Reads: 32


Sandie emerged in the Rockstar’s misty mind.  His reverie took him back to when they first met at the Rosedale Junior High graduation.  He remembered their first encounter while in her bedroom.  He thought he saw her at the final concert tonight but could not really be sure.  Everything was a blur except for  a twinge of old feelings for this beautiful young woman.

The image of Mark lying on the stage in front of the drum riser pushed all old happier thoughts out of his deeply troubled mind.


The plan for the acquisition of a record player was put on hold now.  The Rockstar knew he still needed the device if he was to grow his chording skill but money still loomed as a significant problem.  He knew the meagre allowance his Mom was able to give periodically would never amount to the $50.00 he needed to buy a player from Sharky.  Plus, he had come to the realization he would also need to buy some 45’s.  He surmised he could work for his grandparents again but his conscience served a reminder that he should be helping them in reciprocation of appreciation for the good care they offered him, his sister and his Mom.  Every Sunday was a special dinner at their home and a great lunch on the days he and his sister were in school.  Grandma’s grilled cheese sandwiches covered with strawberry jam were worth way more than accepting pay for cutting their lawns weekly.  The Rockstar knew in his young heart, he had to become an entrepreneur to give himself the freedom to work on his guitar skills and participate in the social life of a teen.

Becoming an entrepreneur was easier than expected.  Summoning up his newly found courage,  the Rockstar approached Mr. Bailey, the pharmacist/owner of Bailey Drugs situated 2 blocks north of his family home.  After the Rockstar proposed a plan to deliver prescriptions to local senior residents, Mr. Bailey seemed to be impressed and agreed to give him a try.  Next, he made some “cold calls” on the neighbours within sight of his house.  Having seen what the Rockstar did to maintain his Mom’s lawns and flower beds, he quickly acquired “contracts” to maintain 5 houses weekly.  It did not take the Rockstar long to procure the money to get his own Victrola.  In a very short time the Rockstar negotiated a deal with Sharky and the proud owner of a record [player and a good selection of rock 45 rpm records to give new meaningfulness to his guitar practice sessions.

These new entrepreneurial challenges were further impacted by an encounter at school one day when Sandra invited him over to her house again to join her in playing his guitar along with some of her 45’s.  The Rockstar was both excited and terrified.  He was thrilled to see Sandra again but was afraid he couldn’t play well enough to impress her.

With great trepidation, the Rockstar polished his guitar, combed his lengthening curly brown hair and put on a few drops of Old Spice cologne from a bottle Mr. Bailey had given him for doing a good job on deliveries.  Off he trudged to Sandra’s house with his guitar in hand.  There was no skip in his step this time as he was genuinely afraid of his performance in front of a person.  He was, however, excited by the opportunity to show his next audience, albeit just one person, what he could do on the guitar.  Sandra greeted him at the door at the appointed time.  She was breath-taking!  Instead of the conservative clothes she wore to school, she had on a pair of shorts that exposed a set of long, slender legs.  Her snug-fitting t-shirt revealed the development of an attractive upper body.  The sight of this pretty, young girl triggered a hormonal burst the Rockstar had never experienced before.

Sandra’s mother greeted the Rockstar from the kitchen.  The greeting was much warmer this time, almost as if she was proud that a boy had come over to visit her daughter again.  She was quick to add that the door of Sandra’s bedroom must remain open and that she would be bringing in some fresh cookies when she was finished baking them.  Sandra led the Rockstar to her bedroom.  She motioned him to sit on her desk chair while she put on the first record.  It was ‘Tom Dooley’.  “I remembered you told me you could play the chords to this song when you here several days ago.  Do you want to give it a try?”

“Y-Y-Yes”, stammered the Rockstar.  He positioned his guitar and waited for the needle to lower to the 45 and the music to start.  ‘Tom Dooley’ starts with an overview of the lyrical story accompanied by the banjo playing the tune.  The Rockstar waited for the crescendo guitar part of the Intro on the record.  Right on cue he strummed the best E chord he had ever played but immediately heard something was wrong.  It was confirmed an instant later when he, right on cue, strummed the B7 chord.  The guitar chord did not match the chord sounds on the record.  The Rockstar stopped strumming in utter dismay.  Sandra noting the problem immediately lifted the needle off the record.  Calmly she asked when the Rockstar had tuned his guitar last.  He told her it was right before he came over to her house!  Sandra asked him how he tuned the guitar.  He explained the method he used that he had found in in a book.  He noted that all strings are tuned to the low E string and showed her how it was done.  Sandra’s face lit up like one who has an “aha” moment.  She then asked to what he had tuned the low E string.  The Rockstar said that Walt at Perry’s music had tuned it to a piano some weeks ago.  Sandra stood up and gingerly clasped the Rockstar’s hand and said, “Come with me.  Bring your guitar.  I think I figured out a solution!”  She led him into the living room to a beautiful upright piano.  “Let’s retune your low E string to our piano as it has been recently re-tuned for me to practice my music.”  When she played an E and the Rockstar played his, there was a noticeable difference.  The Rockstar readjusted his low E string until it produced the same sound that Sandra was playing.  They then decided to tune all the strings to the piano notes.  Upon completion, the chords played by the Rockstar again had a magical ring.

