ask, don't tell. So it's, let's say 1976 to make it easy.

Just to clarify, at any particular point during any particular summer, on
e of were always at the other’shouse. Ours was in Centerport, Long Island, theirs was in Haworth, New Jersey. We had the beaches, andthey had the swim-club. We had bicycles with banana seats, and they had mopeds. We had drive-ins, and they had cool concert halls.

Pretty much either place was a kid’s paradise. Add to that fact that Laura and I were inseparable and cried when we had to leave each other, and our parents had no choice but to let us be together as much as they possibly could. Our parents were really great taking turns driving the hour and a half (if there was light traffic on the Cross Bronx, which was rare) back and forth after a week to do the switch.

So I'm in Jersey one week in the early summer of 1976 and we are all sitting around the breakfast table slurping Cheerios and talking 
nonstop. Suddenly the subject of what Uncle Ronnie was doing that night was on topic. Was he going to Manhattan to play a jingle for Budweiser? Was he recording with Barry Manilow? Was he playing the Blue Note with Peggy Lee, who kissed all her musicians on THE LIPS before taking the stage...BLECHHHH?!! Was it was it was it was it?!! Was it?!!

"No, no, no, girls. Uncle Ronnie is playing a date at the New Jersey auditorium with Steve & Eydie."
Laura and
 I eyed Aunt Pat like she had two heads (two very beautiful heads). "Mom” Laura asked ,“who are Steve & Evie?" "Eydie, babes. Oh they're a very famous singing duo. They're married and been together for years. Like Sonny and Cher, kind of. They sing and dance and tell jokes. Like a nightclub act."
My cousin and I stared wide eyed at each other across the table. Sonny and Cher?! NIGHTCLUB? NIGHTCLUB? "Night" and "Club" in one word? Like the places with the names never spoken aloud around our parents...CBGBs or Studio 54?  
What is this thing you speak of? We wondered with awe.
"Daddy is playing drums in their orchestra tonight for their act."

I tried to keep cool.

"Their um, nightclu
b act Aunt Pat?" I asked. "Yes, sweetie. Except on a larger stage, with a bigger audience." Larger? Bigger? Nightclub?! 

Dearest Lord of everything holy, it's too much to fathom!
Laura spoke first. "Mama, 5 kids are a lot to babysit for (Laura and my younger sisters and their baby brother were also on hand). Do you think Gia and I could go to the show? We'll be reallyreallyreally good and promise not to talk and we will sit still and if we are bad you can send Gia home for the rest of the summer."

Whaaaaaaaaaaaa? Jeez! Laura was showing her hand. Going all in. Not pulling any punches.
I bit my bottom lip and swiveled my head towards my beloved Aunt & Uncle.
 Uncle Ronnie had on a small smile. Aunt Pat furrowed her eyebrows. "Jeez girls, I mean jeez, Steve and Eydie aren't like the music you two like. They're not like Kiss or The Beatles, or even Barry Manilow.

I need to pause this story for full disclosure here. I'm a Fanilow. Have been since Uncle Ronnie played on some of his earliest albums. Laura and I wore out our 45 of "Could this be the Magic" and albums that included "Weekend in New England" and "Miracle" several times. To say nothing of "Copacabana"! Barry was upbeat, fun to sing and dance to, and most importantly was a great artist to play for. My Uncle still thinks the world of him.

So I continue.
 "It doesn't matter Daddy! We want to see new music. We want to see Steve and Evie!"
, honey. Eydie” my Aunt Pat corrected. “Hmm…what do you think Ronnie?" My uncle shrugged his shoulders. "Let me call Dave the producer and see if he has an extra two seats no one is using. Can't hurt."

Laura and I started jumping up and down like our names had been called on The Price is Right to COME ON DOWN. "Steve and Edyie! Steve and Eydie, yeaaaaaaa!!!" 
Our siblings stared at us, milk dribbling down their chins, with looks that can only be described as bright confusion.

