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Terry Marotta: Can stars tell me what ‘sexy muscles’ was all about?

Terry Marotta

It was 80 degrees at midnight as I drove in to Boston, and above my head, the stars were twirling madly.

That’s how they looked anyway: like so many wee gymnasts tumbling and climbing, then stopping to land - Ta-DA! - with their little arms thrown high. All but Orion of course, who stood apart the way he does, manfully posing with his big wide shoulders and his sword clamped to the belt of that oh-so-tiny waist.

But if the stars were happy, then so was I, more than happy to be meeting the 1 a.m. bus that would bring our youngest briefly back to us from his hot little apartment above a dry cleaners just south of Harlem.  

This trip into Boston takes about 13 minutes without traffic, and at this late hour, I was expecting it to be as quick - until two miles down Interstate 93 I rounded the bend and saw them: the brake lights of 100 cars twinkling in front of me.

Cars as far as I could see, stopped dead in their lanes, a full mile short of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Stopped all along that whole rodent-ramp we call the Central Artery, which leads in to the city from this northerly direction.

Stopped clear up to the Zakim Bridge with its cables like the strings of a harp, the one thing of beauty to come out of our infamous Big Dig project.

I didn’t mind being stopped, since looking at people is practically a religion with me, and here were dozens of people, all at close range.

Cell phones lit up like glow-worms as folks called to communicate the delay to those awaiting them.

Then car windows went down, letting out laughter and strains of music.

Arms holding soft drink cans emerged. Cigarettes dangled at the ends of fingers.

When legs appeared, too, I realized I was among mainly young people -- because who else is out after midnight, really?

And then I heard The Voice.

“Hey MARY!” came the sound from a round male face in the back seat of a car full of young women.

“Let’s go get drinks, Mary!” it said in my direction.

I ignored it, but I could still see the young man out of the corner of my eye, his head like a toy balloon bobbling along.

“Come on, Cupcake! Time to Par-TEE!” he said three minutes later.

Good God, I thought to myself, eyes ahead on the still-stopped traffic.

“I have sexy mu-u-u-u-u-scles, Mary!” he yodeled five minutes after that.

Still, I stared straight ahead.

It went on like this for 15 minutes as the cars inched forward.

Then suddenly with my lane some 50 feet ahead of Bobblehead’s, he got out of his car and starting walking toward me.

When he was about 20 feet away, I thought, “Let’s end this.” I looked at him finally and smiled with what must have been a kind of rueful what-are-we-going-to-do-with-you-Son smile.

"She looked at me!"  he yelled back to his companions. “Mary looked at me!” 

Then to me, “IS your name Mary? We think your name is Mary.”

“No.”

"Susan?”

“My name is Terry,” I said. “Oh… . Well hi, Terry,” he said, and then meek as a schoolboy, turned, walked away and got back in his car. 

There was a lesson for us both in all this, I know, but I’m not sure yet what it is.

Orion and the gymnasts saw it all, so they may know, and not for the first time I thought, “If only the stars could talk!”

Boston-based columnist Terry Marotta has been writing for the nation’s newspapers since the autumn before Lady Di donned 100 yards of satin to marry the future king of England. She can be reached at tmarotta@comcast.net and PO Box 270 Winchester, MA 01890.