Friday, July 18, 2008

The Phrog

It's the middle of July and this time of year reminds of an evening in mid-July, 1971. It was only a couple of weeks after the "birth" of Easy Livin' at Duane's house and we were still scheming on how to carry this through to becoming an actual band.

Meanwhile, we were scoping out the competition (call it doing "market research") by going to various dances held at places like Blarney's Castle on Western Avenue. Another place where dances were held more infrequently was The Phrog in Gardena.

It was one such Saturday night that Duane, David, Rick, Cindy and I headed out to the Phrog to hear Winfield Summit. I imagine either David or I drove since we (our parents, actually) had the largest cars: His, a blue Chevy station wagon that, because of his driving habits, we nicknamed "The Battlewagon." And mine, a 1969 Ford LTD sedan, one behemoth of a ride.

Back then a gallon of gas was 28.9 cents. We'd each chip in enough to buy 10 gallons of gas and that sustained us, even though back then cars were big gas guzzlers that managed about 10 miles to the gallon. And even "small" cars could easily fit five people, generally six, since most had bench, not bucket seats in the front.

Let me say that at the time, I had a crush on Cindy. But being the ridiculously shy person I was, even though we had gone out a few times, I hadn't done anything to make any significant progress with respect to the two of us. But I was happy to be out on a Saturday night with her, and my best buddies were there, too.

The Phrog was not a very large place and there were lots of people there. Lots of smoke, too. JA dances were characterized by a number of people smoking, a number of people drinking, and a number of them doing both trying to look as cool as possible. We did neither of them, nor did we dance; we came to listen to the bands.

As the evening wore on and the haze of cigarette smoke increased, it turned out that David, Rick and I were carrying on a conversation towards the back of the room and it dawned on me that I didn't know what had happened to Duane and Cindy. While we talked, I scanned the room looking for them.

Then all of a sudden I spotted them, sitting on the floor towards the front of the room. Holding hands.

Well, my stomach sank and inside of me was a mix of anger because supposedly Duane was my friend, a sick feeling because here was the girl I had a crush on holding hands with someone else, and embarrassment because it was someone else.

So I did what I normally did in situations like that, I pretended to ignore what was going on. David and Rick eventually spotted them too, but said nothing.

After the dance, we all piled into the car and went to eat somewhere. Duane and Cindy sat in the back of the car, holding hands and I sat in the front, either driving or in the passenger side, I don't remember, but it was in the front. And no one said anything about what was going on.

And that's how it went the rest of the evening, through our late-night snack, the drive back to the 'hood back in Crenshaw, and dropping everyone off.

Through all of this, besides feeling the same feelings as the first time I spied them, I was also wondering about the next morning. Cindy and I were supposed to go super early and T-P (toilet paper) Rick's house. It's something we had planned earlier and had been laughing about, and now with the sudden change in relationships, I was wondering what was supposed to happen. But yet I kept quiet.

Finally, when we were about to drop off Cindy, I asked her if we were still on for the next morning. She said yes, as though there wasn't any question about it, and that was that. I told her I'd pick her up at 6:00 (or some outrageously early time, especially for teenagers like us). She waved goodnight to us and went inside.

And still none of us said anything about what had happened that evening. We may even have gone for another snack, given the way we were back in those days - footloose and fancy free. And sooo Asian, haha..

Sunday morning following the Phrog -- that's another blog post.

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