I accepted a double date invitation from Bruce Chace to go to Cherry Hill East’s junior prom. There’s no other way to put it: Bruce was swishy. He wore immaculately tailored suits and lived in a McMansion’s guest house that had a hot tub. We weren’t really friends, so I can’t figure out why I escorted a blind date as a favor, along with Bruce Chace and his beard. My best guess is I’d just gotten my driver’s permit and had a car, the 1972 Country Squire station wagon, which I rechristened, aspirationally, the “Love Boat.”
A biblical rain came down that night. I dropped off Bruce and our dates; I then drove the Love Boat into the rain, lost and drunk, and sang along to my Purple Rain cassette 30 miles into the Jersey Pines. I took the station wagon deep into Cherry Hill, past Evesham and Ramblewood, way beyond Tabernacle.
New Jersey is so small, I thought. If I just turned around, I’d eventually find home.
This Prince memory now seems way more than bittersweet. When Amy Fusselman, writer-editor of Ohio Edit, suggested I send along an excerpt from Shader–after sending her a way-too-long-for-the-web piece–this was the first chapter I thought to pass along.