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Jordan: Part 1

In The 70's on June 10, 2020 at 11:21 pm

Don’t mind me!

I have always been good at identifying my ‘kind’. The smallest of clues- a ring worn on a certain finger, hair length, a word used in conversation, response to music, even general demeanor (I liked ‘moody’)-could tip me off to a person worth getting to know. One who appreciated the same lifestyle, so to speak. (At 15, my ‘lifestyle’ consisted of hanging out, skipping school, smoking pot and daydreaming about rock stars. Even back then, you could tell I was really going places!) So, the first time I saw Jordan standing in front of the house across the street, (as I was glancing out of the living room bay window, on my way to the kitchen for a strawberry Figurine) I stopped dead in my tracks and took a second, third and fourth look. I deduced he was probably about my age, with medium brown hair past his collar and was wearing jeans, a black t-shirt, and an unzipped green parka, with a faded jean jacket visible underneath. I sensed a cool ‘vibe’. (If by ‘vibe’ one means that somebody good looking will also be ‘cool’) This was the foxiest  guy I’d seen in a long time, not counting the bands on my bedroom walls. Of course, I couldn’t see his face clearly from this distance, but I had a feeling it would probably hold up under TGS (teenage-girl scrutiny) even up close. I didn’t want him to notice me gawking, so I relocated to a less obvious window-the one in my brother Rob’s room. I sat on the edge of his twin bed, carefully off to the side of the window, my Farrah Fawcett ‘do  blocked by the curtain and watched him like an undercover cop doing secret surveillance. And I couldn’t wait to report back to the precinct. In this ‘case’ the precinct was my best friend Cheryl.

I called her house from the kitchen phone as I unwrapped a Figurine and made an urgent and heartfelt statement.

“Cheryl! You are not going to believe the stone cold fox I was just looking at!” I said, and then I whistled for effect.

“Did you get the new Creem?” she asked, assuming I was referring to a picture in a magazine “Is it Joe Perry again?” 

“Umm…nooo!” I said, as if her guess was completely ridiculous instead of more than likely. “I’m talking real person!” 

“Who? Where?!” she asked excitedly. Obviously it had been awhile since the subject of a hot guy (in real life) has come up around here.

“You know the guy with the cool Corvette?” I ask. “The one across the street?”

“Oh, yeah! Love that car!” Cheryl says. We’ve been coveting the ’72 Black Stingray Corvette ever since the guy who owned it moved in last year. We don’t know much about him, except that he’s old (at least 35), a bachelor, and lives alone in the large house, which seems weird, but hey- if you’ve got the cash, right? Free world.

“Yup! Well- this babe was just standing over there! –right across the street! I walked by the window and I was like: Whoa!!” 

Silence. It sometimes takes Cheryl a minute to gather her thoughts. Finally she says: “Well that’s cool”

“Yes it IS! So-wanna do something?” I ask her, “Go to the Remarkable Book Shop, or somewhere?” 

“OK….I’ll come and get ya in about an hour” she says, yawning. 

“Maybe he’ll still be there! Wait till you see!” I say, laughing and unwrapping my second Figurine. She laughs back.

When Cheryl comes to get me there’s no sign of the fox, and in fact, the house looks empty and locked down. It isn’t until a couple of weeks later that I see him again. I’m getting the mail, and there he is, standing on the edge of the garage, smoking a cigarette. My heart stops when I spot him. He blows smoke from his mouth and then waves at me. I give him a quick wave back and notice he’s stubbing his cigarette out on the driveway, grinding it in with his boot. And then he begins to walk towards me. Oh God! What do I say? I’m being ambushed by a complete babe, I’ve had no time to prepare! It’s like a chemistry pop-quiz. As in- let’s see if we have any.

Well, hellooooo there…

He walks towards me with a purpose, right up into my space, confident but not cocky. Up close he did not disappoint! In fact, I felt a little woozy just looking at him. He was my height, with chestnut brown hair (‘like a horse’s tail’ I later gushed in one of my horrible poems-though in his defense, his was soft and shiny, where some horse’s tails are not. More like a Barbie’s horse’s tail?) It was the perfect length (about to grow past his shoulders) and he had big, hazel eyes, green and gold flecked, and lashes I’d kill for. He also had the the big, beaming smile, all straight white teeth that lit up his face, which was by now a staple of my ‘type’. (Years later when I would see Jon Bon Jovi on MTV for the first time, I’d pronounce him the blueprint of said ‘type’. Just me and a hundred million other girls and our little ‘secret’)

“Hi!” he said, reaching out a hand “I’m Jordan”

“Hey!” I said, shaking his hand, noting his strong grip and offering up my name.

