Troy remains on our side. We ask him if he is going to Northampton the coming weekend. He is more than ready for more partying at Rahar’s. Venus is not involved in Freshman Parent Weekend. He’s glad to drive us there for Saturday night. Jill says the 3D girls also want to visit their Smithie friends. Everyone promises to chip in for gas. Troy just wants the free liquor.
Jack declares it is another Ritz dinner night to celebrate Jill’s triumph at the Lampoon. We update our attire to 1930’s standards. Even David fits into one of Jack’s formal jackets and cummerbund. He looked totally silly, having bleached his brown hair to a rusty red. He says it’s his Ziggy Stardust hairdo. We call him Ziggy the whole weekend. Of course, he insists he tag along to Northampton, promising not to tell our dates we’re gay.
Mummy has again arranged our dinner at the Ritz. We waltz across Boston Common as if we own it. The girls outdo themselves in formal wear.
“Y’all rediscovered yer prom dresses?” I kid.
Jack hits me for sounding country. It’s his new rule. David hits him back, my new defender, unaware of my compliance with Jack’s rules.
“If ya ain’t gonna fight back, fag, I’ll defend ya,” he announces, my knight in shining armor.
“Oh, David,” Jill murmurs, “you’re my hero.”
With proper attire, we are immediately seated at the biggest round table in the upstairs dining room. We have cocktails before ordering. David isn’t carded. He soon has consumed his own and his two female partners’ drinks. Jack steps in before Minehan launches into an impromptu performance for the whole dining room.
“We always sing a Cappella to the girls,” Jack tells him.
“What’s that?” Minehan isn’t up on Italian opera slang.
“Singing without musical instruments. We did Cole Porter last week.”
Jack launches into ‘Let’s Fall in Love.’ I back him up.
‘And that’s why birds do it
Bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love’
Minehan was aghast, thinking Jack is singing to him. But Jack takes Jill’s hand and sings the title line to her: “Let’s do it.’ Once that crisis is avoided, David jumps in at the second verse. He learned all these show songs as a kid listening to his parents’ record collection. He has to dance around the table and make it a full performance. Again, the other diners give us polite applause as we bow.
“That calls for another round,” he announces.
“No way,” everyone yells, making him sulk. He hates being denied.
Dinner goes smoothly, with appetizers brought out, compliments of the chef. We order from the main menu and the service is impeccable, the main courses delivered as soon as we finish the prior course. After dessert, we relent and have digestifs, as Jack calls our drinks. Minehan just laughs at all the fancy words, but doesn’t hesitate to down his own glass and sneak sips from his dining partners.’
“Let’s go up on the roof,” I suggest, remembering how Carol, one of the other 3D girls, spoke of her mother’s memories of dining and dancing under the stars in the thirties. They’re tipsy enough to take my dare. Soon we are all leaning over the front of the Ritz, admiring the unimpeded view of the lit-up Boston Public Gardens. We laugh at all the little people arriving and departing directly below us at the Ritz entrance.
“We need an orchestra to dance to,” Jack wants life to be perfect.
“Hell, no,” Minehan pulls out Jack’s harmonica. “We’ll do Irish Step Dancin’.”
The boy has many talents. Soon he has us all in a line and is blowing Irish ditties to get our feet moving.
The girls have all taken tap dancing. Jack and I look like fools. David tells us to keep our hands at our sides and tap to the beat. Of course, he took years of tap before he turned ten. Soon the girls are twirling and twisting at his direction. Even Jack and I are having fun. It lasts about fifteen minutes before hotel security arrives. The penthouse tenants complained that their ceiling is about to explode. Of course, security are all Irish Micks. They tell us we have to leave, then proceed to show off their jigs and step-dance moves. Our formal dress has saved us from being thrown out as vagabonds. Finally we take the elevator to the ground level. David says it’s time for the Rat, but the girls know better than to show up in their prom dresses. We compromise by agreeing to crash the Fox social club. We feel silly riding the T. We get nasty looks from the downtrodden for our attire. Fox is in weekend mode. We are stopped at the door as we’re not ‘on the list.’ Standing there in formal wear, we garner attention from the members. Our boss, mentor, and co-conspirator, Kurt Andersen, from The Lampoon, rushes over.
“It’s okay. Let them in. I didn’t know they were coming.”