"So we can stay with Mae and watch TV and eat popcorn?" my cousin Kristin asked sheepishly?
"Yeah, Hun. You, Jill and RonJon will stay home with Mae." Aunt Pat replied.

The three "babies" all smiled at each other quite satisfied. 
"Ha! Mae always gives us extra ice cream and doesn't make us go to bed early," Kristin whispered to Laura and I.
"Who cares nerd? You can eat your stupid ice-cream, we're seeing STEVE & EYDIE!" Kristin, Jill and RonJon. They all shrugged, put their bowls in the sink and ran upstairs to watch “The Monkees
We were free of them.

Uncle Ronnie was finishing up on a phone call. "So you sure it's okay Dave? They're only 10, but they're good kids and are really well behaved (shooting us a, "you both heard me" glare). Great, great, they'll be thrilled. See you at the run through. Bye."

Cue the continuation of the jumping and squealing! "We're going to the act! We're seeing Steve & Eydie! OH MY GAAAAWWWD!" My aunt laughed. "We have just one little problem you two."
"Whaaaaaaat?!" we cried in unison.
 "Gia needs a nice dress. Something for this special occasion. Laura, you have that white one with the little red roses on the sleeves, you'll wear that, but Gia needs something new. We can stop on the way to the show and pick something up for Gia to wear. No big deal. We'll leave a little early. Both of you will take showers before you go. I'll let you know when. In the meantime, you both can go to the swim club, but you need to be back by 3:00 at the latest. 3:00 at the latest, or you can forget Steve and Eydie you got it?"

"Got it Mommy, promise." Laura said. We split the kitchen, to go change into our bathing suits.
Laura turned to me with a huge smile, but it faltered when she faced me. "Wassamatter Gee? Why do you look upset?"

"I have to wear A DRESS?! A dumb, stupid, girly, frilly dress? I hate dresses! What kind of an act is this? I never had to wear a dress to go to the circus, and that was at Madison Square Garden! We took a train to that, and I didn't have to wear a dress!!!!" I cried. 

"No, but you begged and begged for that stupid beanie cap with the propeller you HAD to have because you thought it could make you fly."

"It CAN!! Sam and Iggy told me if the wind is just right, alls I have to do is run faster and I can get like 3 feet off the ground....3 feet!"

"So, if you can wear that stupid beanie, you can wear a new dress just once to see Steve & Eydie! It's just one day! One day Gia. It won't kill you, and we can go see THE ACT!!!"

I was at an personal impasse. I mean a dress? Dresses were for communions, christenings, funerals (yuck). Dresses itched. Dresses made me have to be careful the way I sat! You had to wear a dumb slip with a dress, which was really a way for grow ups to make you wear TWO dresses. So sneaky. Dresses just plain old stunk. But, this was a NIGHTCLUB ACT! This was Steve and Eydie. Like Sonny and Cher!

"FINE! I'll wear the stupid dress, but I don't wanna wear a slip, if your Mom forgets about it, and it comes off as soon as we get home. Oh! And I DO NOT BRING IT BACK TO NEW YORK WITH ME!"
Laura sighed. "Fine, it's just a dumb dress."

amazing as it sounds, we got back from the swim club at 2:50. Maybe because we checked the time every 10 minutes or so. The excitement of seeing Steve & Edyie was bubbling up inside of us like the ice cold coke and Lik-M-Aide in our mouths.

"Each of you take a shower and wash your hair, both of you! No skimping! I'm checking" Aunt Pat told us. She was serious. Once we were all clean and shiny, Aunt Pat took turns spraying "No More Tangles" in our hair, and brushing out the knots. Then she braided both our heads and tied brand new ribbons for each of us. Laura put on her white dress with the roses, and spun around.
"See? Don't I look pretty? Like Truly Scrumptious from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

I had to agree, she did look nice.
"You wear dresses good."
 I told her. 
"Thanks Gee."
 Laura beamed. 