Are Jordan’s a type?

He was wearing a faded denim jacket, lined with sheepskin for warmth, and brown Caterpillar hiking boots with red laces. He was ever so slightly bow-legged, a look I loved. It was a subtle thing, a definition of sorts that spoke to me. Basically, Jordan was way better close up than from a distance.

“Do you live here?” I asked, indicating the house across the street from mine.

“No…My Dad does. I might move in with him, but right now I stay with my Mom in Fairfield”

All I heard was: “I’m moving here”

Then he leaned in, as if to tell me a secret, and asked in a hushed whisper: “Do you smoke reefer?”

Do I? I’m a freakin’ Professional!

“Yeah” I answered, thinking how good he smelled. Was that Paco Rabbane or just the scent that naturally emanated from hot guys?

“Well- I have a bone, if you have a place to smoke it” he said. Great, I thought, now I’ve got an assignment. Why was nothing easy?

It was a cold day, the start of November- the sky was an endless gray slate and it had been intermittently plopping down fat raindrops the temperature of melting ice-cubes. Not exactly conducive to a relaxing marijuana pow-wow. We couldn’t go in my house, what with my tattle-tale brothers present, and Faye expected home from Stew Leonard’s at any minute. Jordan said his Dad would be back soon, so that was out.

And then a light bulb came on. It’s amazing what my brain could come up with when faced with the possibility of not smoking a joint with a cute guy.

“There’s some houses at the end of Deer Run” I said, pointing to the end of our street. “They’re being built, but they’re a long way from being finished. I’m pretty sure we could go in one!”

Jordan smiled, and said “Let’s book!” and so we did.

We talked about music on the five minute walk….Jordan loved Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, and adored Black Sabbath  (Bingo!) He told me he was always in trouble with his parents and at school, and couldn’t wait to be out on his own. He had just turned 16, but couldn’t get his license because his parents didn’t trust him. But someday soon, he wanted to buy a souped up Camaro and jack it up in the back with GT Qualifiers and cool rims and put in a 427 small block.(Note: That’s gonna look sweet next to my imaginary 1970 Black Charger) After that,  he wanted to get his own place where he could blast his stereo, throw keg parties, and get away from his parent’s incessant nagging. I listened and wished he had that place already and that we were there.

Who didn’t?

We arrived at the end of Deer Run Court and squeezed through a wall of wet bushes, which natch, snagged my cream colored cable knit maxi-sweater and practically ripped off one of it’s large brown ‘wood’ buttons. ( I’m a fashion maven, don’t be jelly) To his credit, Jordan went in first and  tried to hold the bushes apart, but it was futile, and we both got soaked, though I appreciated the gesture and told him so. After fighting our way through (no one told us to bring along a machete), we heaved ourselves into the backyard of one of the unfinished houses. It was a large, two story raised ranch, very similar to the houses in our neighborhood, but brand new. There weren’t any doors or windows on the first floor, but we could see windows, still sporting big stickers across the panes, on the second. It would make a fine shelter for our purposes. We walked in, stepping over pieces of lumber and piles of sawdust, weaving around saw horses, and stepping on scattered remnants of sand-paper. It smelled of damp wood and winter. Our breath came out in little clouds from our mouths, as I followed Jordan up  the finished staircase to the second floor. There we chose a room with windows, and sat atop two large tubs of unopened grout. Perfect!

Farrah Hair, Cable Knit Sweaters and Plastic Boots. (It’s Bradlees, b*tch!)

 

Jordan, 1976: Part 2

In The 70's on June 9, 2020 at 12:14 am

My name ain’t Bic, but I keep that Flame….

Jordan reached into the chest pocket of his jacket and pulled out a neatly rolled joint. He reached in again and out came a yellow Bic lighter. He was sitting to my left, and he looked devastatingly cute, his long brown hair hanging in a wave over one side of his face, the joint now jutting from his lips, ready to be lit. Butterflies fluttered in my chest then dove into the pit of my stomach.

