Dreams of Taylor

by

06/18/2013

Neighborhood: Midtown

Dreams of Taylor
Photo by Yogma

The term ‘generation gap’ was coined during the tumultuous Post WWII years, as the focus of the American media swung from the conquerors of the Axis Powers to their spawn, the Baby Boomers.

Bing Crosby gave way to Elvis and the King was deposed by the Beatles, as each succeeding wave of teenagers attempted to assassinate the influence of the previous generation and I find myself adrift in a sea of ignorance when it comes to popular culture.

My last landfall was Nirvana.

The year was 1991, so I was surprised when my nephew called from U Penn in the Spring of 2010 with a request to meet Taylor Swift.

“Huh?” It’s the only Neanderthal word to survive their extinction.

“Uncle Bubba, don’t tell me you have no idea who Taylor Swift is?” My nephew’s voice was rimed with youthful pity.

“Let me guess. She’s not a go-go dancer?” I once knew everything about pop culture. 

“No.” Franka had little patience with the old. His father had a year on me.

“A porn starlet?” I was a fan of Sasha Grey.

“Bubba?”

“Wait a second. She’s a country singer.” I recalled seeing her face on the cover of PEOPLE magazine at the 711 checkout rack. She was a young lovely blonde and I probably would have fallen in love with Taylor Swift when I was as young as Franka. “She’s pretty.”

“More beautiful than pretty.” My nephew congratulated my celebrity acumen.

“But why are you calling me to meet her?”

“Because you have connections.”

“I do?” Even my dealers had given up on me.

“Yes, you do. Who got me into Penn?” He had been on the waiting list for the pre-med school.

“You did with your grades.” He had been the best student at a New England prep school.

“After you made a phone call to an old friend.” He was accepted the next day.

“Schools are easier to conquer than a young woman’s heart.”

“But your friend works at Saturday Night Live and she’s playing there in October after a show at the Garden. I already have tickets for that.” He must have memorized her tour dates.

“I can get us into the show.” Kleith had been a mainstay at SNL since the 70s. He and I had played softball on the Milk Bar team. His wife was my good friend. One of us had driven in the winning run of a midnight game two decades ago. Neither of us could remember who had scored that evening.

“And you can introduce me to Taylor there?”

“Franka, I’m a nobody.” I was hoping that my nephew remembered the Emily Dickinson poem.

“No, you’re Uncle Bubba.” He wasn’t allowing me to be a nobody.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

That evening I Googled Taylor Swift. She was huge. Her shows sold-out across the country. She exhausted famous boyfriends in heartbeats. Franka didn’t stand a chance, but the next day I phoned Kleith to get seats for her autumn show.

“No one’s ever called me this far in advance.”

“It’s for family.”

“Okay, you have first dibs on that show.”

I called Franka and told him the news.

“You’re the best Bubba.”

“Don’t expect me to remember this.”

“I’ll be your memory.” His interest in the country western singer would have been spooky in any other person, but my nephew was too cool to be a stalker.

I hung up, remembering my juvenile fascination with Francoise Hardy. Her PREMIERE BONNE DU JOUR remained a French classic along with LE TEMP D’AMOUR. In the 80s, I met her at a dinner in the 13e arrondisement. At 40 she was ravisssant. Her husband, Jacques, smoked a cigar. The French pop star thought that he was a genius. Selling a couple of million records of ET MOI ET MOI ET MOI can blow up your head.

That summer I traveled to Thailand and I forgot about Taylor Swift. My wife was the only vixen in my life and I never cheated on Mam in deed or thought.

I returned to New York in September and I worked selling diamonds 47th Street.

Some days I had success. 

Others were complete failure.

No one was keeping score.

My cell phone rang in late-October.

“Uncle Bubba.” It was Franka. He had not forgotten my pledge. “What about those tickets for Saturday Night Live. Taylor Swift is playing Madison Square Garden next week. She’s going to be the host on SNL.”

“Kleith said I was golden.” We hadn’t spoken since the summer.

“The art director.” We went back to a softball victory over the Upper West Side’s best team in 1987. He was ten years younger than me. His latest award was an Emmy. Franka was supposed to be studying medicine.

“Can you get us tickets to next week’s show? Taylor Swift is the host.”

“Let me call Kleith.”
“I expected to get blown off, but the show’s art director was a man of his word.