“Thanks, Kurt. Meet the other 3D girls from last weekend, Jill’s corridor mates.”
“Hi,” he introduces himself. “I’m Kurt. Jill and these boys are shaking up my magazine this Fall. And, did you have to bring Minehan? Is he your clone.”
“Oh, no. He’s definitely on his own trip. He had us doing Irish Step-dance on the roof of the Ritz tonight. We had to drag him here to keep from having to slum it in Kenmore Square.”
“Yeah,” David speaks. “From the Ritz to the Rat.”
“Okay. Well, enjoy yourselves. Why did you all leave at once last week.”
“Your boys tried to drag the girls upstairs to look at their etchings.”
“Oh,” he understands. “I’m glad you all stick together. Maybe you can refer to some other club when you write the story of the 3D Girls.”
“It was worse at Porcellian. We only lasted ten minutes there.”
The other girls surround Jill. “You’re writing about us in the Lampoon?”
“It’s just an idea. We have so many adventures,” I try to rescue her.
“Maybe we should write about you, Gaybo, and your frenemy, Gumby.”
The girls never miss any gossip. Kurt is all ears.
“It’s just an idea,” Jill rescues me. “We won’t write anything you don’t want us to write.”
“Why don’t we all have a drink,” Kurt ends the bickering. David is quick to follow him. We descend into the cocktail party. Chatter chatter chatter.
Once we have drinks and calm down, the 3D girls accuse us of being like all Harvard boys, taking advantage of women.
“We like you boys but your ambitions override your judgment. You’re willing to exploit us for your own advancement.”
“That’s what Harvard is doing. They have you under their microscope to find reasons to exclude women. We’re on your side.”
“No, you’re on your own side, Gaybo. Even the boys are wondering now after Jack’s hysterics Sunday night. We can only guess.”
“I passed out and turned blue. Jack thought I’d died.”
Minehan is all ears. He missed our drama.
“Why’d you pass out? Why was Jack naked?” Minehan instantly loses interest in any explanation.
“You don’t want to know,” Jack tries to apply good manners. “He got a cramp in his foot but when he ignored it, his whole body cramped. He wasn’t breathing and turned blue. I ran over and started screaming for help. They all burst into our room. Tim relaxed and woke up. It was a false alarm.”
The girls don’t look convinced, sensing we aren’t telling the whole story. Then again, they’re like Minehan and don’t really want to know.
“Well, now you all have new names, Gaybo, Gumby and the Shrieker.”
We all laugh. I wish for a different name. I commit to praying for it at mass on Sunday.
Minehan grabs Carol, the dewy-eyed 3D girl whose mother is the inspiration for our Ritz antics. They both begin making the rounds of the party. I watch as he replays our performance of ‘birds do it, bees do it.” He’s very popular with the post-adolescent crowd. His bronze hairdo is a bit off-putting, but he is oblivious, so into replaying his performance.
Troy comes over. We introduce him to the 3D girls he hasn’t met before.
“Can we get a ride with you to Northampton tomorrow?” I ask.
“Not going to the game?”
“Our girlfriends can’t come. It’s Parents Weekend at Smith.”
“What about your other girlfriends,” he nods at the whole group.
“They’re our dorm-mates. We don’t sleep around where we sleep ourselves,” Jack is being witty.
“Don’t tell them that.”
“Yeah, well they’re like the Red Sox bullpen. Maybe we’ll call on them in the later innings when the starters are worn out.”
“I thought you boys were feminists.”
“Only when we’re with feminists.”
“Well, that’s honest.”
“Well, I’m glad someone sticks up for Jill. It’s been hell for her all week.”
“Yeah, well, payback will be a bitch,” Jack is letting Troy in on the secret. For once his mouth gets ahead of his discretion.
“What’s that mean?” Troy instantly needs to know.
“Just that women will be coming to Harvard and they’ll remember how tough it is in the beginning.”
“Oh. I thought you had some evil plot to disgrace us clueless males.”
“No need. Cluelessness is it’s own retribution.”
He agrees to take us to Smith. I purposely neglected to mention that Minehan will be coming. We watch as he and Carol continue to make the rounds at Fox. He doesn’t repeat his stories once, always finding something he thinks will interest his listeners. They remain amused by his enthusiasm. High School comes to Harvard.
