By Rosalie Tirella
RUMOURS on the turntable! Photos: R.T.
Here at the shack: listening to the ultimate make up/break up/make up album – Fleetwood Mac’s RUMOURS, which I’ve owned since I was 17! Still a terrific LP to dance to and listen to. Still, beautiful and true, with its songs about players, cheaters, true love, moving on, girl bravado…”You make loving fun!” … “Songbird,” Christine’s deep love song slays me these days … touches me in ways it never touched me when I was a teenager.
My YOUTH. Spent decades ago! A terrific memory around this album: My gal pals and I skipped school one day and left our senior classes at Burncoat High in the dust when we piled into Kathy’s jalopy and headed to Hampton Beach. We were six Honors/AP students skipping school for the first time. We were cute, pretty. One of us was a true Irish beauty. We were giddy, silly, tentative. The car was an 8-cylinder, maybe a Nova?, with a dying muffler. It had serious giddyap but looked like hell: a bronzy, brown, silver behemoth whose color I could never figure out. Its roof was pock-mocked as if Kathy routinely drove through sandstorms. Foam was jutting through a busted seam of the backseat. One of its windows couldn’t crank down all the way. No matter! We felt like girly kryptonite! We were graduating high school and ditching all its suffocating rules and boring teachers in their suits and ties (the men) and LEGGS panty hose (the ladies) … We were saying bye bye!! to our parents (very Catholic second-generation strict), heading to college (hundreds, maybe thousands, of cute boys awaited us!) … and becoming who we wanted to be: doctors, writers, math geniuses.
The band! Back cover art, from the lp RUMOURS.
Our soundtrack up and back to the beach on that perfect sunny day? – literally, because Kath had an 8-track player in her dashboard and only one 8 track tape – RUMOURS. We knew all the tunes by heart and sang every song over and over again, loudly, to the tree tops that lined the wide open highway that day …feeling so free! Kathy couldn’t carry a tune but our other friend, Sue, had a pretty voice. Together, they tried to harmonize, laughing at their musical mashup and, maybe, Sue placing one of her elegant arms over the shoulder of Kathy, our chauffeur, a bit chubby but still cute and a very fast driver.
Looking back, I think it was one of the most innocent, happiest days of my life.
By Rosalie Tirella
One of Rose’s homemade Valentine’s.
I didn’t have the dough for Valentine’s Day cards this year, so I made a few yesterday. Sent them out late. Weird: I had hoped to just get it over with, another task to plow thru during my recovery, but I found the project absorbing, fun and … romantic. I dug up some nice white, card stock in a binder. About 50 sheets. Had it for four or five years – a delight to pull out of the mover’s box, after 17 months of homelessness! Made me feel refined…after pissing in parking lots, sleeping in a few too many dirt bag motels I needed to see that pristine white card stock.
So I pulled out a few old illustrated kids books I keep on a shelf and some note cards and note paper. Scotch tape, colored yarn, scissors, all at the ready.
Then I made my Valentine’s Day card #1 – my first since grade school! It was for a gal pal – a thank you note for her help these days, as well as a Valentine’s Day wish. To make it, I ripped off the book jacket of a romance novel I picked up – a lurid portrait of the bodice ripper contained within! There was the gorgeous hunk, his long dark hair whipping in the wind. There was his lady love, protesting, yet still in his arms, her bodice half torn, her round, voluptuous ta-ta’s heaving. I tore the picture carefully around its edges and scotch-taped it on to the middle of the white card stock. Then I took some blue yarn, the eye lash kind, and placed it along my card’s border taping and trimming the edges. Then I wrote my note to my friend and punched a hole in the top corner and ran some yarn through it in case she wanted to hang it up – at work! Ha!
Then I filled a nice jar with doggy treats for another friend’s Valentine’s Day gift. For his dog, rather. Wrapped the top with more pretty yarn and attached a note:
Finally, the old beau’s card: he’s saved all my greeting cards over these past 20 years almost – when we were going out and when we became “just friends.” His girlfriend said he’s a got a special table dedicated to all my cards, birthday, Easter, Christmas, Saint Patrick’s Day, Get Well, Thinking of You … a place where they stand up proud, opened for him to see every day. He’s also got a Rose wall: the pictures of birds and flowers I’ve given him over the years and the framed photos of Bailey, my old retriever, and the framed picture of Jett and me, outside his house, me hugging my new little pup. Jett eying an escape … Jett looks beautiful; I’m sporting an ugly haircut.
