Every once in a while I get in the mood for doo-wop – the remarkable and earnest blending of serious voices, (often) in the service of silliness. While doo wopping I heard the familiar strains of “Book of Love,” which reminded me of one of my favorite moments from DJing.
In the summer of ’87 I worked a wedding reception in the recreation room of a beautiful old stone church in Pasadena, one of the few areas of Southern California where there is still a sense of history and style.
The couple was 50ish and the whole affair was pretty subdued: no one drank to excess. No one got naked and danced on a table. The crowd talked, they ate, they danced some. The mood was contented relaxation.
The couple had prepared a request list – the songs were primarily ’50s, with recent popular standards thrown in for the kids. Periodically, they asked for a song from their list – always polite, always smiling. The couple was old enough to just relax and enjoy it, but young enough to be in love.
Then one of the the bride’s nieces requested “Book of Love.” I was somewhat perplexed by the request because no had ever asked for the song before. When I played it, though, I found out why.
The bride and her sisters, all very dignified and reserved middle-aged women, did a routine in the middle of the dance floor where they acted out the words, did the chapters, played patty-cake, and laughed and sang like children.
When the song was over they put their lady-faces back on, smoothed their dresses, and got back to their wedding cake.
The bride’s mother was about 75. When the “girls” first got up and started their routine, she laughed and applauded with delight like everyone else in the room. But soon she started crying small, gentle tears. She cried for her girls and for the years – the 35 years since they had made up that routine, the 40 years since they had been children – and all of the heartbreaks and disappointments she hadn’t been able to prevent.
But mostly she cried because her girls were alive and well and happy and could get up in front of 100 people and still be alone together.
I hope they are all well still.