2019-01-09 / Editorial


Diana Royal

I was five and I didn’t care that I had to use binoculars. I climbed all those stairs at the Civic Center happily, stopping every couple of feet to turn around and ask my mama if we were close to our seats yet.

I’d been to the venue before for Sesame Street and Disney on Ice productions, but this was my first concert. I puffed my chest out when Mama told me we were going and whispered to my little cousin, “No babies allowed” whenever adults were out of earshot.

From the nosebleed seats, I stared in amazement as the first act hit the stage – an awkward-looking white man with an afro-ish mullet who was accompanied by giant dancing Mr. Potatoheads. I was familiar with Weird Al’s “I’m Fat” because I was raised on Michael Jackson, but I never knew his other songs were satire. I thought “Addicted to Spuds” and “Like a Surgeon” were total hits, and I guess they really were, in their own way, but I was oblivious to the fact that they were spoofs of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” Little did I know that years later he would put his Yankovic spin on one of the greatest rap songs of the nineties – Gangsta’s Paradise – and draw in a whole new crowd of followers.

After Weird Al finished his gig, I remember grabbing the binoculars and scanning the stage over and over in anticipation; it was almost time. I was in the same state and same building, sharing the same bubble of air with the most handsome men I’d ever laid eyes on. Even as a youngster, I knew what love was. One of them in particular would someday become my husband.

The spotlight made a clicking noise as it lit up a trio of guys at center stage, and the crowd started screaming. I squinted through the binoculars. Wiped the lenses. Squinted again. Wiped my eyes. Tried a third time.

“Mama, who are those old men down there?” I inquired, frustrated that she hadn’t told me there was another opening act before my boys would sing.

“Diana, that’s them. That’s the Monkees. That short man right there is Davy Jones,” Mama said, pointing and smiling a huge, proud smile.

I’m pretty sure at that moment I did a complete Exorcist move, all but the split pea soup and that was only because I’d been so excited I couldn’t eat before the show.

My sweet-faced, shiny-haired, shaggy-eyebrowed, bell bottomwearing Davy had been replaced by an old dude in lose linen pants and a button-up shirt I’d seen my papa wear. He was old enough to be my father; he was old enough to be my mama’s father!

I was stuck in a realm where I could not comprehend what was happening. He was not the same guy on the television or the one on my posters. He was not the one who crooned “Daydream Believer” and made me wish I were a homecoming queen; if Davy Jones would sing to me like he did sleepy Jean, I wanted to be whatever kind of queen that was.

Mama realized what had happened and tried to explain/break the news to me.

“Honey, that TV show you watch is from the sixties. This is the eighties, and those guys have grown up. That was twenty years ago.”

My face asked the question I couldn’t find the words for. “So you mean to tell me the Davy Jones I’m in love with, the Davy Jones I climb up on the stepstool to kiss on the TV every night before bed, doesn’t exist?”

I cried – those big, uncontrollable tears that make your bottom lip quiver.

That’s the night I learned what a rerun was, and Nick-at-Nite was forever changed.

I wasn’t ready.

Davy’s voice, however, hadn’t changed a bit, and once they got going, I accepted the betrayal, even if just a tad. I still didn’t want a t-shirt, but I did let Mama buy me a pin with Davy’s face (the one that existed only in my memory) on it.

He was my first love.

No wonder I find myself so disappointed nowadays.

If Davy Jones couldn’t live up to Davy Jones, how can anyone else ever compare?

I still have nightmares.

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