"I Don't Fear Marriage Now"
He stood, alone in the bright circle of light, arms outstretched, head thrown back, pouring his heart into the last, long note of the last song. As it ended, a sound, sweeter than all of his music to him, thundered from out of the blackness before him. He stood, limp as a rag doll, head bowed for a moment, as the waves of applause crashed upon him. It was the moment he'd waited for all his life. Bobby Darin, the poor kid from the Bronx, had scored a greater triumph at New York's Copacabana than even his idol, Frank Sinatra. Bobby Darin, the lost, lone wanderer, had come home.
At a table--his table-- a small, delicate blonde girl sat. She wasn't applauding. She couldn't, because she was crying. And remembering...And hoping....
Three years has passed since the day when they had first met in Hanson's Drug Store on Broadway, where all the young hopefuls congregated. They were both in a group, waiting for a bus to take them to a record hop in Brooklyn. Even then, Bobby stood out in the crowd, laughing and cracking jokes while half a dozen girls gazed at him adoringly. Jo Ann Campbell, fresh from Jacksonville, Florida, had come to New York with her mother to try for a singing career. Sitting alone--she didn't know anybody---she tried to keep her misery from showing as she choked down her sandwich and malted.
Bobby had just wanted to be kind, she thought, when he struck up a conversation with her, and stayed with her all through the trip, keeping up a running fire of jokes, advice and compliments. He asked her to have a pizza and soda with him after the show.
And then he stood her up .... There was this girl he'd forgotten all about who showed up at the theatre. The bus had left, and he offered her a ride, but she went home on the subway. It was months before she saw him again. But she never forgot him...
She finally got up the nerve to go, alone, to a nightclub where he was playing, and stop in to say hello after the show. She was shocked at the change in him. He was moody, depressed. The show didn't go well. She tried to encourage him. She told him that one failure didn't matter, that he had to go on believing in himself because he had talent, no matter what anybody thought. Then she tried to go, but he wouldn't let her, until he got her phone number.
They saw each other a lot after that. But Bobby was on his way up. "At first, when he'd call me, it was every Saturday," she remembers, "and he'd write, too. But then, I wouldn't hear from him for weeks. I wasn't used to it. I was raised in a small town, and boys didn't treat girls that way. But he never realized that it hurt ... "
Always, he'd come back, expecting that what was between them would be exactly the same. Jo Ann couldn't take it. So once, when he'd been gone three months, and came back to take her to dinner at a friend's home, she called a taxi. "Bobby, I'm leaving," she said, and kissed him on the forehead. He grabbed her and said, "Please don't go." But she went--out of his life, she thought.
He went to Hollywood, and he was a sensation at the Cloisters, and she read how he was dating starlets like Judi Meredith and June Blair. She knew he'd had a big crush on Connie Francis once, long ago, but she knew he and Connie were just friends, now. But these other girls... Jo Ann wondered, and waited. She'd tried, but she'd found that for her there couldn't be anyone but Bobby.
He told somebody, "I'm confused since I broke up with Jo-Jo. I've dated other girls, but it was always her, for two years. It was kind of like being in the Army--you get out, and you think something big is going to happen, but nothing happens. I have the feeling that what I want is right here. Maybe I don't know how to take it."
But he came back--to her. He told her, "Jo-Jo, I'm not good at writing letters and that stuff," and she said, "I know. I guess I wanted you to want me more than anything. But I know now I'd never want to take you away from show business. It's for you. You belong to it."
So she sat at his table at the Copacabana on his opening night, and cried. And hoped. And after the lights had gone out and the crowds had gone, he told her. He took her in his arms and kissed her and said, "I'm going to tell them all that you're my girl, Jo-Jo, and we're going to get married. This was what I was waiting for. Until now, I just wasn't sure--about myself, and my success. I couldn't believe it--it was like a dream. You can be afraid of dreams. But, Jo-Jo, I'm not afraid any more."
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