Loyal Fans and They Bake
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
"I can't believe you just knocked on her door," Molly
shouted, "and that she invited us in!"
said, "she's gonna be a huge star. I just know it."
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.
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.
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
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
"Did you notice we cranked up the vocals on the up-tempo
songs?" Carly asked. "Great suggestion last night, Hillary."
suppressed the squeal rising in my throat. "You sounded incredible."
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.
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
The door opened a crack and a man in a dark suit gruffly said,
"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
In an instant, Carly appeared at the door.
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
"'At the Troubadour, it's been great,'" Carly
was quoted. "'There are these two girls who have really just made my evenings
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
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
"Can you believe it?" I yelled, loud enough for
the neighbors to hear. The poodle next door began to yip.
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.
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
"Such great what?" Molly barked.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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,
"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.
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