My first big crush was Julie Pawlowski, who lived on Emporium Avenue. Emporium was parallel to Aurora, which provided a ripe situation for natural enemy status. But Julie was the dream to me. Her physical characteristics were typical of the kind of girl I would find myself attracted to almost exclusively from then on. She wore glasses, which to my twisted logic meant that other boys wouldn’t notice her. She had plain brown hair and small eyes. She was erudite in appearance. I still go for that. She spoke with a slight lisp, but I didn’t mind, of course; just one more thing that made me certain that I would be the only one to notice her as a sexual object. I was infatuated with Julie. In addition, she was born on the same date that I was, one year earlier, so I figured that it was fate that we would be together. You know, if this were the only time in my life that I’d ever applied such lost logic to justify wasting gray matter on someone, it might even be funny.
We rode the bus to school together every morning. My stop was before hers. I would place my body in an awkward position across an entire two-person seat so as to say “sorry, no room” (as if I needed to ward off the masses from their daily requests to sit next to me). Then, as Julie’s stop approached, I would straighten up and distend my neck as far as I could, so that when Julie came onto the bus, I could make eye contact with her. If everything went according to plan, she’d smile and ask if she could sit with me. I think this worked about twenty percent of the time. It would’ve worked better had I just said, “Julie I saved you a seat”.
In 1975, I called her up on her birthday to announce that I was going to win tickets to see the Rolling Stones at Rich Stadium (billed as their “farewell tour”) and would she like to go with me when I win? She didn’t think her parents would allow her to go. Which begs the question: “Where were mine?” Anyhow, I stopped trying after that.
In the summers between school years, I’d ride my bike by her house every day in the hopes that she’d be out playing or sitting or anything. This succeeded maybe five times in three summers. Not a good average. The last year I did this before giving up was 1976. That year, I had a radio fixed to the handle bars so I could maybe make enough noise to get her to peek out her window and see what the ruckus was. This never worked. As a matter of fact, this plan backfired in a terrible way. Firstly, I was forced to listen to rotten mid-seventies AM music all day long every day for three summers. Secondly, that last summer was the one during which Melissa Manchester came out with a song called “Midnight Blue”. That song was on the radio so much at the time that to this day I cannot drive my car through my old neighborhood without thinking about it. Or Julie Pawlowski.
My first band was called Leo, after Julie and my astrological sign. My first original composition was about her, a tear-jerker ballad called “My Life in Sadness”.
Now daddy’s dead but Julie’s here, even though my time is near,
I wish that I could see her smile, Then we’d be happy for a while
You take all my life in sadness, Julie could put it down in just a wink,
Take all my life in sadness, Julie could change everything in your mind
We might get married in eight years or so, these kinds of things you just don’t know,
One thing I know of, that’s for sure, every day I’ll love her more and more
The quaint thing about this lyric is that Julie was never “here”. And truth be told, she never really did that much to put my sadness “down in just a wink”. What was I thinking? What did I mean by “my time is near”?
And now my Buffalo girlfriend Kris posts her picture on the Facebook, and I am drawn to those wonderful days again. Actually, they were kinda sucky. This is a sad story. I’m sorry I posted it.