Upon returning to Sandra’s bedroom, she played ‘Tom Dooley’ again.  This time when the crescendo of the guitars of the Kingston Trio began, the sound matched what the Rockstar was playing perfectly.  Sandra smiled knowingly and enjoyed the song through to its completion.  Another milestone learning was reached in the Rockstar’s guitar playing journey.

Sandra suggested that they play the song again to ensure the tuning was all good.  When the ‘Trio’ began to sing and the Rockstar began to play, Sandra began to sing the words in the most beautiful contralto voice the Rockstar had ever heard.  He was enthralled.  He continued to strum and Sandra continued to sing.  Unnoticed by either of them was Sandra’s mother who stood at the door with a plate of steaming cookies and a small tear in her left eye.  The magical moment came to an end as the record’s Extro finished its cycle and the Victrola automatically shut off.  The lengthy silence was broken by Mrs. Woods when she came forward and stated, “That was wonderful you two.  It deserves some of my legendary oatmeal and raisin cookies.”The amazing musical interlude ended with a conversation between the Rockstar and Sandra about other songs they both knew and the decision to try a few more when they got together again.

The Rockstar looked forward with eager anticipation to his next encounter with Sandra.  He enjoyed her company and had great admiration for her wisdom and musical abilities.  As he ran the savoured the prospect of a fun time and seeing the look on her face as he gave her the small gift he had acquired at Sharky’s.  Sandra answered the door immediately as if she had been waiting for him.  The perfunctory greeting with Sandra’s Mom was a little different this time as standing beside her was a tall but friendly-looking man.  Sandra’s Mom introduced the Rockstar to her husband.  Surprised but confident, the Rockstar shook the man’s hand firmly and told him how pleased he was to meet him.  Mr. Woods looked down at the gangly 15-year-old musician wannabe and reciprocated with a thank you followed by an invitation to join the family in the living room as he wanted to ask him a few questions.  Immediately, apprehension replaced excitement in the Rockstar’s current mindscape!

Upon entering the living room, Mr. Woods beckoned the Rockstar to sit on the sofa alongside Sandra.  The Rockstar complied and sat with a cushion space between him and Sandra.  Mr. and Mrs. Woods seated themselves in chairs directly across a coffee table facing the two suddenly anxious teens.  “Where do you live son?” asked Mr. Woods.

“I live just a few blocks up 13th avenue on 7th street with my Mom and my younger sister Lulu.”

“Is that where your father lives also?” inquired Mr. Woods.

“No, he is remarried and lives with his new family,” choked the Rockstar.

“You and Sandra are in high school,” noted Mr. Woods.  “Have you thought about what your plans might be after you graduate?”

“I’ve thought about it a bit,” replied the Rockstar.  “I really like working at a couple of small businesses I operate, so maybe attending S.A.I.T. or university to study economics is a possibility.  Thanks to Sandra, I am really enjoying music and learning so much from her.  Maybe I could have a future in music!  I have to do better in high school as I want to open as many doors as possible for my future.”

Mr. Woods smiled indicating that the Rockstar’s answers were acceptable to him.  “Now why don’t you two run along and have fun with your music.  Just remember to keep the bedroom door wide open!”  With a sigh of relief, both the Rockstar and Sandra left for her bedroom.

Sandra flopped backward on her bed.  “My Dad and Mom are so protective of me,” she noted with a hint of exasperation on her voice.  You handled my Dad’s interrogation really well.  I am sorry to hear about your father.  It must be hard on your mother.  I would really like to meet her and Lulu someday.”

The Rockstar was bursting with excitement.  It was not from the pressure of the rather transparent interrogation of a caring father but rather of the gift he had for Sandra.  Awkwardly he thrust a bag toward Sandra.  “I got this for you! I know you love folk music and hope you like this tune.”

