Any woman who shared a life with an older brother can tell you that there were "moments" during those years that were not always transported from the Hollywood set of the Danny Thomas Show. But, in between the shin kicks and the day you came home to a viewing of your home movies in which you were the little naked five year old star, there were some very choice times. Those were the times when your big brother brought a real-life Ricky Nelson home from the ninth grade to play pool in your basement "rumpus room". Those days by far outweighed the times when your brother tormented you by repeating every word you said....without stopping.....for hours.
I had only one big brother. He was charismatic, smart and very ahead of his time. He attracted friends like flies in a jar of honey. Everybody loved Paul (I know how Raymond's brother felt) and our home provided an endless stream of cute boys and daydreams for little sister.
This is a true story. One of my favorites. I tell it a lot and I love it.
One day, my brother came home with a new acquaintance. He was a friend of his buddies, the Walsh boys of Valhalla. "Liz" Walsh became my friend and up until the time that we met, she was known as" Betty Lou". I changed that and she's never gone back. She had seven brothers and two sisters and spent a lot of time at our house as did her own older brother Bobby, my brother's best friend .
Billy. Tall, lean, dark hair, light skin and two of the hugest and most wide open sky- blue eyes that you have ever seen. Holden Caulfield? The Great Gatsby? Definitely not in our league but my pal Janet and I accepted a ride in his car that first day he came around. It was a big car, probably his father's. They lived in Scarsdale. We were so impressed but not as impressed as we were by Billy's driving skills. He was the first person we ever knew who could turn his head, looking into the backseat as he drove. Very beatnik. Those big blue eyes were right on our plates and we were gone. There was something very unique about that face and the mysterious owner. Way cool. Suave and sophisticated. Driving the car and talking to the girls in the back seat. Full attention. Amazing.
Well, Janet was a real cutie. Boys took one look at her and off they were to the moon with a one way ticket. Big brown eyes. Big blue eyes. He liked her. He came back again another day. This time, he came with his own car, a little black M.G. The picture of perfection was now complete. Once again, Janet was there, at our house, filled with all the hope and desire a fourteen year old could allow herself to muster up in the sixties. In other words, she was "smitten"......and I think he took her for a ride in his car while I stayed behind, wishing I was Janet.
Nothing ever came of this little romance. It was amazingly short-lived. I'm not even sure that Janet has any recollection of it. I don't think we've ever talked about it and I really must remember to ask her the next time I see her. Billy came, Billy wowed, Billy left and we both figured we'd never see him again. I don't know if he shared words with the big brown eyed love struck Janet. Maybe there was a chaste little kiss before he ran off. We were, after all, just kids. We've grown up now, all of us but for me, well Billy will be seventeen forever.
For the rest of the world, he would grow up to become Billy Collins, the Poet Laureate of the United States. I just knew by his driving that he was different and special and I have every one of his books of poetry to prove it. Who knows, maybe there's one about my friend Janet somewhere in his collection.
For now, here's my current favorite........Someone else in his life is seventeen.