Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No. 289 – If Anyone Falls

Performer: Stevie Nicks
Songwriters: Stevie Nicks, Sandy Stewart
Original Release: The Wild Heart
Year: 1983
Definitive Version: None.

The summer of 1983 was big for several reasons. One of them was that I took Beth to Torch Lake for the first time. I’d always loved Torch Lake, so to have a girlfriend there with me for the first time was exciting, even though I knew nothing would come of it from a consummation standpoint. (We were still months away from that blessed event.)

Even were Beth to suddenly flash the green light, we wouldn’t have had much opportunity anyway. We explicitly were kept segregated in the evening. Beth and Jin stayed in the Little House at the top of the hill with Meem and Pop; Scott and I stayed on the sleep porch in the Big House by the lake with Dad and Laura.

This led to an amusing series of events, several of which I learned third hand. Beth and I drove separately from everyone else, and we arrived long after everyone else, so Jin was in bed. When Beth arrived and turned on the lights to the room, Jin just groaned, “Oh my God” and pulled the pillow over her face.

I left them to their devices and went downstairs. Later that night, apparently Beth awoke Jin with fretful news. “Jinni, I think I hear a bear outside.” Jin listened and heard nothing more than my grandfather sawing logs as only he could. Yes, my grandfather was a famously cacophonous snorer. “That’s just my grandfather,” Jin said before grunting back to sleep.

The next morning, Beth, an early riser, jumped up out of bed to get dressed and greet the new day and urged Jin to do the same. Jin just picked up the clock on the table in between the two twin beds. “Oh my God,” she groaned before setting down the clock. “My brother sure knows how to pick ’em.”

I did, indeed, and I was proud to show off Beth. At the yacht club during Sunday dinner back then, there was a tradition of introducing guests. After being told of this, Beth didn’t take keenly to the idea. I assured her it wasn’t a big deal, that all she had to do was stand up, smile and wave. You don’t have to actually do anything. Pretend you’re your idol, Princess Di.

The fateful day came, but for the first time that I could remember, the dinner emcee didn’t ask for guests. Beth looked at me with some relief. Dodged a bullet on that one. We hiked out to the lake to hunt for stones. As we did, we heard the emcee back on the P.A. “Oh … do we have any guests this weekend?” Beth and I sprinted down the boardwalk.

We lucked out, but Beth wasn’t so lucky the rest of the day. We spent a lot of time out on the motorboat and Beth got horrific sunburn. I burn easily, and Beth’s skin was fairer than mine, and because we both were young and dumb, we didn’t wear sunscreen, or at least much. She didn’t complain that day, but the next day when we left, she was starting to turn purple. Her Mom was beside herself when she saw Beth, and she wasn’t very pleased with me for letting her get to that point. Honestly, I had no idea it was as bad as it was. Beth never blamed me.

She also never blamed Scott for being a careless twerp. Of course, she didn’t have to, because I nearly killed him. I don’t think I ever was as mad at him as I was the day Beth and I left for home.

By this time, Meem’s lungs had deteriorated enough so she had trouble going up and down the steps from the lake to the Little House, which is where she and my grandfather spent their summer. As a remedy, that summer, or maybe the one before, my grandfather bought her a golf cart—The Meem Machine—to help her to take the hill.

Naturally, this became a toy for the kids, too, particularly those too young to drive a real car. Scott was behind the wheel of The Meem Machine all the time. And what’s more fun than driving The Meem Machine as fast as possible down the hill at Torch Lake out over the front lawn? Exactly. Nothing. By the time you hit the bottom of the hill before entering the front lawn, you were flying.

Well, the day Beth and I left, Scott wanted to pilot Beth on her maiden Meem Machine run down the hill. For reasons known only to him, instead of making the big circle around the pine grove in front of the Big House, Scott decided to cut the corner.

The result was the abrupt maneuver tossed Beth out of the Meem Machine on her head—in full view of a horrified me. I still can see her tumbling out of the cart with a shriek. I sprinted over. She was a little shaken up but fine. Scott was similarly shaken, perhaps because I put the fear of God into him after I was sure that Beth was OK.

All things considered, I was amazed that Beth ever wanted to go back to Torch Lake, but she did. The next year we had a particularly epic visit, but that’s a story for another time.

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