Guest Blog: Catherine Ryan Hyde
I’m hesitant to write a blog that will give away how incredibly old I am. But, anyway, here goes.
When I was fifteen, the queen of the music world was Janis Joplin. I adored her. So did my best friend Jerry Siminski. We loved her so much so that we flew standby from Buffalo to New York City to watch her do a taping of The Dick Cavett Show.
During a commercial break, Jerry wrote her a note, inviting her to come over anytime. We were sitting in the balcony. He folded it up, clipped his pen to it, and sailed it down onto the stage. If she’d minded, I’m sure we would have been bounced from the taping. But she thought it was great. She opened it. Read it. Said, “Oh, you rascal.” Then she wrote a note back.
No one will ever know what it said. When she tried to sail it up into the balcony, it hung up in a bank of studio lights.
As she was leaving the taping, Janis demanded that the lighting guy find it for us. But he never did. He tried. But it didn’t turn up.
Jerry was inconsolable. I tried to convince him that he would have other chances. He would see her again. I could not have been more wrong.
I actually saw her again, though. The following morning, waiting alone to fly standby back to Buffalo, I saw her flounce through the airport. Her entourage streamed behind her. So did the many feathers boas she wore. She carried an unlit cigarette in a foot-long holder. Her smile seemed sincere and maybe permanent. I thought she was happy. That she was having fun with her life. Looking back, I’m not so sure.
I should have called her name. Called out something. Maybe just, “Janis.” Maybe, “We love you.” She probably would have blown me a kiss. It would have been a moment I could keep.
It was barely two months later that I heard about her death on the morning news.
If there’s any point to this story, I guess it’s this: Call out. Yell, “We love you.” Lots of things last longer than Janis Joplin. But nothing lasts forever.
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