Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-A Misstep- With Elvis’s That’s When Your Heartache Begins In Mind

The Roots Is The Toots: The Music That Got The Generation Of ’68 Through The 1950s Red Scare Cold War Night-A Misstep- With Elvis’s That’s When Your Heartache Begins In Mind

That's When Your Heartaches Begin" was written by Fisher, Fred / Raskin, William / Hill, William.

If you find your sweetheart in the arms of a friend
That's when your heartaches begin
When dreams of a lifetime must come to an end
That's when your heartaches begin
Love is a thing you'd never can share
When you bring a friend into your love affair
That's the end of your sweetheart
That's the end of your friend
That's when your heartaches begin
If you find your sweetheart
In the arms of your best friend, your brother
That's, that's when your heartaches begin
And you know, when all your dreams
When all your dreams of a lifetime
Must, must all come to an end
Yeah that's, that's when your heartaches begin
Oh, you see love is a thing that
That you never can share
And you know, when you bring a friend
Into your love affair
That's the end of your sweetheart
That's the end of your friend
Well, that's when your heartaches begin

…Laura Simpson and Fiona Sims were inseparable friends from that first day in ninth grade at North Adamsville High School in 1960 when due to the vagaries of the alphabet and homeroom class row seating rules they sat one in front of the other in Miss Williams’ home room class. Maybe it meant nothing in the great mandela of things but neither Laura , named after the title of the 1940s film noir thriller Laura starring Gene Tierney which her mother had seen three times  nor Fiona, named after great stonewall cottage Irish Fionas going back a few generations, liked their first names and that had been their first substantial conversation once they left Miss Williams’ convent-like homeroom and got a chance to talk in the second-floor girls’  “lav” that had been beyond memory set aside as the freshmen girls’ lav (others might enter as needed depending on urgency and no one would have crabbed if they had used other lavatories in the building but that was acknowledged freshman girls’ headquarters. Oh, wait a minute, they and sophomore girls as well, were not permitted under penalty of death in the fourth floor junior and senior girls’ lounge, not if they wanted to live to tell the tale since those girls guarded their prerogative as fiercely as anyone).       

[This Miss Williams as both Laura and Fiona would be the first to tell you once they had completed four years of her home room craziness had been a Miss for a reason, not so much because she was one of the plainest women in America and wore no make-up to wash away some of that plainness but because she demanded, demanded do you hear, that everybody be absolutely quiet in homeroom, homeroom for chrissake. It was not until years later when the winds changed in a more confessional age that these young women found out that as a result of her own youthful indiscretion Miss Williams had secretly befriended many girls, some known to them, who had gotten in “trouble,” gotten “in the family way” and she had helped them out. Sometime somebody from North Adamsville should write that story, write it in big letters too.] 

So Laura and Fiona sat next to each other and sensed in each other that subtle fear of the unknown that every, or almost every, freshman has felt since, well, since Socrates’ time, maybe before. So they sought shelter from the storms together, and later with a small coterie of other adrift teen girls who gathered round them when those other girls sensed that they were not alone in their angst and ignorance and that Laura and Fiona seemed to have a better grip on what ailed them collectively. Why they also had that subtle fear but this story is about Fiona and Laura so we will let that latter settle in the background. And of course since they were teenage girls they all were bothered by the same set of anxiety associations that have bothered teenage girls since about sixteen hundred or whenever teen-age hood was developed. You know about boys, about their fearsome sexual appetites and cunning ways to get nice girls in compromising situations, about expectations in being girls getting ready to be wives, mothers, helpmates and every other menial task that his lordship “delegated” to them, about getting recognized for serious achievement in a male-dominated world, especially the professional world where there were few role models but where they wanted to head, about sex, not the boy part, that they had down as well as could be expected, but what to do about those raging hormones that were causing them sleepless nights without “getting in the family way,” having to go to Aunt Ella’s for the duration.

We moreover are concerned not so much with Laura and Fiona’s high school days except to note that is where their huddled friendship started and to note some of the highlights that strengthened their friendship, not always in good ways but who knows maybe in not so bad ways. You know getting through that first few months of freshman year in one piece in an anonymous big high school environment after the incubator closeness of junior high school, preparing for that first school dance, that first high school dance where they got all dressed up, bought new shoes and all, and doubled-dated two older guys from the school, two seniors who were known around school as nothing but skirt-chasers but who had a car and both girls decided to fling caution to the wind if it came to that (it did and they did although keep that to yourself since they both had reputations in freshman year of being “unapproachable,” meaning in the language of the times virginal), latter getting caught up with each other’s single date sexual escapades what with little trysts down at the secluded end of old Adamsville Beach (the Squaw Rock end where only teenagers trended, no nosey cops, no ill-disposed families with children to spoil the mood), then senior year after both got accepted to the state university the few wild parties they attended before graduation where when drunk they got carried away with some unusual behavior, for them, which maybe foretold what might happen in the future. That last set of escapades included an exchange of boyfriends, not those long gone seniors from freshman year but fellow seniors, for the night on a lark (those boyfriend who were more than willing to go along, did not have to be coaxed into doing that task).

