That was us back in the old days, The Worms, on account of Peggy having a huge crush on Ringo and insisting we be named after a bug, and the fact that Bobbie’s main claim to fame back then was that he once ate a worm at recess. So there we were, The Worms, in our first picture. I was holding my ukulele, the first instrument any of us owned. Back then, rehearsal consisted of me playing the three chords I knew, Stevey singing, and the girls just dancing. They even had these awful choreographed dances to go along with the first song I wrote, Do the Worm, eventually released as a b-side even though we recorded it as a joke. Our insatiable fans loved it regardless of how we felt about it.
So this photo is the first, as I said. Of course, Johnny isn’t pictured because he took it, our eventual drummer who, back then, would just bang on a trashcan lid with two wooden spoons he stole from his mom’s kitchen. He was as close to a rebel as we had; he’d even stolen his old man’s camera, his prized possession, to take this. Then we had to wait four weeks for his little brother’s birthday until the roll was done and they finally brought it to the store. His nervous tics, for which he eventually became known behind the drums, were apparent even then. His father always joked about how he wasn’t allowed to hold the camera because he wasn’t steady enough to take a good photograph. Which is clear from how blurry this one is.
But that was the day it all began. It was Peggy’s idea to start the band, and she was kind of the leader of our group of friends back then, since she was by far the tallest, easily a head taller than anyone on the block. I remember our first kiss and how awkward it was…but I digress. That’s not really what this is all about.
Everyone probably recognizes Bonnie right off the bat, since she was the only one of us with glasses. The kids around the corner used to tease her, call her four-eyes, so clever. Some of the same kids were following her around like puppies by the time we hit it big, in high school, begging her for dates. She turned them all down. Good for her.
Then there was Ruthie, before her three husbands, before the drinking, before she’d even picked up a guitar, but as beautiful as ever. And her voice, even back then, could move an angry mob to silence. Even back then, even in the blur that is this photograph, you can still see her trademark single barrette.
Then there’s Bobbie, a character in himself, eventually immortalized in a certain Christmas movie, you know it, the one where the boy sticks his tongue to the flagpole? Bobbie inspired the main character in that film; the author grew up a few blocks away from us. We all went to see the movie premiere, only to walk out, seeing how different the kid in the movie was from our good old buddy, Bobbie.
Those were the days, I tell you. I’m the lone Worm these days, living all alone in my mansion, my friends and my family all gone. And out of all of the memorabilia, the records, photos, magazine covers, famous movie stars, films, everything, this is the only thing I kept from the days with the band. I gave away the gold records to girls I dated, sold the rights to the songs, gave it all up. Once the worms were all gone, and we couldn’t relive the moments of stardom together, I didn’t want to do it alone. No point. The only thing I really want to remember after all of the fame and fortune is the simpler times when we all lived on the same block, were so close, and were only famous in our own minds.
Those were the days.
Don’t forget to check back regularly as I continue the series of short fiction based on random old photos I find!