Remembering March 16, 1972
I want to do something productive while isolated at home during the Coronavirus outbreak. Instead of incessantly searching the Web for facts and statistics, which only ramps up the black shadow of panic, I have been cleaning out cabinets and dusty cupboards. The chore certainly makes the hours quickly pass, but when I uncovered a concert program from March 16, 1972 I was reminded I was long overdue to do a personal inventory.
I was a shy, awkward sixteen year old kid on March 16, 1972. Though impending nuclear war, sexual liberation and the hippy counterculture movement were big issues of the day, they hardly registered in my thoughts. All I could concentrate on March 16, 1972 was my bad case of unrequited love.
I went to the hairdresser, donned a beautiful, blue velvet dress and struggled to get my make-up perfect. The flurry of excitement was because on I had tickets to a Richard Harris concert. I would finally have the opportunity to meet my hero in person.
Or so I thought. When I told anyone that Richard Harris was my favorite actor, they always responded, “Richard Who?” So I was totally unprepared that the concert hall was packed with adoring fans. My seat was close to the stage, but not close enough. With all these crazy fans, how was I going to get close enough to talk with my hero?
I was entranced for the next couple of hours. Between the showing of film clips from his movies and singing songs from his albums, Richard Harris sat on the edge of the stage and told amusing stories about growing up in Ireland and his road to becoming an actor. Time that night flew by in an incandescent blur.
Luckily, my older sister was with me. Shirley was an expert concert goer and was ready to act when the performance was coming to an end. “Let’s see if we can catch him going out the backdoor.”
Of course her plan was too simple. I recall a maze of brightly lit corridors crammed with teenagers jumping up and down. Some brandished signs with clever sayings in attempts to catch their idol’s attention. I had never considered doing or creating anything to draw his attention. In fear of bodily harm, Harris made a mad dash from a sea of surging humanity and escaped for the parking lot. A large, black limousine had pulled up to the curb to whisk him away. He could have escaped to safety, but for some strange reason he hesitated.
I have never figured out why, but at just the right moment the craziness seemed to dissipate and break apart. A path opened and led me directly into my hero’s path.
Richard Harris turned to me, opened his hand and offered to sign the concert program I tightly clasped at my chest. I found the presence of mind to hand him the program and he signed it with a grand flourish of his pen. Then he smiled directly at me. At me! I smiled back. He seemed a little amused by my inability to speak. He leaned over and kissed my cheek. Only then did he get in the car and escape from his screaming fans.
Such an amazing kindness shown to an awkward kid in bad need of something good to happen in her life. Richard Harris truly was my hero that night.
Instead of concentrating on the mayhem of the pandemic swirling around me this March 16, I choose to focus on the good memory of a very busy person took a moment to show kindness to a shy kid.
That kid grew up. She did not get blown up by a nuclear bomb back in 1972. She had a great life, no matter the disasters and hardships that confronted her.
Perhaps in March 2020, just like that night long ago, the craziness will dissipate and break apart at just the right moment. A path will open and lead the world in the right direction. In the meantime, we should hesitate and show kindness to one another. Hold the door open when a frantic soul with the overfilled buggy races from a department store. Share your hand wipes. Smile and wave at your six foot distance from your neighbor. Take time to live life at an intimate one-on-one level. Only then will the disasters and craziness of this world not seem so big that they can overwhelm us.