Memory is complex. There is the layer of what actually happened. There is the event as you perceive it. Then there is the overlying stimuli of the portrayal of others. Then you combine them and they become fuzzy. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate absolute truth from a version of it. Whose to say what is correct?
I remember as children my sister and I being obsessed with Sonny and Cher. I must have been about seven or eight which put her about twelve. We had a piano that neither of us could pound out much more than “chop sticks”. Nor were we chorus material. However, we had our dreams. And for some reason, we seemed to be attracted to stars which appalled our parents. The only time we listened to what we considered their honkey tonk music was to make fun of it…unless of course, we were stuck in a car with them.
For many years a crystal punch bowl, ladle, and cups rested upon the top of the piano. I think that was my mothers assurance that it wouldn’t get broken. I mean what kids would ever think of romping over the piano? Certainly not us, yeah right! It just so happened the piano blocked the closet beneath the staircase. The staircase that held unquestionable treasures for our young imaginations. Just so you can rest easy, we never broke the bowl, and only chipped a cup or two, or maybe three or four.
Anyway, back to Sonny and Cher, and memories. I remember my sister banging at the keys while I stretched across the top of the piano in all my Cher garb. Since I didn’t have that long slinging black hair, I would fasten a towel around my head with a clothes pin in the back. I would flip my towel from shoulder to shoulder and smile really big. The closest thing we had to slinky sequined clothes were bathing suits and old prom dresses from a cousin, so I’m not quite sure what I did there. Knowing me, I probably wore a halter top and rolled up my shorts. I would scream out “Half-Breed” or “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” while I struck what I considered a sexy pose across the piano top. For a visual, be mindful that this was not a baby grand but one of those uprights. (yes, I climbed from the bench straight up the keys to the top.) We’d switch places and then we’d act out the Sonny and Cher duet “I’ve Got You, Babe.” using the microphone from our portable tape recorder.
I tried to find a you tube video of Cher on the piano….no luck. This brings me to the thought as to whether this is a real memory or one I’ve conjured in my mind. Or maybe we were copying another singing couple along with Sonny and Cher. The only other one I can think of is Captain and Tennille and if memory serves me correctly here, she was maybe not as wild (she got my mother’s approval where as Cher did not!) and I think the time reference might be a bit later.
I’ve found that many of my memories differ from my siblings, and even some of theirs differ. Maybe it was my perception since I was younger and smaller or maybe we each remember what we want to and reinvent the rest. We do get a kick out of comparing our notes of the past.
Needless to say neither my sister nor I grew up to be famous concert pianists or singers, nor do either of us sport around in skimpy sequined clothing….at least, I don’t. Maybe, I’ll have to check out what she’s doing behind my back!
****NOTE: After posting this my friend found the video of Cher on the piano. It is an upright piano and the song is “Vamp”. See, I didn’t make up that memory after all!