Southside Johnny

Somewhere around the early 80’s Mary spend a summer in New York City. When she came back she handed me a CD titled “Havin’ a Party with Southside Johnny” by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. “Trust me”, she said, “you’re going to love it”. I was skeptical but, well, Mary, so I gave it a listen.

I was in a jazz phase back then. I was listening to a lot of Tom Scott, David Sanborn, Keith Jarrett, Grover Washington Jr., Lee Oskar, and so on. I also listened to rock at the time — Boston, Kansas, The Eagles, etc. The point being, Southside Johnny was a bit of a departure from what I normally listen to.

To keep a short story short, Mary was right. I instantly fell in love with that album to the point where it was just about the only thing I played for months on end.  As I write this, a good 30-plus years later, I’m again listening to it for the umpteenth time. In the interim I’ve bought a few more albums by Southside Johnny, Slow Dance being perhaps my favorite, so she was right about how much I would like the music.

Thanks, Mary, for broadening my horizons way back when.

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Southside Johnny

Mary

Mary was the first girl I truly loved, and there will always be a place in my heart for her. We parted ways many years ago but I will never forget her. There have been many days when I regretted not doing more to keep us together, but from what I can tell she seems to have a happy life and that’s really all I ever wanted for her anyway.

We first became friends because our mothers went to the same church and worked at the same hospital, so we naturally crossed paths many times. Mary wasn’t the first girl I dated, if you can call chaperoned dinners and being driven by your mom a date. Neither was she the first girl I kissed. There were two girls I briefly hung out with before Mary and I became an item. I’ll save their stories for another day. Mary and I had our share of firsts, though. I’ll leave it at that 🙂

I think it was when I was in tenth grade that we first went on a date, after having been friends for a year or two. I honestly don’t remember where we went or what we did. I could even be off by a year. It’s funny how memories change over time.

What I do remember, however, is that we were inseparable for a few years to follow. All through high school and mostly through college we dated, though there were short periods where we would separate before our own personal gravity would pull us back together. Life changes so much in college, I sometimes wonder how anybody can stay together during those years of growing up, testing boundaries, preparing for a career, and so on.

Our final break-up was rather shameful on my part. After graduating nursing school she decided to move to Alaska, and my reaction was along the lines of “Ok, cool”. Not “No! Don’t go!” or “I’ll follow you there!”. I honestly don’t know if I broke her heart over that or not; perhaps our relationship was already on its final down swing.  I would like to know, because if I did break her heart, I want to apologize.

We saw each other a couple times in the years that followed, but eventually we both moved on. She married, divorced, and married again. I got married and divorced. Time marched on. For the record though: Mary, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I was an idiot. I should have dropped everything and followed you. I don’t know if your life would have turned out better with me in it, but I know as sure as the sun will rise that my life would have been better with you.

Mary