Both later said nothing had happened with the other’s boyfriend, noting sexual anyway, and maybe nothing did, but a very slight wariness set in between them after that night, especially on Laura’s part who was somewhat possessive of her men. (Later Ben one of the boyfriends, Laura’s, bragged about how he could hardly keep up with Fiona’s urges  once he got her into bed but that was in the Monday morning jock locker room talkfest and could be discounted as so much bravado, and has been since Socrates’ time, maybe before.) But that was a mere bump in the road for both were excited about finally graduating and heading away from home and on their own (this getting away from home was epidemic among the early 1960s young including the writer so he knows how important learning to fly on their own was to Fiona and Laura). Moreover having both grown up on the “wrong side of the tracks” (although in different sections of that wrong side) with tough family lives including drunken fathers they were more than ready to move on.      

Duly noting those high school experiences, for good or evil, we are rather more concerned with their young adulthood, the time when in 1964 and later they came of age, came to able to carry on their own affairs after leaving home for college, the state university at Amherst with all its possibilities and with all its anonymousness. One thing that both Fiona and Laura had agreed on after graduation from high school was that they would start college unattached. And they did so shedding their boyfriends, their lukewarm boyfriends by August when they went up to freshman orientation and dorm selection (they had already signed up as roommates). (Those boyfriends, Ben and Alex,  by the way who maybe were or maybe were not sorry for the break-ups but one wonders whether they were left unhappy about that future of no prospects of being exchanged on a lark. We will never know since we are following Laura and Fiona and the boys’ whereabouts were unknown when this story unfolded.) When the big day came they were both excited, excited to be on their own, excited that that subtle fear that both felt, felt as every, well almost every, freshman, has felt since, well, since about Socrates’ time, if not before would find them with a known kindred spirit when the hugeness and anonymousness of the place got to them.
This tale however is not about surviving in an alien environment with a cluster of friends or some sociological study about the mores of 1960s youth and their reactions to the jailbreak wave that was cresting over them with newfound liberties and freedoms (for a while anyway) that earlier generations could not dream of but rather about how a firm female friendship got blown to the four winds when one of the friends got her wanting habits on. As one might figure with young women away from home (or men, for that matter), consciously unattached, and with broods of males everywhere one looked that two good-looking, smart, adventuresome young women would have no trouble finding male company. They didn’t lack for company or invitations to frat parties and other bashes. Didn’t suffer that lack from that first Freshman Mixer when they again like some high school deja vu double-dated two fellow freshman from one of their classes (College Math) whom they met after class in the dorm cafeteria where the guys worked behind the counter and they “hit” on the two most beautiful girls in any of their classes they said through to a couple of serious affairs, one by Fiona with a married man, until the time of this part of the story junior year.

Fiona tended to be flirty and, well, not monogamous. Laura somewhat the opposite, although that usually depended on whether she had a steady boyfriend or not. At the time we are talking about, junior year, Laura did have a steady boyfriend, Lance Taylor, a senior at Williams, located some miles up the road, who planned to go to graduate school, and who had plans, sketchy plans, that involved marriage to Laura at some future point. Laura having met Lance at the Art Museum out in Williamstown while doing a project for her graphic arts design class, assumed that same thing, except hungrier for security, her plans were far from sketchy as she practically had them in that proverbial white house with picket fence, three kids, and two dogs. And so she dreamed. Now this Lance, naturally, as with all guys named Lance or so it seemed was good-looking, smart, came from some money (important to working-class town Laura) and was a go-getter. Just the things that Fiona found appealing as well. So anytime Lance showed up at their dorm room and she was around she would get very flirty with old Lance. Laura had to warn her off a couple of times but Fiona dismissed her concerns as nonsense that she was just having fun with her new “brother-in-law.”

Things settled down for a while until toward the end of junior year Laura took a trip to Boston in order to interview for a senior year internship with an advertising company to spice up her graphic arts resume. She had expected (and Fiona had too) to take three days for the trip but the firm after the first interview decided to take her on as an intern and she headed back early. (People who know knew she was an exceptional up-and-coming graphic artist and that proved true later before she gave it up for marriage and kids.)

Well, you already know the rest, and if you don’t you really haven’t been paying attention, Laura caught Lance and Fiona in flagrante in their dorm room. You also know that was the end of the long friendship between Fiona Sims and Laura Simpson. What you don’t know is this-ten years, ten long years later at their high school class reunion, Laura Taylor, Lance in tow (the details of their after dorm reconciliation need not concern us here except that somehow Lance convinced Laura that Fiona had “made” him do it which for her own white picket fence reasons Laura was willing to accept)not even drunk but cold stone sober, tossed a drink, a whiskey sour, down the length of Fiona Sims shiny shimmy dress and then walked out of the hall. Jesus.                         

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