Basement Rock Star – Unpublished
Watching the first episode of American Idol Season #1 sparked memories of my secret childhood imaginary fame. I stared wide eyed at the television screen holding back laughter and a twinge of regret. I had missed my chance. I was far ahead of my time in the 1960’s when friends and I descended my basement stairs lugging our well-stocked portable record cases. It took only those twelve steps to transform us from ten-year-old girls into rock star idols. There we created our own show, but our fame never rose above the cellar door.
Tucked away in our “recording studio” we each chose our favorite artist and song to sing with the original pop star assisting from my single speaker, 45 rpm record player.We donned our homemade costumes and makeup and created dances to enhance our well rehearsed performances. We were the “search for a superstar” long before Idol’s America debut in 2002.
On performance day, one at a time, each “star” took her place center stage on the cold, black,linoleum tile floor under the dim, recessed, 40 watt ceiling fixtures, pretending to ignore the glare of the bright spot lights and the incessant snapping of camera shutters.
We took turns singing our hearts out with Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon and my favorite, Mark Dinning. Standing poised with bowed head, each performer waited for the scratch of the record player needle making contact with the vinyl. Then lifting her head, transformed into the star of choice, she stared into the crowd, ready to belt out the song into the garden hose. The imaginary crowd hooted cheers of delight with each performance and the rest of us acted as judges, somewhat kinder than Simon Cowell and not quite as cool as Randy Jackson, but always one as sensitive as Paula Abdul.
My friends were good. They sang a mean “Mack the Knife,” “Venus” and “It’s Late,” but no one could perform “Teen Angel” like me. I felt every word of the song. I looked up to the heavens crooning, “Teen Angel can you see me, can you hear me, Are you some where up above…” and the tears welled in my eyes longing for my lost love who foolishly had run back to the car stuck on the railroad tracks just to retrieve my high school ring. I closed falling to my knees, tears streaming down my cheeks, eking out the final words, “Teen Angel, Teen Angel, answer me please.”
The judges voices awarding me the full 10 points were muffled by the audiences screams of approval and shouts of, “More, more, sing it again!” I saw my name up in lights, the crowd pressing forward against the police line to get my autograph. I waved, blew kisses and fans shrieked. I was Mark Dinning, and just like Kelly Clarkson, I was a star and everyone loved me.