Sunday, May 9, 2010

(Cafe) La Mama

I wasn't sure how/if this was ever going to be a topic of Lemons. But I managed to find a way to massage it into the mix. Today is Mother's Day. That is the segue. And hey. It's my story to tell, so no rules. I am an Aquarius after all.

The film in my mind scrolls backward. A fast spin to those salad days. frames whiz by. Several months into the autumn of my freshman year at Briarcliff. 1969. A'blaze with color. Dazzling. Leafy, technicolor brilliance showcasing our blooming ingenuity. Fuchsia petals of our burgeoning sensuality fringed in shades of hot pink. Innocent. Expectant.

The evening sky turned purple as the cranberry colored Rolls Royce pulled into the circular drive outside Dow Hall. No heads turned. This was Briarcliff where long haired, nubile ingenues accessorized their Landlubber jeans with Capezio ballet flats, Pucci undies and Gucci belts circling slim hips.

Jorie and I walked gracefully onto the cockle shell driveway. Our Dior overnight bags carefully placed in the boot next to her uncle's Louis Vuitton luggage. We slid primly onto the back seat. Behind the glass partition. Sipping sparkling water from crystal flutes.

A sterling cigarette case slipped through the hinged pass-through. We smiled. Ten perfectly rolled joints sat neatly side by side. Carefully we lifted one and lit it with the silver lighter on the drop down mahogany tray. The sweet pungent blue grey smoke twined gracefully as we drew it deep into our lungs. Paused. Then exhaled. Our minds floated gently above the fray. Away from mid-terms and roommates and house mothers guarding our flowers with strictly enforced parietals. And rules upon rules defining staid and proper loco in parentis guidance.

The village beckoned. Greenwich Village. Where her uncle, Michael Butler, a tall tanned obscenely handsome polo playing producer from Oak Brook, Illinois awaited our arrival from our Westchester County college. His elegant, lanky girlfriend, the Vogue model Minnie Beard, prepared to introduce the young sophisticates to avant-garde, Studio 54, Andy Warhol New York.

We arrived excitedly (and stoned) at the stage entrance of the Biltmore Theater on West 47th. A bearded hippie waist length dreadlocks led us dizzily through the maze of halls past dressing rooms, racks of costumes, last minute makeup and hair. The buzz of actors in various stages of pre-show dress smiled and mimed the scattering of pixie dust in our direction. We ambled through the glittery haze of blue smoke toward the wings of the theatre. I gasped. This was exhilarating in an over-stimulating, over-the-top way. And, I loved it. Alot.

Red velvet seats occupied slowly with patrons of all ages eager to witness the happening. Strains of instruments tuning wafted from the pit in front of the curtainless stage. My heart raced. Flashes of intense colors filled my head. We took our seats fifth row center. Sunk back cocooned by love.

The tribal love rock musical, the first of its genre, live on Broadway. A racially-integrated, counter-culture thumb to the nose aimed at ultra conservative industrial-military politicos wreaking havoc on our innocent, sybaritic selves. A societal revolution. My generation's multi-hued, irreverently staged hippie culture extravaganza replete with full frontal nudity, drug induced, anti-war, pot smoking, acid dropping not-trusting anyone over 30 effete intellectual snobs (to quote our illustrious Veep, Spiro). A psychedelic, theatrical be-in. No pigs allowed.

After the final curtain we headed with the cast and crew to chic, down and dirty Greenwich Village. The Rolls, pungent with sweet marijuana, floated on rain slicked roadways through deep into the bowels of Manhattan. Destination Bowery. Eased onto 4th Street. And glided to a halt in front of Cafe La Mama. Sophisticated, theatre of the absurd. It was well after midnight.

Long limbed Jorie gracefully emerged onto the rain glistened sidewalk. I slid out of the limo. The hems of my black velvet bellbottoms skimming the puddles. We were hurried behind the gold braided ropes into yet another blue hazed room. Flutes of champagne were passed by topless waiters as barely clothed patrons slunk into the pillowed banquettes. A shimmery silver lame curtain slipped erotically to the side of the teeny stage. Tweedledee-dees and dums (or so I thought) sang Chinese opera-style as erhus and ancient instruments kept tempo. My eyelids dropped heavy with the evening.

The sky tinged pink with the new day as we headed north up the Saw Mill River Parkway two days later to leafy Westchester. My mind, and life, inextricably enhanced. Never would I see it the same way. My unconventional journey was in full swing.

Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen. Give me down to there, hair! Shoulder length, longer. Here baby, there mama. Everywhere daddy daddy. Hair!

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