Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Memories of Carrie Fisher

When I heard the news that Carrie Fisher had died today, I immediately thought of two things.

While most people may think of Fisher's performances as Princess Leia in her billowy white dress and cinnamon bun hairdo in the "Star Wars" movies, I suppose I shall always remember the metallic bikini she wore in "Return of the Jedi" in 1983. It was the first time I had ever seen her figure — that dress really hid her feminine physique in the first two movies, which, so I have heard, is why she wanted to wear something more flattering in the third film.

Mission accomplished. Of course, I was a hot–blooded young American male at the time, and I would have thought she looked sexy in a burlap sack.

The other thing I thought about was the one and only time I saw Fisher in person. That was also in 1983.

The occasion was a Simon & Garfunkel concert. The two had reunited for their concert in New York's Central Park less than two years earlier. The public response was so overwhelmingly positive that they decided to reunite and do a concert tour in 1983. One of their stops on that tour was the Cotton Bowl here in Dallas. I went to that show with my parents, who were Simon & Garfunkel fans (especially my mother), and my brother.

We enjoyed the show, but we never expected to see Carrie Fisher. The thought never crossed my mind, and I doubt it crossed the minds of my parents or my brother.

Nevertheless, she was there, and I guess she spent most of the evening backstage, but at one point she came out on stage and played the drums on a few numbers. A lot of people probably don't realize that she could play the drums. I don't think I knew that myself until that night.

But she could, and she wasn't bad.

In hindsight, that was probably something they did on every stop on that tour. Simon and Fisher had been married less than a year, but they were still newlyweds that night, being playful with each other to the delight of the audience. Even though it was probably planned well in advance, Simon gave every impression of being a doting groom making a spontaneous invitation to coax Fisher onstage, and Fisher certainly seemed to be an obliging bride.

That night in the Cotton Bowl was memorable for another thing. A hurricane slammed into the Gulf coast earlier, sending rain and strong winds north to Dallas. On the night of the concert, it was windy and a bit rainy — and the contraption that held the overhead lights above the stage was swaying with the wind.

As I recall the concert was stopped temporarily until the wind calmed down a bit, then it resumed, but Fisher's contribution was over. She went backstage, and I never saw her again — except in the movies.

It's hard to believe she's gone. Then again, this is 2016, the year that has earned a reputation for being the last year in so many celebrities' lives.

Let's hope Carrie Fisher is the last one.