Chapter XI

WARNING: First Proper Kiss Alert. The following posts contain graphic scenes of romance that some cynics may find distressing.

It was one of those balmy early summer evenings, when the convertibles are pulled out of the garage and motorbikes roar along shimmering tarmac.
The venue was in a different city. There was no point us going in two cars so we met at a pre -arranged spot near the M6 She was already there. She got out. She looked amazing. Her hair was up and she had on heels and a short sleeve blouse. She was stood in front of her motor in the dimming sunlight as the cars sped past. She pulled whisps of hair from across her face as the summer wind wipped up dust.. I smiled back, she had really made the effort. I got out and went to her. As I kissed her cheek her face changed. She leaned back and stared down.
“Tom? How old is that t shirt?
“Er let me see, Tunnel of Love Tour, so that’s… 1988 .
“This is our first date and your wearing a seventeen year old tatty t shirt?
“Why, what’s up with it? You’re lucky, my Born in the Usa t shirt from 1985 has disintegrated.
“ I’ll drive shall I?
“I don’t mind I’ll drive if you want.
“Wont you want a drink?
“I never drink at a Bruce concert, it impairs my concentration.
Sarah blew out her cheeks. We set off. Then it hit me. This was the first time I d ever been alone with her. As in just her and me with no one else around. We started talking. And, like spies who have been set loose by their handlers, we began to talk freely. She told me about her job as a counsellor, how she listened to some pretty awful stories. She told me about one lady from last year who was on the verge of suicide because of some unspeakable things that had happened to her. She talked about how she had been trained, how stressful it could be and how frustrating people are when the answer is staring them in the face.
I came out with all the usual ignorant platitudes about how I couldn’t do it and I admired anyone who had the patience to listen to another person’s plight unconditionally. I said she was very altruistic. She replied that there was no such thing as altruism. That set off a discussion about what it means to be good and why people behave (or misbehave) like they do.
I started to talk about stuff that had happened in my life and as I talked I got the feeling, for probably the first time ever, that Sarah was actually listening to me, without any agenda of her own. Try it. try and listen to another person without your own opinions and emotions getting in the way. It’s not easy.

Then we got off the light-hearted subject of the meaning of human existence and onto the far more serious matter of the concert. I rambled on about how I got into Bruce when I was a student . How I spent the summer of 1985 following him around Canada and America, and what I thought of the new album.
“I I think this is his best solo album since Nebraska. Some of the songs are excellent.
“Yeah, but don’t you think Ghost of Tom Joad is right up there with the others?
“Ghost of Tom Joad? How do you know abut that album?
“Because I like it, that’s all.
“When have you listened to that?
“On this. Its an Mp3 player. I bought it last week
“Have you got the new album on that thing?
“Yes
“What other Bruce albums are on there?
“All of them.
I was struck dumb. Sarah looked out of the window.
“Turn in by that Marshall, we’re here.
The demographic of Springsteen fans has changed over the years. The callow youths with mullets and drainpipe jeans are now middle aged and balding middle manager types who now take their sons and daughters with them. The arena was hot with anticipation. I bought a couple of drinks and we stood in the concourse talking. Ex’s, kids, work, mortgages, friends. Then we realised we had something in common. Something that is endlessly fascinating if you are a people person (i.e. nosey). We both were avid people watchers.
“Don’t tell me she’s with him?”
“Shush, don’t look now, but, you see these two behind us, they’re in the middle of a proper domestic.
“These two aren’t married to each other.
“How can you tell?
“Inappropriate snogging over the age of forty.
“Maybe they’re just in love?
“Maybe.
I had a pain in my face that started to worry me. Like I’d just been the dentist. Then it hit me. I hadn’t stopped smiling for ages.
“So what is your favourite song on the new album?
“You’re the expert, you tell me
“I asked first.
“Well if he plays it I’ll let you know,
“Ok, I will too
“Anyway Tom , we will be buggered if it’s the first song,
“Why?
“He’s come on stage!
In twenty years of seeing Bruce I had never ever missed him walking out onto the stage. But then again, I had never met anyone like Sarah.
We rushed through the dark auditorium and edged past angry fans to our seat. We were twenty rows back in the middle. We sat as Bruce finished his first number. I looked down. We were holding hands.
Bruce was his usual charismatic self. Not many people can stand alone on a stage and hold three thousand souls in the palm of his hand. But I wasn’t really interested in the Boss. I couldn’t stop looking at Sarah.
I made excuses to interrupt her.
“What do you think?
“Good.
“Isn’t he brilliant?
“Tom, let’s listen.
“Ok. “
To be honest, Bruce could have been playing Tiger Feet, I wasn’t really interested. That is until he played the next song.
The first bars rang out. This was my favourite track. I was at a Springsteen concert with a beautiful girl. I have never taken drugs, but I guess this is what it must feel like. No, that’s wrong, I don’t think the strongest drug cooked up in any lab could have replicated that feeling.
We mouthed the following exchange to each over the music….
“This is my favourite!

“Is it? it’s mine too.
“Why are you crying?
“Because you are.
Then I closed my eyes and moved forward into the space in front of me where my kiss met Sarah’s. I thought my chest would explode. A warm soft dizzy kiss. A kiss that made you glad to be alive.
“You’re really beautiful you know.
Reply there was none. Just a smile, a slight colouring, and yet another delicious, heart stopping goose bumping, angel calling…..kiss.
Oh the song?
This is the song. Our song.

version recorded in Italy a week after our concert.

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