By Amy Phillips Penn

New Yorkers have been trained never to gawk, trip, or (heaven forbid!) photograph celebrities. If you are witness to this kind of behavior, scowl at the culprit. They are obviously not one of us.

I was living a horsey/doggy polo kinda life in Florida when one of my neighbors whispered, “Don’t tell anyone, but Bruce Springsteen is moving next door to you.”

Next door in an attached house, meaning that we would be sharing a roof, a wall, and some exceptionally noisy (and warty) frogs.

“I hear that Bruce Springsteen is renting next door to you,” said someone in greeting at the barn soon after.

By the time I got back to my driveway, another neighbor told me that Rick Springfield was my new neighbor.

Whatever. I saddle-soaped my boots. Then I flew to Northern California to collaborate on my lyrics. (They’re country, I’m city. I can write ‘em, but should never sing them. Trust me.)

Since the word was out already, I said to my collaborator, “Guess who’s moving next door to me?”

“Bruce Springsteen is his own person, and you are yours,” he mantra’d.

How California is that?

When I returned, the Boss and his family had very much “arrived.”

The first words I heard out of his famous vocal chords were a tortured “Ouch” and some serious expletives.

I didn’t even mutter an “Are you all right?” Mum was the privacy pitch.

A few days later the voices next door changed to feminine, amidst laughter and splashing.

My golden retriever, Holly, didn’t care who the new neighbors were, but she started digging under the fence as if she did.

A young girl giggled from the other side of the fence.

“Is that a golden retriever?” a more mature anonymous voice queried, laughing.

“Yes, that’s Holly,” I replied.

“Where are you from?” she continued.

New York… and you?

“Deal, New Jersey.”

“We used to summer there.”

“Strange,” she said, and invited me over, a “Deal Breaker,” if ever there was one.

Patty Scialfa, a.k.a. Mrs. Bruce Springsteen greeted me in torn jeans and amazing red hair.

“I’m Patty,” she offered.

Her daughter, Jessica, who was doing her own laundry—mainly britches and socks—was still in her riding clothes. She was there to show.

We shared pizza, a horse movie, and talked horses.

She told me that she was a musician; then she let me know who her husband was.

“The first time I met Bruce, my heart went ‘boom.’”

Gotta love her.

I told her that I had just finished a demo of my lyrics.

“What are your titles?” she asked.

“Left Over Love,” and “Let the Horse Come to You,” I answered.

“My trainer always told me to let the horse come to me,” she said thoughtfully.

This is a well known adage in the horse world. Don’t look, your horse will find you. Mine always have.

My trainer asked me to have her over to dinner so she could see Springsteen. I invited her, but stressed that I couldn’t guarantee his appearance.

He motorcycled by, as she drove in the driveway.

A week later, my brother, wife and my two nephews arrived. They had been at Disneyworld, and couldn’t go back due to an unexpected snow storm.

In the morning, a familiar voice was singing in the attached garage. My brother LOVES Springsteen, but in well-trained-New York style, didn’t want to intrude.

“Let’s take a walk,” I said.

My brother had fought big battles, so that I could afford this house. This was a clear reward.

We took Holly for company.

The garage door was open and the Boss, his family being the only audience, was giving a private concert.

Best seats in the house.

When Bruce and Patty went back East, they returned the dog kennel I had lent them, and left me some canned dog food.

When Katrina struck her awful blow after blow, I sent food and clothes to Louisiana.

I’d forgotten about the dog food.

I added the cans to the package.

I boldly wrote “From the Boss” on each can, and hoped that it would make someone smile.

It worked for me.

Featured image courtesy of musicradar

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