Me On Cream (or vice versa) by
(84 Stories)

Prompted By Concerts

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I was not big on going to concerts, for various reasons, so I particularly recall going to a Cream concert my sophomore year of college.  That said, while it was either at Tufts or Brandeis, for the life of me I can’t remember which one (or how I managed to find the venue in those pre-GPS days).  I went with a few pals and also the younger sister of one of my college/high school friends who was then a senior in high school and was staying with her sister at Radcliffe that weekend while viewing the campus.  Terrific, fun person, but this was always a “responsible big brother” not a “cool older guy”
relationship; I was there to keep her out of trouble, not get her into it.  (Ironically, while walking around Cambridge before going to the concert, we bumped into the woman who, many years later, became my wife — we all had gone to the same high school — as she was in town to see one of my/our other high school/college pals.  I had a sense that, while pleased at running into me, she was also wondering what the helI I was doing robbing the cradle with a kid sister high school date.  Years later, she confirmed that that was exactly what she was thinking.)

The opening act that night was a local Boston group called Orpheus that had just become a one-hit wonder with a catchy soft rock song called “Can’t Find the Time.”  Ironically, however, they found more than enough time, as Cream was hugely delayed in arriving and Orpheus had to keep playing and playing what was clearly a rather sparse repertoire.

The MC — I can’t remember whether he was a promoter or some poor schmuck college kid — kept coming out to spin some continuing developing story to the effect of Cream being delayed due to a snow storm in Cincinnati, and then its plane had just landed at Logan, and then it was being given a police escort down the Mass. Pike, etc., etc. It was all patently nonsense — why would they even be flying in from Cincinnati right before a Saturday evening concert and, by the way, there was no snow that day in either Boston or Cincinnati — and the crowd become more and more boisterous and doubtful. I think we all assumed that they were back in their nearby hotel too wasted to play or too busy trashing their rooms and/or each other.  I admit being of little faith myself but, since I was the driver, I really couldn’t leave without the consent of my passengers, who were all determined to stay, including my young “charge.”

Much to my surprise, Cream actually appeared just before midnight, mumbled some vague excuse and then put on an amazing, non-stop two-hour set. The only one who looked at all the worse for wear was their drummer, Ginger Baker, who looked so completely out-of-it frenzied and maniacal throughout the set that I confidently predicted to my assembled pals at some point that night that he would be dead in six months.  (I recall reading an article a number of months ago that he has been living in Argentina for the last few decades raising polo ponies.  So don’t rely on any predictions I may make about the Trump presidency, either.)

My only concern once Cream started playing was that I knew (or believed) that the Radcliffe dorms were locked at midnight and impossible to enter I didn’t know what I would do with my charge if that were the case, other than probably be thrown out of school and charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act.  (She was blissfully unconcerned.)  I can’t remember exactly how it finally played out — it was a really, really  long night — but I think we found an unlocked back gate to her sister’s dorm or something like that and I escaped prosecution.

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Characterizations: well written


  1. John Zussman says:

    I love the image of you at one in the morning rocking out to Cream and yet worrying about getting your date back into the dorm after hours. (No doubt the Radcliffe Parietal Police are still tracking you and, now that you have confessed publicly, will soon bring you in for disciplinary action.) Your wife’s disdain notwithstanding, dating a woman two years younger was hardly robbing the cradle, even if she was still in high school. I should know.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, John. And I agree that age was hardly an issue. It was more that Ruthie was indelibly a “kid sister” to my classmate in my mind. She actually got married the same day I did (the first time, that is) in 1974.

  2. bateginger says:

    Ginger Baker, who looked so completely out-of-it frenzied and maniacal throughout the set that I confidently predicted to my assembled pals at some point that night that he would be dead in six months.”
    Keith Richards still looks as if he can’t last more than a few weeks.
    As the old man says in “The Holy Grail,” “I’m not dead yet.” Ginger Baker isn’t either.
    I like your detachment from Cream as you describe the experience.
    Did you enjoy the music?

    • John Shutkin says:

      The music was great, but incredibly loud (one of my general objections to rock concerts). I know Peter Townsend has indicated that his significant hearing loss is due to the loudness, but I don’t know why more rock musicians, roadies and Deadheads are not similarly afflicted.

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