Sandra sat up.  “For me?  You got this for me?  What is it?” grabbing the bag in typical teenage excitement. Ripping open the elegant brown bag, she removed an almost new 45 rpm record.  “Wow!  Who is Gordon Lightfoot?”

“Lightfoot is an up and coming Canadian folk singer/songwriter,” noted the Rockstar.  “The song ‘I’m Not Saying’ was released this year.  I think this guy is good enough to be really successful.  The lyrics he writes seem real.  They describe how he feels about a situation in life.  I just felt you would really like this song.  Maybe we could learn it and sing it together!”

“Let’s listen to it,” as she reached over and put it on the spindle and pushed the start button.  The Intro’s strong guitar chords set the stage wonderfully for Lightfoot’s unique voice.  As the music flooded through the room, tears welled up in Sandra’s now limpid blue eyes.  The Rockstar began to panic.  What was happening?  The song wasn’t sad.  It just sounded great and was based on the chords the Rockstar could play.  It was just one of the records he bought at Sharky’s when he negotiated the purchase of his Victrola record player.  What should he do? 

Finally, the Extro chord sequence heralded the end of the song.  The Victrola shut off with a soft click.  Sandra sat there with tears streaming down her face.  Not knowing what was happening or what to do, the Rockstar sat in the emerging pallor of a profound silence and sadness. “I’m so sorry,” blurted out.

Sandra finally ended a silence that was becoming unbearable.  “No boy has. given me a gift before.  This song is beautiful both through the voice of Gordon Lightfoot and his backing band.  The lyric is so real.  Is the song a message you are trying to send to me?”  Sandra began to cry again.

The Rockstar was dumbfounded.  “No Sandie!  I just wanted to give you a 45 that was new to you.  I thought maybe we could learn to play and sing it together.  I also want you to know that you are special to me and I appreciate the fun we have together around music.  Do you think your Mom and Dad would let me take you to Bob’s ice cream shop on 16th avenue right now for a milkshake and a talk?”  Sandra dried her eyes with a tissue, composed herself and went to speak with her parents.  She returned shortly and told the Rockstar it was okay with her parents and they would expect them back within an hour.

The short walk up to Bob’s started off with more silence as if the two young teens didn’t really know what to say or do.  Finally, Sandra asked the Rockstar if he had really listened to the lyrics of the Lightfoot song.  He admitted that he hadn’t as he was looking for just a new folk song to give to her when he was acquiring his record player from Sharky. 

“You now have your own record player,” queried Sandra?  “Does that mean you won’t need to come over to my place to listen and practice music anymore?”  The Rockstar gulped in trepidation of what was unfolding on the walk.  He had never experienced the floods of emotion like this nor the depth of feelings that seemed to be surging in this pretty young woman.

The Rockstar stopped, gingerly spun Sandra around so he could look her in the eyes.  “Sandie”, he said gently, while dropping his hands from her shoulders to her hands.  I have no intention of stopping to practice with you.  I was kind of hoping you could maybe come to my house sometimes and we could listen to my music there together.  I want to you to meet my Mom and Lulu.  You are special to me and I want to get to know you better.  We are both kind of young and I look forward to where our life will take us.  Nothing will change, we will just grow our music together.”  This seemed to calm Sandra down. 

The time spent talking with each other over Bob’s famous strawberry malts was a fun time.  The hour seemed to flash by and it was time to walk back to Sandra’s house.  After reaching the street upon which Sandra lived, the Rockstar felt her hand slip into his.  She did, however, let his hand go several houses before they reached her home.

The balance of the Saturday afternoon saw the Rockstar and Sandra listen to music while the Rockstar strummed along with many tunes.  During this time Sandra developed a set list of the songs they knew the lyrics to and that the Rockstar could play.  The result was a commitment to practice in anticipation of them performing at the Rosedale teen club monthly fire and singsong held at the community hall.  Sandra felt they could go to it as a couple.  She even offered to help the Rockstar with his singing as she recognized his potential and felt it would make it easier to master chord progressions guided by lyrics.  After the Rockstar offered his good byes to her parents. Sandra walked the him to the front door.  She gave his hand a squeeze as he departed and whispered, “I love the way you are the first person ever to call me Sandie!  It made me feel very special to you.” 

A he slowly walked home, the Rockstar reflected upon what had transpired during the afternoon.  He concluded that a relationship was definitely developing with he and Sandie.  As a result of his both his personal and music experiences today, he really needed to focus more on song lyrics looking particularly at messaging.  He found out today there is much more to music than the tune.

Submitted: March 10, 2021

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