There was a time during my musically busy days in my early 20’s when I was hoping to meet girls by being in Rock bands. Everyone knows the myth that Rock musicians are supposed to attract groupies, yet this never seemed to happen easily to me or my friends.
I spoke at some length about this one time to Larry Carr of The Snails during a break at a Fraternity party at San Diego State (this was 1982, and we played Punk and British Invasion). He told me that before he was in a band he used to stand in the audience and think, “Man, when I get in a band, I can’t wait to meet some girls”. Then he explained, “Now that I’m in a band, I often think ‘Man, some night when I’m not up here playing, I’m going to go down there and meet some girls…”
This story really got me going that night. It sounded like me. “We’ve just been making excuses, we’re really suburban white guys who were raised too properly to have any fun”, I thought to myself. “I’m going to get over it and work up the guts to just meet some girls.”
And there they were: two beautiful blondes who were watching us play every song at this party. They were watching us pretty closely, and I knew this was it, I better make my move. So I put my Sax down after the set and went right over and introduced myself.
They were nervous and so was I. I had to get over it, and I felt it was my job to make them comfortable if I could. I didn’t let the silences last long, I tried to be cool but not give up. We had another gig at the beach later that evening, would they like to come? You don’t have a car? No problem, I can drive you of course. I can have you home by such-and-such a time, it’s going to be great.
They were very shy about it, but I knew I was a safe bet and wanted them to get over it. I kept at it, (my friends will remember enthusiasm was my entire personality that year), and finally they couldn’t say no. So we piled into my van, but they couldn’t relax, they were way too nervous. Too young (possibly Freshmen in College) and probably as inexperienced as I, they had never done this sort of thing before.
We dropped by my house in Hillcrest to grab my friend Jim Bradley, which rounded out the four of us, and then one of the girls, the one who would be with Jim got sick. They disappeared into the bathroom and the girl was in there flushing a lot. They came out and said they were sorry but they had to go home, she was really sick, and we knew she wasn’t faking. But Jim and I couldn’t help but blame ourselves. Jim was sure the girl had gotten ill when she saw he was her date. He went into a comedic tailspin over it, but nothing I could say would convince him otherwise.
But I also felt I must have been pushing too hard once I saw where it was going. We were super nice and really quick to help them get home properly, but no phone numbers were exchanged; the situation was over.
Carmen’s sister Mary Borgia was visiting that month and she joined Jim and I at the last second. I went wild on a very large stage playing sax like there was no tomorrow, and I remember Jim having a good time also, probably because we were both relieved the pressure was off.
Two funny things happened after this. The first really mortified me: the girl I had made such a play for had been at the Frat gig to see and be with the drummer in our band, and they were so new and she was so shy that she didn’t say a word when I chatted her up. The drummer himself told me this later and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t come right over and make this clear as it was happening. Weird.
Then the other girl, the one who got sick turned out to be the sister of my sister Laurie’s first husband. I only realized this at her wedding, and I thought “Holy s***! This ghost from my past is now my sister-in-law!” Lucky for me (and for Laurie as well, she would agree), this marriage didn’t work out; there was a quick annulment in the first 6 months. I kind of figured it was a sign that this was not in the stars somehow, for anyone.
So I soon learned not to push it when it came to girls, the experiment had been another self-defining experience, (and things went much better after that).