After Mae arrived and Aunt Pat gave her the instructions for the little kids, we all three big girls got into Aunt Pat's Beetle.
 "Okay girls, just a quick stop at the store to get Gia her dress and then onto the show." I started to pout, but Laura shot me a look that put me right in my place.

When we arrived at the store, Aunt Pat brought us straight to the girls dresses section. The dizzying array of colors, silk, satin and crinoline, made me immediately sweat and  itch. Laura pulled a frilly cherry red number off a rack and let out a mesmerized, "Ooooooooooo! Mommy what about this one!"
I recoiled in terror.

Aunt Pat laughed. "It’s very pretty honey, but it's a little too fancy, and I don't think it's Gia's style."
Whew. That was a relief.
 Finally after a couple of minutes, Aunt Pat exclaimed, "Now this is exactly the kind of dress I was hoping to find." "Lets see Mom! Show us!" Laura exclaimed.

Aunt Pat held up a yellow daisy print thin strapped mini dress. As far as dresses went, it wasn't horrible. Daisies were my favorite flower, and it didn't have itchy looking sleeves. "Gia, look at this cool thing. See, it has matching panty shorts you wear over your underpants so it all matches and you don't need a slip. It's very pretty and comfy. Plus, you can wear the sandals you already have on! It's your size, you wanna try it on?"

Daisies? No slip? Comfy short/panties? Sign me up! We made our way over to the fitting rooms and minutes later I was in my brand new dress. I looked in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised. I looked, dare I say...…pretty.

"Whaddaya think Laura?"
 My cousin smiled broadly,"You look really, really great in that dress Gia. Perfect for Steve and Eydie." I was satisfied. As far as dresses went, this one was okay.
Aunt Pat got the sales lady to cut off the tags and put the clothes I wore into s hopping bag. She paid, and we were on our way.

We arrived at the concert hall a little early so we could pick up our tickets and be shown to our seats.
The lady at the ticket booth handed my Aunt three tickets. "Are you two young ladies excited for the show?, she asked sweetly.
 "Oh yes, Laura said, we love Steve and Eydie's act. We're two big fans."
Ticket booth lady laughed. "Well, I'm so glad you could be here!"
 "Thank you!" we answered in unison.

 girls, let's go to our seats, then I can say hi to Daddy." Aunt Pat moved us along.

As we made our way into the concert hall, we were astonished by the venue. What now would seem garish, overblown and kitschy, was simply astonishing to my cousin and me. Chandeliers, red damask fabric, marble. Looking back, it had that Liberace vomited all over it look. But to two little girls, it was mesmerizing.

"It's like a palace” my cousin whispered, Like Baron Bomburst's in Vulgaria from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." 

I rolled my eyes internally. I was as big a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fan as the next kid, but my Laura? She was obsessed. Truly Scrumptious was her favorite. She even sat still in the theaters watching Chitty, wide-eyed and enraptured when Truly sang that slow grown-up song about yucky love for Coraticus Potts.
That was always my cue for a popcorn or peepee break. Not Laura. She loved everything about Truly and Chitty.
We continued to marvel the venue as the usher showed Aunt Pat and us our seats.Walking towards the stage. Walking towards the stage. WALKING TOWARDS THE STAGE........!


And if that wasn't enough, Aunt Pat had a separate seat two rows behind us! Whatwhatwhat? We were by ourselves. In a palace. In red cushy seats. So close to the stage, it felt like we could touch Steve & Eydie.We giggled and covered our mouths.

"Now listen you two” Aunt Pat leaned over us whispering, this is a serious test for the both of you. There are a lot of other people around you. Grown-ups that have spent a lot of money to sit here. You two have to behave like ladies, or I promise, Aunt Kathy and I will not let you two spend any time together for the rest of the summer. Dead serious here girls."

