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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Toni, Daryl & Me

January 26, 2012: I'm sick, so it's not going to be easy making you laugh. But my ongoing codependent sense of emotional obligation to you -- my loyal Blah-ugh! readers -- impels me to force myself to get some crap up on this stupid site, on the outside chance that you -- the loyal idiot -- will garner some feeling solace from the inane ramblings of this defective raconteur. (Did I mention SPACE CASE yet? Well, I will ... and soon ...)

So, failing to generate my usual helping of trying wit and vaguely insightful kah-kah, I thought it a good time to wax sentimental and share some of those dear and delightful childish memories -- in particular, those relating to two of my all-time favorites entertainers -- The Captain & Tennille!

Yes, I had a great love of that wonderful duet, which broke open the '70s with their Neil Sedaka standard "Love Will Keep Us Together." I owned their first three albums -- I still have them, in fact, with their second -- "Song of Joy" -- my personal favorite. (The tropical melancholia of "Lonely Nights" is still a favorite feeling felt, and their version of Smokey Robinson's "Shop Around" is grand and catchy.)

I remember reading all about the Captain & Tennille, and I can still recall some key details of their lives -- for instance, they supposedly married for convenience's sake, owing to the great amount of time they spent together on the road. (Now, that always confused ME, and hopefully now it'll confuse you, too!) The Captain -- whose real name is Daryl Dragon -- surely one of the best nonfictional names ever -- wore sunglasses for a congenital eye condition. (And I always knew that fact after having read it, but I'm STILL not clear exactly what that means; I know he had big, dark, rather spooky eyes, and looked kind of like a fruit bat when he wasn't wearing his sunglasses.)

(Point of fact, or so I'd heard: Dragon -- apparently a somewhat gifted and busy studio keyboardist in his day -- is credited with that awesome organ solo in the Beach Boys' standard "Surfin' USA.")

I joined the Captain & Tennille Fan Club around that time as well, (although I think membership was merely the result of a lengthy lugubrious letter I wrote them). I remember how exciting it was to receive the light blue tri-folded newsletter with their funky pop-art logo in the corner, telling all about their latest happenings, etc.

I remember they were on the cover of a new magazine called "People" -- him in that awesome captain's hat (sans glasses, if I remember correctly) and gorgeous, tall Toni, with her straight-bang, honey-colored '70s hair and those enormous white corn-fed teeth -- the quintessence of beauty in 1976. (I may still even have my copy somewhere.)

And then, imagine my breathtaking thrill when I learned they were starting their own variety show! I think it was on ABC, and I remember the intense anticipation I experienced waiting for that premiere ... And I watched each episode with joy and relish until it was unceremoniously yanked from the air after one season or so. I can still vividly recall some of the songs they played "live," including numbers with Toni's two southern sisters. ("My Boyfriend's Back" stands out, along with the animated -- rather Muppet-ated -- "video" for the immortal "Muskrat Love."

As you might imagine -- assuming you're imagining any of this -- I wanted nothing more than to have my own captain's hat. At that time, for me, that was the absolute pinnacle of cool, and I craved to have my shakey, pre-teen identity completed with my very own seaman's chapeau. (Sadly, I was always too embarrassed to ask for one from my parents, and so never realized that dream. Perhaps I'll amend that one day soon, if I can figure out where they're still sold, and whether my awful receding hairline and flash-frozen grey color have enough cool left to support such a grand hat.)

Of course, I harbored still more intense feelings and frustrating dreams dependent on the possibilities of Toni finally coming to her senses and acknowledging that marrying Dragon was a mistake. A much younger man, she'd have to know, would make a much better catch, and I was all too eager and ready to take over the helm of that ship.

Yes, I loved the Captain & Tennille (and always will, despite how disturbingly old they look on their current web site). Things never worked out between Toni and me, of course, but the three of us remain permanently linked -- forever young -- in the grotesque yet gossamer halls of my deranged memory ...