“Are you going to the prom?” a high school friend asked me on a warm May afternoon in 1966.
In the background, Brian Wilson’s perfect falsetto crooned, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” It made me think of my boyfriend, Ricky, at the time. We were hot teens and I was a good Catholic girl.
“Not this one,” I replied, hinting disappointment. It was my own senior prom.
“Can’t you bring Ricky?” my friend asked.
I thought about our last date at the local drive-in. His Corvette had bucket seats. Virginity intact. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older and then we wouldn’t have to wait so long…”
“He’s taking me to his high school prom, so I’m cool.”
At my high school seniors had prom-day off, so this California girl made a Zuma Beach date with another California boy instead of a date for her prom. “I wish they all could be California Girls…the West Coast has the sunshine and the girls all get so tan…” refrained radio KRLA’s Beach Boys music marathon hour.
WAIT A MINUTE!!!! Brian Wilson’s 70?
Cruising through Malibu Canyon in my first car and singing “…and she’ll have fun, fun, fun, till her daddy takes her T-bird awaaaay….” I could not comprehend 70 (except for 70 mph). Nor could I have fathomed that on the day Brian Wilson would turn 70, that I would celebrate my granddaughter’s third birthday.
1966 earmarked my endless summer. I loved the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, but the Beach Boys remained my fave along with a new crop of California musicians that spoke our language. Even while Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown, turned into an overweight drug abuser, and ceased public performance, he was the crush I cradled through the years. His music, lyrics, and sound echoed everything I knew and cared about. And by the time “Good Vibrations” hit the airwaves that fall, I knew exactly what that song meant. It’s still my go-to song.
My last post “Blame it On Laguna Beach” sparked summer beach time memories for several readers. Summer loves. Summer tans. Summer heat. Summer music. Summer nights. And for those of us lucky enough to have those histories in California, we know how they influenced us today. California girls are different. This I discovered while living in the heart of New Mexico.
New Mexico’s fantasy sunset awakened the flickering fireflies along the Rio Grande River’s edge. Night hawks soared from cottonwood to cottonwood dodging hungry bats, both in the hunt for unsuspecting flying insects—not something I’d experience on a California beach. Magic infused the sultry air.
It was meant to be a put down, but I took it as a compliment: “You California people just don’t see the world like the rest of us,” declared a neighbor hosting an evening soirée in her garden by the river, after I commented on some environmental issue.
I also heard, “Your house looks like California inside,” “You’ve been here (in New Mexico) for 10 years and you still look and talk like a Californian,” “Don’t worry, you’re just from California…” Huh?
It was a New Yorker who lived in Los Angeles then moved to Santa Fe and became one of the dearest people to me who proclaimed, while we waited for our daily radiation treatment: “You’re a California Girl! I knew that the minute we met. “
Figuratively, I still bob about on the incoming swells of the Pacific Ocean, oblivious to others and their chatter, but so aware of motion and mood. These are the things Brian Wilson wrote about that spoke to the hearts of California girls and boys, and those who wished they could.
Happy Birthday, Brian. Glad you made it out of your room.