“So what’s we doin’ tamorra?” David asks as we settle in our respective beds. We appreciate that his mom has washed our sheets.
“We’re going to Smith to see Trudie and Joan.”
“Can I come?” he’s direct.
“Well, it’s kinda an adventure. They don’t know we’re coming. It’s Parents Weekend.”
“Don’t think I make a good impression on the parents, Gaybo?”
“What do you think?” Jack retorts.
“I can be good,” Minehan argues.
“We know you’re coming, so ya don’t havta lie,” I end the argument.
“I wanna meet yer junkie cousin that books Rahar’s.”
“I be you do.”
“Get him to let Moody Rudes play tomorrow night.”
“Good idea,” Jack is on board. “I’ll bring the MOOG. With your new hair, we’ll do a Ziggy Stardust set,” Jack is being creative.
“Yeah, my middle name’s Bowie.”
“Yah, David Boy Minehan.”
“I can hardly wait. Let’s go ta sleep.”
The 3D girls stick their heads in to get us to go to breakfast. David is wide awake, announcing, “Gaybo’s practicing abstinence to get ready for his Smithie girlfriend.”
The girls glance at us wrapped up with each other, scream and run out of our room. We join them at commons for our morning gruel. Afterward, David wants to practice the Bowie songs we plan to do at Rahar’s.
“I ain’t callin’ Tim Gaybo no more, at least for the weekend. Now I just call him Weird and Jack is Gilly. We’re the Spiders from Mars.”
The girls love it. I feel especially weird. We go over the Ziggy songs we like and decide to do ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ ‘Starman,’ ‘Hang On to Yourself,’ ‘Suffragette City’ and finish with ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.’
The girls beg to come but there’s no room in the Dart. We tell them they’ve just seen what we’re going to perform, so why bother going all the way to Northampton. They leave in disgust at our disregard for their desires. We find Troy, convincing him to leave early so we’ll have more time at Smith. He laughs when he sees the guitars and keyboard we’re taking.
“Planning on impressing the girls.”
“No, this will be to impress the parent units. It’s Parent Weekend.”
He just laughs.
We laugh at being ‘Band on the Run.’
Once we’re at Smith, Venus runs to find Trudie and Joan. She comes back to say they’ve taken their parents to Friendly’s for dinner. It’s our favorite fast food restaurant. Troy says we’ll all go and ambush them there. Peering in the window, we see the girls happily chatting with the four parents, unaware about what’s about to happen. I ask Venus and Troy to go in first and get the girls to come out. We’re casually leaning against the Dart when they rush out.
“What are you doing here?” they both ask.
“Time to meet the parents. It’s Parents Weekend.” Jack explains.
“I don’t think that’s the point. Smith wants the parents to see that their kids are safe, not that they associate with insane and degenerate boys.”
“You want us to leave?” Jack is putting on his best manners.
“No, but what do we say? That you just showed up?”
“That’s sounds like the truth.” I state.
“They’ll think you’re stalkers.”
“Well, here’s the deal,” I level with them. “David is possessed by David Bowie.”
“I wondered about his hair,” Trudie is always on top of style matters.
“We’re doing a show a Rahar’s,” I’m hoping that Joey will put us on the bill. “Tell your parents we want to meet them and show them how creative we are.”
“Can you just say it’s a coincidence that you came here on Parent Weekend?”
“Sounds good,” Jack smiles. “But we are stalking you. You’ll never get away from us.”
Instead of laughing they look really concerned.
“He’s kidding. Only David would stalk someone,” I assure them. David puts on a scary face and hisses at them.
“Okay. Okay. We’re glad you’re here. But don’t just assume your antics will be appreciated.”
“And to make it more interesting, I’m Ziggy. Tim’s Weird. And Jack’s Gilly. We’re the Spiders from Mars.”
“Oh, great. Let’s keep the performance on stage and let the parents not think you’re some weird gilly boys.”
“Cool,” David agrees.
The girls introduce us to the parents, explaining that we are in Northampton to perform at Rahar’s.
“Very pleased to meet you,” Jack puts on the charm. “Hope you’re enjoying Parents Weekend. We don’t mean to interrupt. We just want to invite all of you to our performance tonight. We’re doing a song we wrote after Trudie and Joan visited Harvard last weekend.”
