Riding with a Stranger

We were standing in line outside the auditorium waiting for admittance when Joan's boyfriend came outside looking for us. He said, "Do you want to come with us?"`

It was (I believe) 1964. I was going to my first teen-idol concert in Brewer, Maine. Gene Pitney was performing at the Brewer Auditorium. A local Bangor band, the Jesters, was backing him up.

It so happened that my best friend, Joan, was "going steady" with one of the band members. I guess you'd call us groupies, but that expression hadn't been invented yet. We were standing in line outside the auditorium waiting for admittance when Joan's boyfriend came outside looking for us. He said, "Do you want to come with us?"

"Come where?" we asked.

"To take Gene Pitney over to his hotel," he answered. It took us only a mere split second to make the decision to accompany them.

Actually, it was all quite benign—we did just drop Gene Pitney off, never getting out of the car at all. But I'd broken the cardinal rule of never getting in a car with strangers, even a famous stranger. The night included lots of other fun, and certainly appropriate behavior—Gene Pitney getting on his knees in front of us as we crowded the front of the stage, and singing "Only Love Can Break a Heart"; going out to a restaurant after the concert with the band and the famous performer (but this time we rode with my friend's mother).

I conveniently left the ride part of the story out when I told my parents all about my evening, and it was decades later before I ever confessed the whole truth to them. I'm pretty sure that even then I got "the look" from my mother.

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