Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 4-2-12
April 3, 2012
So, girlfriends … where were you when news came that Davy Jones, lead singer of the 60s group The Monkees, had passed away suddenly of a heart attack on February 29?
I was on the road, hauling horses to Cedaredge. Turning on the radio, I caught the tail-end of a newscast that mentioned “the late Davy Jones” and thought, “What? No way!” The announcer then repeated that Davy was gone and for a moment, all time stood still. Gone? The shock that hit next was so sudden and intense that I simply started bawling, and for a while it was challenging to drive. I loved him. We were supposed to get married someday … before Joe Cartwright of Bonanza caught my eye, of course. And I’m not the only woman who feels this way, either. It’s okay – we can admit it.
It wasn’t quite a year ago that I came across a CD that featured four of those classic, Monkee’s TV episodes. Saving it for a sick day, I giggled at the comedy, marveled over the fashions and sang along to every song (while propped up on pillows, surrounded by tissues and cough drops). Instantly, it was 1968 again and I was cross-legged on the basement floor in front of our family’s brand-new color set. The only bad part about those Saturdays came after each half-hour show ended and the credits started to roll. I wanted to keep watching forever.
Lori, Julie and Lois (my main playmates back then) and I used to pretend we were The Monkees using Lori’s front porch as our stage. Long before the invention of karaoke, we were dragging a record player outside, grabbing plastic instruments and then lip-synching to their music while it played at full blast. (The neighbors, no doubt, were sorely tempted to throw shoes at us although no one ever did.) Afterwards, we would argue at length over who was actually going to end up winning Davy’s heart. Then in 1971, there came a moment of sheer panic amongst us when, during an appearance on the Brady Bunch, he played Marcia’s prom date – what if SHE got him first? That must have struck a chord with other girls, also, because I’ve read that it’s one of the most-watched rerun episodes to this day.
I finally got the chance to see Davy in person in 1997 after three of the four, original band members had reunited for a tour. Sitting in a Boise, Idaho, auditorium I watched in complete fascination while 5,000 middle-aged women screamed, swayed, swooned and shouted along with every tune. Davy, a bit more portly and gray-haired by then but still incredibly adorable, paused in mid-verse more than once to shake hands with and kiss those who’d been lucky enough to nab front-row seating. Then to my chagrin, last fall another childhood friend, Mindy, rubbed my nose in the fact that she’d gotten to meet him in person after a concert in Columbus, Ohio, the previous June. “You cheated!” I remember half-scolding, half-teasing after being handed the framed and signed photo of her cheek-to-cheek with my special guy.
“Don’t hate me, okay?” she’d laughed. After Davy died, Mindy called long-distance from the local pub, where she and several others had gathered to toast his memory. “I’ve already played several Monkees songs on the jukebox,” she said sadly. “What a bummer about him, huh?” That evening, I simply sat at the kitchen table and stared at the ceiling, trying to fathom that he was truly gone. Honest? It felt as if an entire chunk of my childhood had just completely broken off and melted away.
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I remembered a commercial that I’d once seen where Davy was riding a horse along a beach; one of the reasons behind the lifelong crush was that we’d both loved horses. I wondered how his wife, Jessica, and daughters were coping. And I wished that I’d paid closer attention in April, 2011 when the couple made a talk show appearance to get help for their marital problems. One of the major issues? It appeared that Davy Jones, teen idol, was incapable of hanging his wet towels up after showering. “But he’s a guy,” the host patiently explained. “He doesn’t see things the same way you do. He doesn’t get it!” Although she was clearly frustrated in the beginning, eventually Jessica simmered down. It would have been impossible for anyone to stay mad, for at the end of the segment Davy strummed a guitar and sang something romantic that he’d written specifically for her. Their eyes locked, and she beamed. Not surprisingly, as the camera panned on the packed audience of women, it caught each one of them melting in their seats. I’ll betcha we were thinking the exact same thing, too … Davy, you shudda waited for me.