Sisters in blood, bone and yearning for Michael Bolton

September 04, 1994|By SUSAN REIMER

Four girls born within five years, my sisters and I spent our youth leaving scars -- real and psychic -- on each other. Each of us has little white half-moons on our wrists from the angry grip of another's fingernails.

When we entered our 30s, we found ourselves living lives as identical as the party dresses our mother once bought for us. Husbands, houses, kids, jobs. Suddenly we were each other's best friends.

Well, almost. Holidays ring with our laughter, and we party like coeds while our husbands put the kids to bed. But there is always just a little blood on the floor, from the cuts of tiny knives skillfully wielded. Men and the faint of heart do not venture into our closed circle.

"You are like the witches of Eastwick," my husband has observed. "When you get together, it is like snakes hissing."

My return to Pittsburgh, the hometown where the three others still live, is always an excuse for conjuring. So when Ellen suggested a trip to an outdoor amphitheater for a Michael Bolton concert, it was easy to see the possibilities.

Only three of us made the road trip -- creating an excellent opportunity to dissect the life of the fourth. Liz, Ellen, me and a pair of Ellen's friends. Five women in a van with a thermos of margaritas. (If the kids had been with us, we'd have packed something from each of the five food groups. But we travel light when we go alone.)

"I haven't been to a concert since 'Three Dog Night,' in 1972," Ellen says, and she sounds uncertain. She knows what to pack -- a blanket and rain ponchos -- but she isn't sure how to behave.

On the grassy hillside, in the port-a-john lines, we see ourselves in the 24,000 Michael Bolton fans. All middle-class, middle-aged white women. There are not enough men in the audience for a pick-up basketball game.

Divorced, never-married, married-with-children. Women with a few miles on them, real and emotional. Women with the money to buy the $35 concert T-shirts, but who have to ask for a large. Women for whom romance is the kind of novel they read.

"Danielle Steel and Michael Bolton. That's all you need to get through life," Liz says.

Michael Bolton is a tiny speck from where we sit, but his raspy-voiced, blue-eyed soul is full of the declarations of love that are a distant echo for women our age. Did he ever say that kind of thing to me, or did I just dream that he did?

"Said I loved you but I lied. This is more than love I feel inside . . . "

Romance is the unicorn in the life of a woman -- a perfect creation that frolicked and played when the rains began, and then was lost in the great flood that followed. We think we will have it forever. We look up, and it has disappeared.

Michael Bolton sheds his silk jacket, and the biceps that make his charity softball team such a success glisten in the stage lights. (Everyone talks about his hair, his long curly hair. Who are they kidding? It isn't his hair.)

I thought Ellen would lose it right there. He is singing to her, as surely as he is to each of the women around us. Each one buys into the fantasy -- like the moment in the Bruce Springsteen "Dancing in the Dark" video when he pulls the young woman from the audience and dances with her. That is the video playing in all our heads.

We want Michael Bolton to sing to us, to lock eyes with us and mean the words. We might want him to grab us by the nape of the neck and kiss us, too, but my guess is we'd settle for a rose. Women are always settling for a rose.

In the van we talk in soft, lost voices as we finish off the margaritas. It is late, and the kids will be up early. A couple of us have to work in the morning.

None of us wants to tour with Michael Bolton, to wait off-stage for him, to fix him something to eat, to wash his clinging T-shirts. Been there, done that.

What we want is that moment on stage when he sings to us and the romance is there, strobe-lit and in full Dolby sound. We all want that. Except Liz.

"I'd like my moment with Michael to last a little longer than that," she says. "Maybe an hour."

That Liz. She has such a wild streak in her. But then we've always said that about her.

To hear Susan Reimer read one of her columns, call Sundial and punch in the four-digit code 6156. See the SunSource directory on Page 2A for your Sundial number.

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