Dazed and Confused

9 05 2011

It was spring 1987, I was a sophmore in high school.  He was a junior, Italian, tough … the silent type.  His big brother Eddy was a senior, a hunk, and my best friend’s boyfriend.   I’d had a crush on Phil for over a year, and desperately tried to get his attention in the smoking circle for a couple semesters to no avail.  He didn’t speak much or show interest in anyone.  I thought it was because he was too cool for anyone at that stupid school.  I didn’t blame him, even though I wished he’d give me a chance.  Eddy was insistent on getting his little bro out of his shell, he wanted him to start dating, having sex and be a man like he was.  Phil wasn’t taking the bait, so it seemed.  Personally, I was thrilled by it because I knew he would’ve ended up with someone other than me anyway.  I liked that he didn’t talk to anyone and I could just stare at him, alone smoking his cigs with one leg propped against a tree looking like an Italian James Dean.  I was a social butterfly, but more like a dorky kid sister.  Even though I was the same age as the other girls hanging in the smoking circle, I looked like a junior high kid hanging out with the older crowd.  I never really smoked or anything, I just hung out for the heated discussions about rock and roll and to fetch things for the cool kids when they asked.  But they liked me, or so I thought … nah, they liked me.

One night Suzy called me up with great excitement in her voice.
“Eddy says Phil’s coming out with us tonight and we’re going on a double date!” She exclaimed.
“With who?” I asked, thinking how unexcited I was about the aspect of Phil going out with another girl and the four of them having a good time while I’m at home bored.
“With you, stupid!” Suzy laughed.  “We’re going on a double date with the Dimaggio brothers!”
“What? Really? Me?” I was in shock.  “Phil asked for me?!?”
“Well, sort of,” she stammered.  “I mean, Eddy arranged it, but yeah.”
“Does he even know who I am?” I asked, thinking that if he did he probably wouldn’t have agreed.
“Um, well, sort of,” again she stammered.  “But, I mean… isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for? Now’s your chance!”
“Yeah, that’s cool,” I agreed.
Sure, I would’ve liked that it was all Phil’s idea and that he had some secret crush on me like I had for him, but I decided I’d take what I could get.

Later that evening, the phone rang again.
“Susan, telephone!” Mom called out from the kitchen, where the only phone we owned was kept.  “It’s a young man named Philip Dimaggio.” She stared over her glasses down her nose at me.
I tried to stay cool in front of her.  “We’re in school together,” I said.
“Uh, huh,” she nodded sternly and handed me the phone.  Staying close by, pretending to be busy in the kitchen.
“Hullo,” I tried to keep cool.
“Susan?” He said in a rough, sexy, Italian teen boy voice I’d never before heard.
“Yes,” I choked out.
“It’s Phil Dimaggio,” he said.  “I hear we’re going out tomorrow night with my brother and you’re friend.”
“Uh, huh,” I agreed.
“So, I just wanted to know a little about you first,” he said sternly.  “Do you like Led Zeppelin?”
“Yes, very much,” I lied.  My older sister, whom I shared a room with, loved Led Zeppelin … me, not so much but I lied as it seemed necessary.
“You smoke?” He continued.
“Yeah, I’ve seen you in the circle,” I replied.
“No, I mean do you smoke?” He repeated the question, emphasizing the smoke.
“Oh!” I understood.  “Yeah.” I lied.
“Ok, cool,” He said.  “I’ll bring the smoke, you bring all your Zeppelin.”
My mind quickly races through my sisters cassette collection and I know I can pull this off.
“Ok,” I agreed.

Dressed in our 80’s best, Suzy and I were ready for our big date with the Dimaggio brothers.  Suzy had been dating Eddy for a while.  They’d already been to third base … something I knew nothing about.  I had a purse full of Led Zeppelin cassettes. We were anxiously awaiting the big night.  Eddy drove up in his Ford truck, and we had some tricky seating arrangements as Suzy had to sit beside Eddy and I had to sit on Phil’s lap.  Me, with my big hair smashing against the ceiling in my little mini skirt.  It was awkward.  He smelled like cheap cologne, yet somehow I was turned on.  Though I’m sure my bony ass and the scent of Aqua Net was doing nothing for him as Eddy drove down a darkened, bumpy trail to the infamous oak tree.  The oak tree was tucked away off the beach in a slightly wooded area. It was where rebellious teens went to make out, drink alcohol, smoke pot and generally be rebellious.  It had been a hot spot for years as I remember my older sisters and their friends telling stories of hanging out by the oak tree.  This would be my first time to visit and I really felt like I was going places.  In a truck, with two hot Italian studs, parking under the infamous oak tree … yep, I was really going places.

We settled in, all seated in the back of the truck with an ice chest full of Miller ponies between us, jamming to WRNO “The Rock of New Orleans” F.M.  Classic rock bellowing up into the stars, and those cold brews I had never before tasted seemed to take the edge off and go down smoothly.  Ice cold Miller ponies are the perfect way to break into beer drinking.  They were delicious.  I was choking on cigarettes as I tried to pretend I was a smoker.  Yep, I thought as I looked up into the starry sky, you’re really going places.  However, the only place I was going was backwards falling from the edge of the truck to the ground.  I guess those cold brews are serious business when it comes to losing your balance while star gazing.  Though I was rather embarrassed, it was a really touching moment for me when Phil quickly sprang from the edge of the truck to aid me in getting up and briefly I was in his arms as he helped me stand.  Honestly I wasn’t as loaded from the beer as I was the entire situation.  High on life, I guess you could say.  Feeling like this was the pinnacle of coolness for me, and hoping that I didn’t just blow it by star gazing too hard from the edge of an old Ford.

