FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Current Essays FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contributors FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//About FRESH YARNFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Past EssaysFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//SubmitFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//LinksFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Email ListFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contact


They're Loyal Fans and They Bake
By Hillary Carlip

We floated out of the club and onto Santa Monica Boulevard, nonchalantly walking past the Martial Arts studio, then across Doheny. It wasn't until we reached a small, secluded park, where we were certain no one could see or hear us, that we both finally let loose our screams.

"Oh. My. God. That was surreal!" I slalomed through a line of trees, then flopped onto the grass and rolled around in circles.

"I can't believe you just knocked on her door," Molly shouted, "and that she invited us in!"

"Watch," I said, "she's gonna be a huge star. I just know it."

I couldn't go home yet, back to my solitary bedroom, my ordinary existence where no one asked questions that mattered.

Trapped in my beige stucco junior high school the next day, I couldn't concentrate. I kept replaying the night before, anticipating what would happen this night. How excited Carly would be to see me. How we'd sit on the couch together, talking about music, art, literature, philosophy.

Yeah, right. Who was I kidding? Why would Carly Simon want to be my friend? I would have to win her over.

The minute I got home from school, I baked banana bread as an offering for Carly and the band. That evening, we arrived early at the Troub and snagged our front row table. As Carly sang her set, I held the still-warm loaf in my lap, as protectively as if it were a newborn.

At intermission, Molly and I hurried upstairs. When Carly opened the door, she grinned, and the guitarist called out, "Hey, it's the girls!"

The girls. We were the girls.

I handed Carly the banana bread. She thanked me and placed it on the coffee table, next to an overflowing ashtray, and the guys immediately dug in.

"Did you notice we cranked up the vocals on the up-tempo songs?" Carly asked. "Great suggestion last night, Hillary."

I suppressed the squeal rising in my throat. "You sounded incredible."

While Cat Stevens' played downstairs, we sat on the couch joining in the conversation as Carly and the band dissected their show. When we heard the applause at the end of Cat's first set, I stood.

"Sorry we can't stay, but we'll see you tomorrow night."

The band waved, thanking us for the bread. And this time, at the door -- Carly Simon kissed me goodbye.

All that week, with gifts of pumpkin, date nut, cinnamon raisin and honey walnut bread, recipes courtesy of The Tassajara Zen Monastery Bread Book, Molly and I hung out in Carly's dressing room. On the third night, she added us to the guest list, a great relief since with the $4.00 ticket price and the cost of baking ingredients, my savings were rapidly dwindling.

On closing night, when Cat Stevens ended his set, we knew the time to say goodbye had come. My eyes welled up with tears, but I bit my lip and held them back. Be strong. Be strong.

"Well," I said, as I headed to the door, "it was great hanging out with you guys."

"Yeah," Molly added. "Thanks for getting us in and all."

Carly stood. As she leaned over to give us the goodbye hug and kiss we'd grown accustomed to, she said "Next time I'm back, you promise to come see me?"

Was she kidding? Of course we'd come see her. What were friends for?

The next seven months dragged, the only high point being news of Carly's success. "That's the Way I Always Heard it Should Be," a song from her first album, rose on the charts, and just as she released her second album, "Anticipation," we learned she was returning to the Troub. This time as the headliner.

On a rainy November opening night, armed with a loaf of three-layer corn bread, Molly and I opted for a table in the back so we could unobtrusively leave our seats during the opening act and visit Carly upstairs. A singer named Don McLean was onstage, performing a new song called "American Pie," as Molly and I crept to the dressing room. My heart was beating faster and harder than it had the first time I knocked on that door. After all, Carly was a star now. What if she wasn't as welcoming as before? Worse, what if she'd forgotten us?

I took a deep breath and knocked.

The door opened a crack and a man in a dark suit gruffly said, "Yes?"

"Uh, we're here to say hi to Carly and give her this," I said, holding out the loaf.

"She can't see anyone now," he snapped, obviously thinking we were just some fans. He started to close the door on us, but I stuck my foot inside and shouted, "Tell her it's Hillary and Molly!"

In an instant, Carly appeared at the door.

"It's the girls!" she cried, and she hugged and kissed us as if no time had passed.

She was, truly, our friend.

So again Molly and I spent a week hanging out with Carly and the band. One night, between songs, Carly looked out at the audience, said, "This one is for Hillary and Molly," then launched into "Anticipation." The next night she dedicated "You're so Vain," and every night after that, Carly dedicated songs to us.

I had never before felt so happy. So important.

Months passed, and one smoggy summer day, at a newsstand in Westwood Village, I spotted an interview with Carly in Where It's At, a popular music magazine. I began to read, when suddenly my heart nearly stopped.

"'At the Troubadour, it's been great,'" Carly was quoted. "'There are these two girls who have really just made my evenings there.'"

Oh my God. Carly was talking about me and Molly. In a magazine!

I threw money down on the counter, grabbed the magazine and raced five blocks to Molly's house. I arrived sweating and gasping heavily. "There's an interview in… Carly… mentions us."

Molly snatched the magazine and began to read aloud.

"'At the Troubadour, it's been great. There are these two girls who have really just made my evenings there.'"

"Can you believe it?" I yelled, loud enough for the neighbors to hear. The poodle next door began to yip.

"'They've been sitting in the front row every night. They come to all the shows and they bake me bread, and they sing along,'" Molly continued.

"Amazing," I screeched, then grabbed the magazine back from her. "'They know all the songs and, as many times as they've heard them, when I start them, they say, 'Oh, Great'! It's really exciting to have such great…'"

I stopped mid-sentence.

"Such great what?" Molly barked.

I was devastated. Stunned into silence.

Molly grabbed the magazine from me and read. "'It's really exciting to have such great fans.'" She closed the magazine and looked at me. "What's wrong?"

After a moment, I finally said, "Fans. She called us fans."

"Oh." Molly paused. "Well, she called us great fans. And she also said a lot of other cool things about us."

"I thought we were friends."

I trudged home and locked myself in my room where I ate an entire still-frozen Sara Lee Pound Cake and listened to records -- anyone but Carly. The words "such great fans" echoed through my head, replacing previous insults classmates had heaped upon me. "Fat-ass." "Lezzie."

After four days, I knew what I had to do. If Carly were truly my friend, she would understand why I had to write. I composed ten drafts of a letter before settling on the final version, which I then re-read twenty times.

Dear Carly:
We saw your interview in 'Where It's At' and have to say, were very disappointed. We were surprised to be thrown into the category of 'fans' with so many others who, I'm sure, you appreciate, but, well -- we just thought we were more. We thought we were friends. I guess we were wrong. If we're wrong about being wrong, please write back. We still think you're a very talented woman.
Hillary and Molly

I jumped on my bike, rode to the corner mailbox and dropped in the letter before I could change my mind.

Every day after school, I waited in the driveway for Felix, our mailman, and every day he shook his head and said, "Sorry, nothing for you today. You waiting for grades? An invitation to a Bar Mitzvah?"

"No, Felix," I said brusquely, not bothering to give him any more information since he clearly didn't get me.

Finally, after two weeks of disappointment, Felix drove up holding a powder blue envelope with my name written on it in neat, loopy, handwriting.

"This what you've been waiting for?" he asked, handing me the envelope.

"Yes!" I squealed. I tore into the house then upstairs to my room and closed the door. Sitting on my twin bed, I carefully opened the envelope and inhaled the Patchouli oil that wafted up from the stationary. The letter was hand-written.

PAGE 1 2 3

-friendly version for easy reading
©All material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission

home///current essays///contributors///about fresh yarn///archives///
submit///links///email list///site map///contact
© 2004-2005