We nodded in unison. Both serious as heart attacks."We promise. We swear." "Alright, I'm two rows behind you, so if you need anything, just motion to me quietly...." Aunt Pat trailed off as her eyes followed a slight commotion in the front row. Lots of quiet whispers and murmurs.

"Oh for Goddsakes", she whispered, “It's Sinatra. And the entourage!" Our eyes followed her's towards the commotion. There was an old guy with a bunch of blonde ladies with a lot of blue mascara and red rouge, and lots of big, but kinda fat men with super black hair brushed back. Everyone wore a lot of clunky gold jewelry.

"I've heard of him. Dad and Mom play his records and tell us to go to bed." I said studying the mini ruckus.

” my cousin added, Uncle Torrie has worked with him right Mommy?"
"Yes. That's him girls. He's considered one of the g
reatest singers in the world."

Laura and I were perplexed. "We'll be fine Mom, you can go sit down. We're all set and promise to be super good." Aunt Pat finally acquiesced. She kissed us both, and turned and head back to her seat.
Laura and I were alone at last.

We were tickled by all the commotion the singer caused.
 Men yelled from other sides of the room.
"Hey! Frank! Hoboken in here tonight!"
 "Frankie, you're da best!" Frank gave a polite wave. Smiled at everyone. He seemed used to all the attention.

We both were really quiet for a minute.
 Then I leaned over, cupped my hand around my beloved cousin's ear, and quietly whispered, "Everyone loves this Frank guy. But doesn't he look like Papa? (our perpetually tanned Gramps). I mean the hair, he's sooooooo tan. He is really old too. I mean if it was Peter Criss, I'd get it, but he really, really reminds me of Papa....." Laura giggled quietly. "I know!! He's definitely like Papa's age. And those ladies look like........I can't figure it out."

"PooPoo girls." I whispered.
 Laura stared wide eyed at me stifling a full on laugh.
"PooPoo girls? Where did you hear that? It's so funny!"
 she said. 

"My Dad calls the ladies that walk around in short shorts near the music theaters in New York City PooPoo girls when we go see The Wiz,or something like that. They're like fast ladies" I explained.  "Uncle Bobby is so cool." Laura said proudly.
It was around that moment when one of the PooPoo girls turned around to talk to another PooPoo girl behind her and as she did, she notice my dolled up cousin and myself.

"Oh Gaaaaaawd! Sherrie, look at 
those two dahhhhhls oveh there." Sherrie leaned down the isle to get a glimpse of what two dolls her friend was kvelling over. "Oh my Gawwwwwwwwd. Angela, they're so cuuuute!" Sherrie waved to us. She had the longest, nails I'd ever seen, this side of a Disney villainess.
"Hiiiiii! Hi youz two girlies! Youz both look so pretty in ya dresses! You here to see Steve & Eydie?"

My cousin and I, while being utterly mesmerized by the attention of two of the PooPoo girls, still found it within our 
well-mannered selves to thank them profusely and tell them we were indeed there to see one of our favorite acts, Steve & Eydie.

Sherrie, seemed to get quite a tickle out if us, and proceeded to lean over and tap Frank the singer on the shoulder.
"Fraaaaaankie, look at those two dahhhhlings! There little girls and they're here to see Steve and Eydie! Couldjah just die?" Frank turned around and stared at Laura and I. A lot of the big men with black hair and sparkly pinky rings did as well. We both smiled sweetly at the group.

"Good evening Ladies. Aren't you two such nicely behaved, beautiful girls? You here to take in the show?" asked Frank the singer.

He had super white teeth and very, very blue eyes.
 Laura gave me a nudge. I was the talker. "Yes. Her Dad (pointing at Laura) is my Uncle and he's their drummer, and we love Steve and Eydie. So he got us tickets." Ole Blue Eyes let out a warm chuckle. "Well that's somethin' isn't it. You father and your uncle must be very talented. You two have a wonderful time. It was nice meeting you." 

