putzing around at 17
2004-09-11 @ 1:44 p.m.
(thanks littlebub, for reminding me of this anecdote)
When I was 16 years old I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band for the first time. The Born in the USA tour began, for some reason, in St. Paul and I got to see all three shows. The only show I had floor seats for was the last one, but that's sort of beside the point.
After the last show my friend Rita and I were looking for legalbeagle who had excellent seats with her brothers, and I happened to see a sight that filled me with great joy. Several aisles in front of me there was a woman with a "Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul" t-shirt on. The only sadness attached to finally getting to see Bruce Springsteen for me, was the fact that Steve Van Zandt was no longer the guitarist in the E Street Band. He was making his second solo album, and had been replaced by Nils Lofgren- and so when I saw the t-shirt, I was compelled to approach the wearer. I have no sense of shyness or impropriety when approaching a stranger for the reason of telling them I enjoy their attire. I think it is my duty here on earth to do so, for whatever reason, and have since (clearly) I was about 15.
"Excuse me! I just wanted to tell you that I LOVE your shirt!"
The lady smiled really genuinely thanking me and we proceeded to talk about how sad we both were that there was no Miami Steve this tour, and how much we liked the solo albums. Her name was Bobbie, and she introduced me to her husband Dave. They lived in Virginia and had flown in for the show since they were that kind of Springsteen fans. I found this on top of the Little Steven thing, to just add to their coolness. In our conversation we were talking about how many shows they'd been to etc, and then because apparently my youthful enthusiasm had touched their generous souls, they said;
"If you want to give you your address, we'd be glad to send you some tapes we have of live shows..."
And thus, a wonderful mentoring friendship was born. Through my letter writing with Dave and Bobbie I got tons of tapes- of Springsteen live shows, of Little Steven live shows, and more than that Dave took it upon himself to just randomly make me some of the best compilations tapes of artist's catalogs I could imagine. It was an education and a treat in every way. I was hip, but this couple were completist fanatics about music and so if I asked about for instance Girl Groups I would soon get, not just a letter revealing everything Bobbie found important on the subject, but (in this case) 3 tapes with the highlights of The Girl Group Sound divided into categories like "single hits" , Phil Spector, and Motown. If you look at any Rhino collection on a subject you can see the kind of tapes I was being gifted with. I was lucky beyond belief.
The next summer, without hesitation (because the beagle was also writing them) we took them up on their offer to fly out to VA for a vacation.
When we were there we visited both colleges Dave and Bobbie had attended (U of Maryland and U of VA) and all the historical things in DC, as well as going to Baltimore for the aquarium, dinner at Dave's parents house, and an Orioles game.
Dave was jewish and apparently his father found it incredibly funny that he was such good friends with two girls who attended an all-girls Catholic school. At some point during dinner I made the comment "oh you know, we were just putzing around..." this was met with uproarious laughter.
I was asked if I knew what that yiddish word meant. I explained that I had always heard it in the context of wasting time, and that it had been used repeatedly by a nun I was taught by in grade school.
Putz - Slang word for "penis." Also used when describing someone someone as being "a jerk."
(from the awesome list of yiddish words and expressions
So honestly- "jerking around" could be translated to "wasting time", but luckily no one was offended by my use of this word, and I was urged with a great deal of naughtiess to tell Sister Marianne exactly what the word "putz" meant.
She didn't know, and sort of didn't believe it. But she stopped used the phrase.