“I thought you were at Radcliffe?” Joan’s father asks. I recognize where she gets her direct approach to everything.
“They were staying with our friends from Radcliffe,” Jack hastily explains. “They all came to the football game and were drafted onto the cheerleading squad. They inspired Harvard in a 37-14 win over BU.”
“You were on the football field?” Trudie’s dad continues to be the interrogator. Trudie gives Jack a nasty look.
“Just the sidelines. Tim was getting the stands to cheer,” she explains.
All four parents are looking dubious, especially at David’s bleached hair. He needs to let us do his hair styling in the future.
“Well,” I move to get us out of there before further damage ensues. “We’ll let you enjoy your meals. I hope you can make the show. We really want the girls to hear the song we wrote for them.”
“I’ll guess it’s a rock song,” Mr. Trudie complains.
“More English Blues than rock,” I explain.
“Well, we do like jazz,” he states. We aren’t surprised.
I realize that Parents Weekend is all about the parents, not the students. We threaten their time with their daughters. I had hoped to have a greasy patty melt at Friendly’s but Jack pulls me away. Troy deposits us at Rahar’s with our equipment, driving away with Venus. He makes sure they can get in later.
“What’s this?” Joey asks when we appear with instruments, giving Minehan the once over.
“We’ve come to entertain you,” I put on my best face.
“You want to play tonight?” at least he figuredthat out.
“Yeah. Can you squeeze us in?” all three of us looked hopefully at him.
“Jesus, Tim. I can’t pay you.” Joey has become like all bar managers.
“We’ll just take 25% of the bar while we’re playing.” I don’t care if we get paid. Minehan looks pained, thinking about his tuition bill. “And we need VIP treatment for our girlfriends’ parents.”
“Okay. Okay. You can put ‘em up in the balcony. They must be old, so they need to stay away from the dance floor. What are you playing for us?”
“We’ve got two acts. The first is a Ziggy Stardust show.” I point at Minehan’s glitter look. “Then if we get a good reception, we’ll come back as the Moody Rudes, our latest English rock knock-off.”
“Okay. Next time let me know you’re coming. You’ve been telling me all these tales about playing with Skynyrd and Joan Jett and other real rockers. I wanna see if it’s all bull shit or not.”
We laugh. “Don’t worry. Can you feed us?”
“Yeah. This is a restaurant. Tell ‘em at the bar I said to comp ya.”
We move our equipment into the band room, making sure it’s locked. The food is exactly what we like, greasy burgers and fries. We return to the band room and pull out our guitars, tune up and start jamming. We still haven’t adapted well to the MOOG. It’s so sad sounding. Jack tries to tweak it. Finally I ask Jace to help. He instantly appears, going over the MOOG controls, fiddling about and finally getting a more sparkly sound out of it. He says something about modulation and filters, but we’re clueless. He proves once again that he is the true musical genius in the band. I’m a performer and Jack just follows my lead.
Minehan is intently watching our ministrations on the MOOG without seeing what Jace is doing.
“Who you talking to?” He demands once he realizes we aren’t speaking with each other. It’s time to clue him in.
“A ghost. His name is Jace but we call him Casper. He’s fifteen.”
“Right. So a ghost is tuning the MOOG?”
“He’s a Friendly Ghost.”
“So that’s why you love Friendly’s?”
“No. It’s the patty melts we love,” Jack laughs.
David comes over and watches as the MOOG appears to be setting all its switches, dials and knobs by itself.
“How does it do that?” he asks.
“Jace is doing it. You don’t trust him, so you can’t see him.”
“Ya can see a ghost?”
“Sure. He started ‘False Gods.’ After his brother killed him, Tim loved him so much he wouldn’t let his spirit die.
He came back from the dead and taught us all to play. He is helping your bassist Jim learn to play.”
“Jim can see him?” David doesn’t want anyone in his band to be better than him.
“All it takes is trusting. You’re not very trusting, David.”
“Whatcha expect? Havin’ ta live with you all. Was Jace a fag? That mean Jim’s a fag?”
“Shut up, man. It has nothing to do with being faggots, except fags feel no one trusts them.”
“Okay. How do I get Casper to like me?”
“He’s tried, but you block him. I’ll show you,” I get Jace to hover above me and the glow intensified around me. David can see that.