After a good laugh from Eddy and Suzy, they decided to go for a walk into the woods for a bit of privacy.  Before their exit, Eddy took his little brother aside and put his arm around him to whisper some brotherly advice in his ear as I pretended not to watch while trying to eavsdrop.
“I think Phil’s going to try to get to third base with you tonight,” Suzy said excitedly.
I was a little nervous.  I’d never really been to third base and I was dizzy from beer and landing on a giant oak tree root.  I wasn’t really ready for all this action, but I wasn’t about to back down because I was at the pinnacle of coolness for me … or so I thought.

“So,” Phil broke the very long moment of silence between us once we were alone.  “Did you bring that Zeppelin?”
“Oh yeah!” Finally I could get something right! “It’s in my purse!”
“Why don’t we sit in the truck, catch a buzz and jam out to some then?” He suggested.
“Great Idea!” I was probably too enthusiastic, but the thought of sitting inside the truck listening to the stereo sounded a lot less dangerous than anything else at this point.  Plus, I was the keeper of the Led Zeppelin cassettes, so my cool points surely had to be rising.

As we eased onto the bench seat of that old Ford, Phil pulled a joint from his shirt pocket, popped in the “Physical Graffiti” cassette and pushed play.  The lighter flame kissed the end of his perfectly rolled joint and a sweet and unfamiliar aroma filled the air just as “Houses of the Holy” began to play.  I watched him intently, how he inhaled, his every action.  He passed it to me, and I mimicked his actions perfectly.  Inhaling, wheezing a bit but not exhaling, then after a moment or two very slowly exhaling.  It was quite a process.  After a few times, I got it.  Yep, I was really going places … I was really cool now.

We leaned back, my head somehow landed on his shoulder and for a moment we were like a couple.  I felt relaxed and dazed as I began to soak up the moment like a sponge.  Once “Kashmir” bellowed through the speakers and out into the perfect night, I was hooked.  It was something far better than third base, something far better than hooking up, it was Led Zeppelin.  It was my new favorite thing and a very defining moment for me, and to this day “Physical Graffiti” is still my favorite album.  At the time, I tried to maintain my overpowering joy at this magnificent new sound that was just unveiled to me as I was supposed to already be a fan and I had to control my passions for Led Zeppelin and pretend I was just in it all for the date.  But there was no pretending, as he was just as passionate about it as me and what was supposed to be a cheap sexual virginity losing experience set up for both of us turned out to be a really rewarding music lesson … among other lessons … and a night that changed me forever.

Was it the pinnacle of coolness? Yeah, I’d say so.  Did we get to third base? Nah, I think we both got something cooler out of it than that.

My love for Led Zeppelin grew leaps and bounds continuously over the years that followed. Though nothing ever grew romantically between Phil and I after that night, we did remain good friends throughout our late blooming years and continued to enjoy Led Zeppelin together for many other smoky, starry, dazed and confused nights under the infamous Oak Tree.

Led Zeppelin was born in1968 by Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals, harmonica), John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards, mandolin), and John Bonham (drums). With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, Led Zeppelin are considered one of the progenitors of  heavy metal/hard rock music.  However, Led Zeppelin’s unique style drew from many sources and transcends all genres still today as well as remaining one of the most influential bands in the history of music.  Even 30 years after disbanding (following Bonham’s death in 1980) Led Zeppelin continues to be held in high regard for their artistic achievements, commercial success, and broad influence. Having sold over 200 million albums worldwide, the band is known to be one of the best selling music artists of all time.They have had all of their original studio albums reach the top 10 of the Billboard album chart in the US, with six reaching the number one spot.Led Zeppelin are ranked #1 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.  Rolling Stone magazine has described Led Zeppelin as “the heaviest band of all time”, “the biggest band of the ’70s” and “unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in rock history”.Similarly, when inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame they were described as being as “influential in the 70’s as The Beatles were in the 60’s”. Led Zeppelin’s popularity in the early years was dwarfed by their triumphant mid-seventies successes and it is this period that continues to define the band.  At this point in their career, the band was considered the world’s #1 rock attraction.  All of their albums released from their inception through their super stardom remained in Billboard’s top sales.  After a decade of being on top of their game while also facing many trials and tribulations, as they set fourth toward a new tour, John Bonham died from asphyxiation stemming from drinking too much vodka and choking on his own vomit.  It was a sad waste and a sad day in music history.  On October 10, 1980, Bonham was laid to rest and two months later the band announced they would no longer continue as Led Zeppelin due to the “deep sense of undivided harmony” in the wake of their “dear friend”s death.

To view Led Zeppelin performing in the height of their fame, visit this link for a performance of “Kashmir” at Earl’s Court in 1975: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1yFQ6vcRNk

To learn more about Led Zeppelin, this is an awesome website: http://www.ledzeppelin.com/

Enjoy these links and if you enjoy Led Zeppelin even half as much as I do, you’ll thank me for it.  Though, I can’t imagine anyone is reading this who doesn’t already enjoy them! 🙂

 

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