This is not a Puppy Love…

He just whispered in my ear, “this is not a puppy love”


Life passes so quickly, most of the time it’s a complete blur, but there are moments that stand out, crystalized, immortalized in the corridors of my mind. One of those moments happened in 1972…


I was maybe twelve or thirteen, in the throws of heady adolescence, waiting for prince charming to come swooping into Campbell, and whisk me off my bicycle to happily ever after. I had my sites set on a young man with a killer smile, this was a person I could fantasize about from a safe distance, create an imaginary future with, and dream about kissing without the anxiety of actually having to kiss him. It’s complicated. 

He was two years my senior, worldly, famous, and talented, but he held my heart with such tenderness. 

And they called it puppy love
Oh I guess they’ll never know
How a young heart how it really feels
And why I love her so

I saved up all my baby-sitting money and managed to convince my parents to allow me to buy a ticket to an upcoming concert at the Oakland Coliseum, five brothers would be appearing together, but I was only interested in one. I was positive this was my one opportunity to win his everlasting love. In fact my bestie Laurie convinced her mom to allow her to go with me. When I say go with me I mean with my Dad, Mom, and older sister in tow. 

My Dad’s Swedish, extremely protective, but he appreciates hard work, ingenuity, and enthusiasm. I had all three when it came to my plans for Donny Osmond. I had to babysit for twenty hours (the going rate $1 an hour) to earn enough money for a mid level seat, perhaps Dad thought Donny was a safe male to be infatuated with, and the fact that there was less than a zero chance that I would ever meet him in person (oh how wrong men can be). He lived in Utah, a devout Mormon, and I’m pretty sure he planned on marrying a Mormon. But at twelve I did not let the intangibles derail me. 

He was my first crush and I fell hard for this one. Tall, dark haired, green eyed featured on the cover of Tiger Beat Magazine for an entire year. I bought every one. With the passion of a twelve year old I started collecting Donny Osmond paraphernalia. I’m talking posters, albums, key chains, especially purple clothing (his favorite color). Laurie and I talked endlessly about this young man. We would sit on the highest branch of the neighbor’s pine tree with our transistor radios listening to Donny Osmond songs and interviews. I was completely obsessed.

The day finally came. Dad piled us in the station wagon, we drove to Margie and Bill’s, dear friends with a home in the Oakland Hills, who generously hosted us for dinner. I do not remember what we ate, or the tedious hours of adult conversation we had to endure, or how many times I fussed with my hair but finally…the moment arrived for us to head to the coliseum. 

There we were, me and 63,132 screaming adolescent girls, all craning our slender necks for that first glimpse of the Osmond Brother’s. I couldn’t believe Donny and I were actually in the same zip code. My sweet Dad escorted Laurie and I to our seats warning us not to leave the area, not to purchase anything from the hawkish vendors, and to act appropriately at all times. I broke all three rules. 

“It’s very simple. Years ago in rural societies, people told stories about Prince Charming, and girls dreamed of riding off on a white horse and living in a castle. Now young girls can see a Donny Osmond on television, buy his records, read about him in magazines, and dream of going off with him to Las Vegas.” Gloria Stavers

My parents and sister had seats up in the nose bleed section but my Dad kept his binoculars focused on me for the entire concert. In fact, he has stayed focused on me for my entire life, love that man.

When the Osmond’s appeared on the stage we leaped out of our seats, screaming, waving our skinny arms, shouting, “Donny, I love you.” We tried moving forward to get closer to the stage but the ushers kept pushing us back. I could almost hear my Dad yelling from above. It’s the same today when I get too close to the edge.

I was wearing swanky black bell bottom pants, a white shirt and purple vest, Laurie in a crushed purple velvet pants. I thought we would stand out in the crowd, we had planned our outfits for months, but everyone was wearing Donny’s favorite color, sporting Farrah Fawcett hairstyles, begging for attention.

Then it happened. He got down on one knee and sang Puppy Love directly to me. Yes. It’s all true. Don’t believe the naysayers. It was as if we were the only two people in the coliseum. We made eye contact, he winked at me, and I’m pretty sure he was speared by love’s arrow. I could barely contain myself which isn’t hard to imagine if you know me. I grabbed the first vendor I could reach and bought a life size poster of my beloved. It remained taped to the back of my bedroom door until I graduated high school.


