Wednesday, September 12, 2012

After Clouds Sunshine

My brother had a band in high school, guitars, keyboards, drums, vocals, the whole deal. It was not a “hair band” or a “metal band”. Those concepts weren’t part of the lexicon of youth yet. These were guys who wanted to play rock music with electric guitars.

Dust Bunny Lenormand
(c) Copyright 2012 Marcia McCord
They played at our high school dances and were rivals to the other band in town. It wasn’t a rivalry like New York and Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles; it was something of a sneering truce. Since our little town in New Mexico was blessed with two dance bands, we had dances nearly every weekend.

“Noise,” Daddy said.

We laughed at him. It was our noise. Daddy had played oboe in high school, maybe a million years earlier. Although later famous groups would incorporate more than the rock band basics with stunning success, oboe was a laughable instrument when considered with guitars, drums and keyboards during our high school dance years.

I think those may have been the years when my brother hated having a little sister more than any others. After all, what could be more fascinating than slightly-older high school boys who sky-rocketed to instant stardom, locally of course, to a spirited teen-aged sister? And what could be more distracting during a band practice than a flirtatious and devoted younger fan? So, a lot of band practices happened somewhere else.

My best friend had an eye for the sometimes-drummer in the band, a slow-talking, muscular blond with an easy grin and fabulously restored 50’s sedan with leopard-print upholstery and the latest in technology, an 8-track tape. Steve would take us and half a dozen other kids to lunch in his car, usually the A&W where we would order taquitas and sodas and listen to his 8-track.

My friend was a Scorpio and was perfecting the art of being the Mystery Woman. An Aries, I was hopelessly lost in the concept of mystery and the feminine mystique. For me, yes meant yes and no meant no and if you liked someone, you said so. I was as subtle as a sledge-hammer.

I was never sure the guys liked me because of my grades. No one asked me, but if they had, I would have told them I thought it was just plain stupid to be afraid of me because of my I.Q. Well, OK, in retrospect I can see they had a point. “Don’t-hold-back-Marcia” would be a nickname I gained even after I had learned subtlety. But, hey, what would be so scary about a little witty repartee or verbal jousting or mental gymnastics? I mean, what else was flirtation, anyway? I wasn’t trying to win, for goodness’ sake; I was trying to keep up. I’m not sure many of the guys I knew got that about me. It was probably for the best though, like most things that seem like disasters in dating in high school.

I didn’t have a height requirement. At 5’ 1” I considered myself one-size-fits-all. At least I did until I was asked to dance with one tall cowboy one time when my brother’s band was playing. It was a slow dance and the guy was polite and didn’t try anything ungentlemanly. It’s just that he was probably 6’ 6” and I spent the entire song unable to hear a word he said. I was tempted to quip, “How’s the air up there?” Otherwise, I stared at the guy’s belt buckle which, since he was a cowboy, was at least a little more interesting than usual. At that point, I realized I probably did have a height requirement for a guy that was an upper limit of maybe 6’ 1”. No offense to the really tall guys, but when you have Mercury as heavily aspected in your astrology chart as I do, good grief, I want you to talk to me.

Art Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

This led me to like two very different kinds of guys. I had a special affinity for the fast talkers, the Tarot’s Magician types. I loved to be entertained and some of my favorite guys were natural entertainers. I adored them, in spite of their weaknesses, which I would staunchly deny anyway. After all, the show must go on! Little did they know that it was actually the little slips, the betrayals of imperfections that made the performers dear to me.

The other kind of guy who caught my eye was the Cypher, the guys who said nearly nothing at all. It didn’t make sense, unless you realize that we pick our own Devil in the Tarot and life.

Art Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

See, as my husband so kindly points out on occasion in the gentlest possible way, I made the classic “girl mistake.” I figured the quiet ones were thinking. It was a challenge to get them to open up and talk as they had never done before. After all, they would feel so much better, right?

It took me a while to really realize that my mother wasn’t just in a very bad mood all the time; she was an introvert. But I had used her example as a template and mistakenly applied it to the quiet guys. After all, my quiet mother was always thinking something even though she didn’t say much; these guys must be doing the same thing. It took me many more years after high school to realize that one of the reasons boys are quiet in high school is that they don’t always have a lot going on that would be stunning conversation with a girl they liked, or might like or even didn’t like.

So, like a muddy puppy, I would occasionally pounce on an unsuspecting quiet guy and try to get him to talk to me. Depending on exactly what bait he took, I would go away sooner or later and try to talk to some other more pliable subject. Or someone who spoke at all.

The guys in the band were just the perfect tantalizing snack for me as a mini-man-eater. They weren’t allowed to talk, not while they were performing. Lots of them hold their mouths funny when they are concentrating on guitar riffs or whathaveyou. It was like my own personal arcade, these guys in the band. I tried to get them to talk, flirt, sharpen their minds, trade bon mots, and engage in conversational duels. Most of the time, I found out, they hadn’t heard a thing I said; they were too busy looking at my chest.

Cripes, guys, get over the chest thing, I thought. The real circus is in the mind!

The naming of a band can be a tender thing. My brother’s band’s name was “After Clouds Sunshine.” It was named for a needlepoint motto from the previous century we found in Mom's antique shop and was just nearly-nonsense enough to pass for a band name. As good as any Strawberry Alarm Clock, we figured.

A long gap after school and New Mexico and high school dances were just a memory, I chanced to marry one of the guys in that band. At the time he had been something of a blend, a performer who talked in bursts, who seemed to be a leader of his friends, and who didn’t seem to mind the muddy puppy/talking thing I did. But neither of us was the person we had known when we dated in high school and it was, alas, a mistake to marry.

And yet, like my Dust Bunny Lenormand cards of the Clouds and the Sun, while happiness was not something he and I found with each other, only the memory of ourselves when we were young and full of hope and little understanding, after the clouds of our failed relationship, I did, after all, find sunshine with my adorable Hubs who is both Magician and Cypher and just the right height, a man who brings me laughter every day. And he has the most boring belt buckles.

After clouds, then, finally, there was sunshine.
Best wishes.

No comments:

Post a Comment