The Old Beau’s had quite the few years… surgeries galore (typical of retired contractors/carpenters after a life spent crawling on rooves, hauling doors and installing windows) – and now this latest incident, a “heart incident” in his car, passing out, vomiting in a Shaws plastic bag. The ambulance came and took him away. He was getting a pace maker put in at St. V’s yesterday as I made his Valentine’s Day card. Or a redo surgery, as the first pacemaker operation went awry – the surgeon left in a malfunctioning wire so “Fred,”‘s heart – the electrical hub of the body – was misfiring. The surgeon was going in again to fix the wire situation.
I said to Fred: We’re in rough waters. Me with my accident. Now you with yours.
Fred was in his hospital room, annoyed and said: I lunged at a male nurse today. He told me I couldn’t go home, couldn’t discharge myself home. So I lunged at him. He ran out of the room. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
In a hospital johnny, misfiring old ticker, the old beau was still the toughest guy in the joint. I heard the undercurrent of pride in his still sexy voice. Yes, he’d kick ass to get where he needed to go: HOME. After his big operation a few years back, Fred was placed in a rehab center in Webster. It was nothing more than a glorified rest home. No exercises. Unhealthy meals. Just lying on his back all day. He wasn’t doing that again.
Years ago, watching him drink his beers and smoke his cigar after a long day’s work Fred seemed cool and distant. Which he was. And self absorbed and selfish. Which he was. I was in love!
So yesterday I made this old tough guy a Valentine’s card. Which I know he’ll keep forever. Which made me work, want to try to capture the essence of the unfathomable Fred … to think about Fred and his likes as I leafed through the outdated Christopher Columbus kids book was a joy. Looking for the art to illustrate his card made me smile. There were many illustrations. There were many memories. Here, in the book, was a drawing of Columbus as a baby in his crib, then another – Columbus giving colored beads to an Indian, as a gift; then Columbus chatting with a stern Queen Isabella sitting on her fancy throne. All lies …until the drawings of Columbus adrift, almost drowning, in the ocean, hanging to the bow of a ship half submerged in the sea. There was a ship, wrecked. Funny, his hair wasn’t wet in the illustration – in fact it looked like the old Beau’s hair style of many years ago. A kind of Dutch Boy Paints haircut that the he eventually grew out and into a Greg Allman hair in style – very long and fine, parted in the middle and dyed platinum blond. So I cut out that illustration because it reminded me of Fred’s almost drowning in rough waters.
Then, on the next page, I saw a seagull flying over a placid ocean and he was framed in a window, and I remembered how Fred loved all birds and how once in Boston, before a Moody Blues concert, after dinner at one of the few restaurants at the wharf before all the redevelopment, before the shiny new modern museum, he and I took out a bunch of bread from our dinner table and started throwing it up into the sky to the scores of seagulls flying just inches above our heads. More than hovering. I didn’t even have to reach up to touch their grey or white bellies! They cawed and cawed into our ears and it was like being in a dream, them swooping over us again and again to grab the pieces of bread we held up to them. We were engulfed. It was like being in a huge seagull igloo, white, beige, the strong claws and beaks…the sky blotted out, just the birds’ loud cawing and the ocean churning just yards away. Then the romantic concert … Justin Heywood and the boys sounding perfect, singing all their ’70s hits: Nights in White Satin, Tuesday Afternoon, Blue Guitar … I was swept away in a wave of happiness…
Now I was stuck home, recovering. The old Beau was stuck eating cold hospital food and listening to loud hospital TV. I made a call to the hospital’s kitchen to rectify the food situation. Luis, the worker there, promised me he’d bring up some tasty food to my old boyfriend, as soon as we got off the phone. Calling him later, Fred told me: the scrambled eggs were still cold! The food sucks!
And, finally, the last picture book illustration: the tools of Columbus’ trade – not exactly a hammer and a nail gun, but interesting looking. I knew Fred would know what they were and how they worked. He was just like that: so smart about all trades, fascinated by all the tools. For years he carted around his grandfather’s level with him because it was beautiful – and he used it because he said it was better than the Home Depot stuff. I remember watching him tying up his ropes in a fancy braid at the end of his day – not in a pedestrian coil like most carpenters would do. His grandfather, also a carpenter, had taught Fred how to tie those fancy braids when Fred was just a teenager … They hung from the poles in the back of Fred’s shiny red truck looking more decorative than utilitarian.
All this is what I loved about the old beau. Why I loved him. And I tried to put it in my homemade card. It was good to remember it all this Valentine’s Day.