The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

To Margaret Best Wishes Neil Diamond

autographI’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

For Shilo


Categories: Blog Blog Blog, Personal Growth

Tags: , ,

20 replies

  1. Fabulous, Maggie – your final sentence is especially brilliant. xxx


  2. It’s amazing how time can change your perspective and give old mementos new meaning.


  3. Maggie, you have a gift with words and this is a charming insight into your younger years.


  4. I think this is a wonderful post and speaks to me of that awful social anxiety so many teens – myself included – felt at that stage of life.


  5. Brilliant. And at such a young age to recognize your boundaries. Took me years to finally acquiesce to the fact that crowds just. freak. me. out. In one post or another, I define a “crowd” as more than five people in the same room at the same time. Not to say I never attend a live event; sometimes my need for live music (or a John Edward event) overcomes my need for crowd avoidance. On those rare occasions though I am ever hyper-vigilant about my surroundings and the “crowd consciousness.” :>


  6. I may have recognized my boundaries on a gut level, but it has taken me years to be able to articulate them. I remember another high school noon hour concert of some sort. I was literally blasted from my seat when the music started. The volume, to me, was an assault. To the rest of my classmates, it was nirvana. I was clearly in the minority, if not a minority of one. What kind of mutant was I to NOT enjoy concerts? Yup, like you, if I have to attend a large function, you’ll find me on the perimeter, likely near the exit.


  7. I think Neil would chuckle at this post!


  8. You know? I think you might be right. He’s getting some exposure at the very least!


  9. What a great post! I love your unique take on the momento and what it’s come to symbolize to you now. 🙂

    ps I hate loud, too! I’m the mom in the movie theatre with a decibel meter that makes her husband go out to the manager and tell him to ‘turn the sound down, for Christ’s sake!’. Yeah. I do that.


  10. I can relate to this on many levels. I always felt odd man out…..inside. The things that made other girls giddy with excitement left me underwhelmed and feeling the eternal “Is it me?” In a strange way, Maggie, my family’s constant moving around allowed me to redefine myself in each new school, each time truer to myself. I understand your need to stay home. And your last line of this post is perfection.



  1. Keepsake | The Zombies Ate My Brains

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