by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
As I write this late Sunday night, social media is abuzz with the deaths of iconic people who, for good or bad, were a part of the fringes of media that continues to weave its way through my life.
The first is Mel Tillis. Oh, how I remember “Coca-Cola Cowboy” and “Neon Rose.” Country music was a staple in the family car when we drove up to Grandma’s, on the portable radio when we worked in the garden, on the Hi-Fi for Saturday morning housecleaning. In the late 80s the genre seemed to shift to a more rock feel, so I turned back to the local Top 40 Radio or listened to old tapes. Fast-forward a few years and it’s regained its roots. I now enjoy the croonings of the like of Brad Paisley and Chris Stapleton (especially his remake of Tennessee Whiskey.)
The second is Charles Manson. Living in Southern California, it’s hard to not know someone who knows someone who knows someone who has some connection to someone else who was affected by the 1969 Tate-LaBianca Murders. I can’t say I like any part of this, but his legend is as big as O.J. Simpson or The Billionaire Boys Club. There are just some things that captivate society, and the Manson “family” did just that.
And since these things come in three’s (or so they say), I’m holding my breath and praying it’s not David Cassidy.
Raised on The Partridge Family, I have loved David/Keith even when it went momentarily out of vogue. What can I say? I had the playhouse fantasy of us being the same age and him finding me more irresistible than any other 12-year-old in the world. I watched The Partridge Family every summer afternoon. It was a consistent anchor in a tumultuous world of moving cross-country and teen hormones and debilitating shyness. As long as David/Keith was in my life, I knew everything was okay.
I watched the biographies [even the really bad ones], the tell-all tele-dramas. If he was in a show, I watched it. That man could sell me snake oil in a bottle as long as he sang about its virtues.
As I write this, news reports are telling me of his downfall. His failing body. And a rumor of death that has yet to be confirmed.
This ranks up there with Davey Jones of The Monkees. My first teen idols. Even David’s brother, Shaun, ranked up there. All cute smiles and dimples. And when I saw David in Vegas so many years ago and he looked at me and sang, “I think I love you,” I think I melted!
What’s that? You don’t know the story? Well, let me recap for you:
About fifteen or so years ago, a former boyfriend came to town. We hadn’t seen each other since he moved away over a year earlier, and since it was close to my birthday, he took me to lunch. We drove to the outskirts of the neighboring town, to a quaint little restaurant off the freeway that garnered much attention for it’s 50’s-era style. The food was great, and the coffee was decent. We started talking about really good coffee and he suggested we make the 30-minute drive to the nearest Starbucks [Yeah, this was before my part of the world had a Starbucks on every corner]. I’m game! So off we went on an impromptu coffee run.
Now, when I say I live in the Southern California desert, I mean it. Most yards are dirt, unless you can afford rock-scaping. It’s 90 degrees in the shade, but for Thanksgiving we expect a cool-down trend so it’ll only be 80. Brr. Break out those holiday sweaters, y’all. Anyway, the nearest Starbucks at the time was in Barstow. And how it is that Barstow got a Starbucks long before we did is still a bone of contention around here. Must have something to do with the international outlet stores they have up there.
Sweet. We’re taking a drive, seeing the sights, headed to Barstow. Could life get any more thrilling?
So. You get my excitement at driving just for good coffee. I was thinking this would be a really great birthday!
We were so busy chatting and getting caught up that we missed the first turn off. Hmm. No worries. There’s another one in a mile.
Missed it. Again.
So we kept driving. It’s not easy to get lost on the 15-North. It’s not like there are any side streets to get in the way or mislead us. So we just kept talking, driving, figuring we could turn back once we reach Calico Ghost Town. A darn good birthday drive.
Missed it, yes, again. We were just about to turn around when I saw it. The first billboard indicating Sin City lay ahead: Las Vegas! And what, you ask, did the billboard advertise for that fine town? David Cassidy in Concert. Ohhh, babyyy….! I remember this larger-than-larger-than-life David in a silky red button down suit smiling down at me with The Rio Hotel & Casino in the background. I loved that billboard. I’m pretty sure I drooled. Or squealed. Or both.
I pointed and said, “Ooh, let’s go there!” I was just joking. He wasn’t. He said, “Wanna go?” Just like that. Uhmmm… WHAT?!?! Five dollars in my back pocket. Never been to Vegas. Hair and makeup not quite done properly. We were only supposed to be getting coffee. So I made a quick phone call to my family and said, “Hey, I’m gonna be home seriously late… like, tomorrow morning!” and it was settled.
Two great things happened that night. The first is that David Cassidy stood ten feet in front of me with his microphone, looked into my eyes and sang, “I Think I Love You”, to the dismay of all other females in the audience. The second is that I had a really great cup of coffee. In Vegas.
Now that’s a birthday!
So please, David. Don’t die before I have the chance to put on the old tunes and sit back with a Caramel Macchiato and remember all the good times we’ve had together. Somewhere in my garage is a box of items I never scrapbooked. In there is the table card for your concert. I think I’ll dig it out. And maybe soon I’ll stop in at The Rio and tell ’em Frankie sent me.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!