“You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar;
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher
Come on, baby, light my fire,
Come on baby, light my fire.” — Jim Morrison and the rest of The Doors.
It was a postcard-perfect night at Ca d’ Zan, the John and Mabel Ringling mansion. Warm breezes rustled the palms, and bright sunshine with just enough puffy clouds that promised to give the sunset over the Sarasota Bay some character.
Paisley Craze, the band, kept the dance floor packed, and the crowd — some professionals doing the after-work thing sprinkled among the Sarasota snowbirds– sang along with every tune. Why is it, I pondered, that we can remember every word of “Light My Fire” or “Hanky Panky” but can’t remember the birthdates of our grandkids?
A guy whose bald head glistened in the evening sun belted out “My baby does the hanky panky.” Was the grandmotherly gal in sensible sandals and the neat cap of gray hair really that
“pretty little girl standin’ all alone
“Hey, pretty baby, can I take you home?”
What if there were bubbles over the dancers’ heads that showed their yearbook pictures from back in the day?
The lady with the flowing gray tresses – was she at Woodstock in ‘69? Did she keep the tye dye tee shirt she wore, or did her teenagers use it to wash their cars back in the early 90’s?
The tall guy with the paunch creeping over his belt? Was he a stud basketball player on the all-Indiana prep team back in ‘66? Today, I bet his granddaughter can beat him in a game of one-on-one in the driveway.
The chubby gal in the GOIF (Good Only in Florida) flower print top and white capris? Maybe she wore the crown of Homecoming Queen of Geneva, Illinois the year that MLK and RFK were assassinated. She still looks put together, but probably uses a lot less hairspray.
The woman with the frosted hair and the Lily Pulitzer skirt? I’m guessing she was a preppy back then, wearing Bass Weejuns with shiny pennies and clutching a madras Bermuda bag with interchangeable covers.
The guy in the country club ball cap and muted plaid shorts with coordinating belt may have been the guy in the Andy Williams sweater I saw at a long-ago sock hop, grooving to “Wild Thing.” Tonight, he remembered every word.
“You make my heart sing.
You make everything groovy
The Tommy Bahama-shirted fellow – whatever happened to the Hendrix poster that once was taped onto his cinder block dorm room wall? The poster must be long gone, and the fog of marijuana seems to have lifted. He can still sing
“Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”
As for me, I’m still with the guy who ditched the horn-rimmed glasses, shaggy sideburns, and cut-off jean shorts ages ago, and who won my heart with
“I’m your vehicle, baby
I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.
Thank God in heaven, you know I love you.”
Look closely. When we baby boomers talk about a rocker, we sure don’t mean the chair on the porch.