Me, of course, "Thanks Frank. Enjoy the act." Laura smiled and nodded.

For some reason the whole lot of the big men, the PooPoo girls and Frank himself let out quite a boisterous laugh. 
We just kept smiling. After the group turned back towards the stage, Laura and I resumed our heads on a swivel. Taking in all the glitz and glamour that seemed to be dripping off everything and everybody in the place. We both were unbelievably excited, I find it a miracle we knew better than to not kick the seats in front of us in rapid succession, just to make the butterflies in our tummies dissipate. This was just all so...

The lights dimmed.
 Oh my God! The lights dimmed and the stage lights came up.

Everyone in the room started to quiet.
 Then the swell of music rose from below the front of the stage. Our hearts were soaring! The curtains parted. We held hands so tightly we left nail marks in each other's palms. Steve entered stage right, Eydie stage left. Both singing their hearts out. The crowed went nuts! People stood up. We stood up. Clapping along with the rest of the crowd like maniacs. What an act!!

To say we were transfixed for the next hour and a half or so, would be like saying Kanye West seems just a tad, a pinch, if you will, pretentious.

We didn't know a lot of the songs, but we swayed back and forth.
Some, like "My Favorite Things" from Sound of Music we sang out loud together with Steve and Eydie.
They had this funny grown up joke thing going where it seemed like they were bugging each other. 
Kinda making fun of each other, only to make up and sing and dance together again. Eydie changed gowns too many times to count.

Laura whispered, she thought Steve could see us, so we should make puppy love eyes at him.
 I thought that was a grand idea. He DEFINITELY saw us. We figured it must have made him feel good. Eydie was so glamorous. Steve, looked like a guy that would host a game show. All teeth and kinda fluffy hair. Two ten year old girls puppy loving eyeing him, yeah that would make him feel special. 

They both even went out of their way to say hi to Frank and his friends in the front row, and the whole crowd went nuts! It gave us a much needed scream and holler that blended in with the rest of the crowd.

Finally, Steve & Eydie came out and did their last encore and bowed and we all got to stand again and scream and clap and blow kisses.
 It was glorious! Finally the lights came up. Frank and his bunch quickly left out a door by the side of the stage. I could've sworn he gave us a little nod as he left. 

We turned around to see my Aunts beautiful beaming face. She was smiling ear to ear.
She leaned forward.
 "Stay in your seats. Do not get up until I come get you. You both were so terrific. Stay put until I come to get you." We were fine with that.

The crowd thinned out pretty quickly.
 The smell of cigars and heavy perfume beginning to dissipate.
My always incredibly creative and artfully talent cousin took a blank sheet of paper out of her tiny purse and made one of those origami "Pick a color, pick a number pick a car, pick a boy
" things and that kept us busy for a good amount of time. 

Just when I had gotten a Trans Am and Davy Jones from the Monkees for my car and boyfriend, Aunt Pat arrived.

"Ready ladies?"
 she asked. We both got up out of our red, velvety thrones and started to walk up the aisle.We realized quickly Aunt Pat was headed the other direction. Towards the "Frank Door" on the side of the stage!

 Aunt Pat smiled. "C'mon you two. You want to meet Steve and Eydie don't you?" Laura and I looked wide eyed at each other. Damn the torpedoes, we screamed and jumped up and down holding hands. "REALLYREALLYREALLY?" Aunt Pat giggled, "Yes, really now hold my hands and follow me." We did what we were told. With pleasure.

Aunt Pat steered us to the Frank door and gave it a knock.
 A handsome man in a nice suit gave us all a big smile. "Hello Ladies! Your Mom and Dad..." I quietly interrupted. "Um, they're my cousin Laura's Mom n Dad. They're my aunt and uncle sir." I explained. 

The man smiled. "Well, that's okay! No problem Honey. The adults here told us you ladies would like to meet Steve and Eydie. They are thrilled to meet such young, excited fans. Follow me to the dressing room."

