I’ve kept this autograph since 1969 when I was in junior high, or senior public school as it was known in our neck of the woods. I was one of a trio of girls. Marlene and Deborah were the other two. This was an on-again off-again friendship, not one that would qualify for a Ya-Ya Sisterhood, nor the Traveling Pants sort. More often than not, one of the three was on the outs with the other two. It was usually me. My social skills were… well, let’s just say, they were “in development.” And progress was slow.
When Neil Diamond performed at our local auditorium though, our trio was intact. I wasn’t much up on the hit parade in those days. My friends were however, and they were so excited about his concert I couldn’t help but catch a buzz. Much breathless excitement in the weeks leading up to the show.
I bet that you are thinking that I kept this autograph as a memento of star worship, my first concert, a turning point in my life. It was a turning point, that is certain.
I didn’t go. I never had any intention of going. I made some excuse, laying the blame on my parents. I told my friends that Dad grounded me, or that he changed his mind about letting me go. I cancelled the date out of fear. So many people! So much noise! Far too much for my babe-in-the-woods sensibilities.
Marlene and Deb had Mr. Diamond sign the note paper on my behalf and presented it to me as a consolation.
Originally, I kept the autograph because I was supposed to feel something. That paper was meant to send tingles down my fingertips, to make me swoon the same way my friends did. All I felt was confused. I didn’t get it, this starstruck response.
I mounted the autograph to my cork board. I knew that it deserved to be treated as a cherished memento, so I went through the motions. When I moved to a house of my own I brought it with me, because by now Neil Diamond was a superstar and that’s gotta be worth something, right? If you say so. I tucked it away in a cardboard box which itself was hidden in the attic.
The other day I saw a post on Deirdre’s blog that was illustrated by Neil Diamond’s single hit Shilo. It reminded me of the autograph and why I chose not to attend. I did not go because I was not mature enough or skilled enough socially. That’s part of it. But I also think that the decision to forego the concert was self-preservation, due in part to my preference for small and intimate gatherings and my abhorrence of loud.
As an autograph of a famous person, it means nothing to me. But as token of my need to honour my boundaries, it means everything.
Keepsake To Margaret Best Wishes Neil Diamond is Part Three in a Series