By Homer Hirt
As I waited in the checkout lane at Bruno’s in Gulf Breeze, my basket loaded with supplies for the hospitality room at our ship’s reunion, I glanced at a tabloid on the rack that is appropriately placed to entice housewives and other shoppers who have either a weight or a romance problem, or perhaps merely a desire to delve into the private affairs of the rich and famous.
But there, in big, bold print, was an article that promised the possibility of my being featured in a cover article!
There, in color, was a head and shoulders photo, freckles, wrinkles, cute nose and all, of DORIS DAY! And the caption promised that, inside the tabloid edition, would be listed, along with fellow actors, musicians and former husbands, her ‘SECRET LOVES’!
Her SECRET LOVES? I have secretly loved Doris Day from the first time I saw her face on the big screen, and heard her sing, and I still love her today!
No one else could sing the word "LOVE" like Doris.
No one else sang it directly to me.
For no one else would sit in a tropical rainstorm on an island in the Pacific Ocean just to watch a "girl next door" movie like "On Moonlight Bay". Never mind that the rain made it look more like an Esther Williams swim film.
For no one else would perch on a chair on the open deck of a destroyer underway at thirty knots, just to see her play a mannish Calamity Jane and sing, to me alone, "ONCE I HAD A SECRET LOVE, THAT LIVED WITHIN THE HEART OF ME". Hey, she was singing to me, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Homer Hirt, U. S. Navy, officer of the USS SAUFLEY, a unit of the United States’ Atlantic Fleet! With decks awash and salt spray pelting me, I was transported to the stagecoach she drove, hell-for-leather, through the tumbleweeds of Texas, and I watched as she threw her heart before Howard Keel, an insensitive clod who was rejecting her for a simpering dance hall girl! LOOK, LOOK, Doris, HERE I AM! Sing to ME!
Oh, I know that she played other parts with other actors. I even watched "Pillow Talk", and at first I could understand Rock Hudson having the hots for her, and I most certainly understood why she at first rejected him. It had nothing to do with his sexual orientation, but everything to do with the mental telepathy that I sent out to my darling Doris.
Did you ever hear her sing "Gonna take a sentimental journey?" That was just for me, no one else. "to renew old memories"…….Doris, Doris, how about some new memories! How about you and me going down to the lake to watch some submarine races? Or we could sit in a swing on your father’s front porch and listen to the crickets chirp in the cool of the evening, and maybe even hold hands, and hope that the old man doesn’t catch us! No sex, just handholding, and maybe a quick kiss, lips only, no tongues.
Oh Doris, Doris with the light dusting of freckles across her nose and cheeks, Doris with the perfect figure, Doris with the blonde hair bobbed short enough that it would bounce up and down as a perky next-door girl’s should when she walked with me down the sidewalk, to the envious glances of all of the other men.
So you and I are old, but you still sing to me, and I will forever be "your secret love" and should be at the top of the list in the tabloid, at least by right of seniority. Who else has carried the torch so ardently in wind and rain and storm and in my imagination?