I’ve always thought of the tube top as a white trash version of the more classic halter top Growing up, the tube top girls were the same ones who started wearing makeup by the time they were in fourth grade. They lived in Lakewood Colorado - walking distance to the Lakewood Amusement park where it was rumored that Joanne Morehouse (a tube top girl) made-out with a high school boy and let him feel her up in The House of Mirrors. Everyone knew someone who was there that night and was sure they saw something in those mirrors. Tube top girls were the ones who danced on their older boyfriend’s shoulders at a Marshal Tucker Band concert. That may still be true.
None of my friends wore tube tops. None except for Betty Shellberg. Betty was the Jewish version of a Lakewood girl. Her mom wore a lot of eyeliner, had lots of wigs, and must have owned at least twenty pairs of gold lame’ slippers. She was having an affair with Dr. Greene, my orthodontist. I once overheard my mom’s friend, Bev, call her a floozy. I had to look that up. Like her mom, Betty was well developed - and this was eighth grade! In fact, she was the first of all us girls to get breasts. Me? They never came. I was in awe of Betty. I thought that with those big breast, she must also have a big brain. She must be wise beyond her years. All the boys crushed on Betty. I crushed on Betty. Betty had a tube top.
I begged my mom to drive me to Fashion Bar Jr. - which was right across from Spencer’s gifts in, yes, the Lakewood Mall. As soon as I walked in, I spotted an emaciated pink manikin in hiphuggers and a purple tube top. And there they were -in every pattern and color imaginable.
The burnt orange and white striped terrycloth one was the it for me. They didn’t have my size (s or xs) but I I was stubborn. I got the medium and hoped that after drying it a couple of times on extra-high that it would shrink.
My tube top debut was going to be Friday night at Red Rocks Amphitheater to see…The Eagles. Now, I wasn’t that big of an Eagles fan, but my older brother had an extra ticket, and I’d go see anything at Red Rocks.- the greatest outdoor amphitheater in the word. Plus, Betty Shellberg was going to be there.
The top did shrink, but was still just a tiny bit loose. As long as I tugged it up ever so often, I’d be fine.
We got there just in time for the opening act - Dan Fogleberg. The girls thought he was dreamy. But the guy onstage looked nothing like Fogelberg. Instead of rockin’ long flowing hair, denim, and a turquoise choker, this guy looked like a bum or alcoholic from another era in his newsboy hat, rumpled black suit and undone tie. What the heck was this? I was mesmerized the moment he got to the mic. His songs were, I don’t know, beatnik like, and with these great stories about other alcoholics. No one else seemed to be into him, at least where I was sitting. In fact, he got booed a little. I felt bad for him, but he didn’t seem to give a shit.
Throughout the night I’d been declining the persistent passing of the joint. Marijuana has never been my drug of choice. For some reason, I always feel like I spontaneously develop a hunchback. I was getting antsy between acts, so thought I’d gamble.
I got super high by the time The Eagles came on, and I actually felt great. Even “Witchy Woman”, my least favorite Eagles song, sounded great. Then, at some point, I had to use the restroom which seemed like miles downhill. Also the rock structure behind the stage started looking like a raw slab of marbled beef. If you’ve ever attended a show at Red Rocks while pretty stoned, you would know. I had to get it together. I made it to the restroom, but could not find my way back. I heard someone shout my name, looked all around, and saw Betty Shellberg - the very last person I wanted to see in my condition - waving. I also noticed a few other folks staring at me, pointing and laughing. I wondered if it was the hunchback. I immediately stood up straight. Then I looked down and saw that my tube top had slipped! My left breast was totally exposed! I pulled the tube back up. Stunned and horrified, I still somehow managed to walk cooly back up the stairs pretending to know where I was going. The Eagles were playing “Take it Easy”. I tried to let the message sink in, but it only made things worse.
I finally saw my brother’s friend Dan, who was super tall and had on a kind of reddish hippie cowboy hat. I made it back to my seat before the end - there was still frigging 70 minutes left to go.
Monday at school, I tried to avoid Betty. Normally, I would’ve made sure to run into my most recent secret crush. She saw me and asked if I ever made it the show. So, it wasn’t Betty Shellberg after all. I wonder who it was that waved, called out my name, and saw a breast.
Betty told me she loved The Eagles, but absolutely hated whoever that awful opening act was. After school, I went to Peaches, the best Denver record store ever, and bought “Closing Time” by Tom Waits. I no longer had a crush on Shelley. She was dumb. I never wore a tube top again.