Monday, November 22, 2004

I Honestly Love Her

I am so in love it hurts. I never thought I'd ever say it, but it's true. I am totally, completely, absolutely head over heels in love.

Olivia Newton-John has been one of my favorite performers since I was a kid. My uncle Randy had given my brother and me a hand-me down stereo system, consisting of an AM/FM radio and an 8-track tape player which could play "regular" tapes too. (Yes, I'm that old. But for the record, I never owned a turntable.) Because he no longer had an 8-track player (he was upgrading to, I presume, a system with a better tape player), he gave us all of his 8-track tapes as well. Not many, and not many that I really cared about, but....

One of the cassettes he provided was If You Love Me Let Me Know by the aforementioned goddess of the recorded voice. It instantly became one of my favorite 8-tracks. One of Olivia's earlier works, there was a great sampling of country music in there, as well her now-classic "I Honestly Love You." I do wish I could somehow find this album on CD -- or perhaps get hold of an 8-track player to play the tape again -- because I still have the words memorized.

Another of the 8-tracks we were bequeathed was the soundtrack to Grease. I don't remember now if I had seen the movie before or after getting addicted to the soundtrack. I certainly know now that for the first few hundred times I saw Grease, I was clearly too young to pick up on the plethora of subtle sex comments interspersed through the movie. To this day, every time I watch the movie again I pick up innuendo I hadn't picked up on before.

But the point of all this is that I had fallen "hopelessly devoted" to Olivia Newton-John early on in my tender childhood. Her voice was captivating and mesmerizing, her beauty timeless. Having also seen her in interviews, or on random celebrity profiles (before they became de rigeur on cable "music" channels), I came to realize that Olivia is also a truly wonderful person outside her music: she's battled breast cancer, she's served a United Nations goodwill ambassador, and she's simply a delightful woman, sweet and personable.

This weekend she performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Baltimore being under an hour away from D.C., I could not pass up this opportunity. (Special kudos to my buddy Andy for noting her arrival and ordering the tickets!) Could not pass up the chance to see my idol live.

Andy scored some kick-ass seats. We were literally five rows from the front of the stage, albeit on the left side rather than dead center. But it was close enough. We got to see Olivia in all her beauty strutting her stuff in front of a packed concert hall. At 56, the woman is still as gorgeous as ever -- and I am not exaggerating. I don't believe she's ever had surgery, but she is as youthful and energetic as ever.

Keep in mind, again, I have worshipped this woman for literally decades now. Andy and I both agree that she is phenomenally talented. Further superlatives fail me, I love her so much. Andy and I had met over the Internet several years ago, and one of the things that made us as close as we've become is our mutual love for Olivia, among other pop stars whom others are view as too embarassing to acknowledge.

So there I was, watching my goddess incarnate spin her magic on stage in front of me. And I started to choke back the tears. I had to hold them back if for no other reason than I knew if I started crying I wouldn't be able see my woman clearly, and by golly I was going to keep my eye trained on her. (Well, except that her guitarist was actually quite hot, so my eye wandered from time to time. Yummy.)

Before I started to going to concerts put on by some of my favorite performers of all time, I had not been able to understand why those stupid little teenage girls would sob and go crazy in front of, say, the Backstreet Boys. I truly understand now what a moving experience it is to be performed to by your idol. (Although, to my credit, my idol worship has encompassed several decades of cultivation, unlike any moments inspired by flash-in-the-pan boy bands.)

By the end of the night, I couldn't hold back, and I was in fact, crying. And I couldn't stop. And I found that I didn't want to. It was the happiest I had been in a long time. Andy laughed at me, 'cause here's me, great big smile on my face, tears staining my cheeks, and still more on their way.

Andy and I seriously contemplated returning to Baltimore the next day for her last performance in the city, but eventually decided we weren't able to make it. Besides, I think I would have been emotionally drained had we attempted it.

Had I had a chance to speak with her, I possibly would have asked her to marry me. I Love Her. I Honestly Love Her.


Matthew said...

This is great. I used to have a big-time crush on Olivia Newton-John when I was a kid, too. I remember telling my mom that we needed to go see her, so that her & I could get married. Mom said that I was too young. I said I would wait. Then she said that by the time I was an adult, she'd be too old for me, and I wouldn't want her.

This didn't dissuade me for at least another... 6 months or so. Heh.

Dennis! said...

Okay, now see, my crush did not pass after six months. My crush on ONJ survived my coming-out process. And now I am an adult, and she is over 20 years older than I am, and yet, I would still marry her.

I can't tell if I'm just obsessed, or stuck in some stunted adolescence or what, but I do so love her.