 

He flicked the lighter with his thumb and touched the flame to the joint, taking a big pull. He then looked over at me with a closed mouth smile- and a few seconds later let trails of smoke slowly out of his nostrils and then his mouth. He said ‘Aaaaah’, dreamy eyed, as he handed me the joint. I took the joint from his hand, sparks flying when his fingers touched mine. I lifted the joint and took a hit. Immediately I felt the weight of the smoke in my lungs, and the heaviness of the buzz as it took hold. I pictured smoky tendrils rising inside my head, sharp but swaying- like seaweed, or the Grinch’s fingers, branching off to the right, left and center, surrounding my brain like a S.W.A.T team about to bust down the doors and storm in. I handed the joint back to Jordan, pulling my sweater tight against my chest like a blanket, as I was suddenly shivering in the cold, but also because I was starting to feel self-conscious. I began thinking only negative thoughts: I could never get a guy like Jordan because he was too fine, and I was -well- need a list? Too tall, too fat, too average, too boring. The S.W.A.T team had obviously gained entry. I was sure my thoughts were spot on when Jordan began to talk.

“I have a girlfriend. We’ve been going out for two years…..She’s pretty cool” he said casually.

Wonderful! That makes me effing ecstatic! I think.

 “Really?…That’s cool” I say, ever quick to hide any real emotion. Now I just wanted to go home. I know it’ll keep getting worse the more I smoke, but I will continue puffing on the joint, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world and that it will somehow be different this time.   We keep smoking until I’m so stoned I start to feel confused. I think about the homework I haven’t done, and wonder if the school had called because I skipped first period again to hang out at the luncheonette, drinking coffee with Tara and Renee. I didn’t plan on skipping class, but by the time I looked up at the clock it was too late to go. I knew my father and Faye would be interrogating me at the dinner table tonight, where I could either lie or fess up  but either way it’d turn into drama. (and who am I kidding? Of course I’m gonna lie!) I thought about the dismal weather, and my boring hometown. I wished I could just run off to Wales and live in a stone-castle with turrets, as the wife of Robert Plant, which was really where I belonged. Jordan was cute but taken, and being around him was a tease that only made me feel worse. Why couldn’t I be more….special?

Suddenly I’m jolted out of my trance as Jordan waves his hand back and forth in front of my face. Startled, I jump a little and Jordan laughs. With his stupid, foxy smile. And gorgeous ‘spoken-for’ eyes. And those girly lashes!

“What are you doing?” he asked, bright white smile. “Zoning?”

“Yeah…I guess” I said, then: “Welp! I guess we should get going!” It was starting to get dark, even though it was only about five o’clock. Gotta love the winter.- in New England.

“Right?” Jordan said, both statement and question. His voice was deep and smooth, the kind that would sound cute even over the phone. We both stood up and made our way down the stairs and out of the empty house. We walked back the same way we came, only this time, we were stoned out of our minds. Walking ahead of Jordan, I didn’t even try to hold off the bushes- I dared them to rip my sweater- it was ugly anyway! It was raining lightly, the whole scene a study in dampness and gray. Jordan made some conversation- how happy he seemed!-but I was feeling very self-conscious and inadequate, and for some reason wanted to get home and brush my hair in the worst way. I picked up the pace. Jordan kept up with me though, making eye contact and smiling  (‘swoon!) but I twisted it around in my mind insisting to myself that he was comparing me to his girlfriend, and I wanted to say: “Look Away! I’m hideous!”

When we get to Deer Run Court, we walk towards our respective houses, in the middle of the lightly traveled cul-de-sac. When was he going to veer off and go left, towards his driveway? Finally I said “Well, thanks for that!”  and threw my hand up in a quick wave, walking to the right, and  down my driveway without looking back.

‘So then I said-” “Uh- buh-bye!”

