“Angel Baby” now playing at the Ojai Frostie

suz10Try as I might to live in the present, whenever I ride past the Nordhoff campus and see those classrooms where I once sat trapped behind a desk, I still have flashbacks to the adolescent days of this dream of life. This really hit home yesterday when I got off my bike to walk through the parking lot just east of my old school and suddenly heard that haunting hit song from the ’60s, “Angel Baby” by Rosie and the Originals:

It’s just like heaven
Being here with you
You’re like an angel
Too good to be true

It stopped me dead in my tracks. That song is so mesmerizing. It puts you right into a hormonal coma where you just want to slow-dance into a wonderful, romantic dream.

For a moment I felt disoriented, as I realized I had inadvertently walked into some sort of Friday night oldies but goodies gathering at the new location of the Ojai (O-Hi) Frostie. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed there were all sorts of familiar faces standing around cars and sitting at the little outdoor tables eating burgers and fries.

I wanted to turn around and bolt, but it was too late—I was too close to the crowd. Heck, even Janis Joplin was not herself at her high school reunion . . . why should I berate myself for suddenly feeling painfully shy and out of place?

I found my legs, smiled, and tried to view the scene like an anthropologist. Just glancing quickly, I noticed that some of the women looked like they had the old high school hairdos, the kind you get from big rollers and hair spray. Several had managed to keep their svelte figures and were looking good in jeans, and I overheard one saying, “That song takes you right back.”

Yes, indeed it does!

For a brief moment I wanted to test the confidence I’ve gained through the years, park my bike, order a veggie burger, and sit down and socialize like a normal person. But I had to get cat and dog food at Vons and pedal home before dark. So I kept on walking, with “Angel baby, my angel baby, ooh ooh I love you” playing in my head.

I crossed over into the Vons parking lot, and the first thing I noticed was one of the checkers sitting on a bench, smoking and sipping a soft drink. I can just imagine how tired her legs must get, standing still for hours on end, smiling at every customer, and compelled to ask “How are you?” even as your feet are killing you.

Beneath the Disneyland veneer of Vons I saw how hard life is, even in this mecca of plenty . . . the constant struggle to make ends meet, and how quickly it all passes. And suddenly there you are in a nursing home, with someone changing your diapers and the TV still blaring even as you expire.

All the stages of life converge at Vons: the moms with their kids piling boxes of Trix and gallons of cheap, watery milk in their carts, one small kid clutching a huge frozen pizza, older folks deciding which cans of soup . . . everybody stocking up on beer, chicken, and chips for the weekend. While I piled a stash of Fancy Feast and Newman’s Own organic cat food into my cart I noticed a Hispanic man studying all the choices of toilet paper. Five minutes later, when I walked past that same aisle, he was still there, trying to decide which rolls are the best buy.

When I see families walking up and down the aisles of endless, ever-increasing, out-of-control, obscene choices of mostly junk food, I wonder if they feel as bewildered as my immigrant family felt when we first shopped in an American market. In our first years here, my dad worked odd jobs, mostly as a gardener, and I was aware how poor we were, watching every penny; every item purchased was carefully chosen. One hot day my dad went to great trouble finding the best buy on the biggest glass jug of apple juice that would last our family of five for a week. I still remember how my two younger sisters and I watched my dad pouring the juice with thirsty anticipation—and how he spat it out across the room. That cheap jug of apple juice turned out to be apple cider vinegar!

On the way out I noticed the displays of giant chocolate Easter bunnies: rows of huge dark-brown rabbits. Even the Easter bunny has gotten way bigger over the years! Glancing at all the Easter stuff, I remembered a Buddhist teacher saying how life is like a broken record and we play the same song over and over again. I unlocked my bike, loaded up the baskets, walked past the acres of cars, and took in the still-light sky above and glorious panoramic views in all directions. Suddenly everything felt spacious. Angel Baby had disappeared into the basement of my head. I was back in the present, pedaling past meadows blooming with wildflowers . . . A car pulled up, and the couple inside asked me if I knew where the Ranch House restaurant was. I pointed them in the right direction. They thanked me and said “Have a beautiful ride.”

And I did!

Note: After I posted this on Facebook a friend wrote, “There WAS a tailgate party, old convertibles, big hair, grey and white hair, trays and burgers—had the same experience going to the bank next door–big portable speakers out front of Ojai Frostie.”

Rosie and The Originals

It’s just like heaven
Being here with you
You’re like an angel
Too good to be true

But after all
I love you i do

Angel baby
My angel baby

When you are near me
My heart skips a beat
I can hardly stand on
My own two feet

Because i love you
I love you i do

Chorus:
Angel baby my angel baby
Ooh ooh i love you
Ooh ooh i do
No one can love you
Like i do
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

Please never leave me
Blue and alone
If you ever go
I’m sure you’ll come back home

Because i love you
I love you i do

(chorus)

Rosie & the Originals – Angel Baby
classic hit

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2 Responses to ““Angel Baby” now playing at the Ojai Frostie”

  1. Tom Erickson Says:

    Wow, Suza, you rally got me with that song! I often catch myself singing it, and it always brings me back to the dances we had in those days. Slow dancing to Sleepwalk, Mr Blue, Come Softly to me, Donna, Tragedy – so many great songs! Thanks!

    Like

    • Suza Francina Says:

      Hi Tom, Yes, great songs! All the more fascinating as I learn the stories behind these songs –50 years later!!

      Like

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