“One hitch. I don’t have seat for you.”
“Shit.” Getting tickets to the show was tough. Taylor Swift was in demand. Kanye West almost shouted her off the stage of the MTV awards. White outrage translated into sales. She was everyone’s girl.

“But you can hang out back stage with me and my son.”

“Cool.” His oldest son was one of my proteges. Radwood was a big Cult fan.

“You don’t really want to watch the show, do you?” The art director realized I was happy to sit backstage.

“Only certain sections. Like the opening.” It was the best part of the show. If it sucked, then the rest of the show sucked too.

His job granted me wandering rights to SNL. My nephew was happy with this option, since the odds of his meeting Taylor Swift were greater in the working area than the third seat on the farthest right.

“What should I say when I meet her?” Franka actually believed that he was on a star-crossed rendezvous.

“Just be natural.” This was good advice. Not great. Only good.

I mentioned the show to my older brother. He was not too happy about Franka’s coming to see me. It was parents’ weekend at Penn. Tuition was 30K.

“Franka should be studying.”

“I agree with you, but he’s over 18.”

“And I’m his father.”

My older brother left the decision to see the show with Franka.

His mother called to say ‘don’t disappoint my son’. She knew how much seeing Taylor Swift meant to Frank and I was beginning to feel the pressure.

The day of the show Franka took the bus up from Phillie. He saw the concert at MSG. We met in front of Rockefeller Center. I explained to him about being back stage. “Be there but don’t be in anyone’s way. Don’t say nothing to anyone, unless they say something first.”

We were waved through the barriers at 30 Rock. Our names were on the list. The art director’s son waited for us at the elevator. I introduced Radwood to my nephew. Franka blurted out his desire to meet Taylor Swift.
Radwood understood the situation. He was 18. They were of the same generation. Nothing they said made any sense to me and I wondered if they had been abducted by aliens. Upstairs I retreated inside the offices for the opening.

Franka needed this moment alone and I was giving it to him as long as he was with Radwood. He found me backstage with a glass in my hand. Radwood’s father was familiar with my needs.

“How was it?”

“It was awesome. You made my year. I might not have met her, but she walked a foot away from me.” Franka grinned like a paparazzi finally capturing a photo of a reclusive celebrity. “She was so cool. She even smiled at me.”

“Good.” I had watched most of the show on a monitor.

Taylor Swift smiled a lot. She had a pretty smile. Most 20 year-old beautiful country-western sensations are lucky that way. Radwood’s father proposed that we head over to the after-show party at Oceania, a restaurant not far from Rockefeller Center.

“Can we go?” Franka was enthused by the possibility of seeing his obsession another time. He also had a schoolmate in SNL on the show. Jenny Slate had been funny that night.

It was past my bed hour. I had less than $20 in my pocket. There was only one answer.

“Sure.”

The party was filled with show members, guests, and friends of the crew. I only knew Radwood’s father. He was speaking with the music director of MTV. I had nothing to add to their conversation and wandered out back to the table farthest from the action with a beer in my hand. Franka had one too. Radwood too. We sat down and Franka recapped his evening to Kleith’s son, then I saw the two boys’ eyes light up like they had sat on a fire.

Taylor Swift was coming our way. She sat down at the table next to us. She was right next to me. She was speaking with Jenny Slate. The trial member of the cast waved to Franka. She remembered him from Milton Academy. Taylor was having trouble with her cell phone.

“Maybe I can help.” This was his chance and I gave him the green light.

Franka fixed the problem and spoke with Taylor for two seconds. I heard him ask for a photo. I took out the camera in my pocket. Her security saw it in my hand. I had to act fast. The first shot was a little out of focus. The second was perfect.

“I loved your show. Best wishes for your success.” I told the star, as her bodyguards assumed their protective shield.

“Thank you.” Her smile wasn’t fake and I had liked her performance. Franka was in heaven. We went to find Radwood’s father. Kleith was ready to head back to Brooklyn.

Franka was good to go too.

He had accomplished his mission.

In the morning I made him breakfast.

“I don’t know how I can go back to Penn and lead a normal life after last night.”

“I don’t know either, but you will find a way.”

“Thanks, Uncle Bubba.”

“No problem.” I had only done what men nicknamed Uncle Bubba are supposed to do.

Come through with the impossible.

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§ One Response to “Dreams of Taylor”

  • tsb says:

    Uncle Bubba, the Diamond Dealer. Nice piece. Readers should check out Smith’s Diamond dealer diary on this site.

§ Leave a Reply

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