A few years after Libby and I were married the radio offered two primary music genres, either “pop” music which, at the time, featured the Bee Gees and Elton John or country music which was highlighting a new band on the rise named Alabama. Libby and I enjoyed many of the songs of that Fort Payne band, so when it was announced that Alabama would be playing a concert in Chattanooga I decided to surprise Libby with two tickets so that she and one of her friends could have “a girls night out”.
Now Libby was quick to explain to friends that, at the time, she had a schoolgirl crush on Randy Owen, the bearded lead singer for Alabama, so after enjoying the concert, the girls decided to stay and try to get some autographs. When they finally got to the front of the line for their autographs Randy asked Libby if she would like to have her picture made with him. The star struck Libby thought it would a great way to cap off a fun evening so she said yes. That’s when things got interesting; as Libby posed shoulder to shoulder with her new best friend Randy Owen, she soon became uncomfortable when he put his arm around her for the picture, but that was nothing compared to what happened next.
With several, young girls screaming and yelling in the line behind Libby, the volume of noise was pretty high as they posed for pictures, so it was understandable that Libby had a hard time hearing Randy when he asked her if she wanted a kiss. It was unclear from the explanation of the events whether it was Randy Owen’s boldness, Libby’s naïveté or the groupie noise from the line behind them, or all three, that combined to make communication difficult, but all Libby heard was a garbled sentence. Libby said that she knew Randy had asked her a question so she turned to face him, leaning in closer so she could hear him above the screams and asked, “What did you say …?.” But, just as Libby turned her head toward him, Randy interpreted her movements as consent and proceeded to kiss a very flabbergasted Libby on the mouth with his arm still around her shoulder so she was unable to move.
Later that evening when Libby got home I asked her how she enjoyed the concert and I remember a very strange look on her face. Libby said to me, “Barry we need to talk….”, five words that, from Libby, almost always prefaced a long unpleasant conversation. For those who knew Libby’s personal code of ethics and the high moral standard that guided her decisions, you will understand more than most people, how foolish and guilty Libby felt after what had happened following the concert. Libby’s guilt was magnified since she joked with me before the concert saying, “Are you sure you trust me to go to the concert without you knowing Randy Owen will be there?”
I knew without even hearing the details that Libby had done nothing wrong, but she insisted on explaining what happened and telling me how embarrassed she felt for letting herself get caught up in the moment and acting like a silly school girl. I kept trying to tell her that there was nothing to be ashamed of and that she was not at fault, but it seemed that no amount apologies or discussions relieved the guilt in her mind. I would like to be able to report that I cupped her hands in mine, looked deep into her eyes and reassured her that my love was forever and I was not worried about silly circumstance at a concert….
The truth of what happened next was nothing like the tender romantic interlude that I just described. I said to Libby a little too enthusiastically, “You know, if you feel that guilty about kissing Randy Owen” (this is the point at which Libby reminded me quiet forcibly that she didn’t kiss Randy, Randy kissed her). “Okay sorry” I said, starting over, “You know if you feel that guilty about Randy Owen kissing you , maybe I could kiss Christie Brinkley and we could call it even”?
Looking back now, I probably could have handled that differently, although my off-the-cuff remark stopped Libby from talking about the concert since she elected not to talk to me at all for long time, but it didn’t do a lot to help build our relationship.
The irony here is that two years ago Libby was invited to attend a pink gala celebrity concert complete with limo ride and a pink carpet entrance to benefit the MaryEllen Locher Foundation and honoring cancer survivors. The celebrity that was giving the concert was Randy Owen and Libby and I were invited back stage for a private reception before the concert but when given the chance to talk to Randy this time she refused, keeping an arms length away from him all evening. I couldn’t help but tease her just a little and say, “Libby, just say hi to him, he probably remembers you.” I detected a slight blush in Libby’s face just before I had to avert my eyes because I was getting “the look”.