I’ve Got You Under My Skin

As I was driving yesterday, I heard a familiar tune. I think this version was by James Darren, but the one I remember vividly is the Four Seasons’ rendition of I’ve Got You Under My Skin, a Cole Porter song written in 1936 for the film Born To Dance and a signature hit of Frank Sinatra.

As I listened my mind was transported back to 1966. The Four Seasons recorded the song in 1965 and it was frequently played well into 1966. It became an anthem for me when I started to court my future wife.

You need a little background. In spring 1966, Karen was dating my best friend, which is how I was introduced to her. Karen and Bernie and Nora and I went on a number of double dates before Bernie had to report for basic training. Knowing he would probably end up in Vietnam {he was}, he decided to break it off. Of course, he wanted me to do it for him, but instead I drove her down to Fort Dix so he could do it in person. I was left with a puddle on the drive back and felt so helpless.

Now in the weeks from when I first met her to their breakup, Karen and I developed a close bond. We really became good friends — not in the romantic sense, but in the confidant sense. She helped walk me through my breakup with Nora {that’s another story}. We would talk for hours — mostly about Bernie, but also about our dreams for the future. We would meet for lunch and it wasn’t unusual for me to stop at her house for a cup of tea.

This continued after their breakup as well, but it wasn’t until late summer that I asked her out on a “date.” I didn’t want anyone to think I stole her from my best friend. I took her to a drive-in to see Doctor Zhivago {we both hated it and actually fell asleep, her with her head on my shoulder}. When I took her home, I gave her a polite good night kiss, expecting a small thank-you peck. But she surprised me. There we were on the porch under a dimly lit light kissing good night the way it should be done.

Before school started, I went to North Carolina for some time with my aunt, uncle and cousins. But I dropped her a letter before I left. You guessed it, I used the lyrics of I’ve Got You Under My Skin as the basis of the letter. Part of the lyrics are “tried so not to give in, I’ve said to myself this affair never will go so well. But why should I try to resist, when darling I know so well, I’ve got you under my skin” and “you know you never can win, use your mentality, wake up to reality. And just before I do, I stop … just because I think of you.” And I invited her to meet me at the airport when I got home.

Of course, I didn’t tell my mom or dad. They had no idea I even knew a Karen let alone invited her to go with them to the airport. When I called home midweek, I told mom Karen might be calling.

“Karen? Karen who?” she asked.

“Uhhh, just a girl I know.”

“Who is she? How long have you been seeing her? Where did you met her? Is she your girlfriend?” she asked.

“Long story,  mom,” I said. “I’ll bring you up to speed when I get home. Don’t even know if she’ll call. Uncle Joe wants to talk to you. Love you. Bye.”

The story takes a couple of little twists. Remember, I had no idea whether Karen was coming to meet me or not.

So I get on the plane. Usually, you’re sitting next to an overweight businessman {like me today} or next to squalling kids or some other indescript fellow traveler. Not this time. Next to me was a drop dead gorgeous blonde heading north to go to school. I mean, she was every teenage boy’s dream. Her name was Mary. The problem was I didn’t know if Karen was going to be at the airport. Although we chatted on the flight, I knew full well if I walked off the plane with Mary, any chance I would have with Karen would be gone forever. But to hedge my bet, I did find out Mary was going to NYU. Don’t know what I would have done with that information if Karen wasn’t there.

But she was there. While I was researching for my tribute to Karen for the kids, I stumbled across a letter or journal {I don’t call it that because I don’t journal} I wrote which summed up my thoughts at the time. It was written after Karen and I had started dating when, out of the blue, she broke it off for a month “to be sure.” I don’t particularly remember writing it, but it is in my handwriting. I don’t know why I wrote it. But I did. I don’t know how Karen got it or why she kept it all these years, but she did. There it was nestled among her papers and cards and letters. Here’s part of my description of the moment I saw Karen at the airport {remember I was all of 18).

“I can’t describe the feeling inside me when I saw her. Nothing else mattered. My heart flew and I was in a world of my own. I could have been greeted by the president of the United States and I would have brushed him off like a fly from my shoulder. It was there in the airport when I started liking Karen very, very much and when I got home I said a prayer thanking God for making that the happiest day of my life.”

You just never know what’s going to trigger a memory … a song … a movie … a phrase. This song — I’ve Got You Under My Skin, even though not the Four Seasons’ version — was the trip for just another of 40 years of memories … in the blink of an eye.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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3 Responses to I’ve Got You Under My Skin

  1. tdavis77 says:

    Music is such an associative thing. Every part of my life has an active soundtrack. It’s a privilege to read someone else’s story, with the song playing in my mind’s background.


  2. We’re on a road trip looking at awesome blogs. Vampires stopped by! Thanks for having us 🙂


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