Pete's Blog

Girls

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In 1968, the summer I was 16, I spent several weeks in Pittsburgh at a theatre camp at Carnegie Mellon University. I had come there from an all-boys school and one of the blessings of the place was the presence there of girls my own age, girls I could see every day and get to know. We all lived in a high-rise dormitory with two towers, one for girls and one for boys. Like most of the world in those days, the rooms were not air-conditioned. The windows opened. Charlie Bendes, it turned out, had a guitar in his room and I had a harmonica in my pocket, a large Hohner Marine Band in the key of C. I had just that week learned how to play it "inside out" like the blues guys did. Of course, to a couple of 16-year-olds "the blues guys" weren't Muddy Waters and Little Walter. They were the popular white rock bands of the day like the Blues Project and (oh dear) the Doors. There in his room, with a couple of buddies lying around, Charlie and I started playing, tunes like "Hey, Joe," "Backdoor Man," and "I Can't Keep from Crying Sometimes." And after a while, from the opposite tower, there came the sound of applause. Casanova at a convent grate could not have been encouraged to greater happiness than I was at that moment. I had been chasing girls more of less from birth, but that moment was when I began to understand the inspiration they offer, to realize the gratitude that underlies all real men's feelings for all real women, to actually like them.

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