Laura and I now held hands tightly as we walked down a long hallway.
 Uncle Ronnie was standing outside a room. "Daddy!” Laura shouted. “The act was great!" "Uncle Ronnie, it was do exciting. So much better than the circus!!" I exclaimed. Uncle Ronnie smiled, kissed Aunt Pat and gave my cousin and I a hug. "I'm glad you girls dug the show so much. Mom said you two were a hit in your own right, and very well behaved. Both of you” he said. "Thanks", we answered in unison. With a warm smile, my incredibly cool uncle lightly tapped on a white door that had a big gold star on it that said "Steve & Eydie" in silver letters. A woman's sweet voice called from the other side of the door. "C'mon in!!!!"

To describe the overwhelming excitement we two 10 year olds experienced as we entered the white sparkling dressing room, well, words do not do it justice.

There Eydie sat in front of a huge mirror with round light bulbs surrounding it. There were white, sweet smelling flowers everywhere. A beautiful mahogany table with tons if fruit, cheese and grown up drinks in crystal bottles. Eydie was in a beautiful frilly pink dressing gown, with feathers around the bodice. Her black hair shined like polished onyx. She had a huge, beaming smile behind perfectly shaped rich red lips.

” she exclaimed. “ I'm Eydie. Look at you two beauties, I'm so glad to meet you! Which one of you princesses is Ronnie's daughter?" Her mouth agape, Laura raised her hand. "Hello honey, what's your name?" "Laura” my cousin barely whispered. And this is my cousin, my moms sister's daughter and my best friend Gia."

"Oh c
'mere you two and gimme a hug!" We inched over to Eydie and she scooped the both of us into a warm, sweet smelling embrace. Laura and I squeezed back warmly. Eydie held our hands and looked us both in our eyes. "Now, each of you give me a spin one of a time so I can see these dresses and how beautiful you both look!"

Laura went first. She was good at spinning in dresses just like Truly Scrumptious.

"Oh Laura, those roses and your hair! I'm plotzing you look so lovely!" 
(Plotzing must have been really, really good, I noted.)
Now it was my turn. I didn't spin nearly as adeptly as my gorgeous cousin, but dammit, I gave it my best shot.
"Oh Gia, that is such a pretty sun dress! I love the little flowers, oh they're Daisies!"

And then, I pulled a typical Gia.

Always too much information. 
I hiked up my dress a bit.

"See? It has matching underpants shorts so I don't have to wear a slip and be uncomfortable, cause I don't like dresses. Laura and Aunt Pat know that, so they picked it out just for me. I like it so much, I might even wear it again!"
 I babbled. Eydie looked dumbstruck. 

This is a woman who spent a lot of time with Frank Sinatra. 
The things she had seen. 
But I still "dumbstrucked" her.

 clapped her hands and laughed! “Well I love it, and I'm so glad you two came back to meet me. You made my night." Just then the door opened and Steve stuck his head in the door. “How ya doing babe, we're going to meet everyone at the Copa. There's a car waiting” he said. Then he gave a puzzled glance down to Laura and I. "Steve, honey, these are Ronnie's daughter and niece and this is his wife Pat." Steve stepped into the dressing room and gave uthat big white game show host smile. "Ooooooh, hello! I'm so sorry. So nice to meet you ladies. He leaned over and pecked Laura and I each on the cheek. Then he extended a handshake to Aunt Pat, and leaned in for a quick kiss to her as well. "Pat, Ronnie is something else. He is a pleasure to work with, just the best. He really helps drive the show” he gushed. "Oh, thanks Steve. I think we'll keep him." Polite laughter filled the fluffy, white cloud, dressing room.

"Oooooooo” Eydie cooed
 Steve, sign an autograph for each of the girls, and I'll meet you at the car in a few minutes okay Sweetie?" He beamed "Sure! I'd love to!”  My ever-prepared cousin pulled two pieces of fresh paper and a pen from her purse, the combination which earlier had me dating Davy Jones. 

