Tuesday, January 12, 2016

From A&W to Woodstock

Joni Mitchell, singer and composer of the song Woodstock (1969)

Anne’s Mum was worried that Sherry was mixing with the Wrong Crowd. She asked her daughter to arrange for Double Dates with Decent Boys. And if Anne had to work on weekends, Betty would be the Substitute Blind Date for the Poor, Unsuspecting Boy. ‘Cos instead of getting a slim and confident eighteen year-old, he would end up with a plump and awkward fifteen year-old.
But Freddy Danker wasn’t A Shallow Cad. He wasn’t like the Other Superficial Band Boys who ogled at Girls’ Boobs & Bottoms. The Good, Church-going Christian Boy that he was, he looked beyond the Skin & Flesh and appreciated the Beautiful Person inside.
He and his twin, Roy Danker, were Anne's rich cousins on her mother’s side. Their Mum, Anne's Mum’s sister, had just 'expired' a few months ago. The concerned aunt that she was, Anne’s Mum thought that dating would help The Twins get over their mother’s demise.
The Twins had just received their Independence Keys when they turned twenty-one prior to their mother’s recent 'expiration'. They had followed their Dad's footsteps and formed their own band - La Liberacion, a household name in the disco circuit. Freddy was the keyboardist and Roy, why of course, he was the vocalist.
True to their status as Pop Princes, Freddy and Roy picked Sherry and Betty up in their red Alfa Romeo sports car. Freddy jumped out of the driver's seat and opened the car door for Sherry and Betty to sit on the back seat. For the first time in their lives, Sherry and Betty felt they were treated like Proper Little Ladies. Both Freddy and Roy were Super Squeaky Clean – all the way - from the top of their poufs to the tips of their white boots.
After a few wholesome Saturday outings, Mak returned from one of her regular excursions and puts a HALT to All This Nonsense.
"Just who do you think you are now? Elvis Presley's gurlpren?" She asked, arms akimbo.
"No lah, Mak, Freddy and me are only friends. His Mum just died. He needs to cheer himself up. So, he takes me to A&W and bowling. Just that!"
"Iya lah, now it's root beer and bowling. Then, to chers!"
"No lah. Why would he take me to church for?"
"To drink holy water. So you'll pray to Jijes!"
"You don't even know him. How could you accuse him of trying to convert me?"
"Dah, dah. Jangan mengada-ngada. Enough. Don’t be cheeky. I won't hear any more of this. You stay home and study hard for your MCE next year. Don't be gallivanting with that Freddy ever again. Or that Wild Sherry, for that matter! Do you hear me?"
"Yes, Mak. I heard you."
"Unless you want a taste of sambal in your mouth?"
"No, Mak. No pounded chillies, please, no."
But Mak went off to Kuantan again and left me alone at the flat with the university students.
Sherry told me, “You’ve to get out. It’s not safe to stay at home with the tenants too much. You might be giving them ideas.”
“What ideas?”
“The wrong ideas!”
“What wrong ideas?”
Alah … you know lah. Do I have to spell it out?”
“Please spell it out, Sherry.”
“It never crossed your mind that Jamil might get fresh with you?”
“No. Never. Why should he? He’s, like, dating all the kakaks in the blocks and terrace houses behind. And Abdul Hayy is always around. And when any one of them is home, I lock myself up in the front room and read.”
“I know about him dating all the silly kakaks who think they’ve snared a university student. And I know that Abdul Hayy is an Angel without wings who never look at girls. But you can’t lock yourself up in your room all the time. You’ve got to get out sometimes!”
“What about Anne? Can’t she go out with you?”
“Anne and her Mum have given up on me. I told them I’m not ready to go steady with Roy. Now, the Sour Plum Girl have set up a double date for me and her brother Faisal and his college mate to go Ipoh.”
“College mate? Ipoh?”
“Yes! One of those Budak-Budak Kolet Kuala Kangsar. They’re in Form Six. About my age. It’s just a three hour trip to see the Malaysian Woodstock.”
“And three hours back? How long is the concert? What if Mak comes home when I’m away?”
Aiyoh! Just say you slept over at Anne’s place or the JB girls lah! Why are you so straight?”
“You want me to be crooked then?”
“No lah, once in a while you’ve to tell white lies ... Come on, let’s not waste time. Just get ready and go!”
We had heard of Kak Hana talking about Abang Shid being a Budak Kolet MCKK … Malay College Kuala Kangsar, the Eaton of the East, a prestigious residential school for selected Anak-anak Orang Kaya, rich men’s sons. Boy, were we surprised to see that they looked just like the Jay Be Blues Band Boys, with their shoulder-length, stripe bell-bottoms, tie-dye t-shirts, tong headbands and Peace Pendants. Mak would have fainted if she saw them. Even the other Budak-budak Universiti, the University Kids, were dressed like Hippies. If she had shook her head when she first saw the Beatles' Mop Tops in the Sixties, she would have been flabbergasted to see MCKK boys with their Hippies' Locks in the Seventies. Such a far cry from Jambul Elvis Presley of the Fifties!
All the way to Ipoh and back, the boys and Sherry were humming Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock.
We're stardust,
We're golden,
We've got to get ourselves,

Back into the garden.

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