IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR: MEMOIRABILIA PODCAST 8
In Memoirabilia Podcast #8, we present ‘IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR’, a delightful short memoir by Memoirabilia member, Deborah Holzel. Who of us doesn’t have a memory of that special person, perhaps our first crush, who remains a memory until suddenly we see him/her again many years later. For Deborah Holzel that special person/memory was of Cedric. I really hope you listen to her podcast of the script below: to read it is one thing; to hear Deborah speak it is magical. Enjoy!
It Was a Very Good Year
by Deborah Holzel
The summer I was seventeen, I watched a folksinger in a coffee house in Stratford, Ontario, and thought that I’d fallen in love.
He was beautiful. One curl of his dark hair fell in the middle of his forehead, which was creased in concentration as he played his guitar and sang love songs: ‘Spanish is a Loving Tongue,’ ‘Seven Daffodils’ and ‘It was a Very Good Year,’ long before it was recorded by Frank Sinatra. To this day, I can’t hear any of those songs without thinking of him on that bare platform in The Black Swan, a small, dark hole-in-the-wall on a side street in Stratford.
I was there with two of my friends, our first solo outing to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival without parents. We drifted into The Black Swan after a performance of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ with Christopher Plummer, upon whom we had an enormous crush. Then I saw Cedric Smith, who seemed like romance personified. When I think of myself at seventeen, it’s with affection and mostly in cliches. I was on the cusp of womanhood—there’s no better way to say it. I had slimmed down, and my body had fallen into it’s adult proportions. For the first time I was pleased with my appearance. People thought I was older than I was, and it seemed within the realm of possibility that this beautiful young man would see me and be instantly enchanted. The reality was that, although I may have looked nineteen—which turned out to be his age—I was, in fact, socially immature and had no idea what to say to him when we approached him after the show.
We stayed past closing that night and the next, hanging out with Cedric and the assorted Black Swan staff until two or three in the morning. Despite my longing, he didn’t look into my eyes and wordlessly understand that we were meant to be together. My friends and I returned to Detroit. But I held onto my dreams of him, even when the summer began to seem like a past in a different lifetime. I started college that fall, and my world shifted dramatically as I tried to find my place among hordes of strangers at a large university. Cedric stayed on my mind as I continued to long for a romantic relationship, wondering if I was somehow unworthy. And then that summer I fell in love for real, then had my heart soundly broken.
I saw Cedric the following winter, when he came to Detroit to play in one of its larger coffee houses. His show was more polished—he was seriously trying to develop a career by then—and though he was still beautiful, I was locked firmly in my own misery and felt that I was viewing him at a distance. I was there with friends who hadn’t seen him before, and they thought he was wonderful. Then he faded from my life. But occasionally through the years, a friend would say, “Remember Cedric Smith?” and I’d remember, and smile, and say “Mmmmm.”
Fast forward 35 years. I’m watching a Canadian movie on PBS and there he is: Cedric Smith—middled aged, balding, and a little paunchy. So perhaps I’d met him on his own cusp, after which he’d slid into the realm of the ordinary. Along with regret, I feel the same sense of evil satisfaction I had at my 20th high school reunion when I saw that all the skinny girls had gotten fat. So much for youth and beauty.
Fast forward again to the present. I decide to Google him. On my screen appears a picture of a handsome seventy-ish man with a long list of acting credits in Canadian film and television. So he’d had his career, and probably some combination of the same joys and disappointments that I’d had—that we’ve all had. I feel that we’ve been fellow travelers on the same bumpy journey, and though I now know that he’s just another person, I also know that any time I think about him, I’ll see him on that platform in that darkened room, singing ‘Spanish is a Loving Tongue,’ and I’ll smile and say “Mmmmm.”
©Deborah Holzel, March, 2016
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Viga Boland is also currently podcasting her latest book, “Voice from an Urn” in her VIGALAND Podcast, available from her personal website and also at iTunes, Stitcher and Podcasts.com