“Hey! Maybe we can do this again next week!” Jordan called after me. I just nodded and continued the beeline to the open garage and the door that led to the rec room. Faye’s Grand Prix was parked in the garage, still ticking and wet. It was oven warm when I entered the house after being out in the cold for so long and it felt like a hug. My Dad wasn’t home yet, but I could hear Faye fiddling with pots and pans upstairs, and my brothers chattering in the kitchen. I walked to my downstairs room, closed and locked the door,  grabbing my hairbrush off of the desk. Then I sat down at the vanity and brushed my hair while staring into the mirror. I both liked and hated what I saw. I sat there for a long time, under a cloud of depression, feeling like I was stuck in deep, deep quicksand, and knowing there was no one who could pull me out.

Jordan:1976 Part 3

In The 70's on June 8, 2020 at 10:20 pm

I don’t see any signs of Jordan for several weeks despite patrolling the windows often. Then, one day I do see him out there -but  decide to ignore him. After all, what’s in it for me?  It’s not like he’s coming over to see me either. I notice him here and there, over the week wandering aimlessly around the front yard of his father’s house. Jordan’s dad, who I now know as Mr. Baylor, (thanks to the newly  etched name on his mailbox) is a bachelor, and dresses like the early 7o’s version. Rib-knit turtlenecks, polyester bell-bottomed slacks, dress boots with buckles and man jewelry: pinkie ring, watch, astrological sign pendant (Virgo?) and porn-star/ motorcycle cop mustache. He tears out of the neighborhood in his black Corvette, often catching second gear with a chirp, which makes it seem like he is always going somewhere much cooler than here. At the dinner table one night, when my Dad actually acknowledged Jordan’s existence (“Who’s the long-haired clown across the street?”) I told him that he was Mr. Baylor’s son, and he muttered ‘Bachelor, my ass!” under his breath, shaking his head. He then asked Faye where she bought the pork roast, as she hurriedly poured what was left in the bottle of Chablis into her over-sized wine glass and announced: “Here we go again!”, at which point we kids excused ourselves, chairs screeching across the floor and made tracks to our bedrooms to take cover. 

My bedroom window, all the way to the left, overlooking the front porch, bottom floor.

It’s November, and ridiculously cold out. Most of the leaves are gone, though every once in awhile you’d see a little gang of them being whipped across the cul-de-sac, racing to oblivion. The trees are mostly bare and the wind whistles through their skeletons, gaining strength and volume. I’m looking across the street from my bedroom window, which looks out over the front porch. The sun is outn but filtered as if it has slowly backed away from us while we weren’t paying attention. I’m talking to Cheryl on the phone,  holding the receiver to my ear with my head cocked against my shoulder, and carrying the (rotary) phone with my other hand. I have a super long  cord so that I can be mobile in my room and still yap away. I’m on the phone constantly- and have been since 1972. I talk incessantly: when I’m in bed, at my vanity painting on make-up, in my closet  picking out clothes, and of course when I’m spying out the window. If the door bell rings, I can look out and to the left, and see whoever it is, up to their knees. Directly across is Jordan’s Dad’s house- so I can see what’s going on over there secure in the knowledge that Jordan can’t see me, what with the front railing scrolling up and around the faux pillars out front. 

So, I notice him on this particular Saturday afternoon as I’m talking to Cheryl on the phone. My heart skips a beat. 

“Hey!” I say to Cheryl, interrupting her ‘All My Children’ Jenny and Greg update. “Remember that kid I told you about-Jordan? Well, he’s over at his Dad’s right now. Walking around in just a jean jacket! Probably freezing his ass off!” I laugh. Secretly, I’m getting pissed off at how good he looks. I go over and sit on my bed, putting down the phone (not the receiver), and grabbing a Newport from its box. I light one up and inhale deeply.

“What an idiot!” Cheryl says, agreeing with me. We are both somehow mad at Jordan for being cute and having a girlfriend. I mean- the audacity! Cheryl hasn’t even laid eyes on him yet, but she’s all ‘Don’t waste your time’ and ‘Who cares’ about Jordan. Even though there is zero going on, and all Jordan is guilty of is sharing a joint with me- and being polite. But  this is why Cheryl is my best friend. Unconditionally agreeing with me no matter how stupid my conclusions.

Still, she’s only human. “How does he look?” she asks.

“Really, really good!” I blurt out. I stand up and continue to leer. We both crack up. We make plans for Cheryl to come get me around seven tonight. I stroll to the Vanity for a zit check. All clear. We’re going to meet Jon at the Broad River Lanes and go from there.