“The hardest thing about adolescence is that everything seems too big. There’s no way to get context or perspective, ….. Pain and joy without limits. No one can live like that forever, so experience finally comes to our rescue. We come to know what we can endure, and also that nothing endures.” Sara Paretsky

Donny was the perfect boyfriend until I met Larry. Larry was the real thing, not only handsome, attentive, and drove a Nova, but a hot commodity on the Del Mar campus. Dad was never to keen on real boyfriends. He called them turkeys and at every opportunity attempted to shoo them away. Thank God Larry is unflappable and extremely persistent. Those tattered Donny posters came down from the walls, we tied the old knot, and that history is pretty well documented. I tucked those adolescent fantasies away and got on with my life.

But…

I admit, I have a tendency to speak fondly of my first love, not everyday like my friend Kim, but on a weekly basis, for forty some years. It never gets old. I weave outlandish tales, if I had managed to storm the stage that night, I could be living in Las Vegas, with Marie as my sister-in-law. I’m sure Donny would have found me irresistible. How could he not? I was wearing purple.

Larry puts up with this rhetoric because he knows Donny has no clue that I even exist, it’s a safe reverie, but that my friends is about to change!

This year Larry surprised me with front row seats to the Donny and Marie show at the Flamingo Lounge in Las Vegas. Interesting that I grew up on Flamingo Drive? No? Well I think it’s a sign. But it doesn’t end with front row seats, he bought the meet and greet package at the end of the show. I’m finally going to meet my beloved without having to storm the stage. With my parents  (now both deceased) hovering permanently in the nose bleed section, their binoculars focused on me, a total deja vu.

The day finally arrives, I spent an extra few minutes on my hair, and made sure there was some purple in my necklace! I know what my man likes. We were seated inches from the stage. Larry set off to cocktail lounge for refreshments as I wait impatiently for the curtain to rise.

It was quite a show, unexpectedly entertaining, fresh, funny, and engaging. Donny and Marie were energetic, adorable together, and in the background a slew of nostalgic pictures splashed across three huge screens. Donny ends up singing Puppy Love to me again, forty years later, it still makes my heart go boom boom.

“I am fine with ‘Puppy Love.’ I hated it for a while. But I still sing it. I have a country version, a sexy version and a cheesy nightclub version. I am trying to infuse it with maturity. I will never escape that song. I will always be Mr. ‘Puppy Love.'”Donny Osmond

After the show we are whisked off to a special room for the meet and greet. When finally it is my turn to meet Donny, Larry standing suspiciously close, Donny reaches for my hand in greeting. I smile and say, “oh no Donny, I’m going to need a hug.” He’s held my heart for so long and now he’s held me.  

Does Donny look a little concerned with Guido’s portentous gesture?

Yes, he does great hugs, I hope the arrow didn’t go too deep.

See how Donny’s leaning into me? Yeah, it’s official folks, he’s totally smitten. 


I’m Living in the Gap, playing all my old Osmond albums, reliving the glory days, join me in the comments! We’ll swap Donny stories.

Once a month I write for Across the Board, don’t miss out, cross over any time.

Anecdotes:
  • He’s a cool dude, not even sweaty after a two hour concert?
  • Still wildly handsome! 
  • Donny if you leave a note in the comments your greatest fan will be over the moon.
  • Marie is stunning, engaging, she said, “I’ve been admiring your necklace,” and then we talked about marriage, kids, and grandchildren. She is lovely.
  • Mike, I told her you said hello. 
And just like that, I have a new best friend! 


4 Comments

Leave a Comment

  1. My Dad and my best friend's dad took us to see Shaun Cassidy at the NY State Fair. Although I honestly preferred Parker Stevenson on \”The Hardy Boys\” (I LOVE an underdog!), it was still pretty swoony.

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  2. Guido!!! I’m dying right now!! You, my friend, have made my Monday!! This is hilarious and completely relatable to every teenage girl who had a pulse in the seventies!! Love it!!!!Sue Goudreau

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  3. What a great memory Kara and I agree Parker Stevenson totally rocks! Harboring an adolescent fantasy is one thing but hugging the real Donny was simply divine! I'm sure I'm only a faint memory in his mind but for me it will be a moment to remember!

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  4. Thanks Sue, I understand the tenacity it takes to actually post a comment on blogspot! Thank you for persisting. It's amazing how many women find this experience relatable! Donny Osmond was a cultural phenomenon and clearly a common fantasy amongst our peers. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas ~ thank God!

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