If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me?

5 Nov

What song was playing the first time you were asked to dance, or asked someone to dance? Do you even remember?

Maybe you remember it because that was when you met the love of your life and it became “your song.” Or, maybe  it was one of your all-time favorite songs and you just had to drag someone onto the dance floor to share it with you. Or, maybe you’ll never forget it because the song was fast becoming one of the biggest jokes in rock history.

See, the first time I was asked to dance, it was to “Freebird.”

According to the "Hot Buckles" website, "This is an officially licensed Lynyrd Skynyrd sexy south girl with guitar design."

In my hometown of suburban Richmond, Virginia in the years following the Bicentennial, you couldn’t play an FM station for more than thirty minutes without hearing one of three songs:

  • – “Freebird”
  • – “Hotel California”
  • – “Stairway to Heaven”

And of course, the local favorite was that red-blooded Southern anthem tinged with tragedy after an airplane crash claimed the lives of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and five others in 1977. Even though Lynyrd Skynyrd hailed from Jacksonville, Florida – 600 miles straight south on 95 from Richmond – they spoke for all of us below the Mason-Dixon line:

And this bird you cannot change
Lord knows I can’t change

Hell, yeah! We won’t change  EVER! Lookit us and weep, you dumb Yankees – WHOO HOO!!!

So, back to that first dance. Let me paint you a picture:

It’s 1979, and I’m at Virginia Tech for the 4-H state finals for the “Share the Fun” talent competition. I am proudly representing the Central region in the Variety category, having won the local and regional contests with a killer act. My chances look good and I believe first prize will be mine because I am cool … because I am riding the wave of a fad yet making it art …

Somewhere, Shields and Yarnell are weeping

because I am a mime.

My audition begins. Hot Butter’s version of “Popcorn” starts to fill the air of the college classroom. But seconds later, my “Great Instrumental Hits” album skips … then skips again.

I am completely thrown. My timing is shot. I scramble to get back to the correct motions, forgetting half of my act in the process. I valiantly continue until the song ends and then politely ask for a do-over. The judge is unmoved.

I lose. I am heartbroken.

As I go through a roll of toilet paper weeping in the girl’s bathroom, I take some comfort in there being a dance that night, featuring the arena rock stylings of Helicopter, a cover band to be reckoned with. I go, ready to enjoy myself.

After spending the evening as a wallflower, lo and behold, a boy from Lynchburg approaches and asks me to dance. I’m flattered – I’m nervous – I’m suddenly aware that he’s a head shorter than me … and wearing a print Qiana shirt. Just then, the leather-lunged, long-haired boys of Helicopter begin the telltale opening riff  – and I and the crowd goes berserk.

The slow dance, ballad portion comes first. Right off the bat, I have to get closer to short Qiana Lynchburg boy. He’s got a peculiar vocal tic; he smells like armpits; he’s getting handsy. I’m praying that the song will wrap up soon so I can skulk away to the safety of the punchbowl, but it never does. It’s chorus after chorus of jams and riffs and bouncing long hair.

Centuries later, it is at last over. The crowd demands an encore. But the band can’t do an encore — they’ve just performed the song that everyone puts their lighters in the air to demand as an encore. The party’s over.

In retrospect, I guess I should be grateful that anyone wanted to dance with me at all. I mean, geez, I was a mime.

So now it’s time to put on your officially licensed belt buckle, pour yourself a Pearl Beer, and get out your lighter:

See you on the flip side …

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One Response to “If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me?”

  1. Kat November 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Nice Blog! Even better mime picture!:)

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