I hang up the phone and walk back over to the window. Jordan appears to be looking towards my window. I duck down in a knee-jerk reaction, though halfway down, I realize that there’s no way Jordan can see me, so there’s no need to do any whack-a-mole style stalking. I see him walking back into his garage. Maybe he needs to go call his girlfriend. I decide to go outside and check the mail. I grab my coat and scarf, and do a once over in the mirror. I’m not rockin’ my full-tilt ‘ready to go out’ look- but I’m fine for a casual Saturday afternoon mail-retrieval. Faye, my dad and brothers are gone for the day-  something about a birthday party (who listens?)  I’ve got time to kill until Cheryl comes to get me. Let’s see if Jordan has anything to say, should he notice me, not that I care. As I check the mirror one last time.

I push the lit-up orange button on the garage wall, and the door hums and shakes open, as I think:  why is there always such a big commotion with these doors? ‘Oh-My-God-I’m Opening!’ Like a mini-earthquake. It’s irritating! I feel the cold air charging in as I walk out to the driveway. I have my Ray-Bans on, and I’ve wrapped my coolest scarf (with some poor furry animal’s tails hanging off each end) over my coat. I’m wearing the brand new tan suede boots my Mom bought me last weekend at G.Fox in the Trumbull Mall. She said they were a Christmas present ($70.00 on sale!) but I know she’ll probably ‘forget’ and get me other stuff at Christmas. As I exit the garage, I see Jordan doing the same across the street, and he looks right at me. I avert my eyes and immediately begin walking as though the driveway is a runway lined with photographers. Shoulders back, strutting. I act like I don’t see him, keeping a neutral expression on my face, a casual ‘what’s up with the mail’ kind of look. I notice he’s coming my way, but I’m all about looking at the mailbox. I never noticed it was copper colored, with a black flag and post. For a mailbox it was actually pretty nice. Evidently, I’d looked but never ‘saw’. It wouldn’t be the first time…

Wow! That mailbox is stacked!

When I get to the box, I do a little about-face move, turning completely away from Jordan’s driveway, yanking open the metal door and peering into the mailbox. I reach in and pull out several envelopes, and a Sports Illustrated magazine with Tony Dorset on the cover, ‘Running For The Heisman’. Even though I truly love football, I feign interest in all of the mail: A bill from the Norwalk Hour, another from Connecticut Light & Power, something ‘To the parents of Lisa Chuzas’ from Norwalk High School (into my coat pocket that goes) a flyer with coupons from Pathmark (ut-oh, Faye! Be strong!) and a ‘Please Give’ postcard from UNICEF. I drag out the whole process, until I’m left wondering if Jordan is even going to approach. I close the mailbox and quickly glance over my shoulder. Jordan waves really fast, from the end of his driveway like he knew he’d only have a small window in which to get my attention, and was patiently waiting for it. He yells: “Hey!” I lift my sunglasses up with my free hand (Oh! What a surprise! Didn’t see you there!) then put rest them back down on my nose. I smile, stop in my tracks and just stand there waiting, making him come across the street to me, like I only have a minute for such ‘nonsense’ and am on my way to do something busy and important. Once again, I am blown away by his foxy appearance as he steps closer. High top Nikes and a Zildjan t-shirt under his jacket. His eyes are glittering, and of course, there’s that smile. He looks even better than several weeks ago, and I love that his hair is slightly longer. He’s making me feel giddy inside. Even though I definitely don’t care. 

Why do I play all of these head games in the first place? I know it’s a defense mechanism, a way of saving face if things don’t work out, or if I put something out there that isn’t reciprocated. But what did I know? I was a fifteen year old  girl prone to mood swings and insecurity, with a stepmother, regular mother, stern father, real brothers and one step, and no one (other than my mom and Rob) seemed particularly fond of me. I was the designated ‘black sheep’, and wasn’t one of those ‘happy-go-lucky’ people who woke up ‘peppy’ and ready to grab life and maybe cheerlead or something. And sometimes it’s my type’, who feel the worst inside, but act so nonchalant – like they could care less what you think, when in fact it shatters them into a million pieces when they sense you rejecting them. Just sayin.

