Bennie and the Jets
By Elton John
Released in 1974
I chose Bennie and the Jets for this blog because it reminds me of Valentines Day in Grade 5. (This would have been 1975)
When I was in Grade-5 there was a girl in Grade-6 that I had my heart set on.
Our school had an open area floor plan, which was a huge open area containing four classes, two Grade-5 classes and two Grade-6 classes.
It was perfect. All I had to do was look over my right shoulder and I could see her in the class right across from me.
I remember her teacher had a tendency to scream at his students when he was angry.
Our desks had a tray system where you carried your books in a six-inch deep, black plastic tray from class to class.
One day some students filled another students tray with water and when the targeted student pulled her tray from her desk a bunch of water sloshed all over her.
The teacher had a fit.
His face went beet red, his hair stood on end, and he started spitting out swear words like a lunatic demanding that who ever did the deed come forward.
After about five minutes of ranting and raving two students finally came forward.
Anyway, I knew this girl from seeing her in the hallway at school but I had never danced with her before, not until our elementary school Halloween dance at the community centre, which was called Ogden House.
I went to the dance dressed as an old man. I had an old-man rubber mask, I had an old man hunched back created from a pillow and, to top it all off, I had an old man cane. (I made the cane out of driftwood in my Grade-1 art class. The cane was really a candleholder that I made for my mom. It just happened to be shaped like a cane)
Anyway, a popular song at the time was Bennie and the Jets and I remember it was one of the songs played at the Halloween dance.
I danced with the girl at the dance and we become close friends soon after.
By the time Valentines Day rolled around I was bold enough to sneak over to her class and, with heart pounding, put the best Valentines Day card I could find on her desk.
It wasn’t long before I was walking her home after school several days a week.
In truth, she was a brazen young girl and so were her friends.
They always seemed to be flittering and fluttering about like a bunch of butterflies - and they liked to cause trouble.
One time I bought this girl a birthday gift and presented it to her in front of five of her friends, who were all standing on the landing on top of five grey, wooden stairs leading up to the front doors of Ogden House. (The gift was a bottle of red, white and blue sugar I’d bought on trip to the United States. The sugar was poured into the bottle in layers, providing a bands-of-colour effect.)
I had kissed this girl several time before, as a matter of fact I think we may have been kissing on an almost daily basis, so what happened next came as a bit of a shock.
After I gave her the gift she asked me for a kiss.
I closed my eyes, puckered my lips and waited in anticipation, but the kiss never came.
After a few seconds of standing there, I slowly opened my eyes and saw her and all her friends staring at me, then after a few more seconds they all started laughing. I think my face turned 20 shades of red but, besides that, I didn’t mind. I think I found it sort of funny myself.
Anyway, they also did something a little later that was even more shocking.
Me, the girl, and two of her friends walked to the local 7-11 convenience store during the lunch hour, (It was about one kilometre each way). When we got there they did something that was quite delinquent.
We bought our pop and candy and upon leaving the store they pointed to photograph’s of naked men plastered in the storefront window.
It turns out that they grabbed one of those filthy smut magazines, turned it to a page with several photographs of naked men, and dropped it between the front window of the store and the back of this huge magazine rack, which was pushed up against the window.
They thought it was hilarious and laughed at their own cleverness, but I wasn’t so sure of their cleverness.
Actually, I was indifferent to their shenanigans, shrugged my shoulders, and we all walked back to school under the spring sunshine as if nothing odd had happened.
(Retrieving the magazine meant that some sad, sorry store clerk was going to have to move the entire magazine rack and fish the offensive piece of smut out from behind the rack.)
Anyway, when the school year ended I never saw this girl as much any more. She moved on to junior high school, while I remained in elementary.
But I did see her that summer.
My hockey coach was a barber at a barbershop at a huge shopping mall in Calgary called Chinook Centre Mall. That summer I was getting my hair cut when I saw her walk by and wave to me.
About a half hour after getting my haircut I was walking by myself in the mall when somebody walked up behind me, grabbed me by the arm and spun me around.
It was this girl. She started pointing and laughing, and then she ran off.
Anyway, the next time I saw her was more than a year later when I went to junior high school.
What a difference a year made.
She was still the same – very outgoing, but it was me that had really changed.
Whenever I saw her walking towards me in the hallway I’d move as far right as I possibly could, while nervously brushing the wall with my right hand as if it was some sort of security blanket. I’d wave to her with my left hand and quietly say hi to her.
I don’t know what happened to me but I turned into a complete and utter idiot whenever I saw her. Maybe it was because she was in Grade-8, but the idea of going up to her and talking to her seemed absolutely outlandish.
Over the next few years, both in junior high and high school, her and her friends were always very nice to me but after high school I never saw any of them ever again.
Sadly, that’s how it usually is growing up in the big city. People move on and rarely ever see any of the friends they grew up with.
Anyway, here’s Elton John singing Bennie and the Jets:
Notice the fellow doing the robot behind the piano. I learned to do that in Grade-7, though I couldn’t do it as good as him.
I thought I’d play this Elton John song as well:
I choose Daniel because I once heard a busker sing it in San Francisco.
I worked on a seismic crew near San Francisco in the late 90’s, and on the rare occasion that we had a day off, me and some of the other guys in my crew would go to San Francisco.
One day a few of us were down near Fisherman’s Warf at a trolley station.
There was a busker with an acoustic guitar at the trolley station and he looked like a disheveled bum.
Anyway, when he started singing Daniel it was an absolute transformation.
It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever heard in my life. He sang quietly and played his guitar quietly and the song rang perfect. It seemed almost magical.
It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s like the air around him had suddenly been transformed.
Everybody was highly impressed and all of us instantly gave him a $5 tip, and other people in the trolley lineup gave him large tips as well.
Also, I thought I’d post this video as well. I talked about doing the robot in my last two blogs and this guy takes the robot to a whole new level. He is the robot god.