“Now he’ll hover above you. If you trust him, the glow will start. So far you’ve always rejected him.”
“I ain’t said shit to ‘im.”
“Ferget yer head. It’s your heart that has to be open. Ya cain’t jist think ya trusts ‘im. It hasta be yer heart that’s open.”
Minehan shrugs his shoulders, flopping to the ground on his back with his arms out-stretched. “Okay,” he shouts. “Rape me.”
We laugh, including Jace. Of course, nothing happens. Minehan is disappointed.
“I was ready and willing. Why didn’t it happen.”
“Stop thinking about it. Are you sad that he didn’t invade your heart?”
“Yeah.” A slight glow emanates around him.
“See. It’s your feelings that count. Now think about having a true musical genius in your heart that will allow any song you create to flow to your hands and sound exactly what’s in your head.”
That makes him think. The glow increases.
“How’s that feel?”
“Like I’m on stage and everyone’s cheering as I rip riffs like Hendrix.” The glow becomes intense.
“Jace will touch the top of your head. If you really want him in your heart you’ll find him there. If you’re really too uptight to be touched, let your heart yearn to have in there, but just stop the anti-fag attitude. You think Jim’s a fag for wanting to play music.”
“But that’s my thing. I don’t play all sissy-fied, like a faggot.”
“You are so confused, boy. Music comes from the soul. Your homophobic ideas come from your head.”
“What’s homopoebic again?”
“Being afraid of homos.’
“I ain’t afraid of you guys,” he asserts.
“Well, stop acting like we want to rape you. We’ve got each other.”
“Well, I don’t wanna fuck Jim either.”
“You want to make music with him, to have a band. It ain’t a gay thing. Unless you think Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are gay.
He snorts. “They’s so ugly they need to have each other.”
“Your prejudices defeat you. Just let Jace touch you and see how you feel about it.”
Minehan tenses up, takes a deep breath and prepares to be invaded. Again, nothing.
He relaxes, relieved he hasn’t turned gay. That was all it takes, just relaxing and letting Jace in. He shakes and smiles. The glow returns.
“It worked. I wanna tune the MOOG,” he’s ready for a ghostly music lesson. He places his hands on the dials, looks directly at us, while Jace directs his hands. The eerie wail coming from the speakers turns to a mellower pulse, that rises and sinks like an ocean wave. We clap as he turns the wave into short beats that rise and fall in the pattern of the greater wave.
“You’re surfing, dude,” I tell him.
He lets his fingers run along the keys, lending melody and rhythm to the wave. He closes his eyes. I recognize Jace’s signature sound intermixed with David’s more chaotic composition. They are jamming with each other. Jack and I take up the guitars and we’re a rock quartet. David turns on the rhythm function, creating his own drum beat. He starts singing a new song:
‘I was so hung loose
I met this girl she took away my blues
oh yeah, oh yeah
And I knew from the start
This little girl was gonna break my heart
that’s right, oh yeah
Roxanne, Roxanne, I don’t give a damn about your other baby
Roxanne, Roxanne, I wanna be yours’
Copyright: David Minehan
He repeats ‘Roxanne, Roxanne,” over and over, like a love-sick water buffalo.
“I guess ya ain’t turned faggot yet,” I laugh.
He runs over to his guitar and plays the rhythm part to his new song. I come in with some leads. Then Jace puts his signature into David’s leads. Jack gets back on the MOOG and follows our guitar riffs. We keep going, creating music and letting David compose the lyrics.
Soon the other bands turn up. They’re intrigued with Jack’s MOOG. Since we had planned on using their amps, we are happy to let them try it. We know Jace will tune it once it’s time for us to play. We’re all local bands, although we’re the only teenagers. They had the early 70’s look with long hair, skinny flared jeans, and body shirts. We say they look like refugees from the 60’s.
Joey comes back and tells us we have to go on first. He takes me aside and says we can have a second set, if the first one goes well. I ask if Trudie and Joan have arrived with their parents.
“Not yet, but we’ve set up the balcony for them. But I ain’t comping their drinks.”
“I doubt the girls will drink in front of their parents.”
“What’s the name of your latest band?”
“Oh, la dee da. No one cares this far from Cambridge.”
“We don’t care. But check it out, it’s what Jack and I are into now. The Neighborhoods is Minehan’s creation.”