So, I stand there, in the driveway, hiding all emotion, and Jordan says “What’s up! Long time no see!” The timbre of his voice is deep, but there’s a barely perceptible lilt in it that sounds like music to my ears. He’s flashing those pearly whites as well, and it’s like I’m  waving a white flag in front of me, because I can’t stop looking at him, and may actually give up resisting him if this keeps up for even a minute longer. Someday REO Speedwagon will write a sappy song about this. Coz I know I’ve almost forgotten what I started fighting for.

“Not much!” I say, and add: “But I’m going to see Black Sabbath at the Garden on Dec. 6th!”

“Wow!” he says, impressed. “I heard about that show. I’m gonna try and go, too!”

Good luck, pal! They’ve been sold out for months, I think. But I just say ‘Cool!’

Jordan looks quickly over his shoulder towards his Dad’s, then leans in, using his hand to pretend to scratch the side of his nose, but it’s just an incredibly lame ruse to cover his mouth and muffle his voice, in case any of the people who are nowhere in sight might read our lips or overhear him whisper: “I have a joint! Wanna go smoke it?”

I answer immediately, forgetting to play uninterested. “Can you come over my house? I mean- no one’s home, but I don’t want to get you in trouble with your Dad!” We are so afraid of our parents still! Our dependence on them is for everything: Food, shelter, clothing, money. We want to break away, but have no idea how! We are clueless as to what that would involve. We picture ‘freedom’ in frivolous daydreams about smoking pot freely, staying up all night and having parties. Somehow these imaginary places we pine for are fully furnished and paid for, and our dream cars sit in the driveway having fallen from the sky. We think along the lines of ‘Cribs’ when it is way more Tommy used to work on the docks, and Gina works the diner all day. 

“Sure!” Jordan says, ‘Let’s book” and we both walk down my driveway, through the garage and into the house. Jordan is very impressed with Marley, the lifesize replica of the giant blue Marlin my Dad caught in the waters off  Key West last summer. I tell Jordan that I’ll never forget the morning I came out of my room, after ‘Marley’ had been hung on the wall in the rec room directly across from my door. They’d hung it while I was out- and I must not have noticed it in the dark when I came home. The next morning, I charged out of my room, saw it and almost had a heart attack! I stopped dead in my tracks, in front of a giant fish who was literally stopped dead in it’s tracks.  It took about ten seconds for my brain to comprehend what I was looking at. The Marlin was huge (about 6 feet across) and it looked vicious, like it was fighting the gray paneled wall as it twists away from it in a fury. I guess we’d all look like that if we were forever frozen in our “I’m fighting for my life over here’ pose.

Surprise! It’s a 6 Foot long Dead Marlin!

Jordan totally gets it. “I’d have freaked if I saw that, and didn’t expect it!” 

 “Wanna see my room?” I ask, knowing he’ll be impressed with my posters, beer tab chains, and record collection. I open the door and point inside, and Jordan walks in. (no way I’m going in there with him! I’ll have you know, I’m not a slut*) and I go to turn on the tv while he’s oohing and ahhhing and yelling words out of my room: “Zeppelin!.. Aeromith!…Nice chains!…I have that album…Where’d you get this?”. I turn on the tv to find there’s nothing on- and I’ve checked all five stations! So I keep the tv on, but turn the volume all the way down. I sit down on the couch and pick up the tv guide from the coffee table. Dorothy Hammil’s on the cover. Now there’s a ‘peppy’ kind of gal! My Dad would love having her for a daughter!

I’m always happy! I just ‘skate’ through life!

 

I’m looking through the tv guide, aimlessly….waiting for Jordan to come out of my room. And when he does, I can’t help but laugh. He’s wearing a floppy ‘hippie’ hat I keep on top of the big bear that I won years ago at the St. Thomas Fair, a pair of my old sunglasses and a white feather boa that Victoria gave me, that hangs on my bedpost.. He takes one end of it and dramatically throws it over his shoulder, and says: “OK. I’m ready!” and does a fake supermodel walk around the room, lips pursed, nose in the air. It cracks me up, and then we’re both laughing, and when he goes back into my room take it off, it feels like the ice is broken, and things get a lot more comfortable with Mr. Jordan Foxy-Fox.

 

 

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