Melanie and Me
I think I liked Melanie because her hair had a slight bit of curl which I might have envied although this was the era of slick, stick-straight, part-down-the-center, the-longer-the-better 1970s hair. Melanie showed up in the middle of Beowulf one day in English class. No, she wasn’t monster hunting, she brought me from the midst of the tale wondering about feasts, Danes, and funeral pyres.
“I like that skirt. Come to my house later. My room is so keen,” she said.
It was the 1970s, but Melanie was the first free spirit I had ever met, wearing small flowers interwoven into her hair. Her parents were bonafide hippies, younger and cooler than mine. Her world was filled with colors of the 70s, avocado green, harvest gold, orange, and purple, beaded curtains, and rugs shaped like feet. Melanie had a brown guitar that she had learned to play from her dad. He used to laugh and say, “I’ll be your manager someday.”
The 1973 Jr. High Talent Show competition advertisement captured vibrant Melanie’s attention on an ordinary Friday afternoon. She found me at the bike rack, unchaining my bike, getting ready to go home after school.
“Hey you, look at this!” she said.
She shoved the flyer at me. Melanie might have been Stevie Nicks if the stars had been aligned properly, you know the timing and all that. I could see that she loved the spotlight.
“So we can do something, right? I’ll play the guitar,” she said.
“Um, I don’t play anything,” I replied.
“It’s fine, you can sing,” said Melanie.
“What songs do you know besides Proud Mary?” I asked.
“Well I know that one, and…well, we’ll see,” she said.
Proud Mary. This was back when Ike and Tina Turner had the Revue. Melanie apparently liked the idea of floating away on a river, so she got out her guitar, and I hauled out every apprehensive nerve in my body then we met with her dad, the Music Man. She strummed. He interjected. “Timing a little off…better transition there….no, that’s a B minor for sure.” Then the focus went to me. “Alright, we’re ready for you to sing,” he said.
After learning what an intro was, I tried to channel my inner Tina. “Left a good job in the city….” and started out strong. Melanie strumming. Manager Dad humming. I was like a Book Nerd masquerading as a blonde Cher…