Driving and Biking in the Big City

Dedicated to the humor of Joan Duffy

with 3 comments

In memory of my friend and fellow story-teller Joan Duffy

In memory of my friend and fellow story-teller Joan Duffy

With the death this week of my dear friend and former running buddy, Joan Duffy, I am reminded of her role in one of the historic moments of my life and marriage. The following tale is dedicated to Joan, a world-class story-teller who could top my stories every day of the week. 

Superbowl cool goes tepid with technology

It was Dallas vs. Denver, the Superdome in New Orleans, and Joan was my connection for extremely hard-to-acquire Superbowl tickets. She had just gone to work for the wire service UPI in New Orleans and was able to score some 35-yard-line tickets to the big game –- a birthday present for my husband in our honeymoon days that was never again matched or surpassed in now many years of marriage.

Face value for a Superbowl ticket?  A mere $20 compared to $2,800 today.

Before the game, Joan, John and I had a chance meeting with my childhood hero Walter Cronkite who was strolling Bourbon Street just like the rest of us. I was the first to recognize him and, of course, stopped in my tracks — dropped-jawed and cotton-mouthed — while Joan and John kept walking. Uncle Walt chatted easily with us fellow news reporters just like we were contemporaries. I still believe he would have gone into the bar behind us for an afternoon of drinking and story-telling, had I been able to stop stuttering. During that trip, we also saw the King Tut exhibit, another fantasy come true for a kid who loved to read about Egypt.  It was the exhibit’s  first tour to the United States and the long lines had caused huge headlines. But, John and I skipped out of the game a step ahead of the Superbowl crowd and only moments before the exhibit closed for the season.

John was marking off a huge one on his life’s bucket list. Here he was, a guy who had played football through high school and college and who had now attended an actual Superbowl game, watching some of his childhood heroes. Huge deal, huh? Could other big events like a World Series, Wimbledon or a presidential inauguration be far behind? We were young and cool and heading for rich and famous.

Now, flash forward through the years and into our current day living room.

Superbowl tickets

With today’s technology, we now can tape the Superbowl highlights no matter what time they come on. We had taped them all. Then, we can slow the picture and stop the action. John says  he always  recognized the three girls who were sitting in front of us during the Superbowl game, but he never dreamed we were in the picture. No one else would ever have known we were frozen in time on camera were it not for John’s incredible memory of football plays and peoples’ faces. My image of myself in my prime would have remained untarnished. But, no. I’ve had to face reality.

It goes like this:

The Cowboys’ Golden Richards catches a pass from Roger Staubach that seals his team’s victory. The Cowboys celebrate with Hollywood Henderson throwing his arms into the air. That’s the signal for us to start watching closely.

The camera goes to Cowboy Ray riding his stick horse in the stands and then pans among the many revelers. The camera begins to take in the crowd in the aisle beside Cowboy Ray. The fans are wild with celebration. Then, there are the three girls – arms thrown into the air in celebration – and . . . slow, slow, frame, frame.

Yes, there is John under one of the girl’s armpits. We stop action, focus and enlarge the picture on our home television as video-John turns his head, smiles and talks to  … me, sitting beside him. With the magic of today’s technology, we can move the picture, frame-by-frame and close in on this young couple who had been hidden for years behind these same girls.

My kids and John are crazy with screams and shouts as they stop the frame on me. They turn, in their delight, to take a look at my face. Surely, they think, I will be excited to have my image preserved for national recognition during such a historic event as Superbowl XII.

I, however, was devastated. Shocked.

I have never had such big hair in all my life. In my memory, I would never have worn my hair like that.  I grabbed the clicker from one of the kids.

“That’s not me,” I screamed. But, unfortunately for my fragile memories, it was confirmed.

I had to run the picture back and forth a thousand times, frame by frame, to be sure this wasn’t some trick of the camera. I don’t remember having such bad taste? Was that a black hole behind me? An empty aisle? How could I possible have gotten my hair that big? It looked like Marlo Thomas from “That Girl” days.

Did I really put incredibly uncomfortable curlers in my hair just so I would intentionally look like that? I thought my look was always no fuss, little makeup and comfortable clothes.

Now, the rest of the Hensley family notices that I’m not enjoying myself as they thought I would. And, when they discover my problem is my disco-looks, they scream and hoot with laughter. They laugh hysterically, roll on the floor and look at the video over and over.

Stayin' Alive

Stayin’ Alive

And then, John joins into the fun my kids are having at my hair-do. So now, we start some frame-by-frame hyper-analysis of his Superbowl appearance.

Here’s a guy who has been big enough to be shaving since Little League baseball, and, well, let’s face it: He’s wearing a powder blue suit with lapels wider than my hair. Is this John Hensley or John Travolta? Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah. Ah. Ah.

The kids started yelling “leisure suit,” “leisure suit.”

John swears he never owned one.

And me, I had to let that one pass. I had to preserve at least some of my romantic memories of this golden couple.  After all, this is the man who escorted me through tumultuous fashion times as well as the rest of my life. I would not be pulling anything out of the closet that the cooler, today me couldn’t handle.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

December 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm

3 Responses

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  1. This is priceless! I have to see that video some day. I can’t remember you EVER having big hair!


    December 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm

  2. Hilarious! If it’s any comfort to you at all, I absolutely do not remember you as the big hair type. You must have just gussied up special for the Superbowl. Fresh, natural, clean, good haircut – that characterizes your usual coif back in this era. You clearly were putting on the ritz to be worthy of the gent in the blue leisure suit! — Bonnie

    Bonnie Emmons

    December 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

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