Very lucky paper and pen indeed. 

asked us how to spell our names correctly and signed each of our papers. He had a big, bold fancy signature. Eydie reached out for our papers next. She took some time to write a personalized message to each of us. Even writing something about loving my dress! Then she grabbed both of us for another big bear hug and kisses goodbye. We thanked her profusely with beaming smiles. Eydie turned to Aunt Pat & Uncle Ronnie. She smooched both of them on the cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow night Ronnie. Pat it was a pleasure. You and your family are doing a heck of a good job raising these girls. They are something else." 

Aunt Pat thanked her sweetly and we all left the heavenly dressing room together.

In the years to follow, I've been lucky or unlucky enough to meet quite a few "stars".
 Toots Theilman had dinner at Aunt Pat and Uncle Ronnie's before a gig and played the Sesame Street theme on his magic harmonica for my three cousins, my sissy and I as we sat at his feet in a circle. We got to see Uncle Torrie (Uncle Ronnie's brilliant brother) play with Uncle Ronnie at holidays, just jamming together, completely in the moment. Later, as years went by, Uncle Torrie's second wife, the great jazz singer Helen Merrilljoined to create a rapturous trio.

One afternoon, many, many, years later, my Mom and I talked ourselves into at late lunch at the newly opened Nobu in NYC.

We were only into our second Sake when we realized we were sitting next to the only other customers in the restaurant.  Madonna and her entourage. When her Nanny brought baby Lordes into the restaurant towards the end of the meal, Mom and I cooed at her, like we would any other adorable little girl. Madonna, gave us a warm smile and a nod.

I became friends with Clarence Clemons at the end of his life, through one of my dearest, oldest musician friends, John Allegue. John and Clarence jammed together almost every night in West Palm Beach, right before Clarence's untimely death. Clarence and I laughed together, drank margaritas and very seriously told me I should be proud of my pronounced posterior I kept making 
self-deprecating fun of. He told me I was the kind of woman he'd hold onto literally and emotionally.

Yup, the Big Man made me feel like a million bucks.
I miss him. 
John misses him even more.

Sebastian Bach and I sat next to each other front row for Kiss at the Garden. We sang along together, and high fived each other until our hands hurt.

And of all people, character actor Bob Balaban was a kinda, sorta, dicky, disappointment!
 We were waiting for our cars at a garage uptown. My Old Man turned to him, surprised to see such a familiar face, standing right next to us. "Hey, Bob Balaban" he exclaimed sweetly. "Yes" he snootily responded and looked away. There was no one else but the El Salvidorian valet standing near us. He was in no danger of being mobbed. 


I don't write these anecdotes to brag. 

There have been many other introductions, even, dare I say,  dalliances with "famous" people since we saw Steve & Eydie's act so many moons ago. It's been a very long time since we were greeted so warmly by such a talent with a huge heart. Many years since we hung around PooPoo girls and I told Sinatra to "enjoy the act." Since we made Puppy Love Eyes at Steve Lawrence.

NOTHING. I mean NOTHING has touched the magic of that night, I got to sit second row center next to my best friend, and perfect cousin Laura. 

Holding hands. Clapping. Singing. Wearing our dresses.Smelling like Loves Baby Soft, and No More Tangles. 
Watching Steve and Eydie and their silly banter, and soaringly orchestrated songs. Giving Sinatra a reason to laugh out loud. Meeting Steve Lawrence back stage, with him being a perfect gentleman.Though…most importantly hanging out with Eydie Gorme, who went out of her way to make two little girls with huge dreams and even bigger imaginations feel so Goddamn important. Making us believe magic existed and was so tangibly possible. Live music and dancing taking us to new levels.  
Even, maybe, someday, sometime, she made me believe I might, just might mind you, actually like to wear dresses.

NOTHING has ever touched it.


RIP Eydie.