June 1996, 411 Union St., Brooklyn, NY
I would take the Peter Pan bus to Hartford to visit Jake, to see the action transpire at Scarlett O’Hara’s in its unlikely location downtown, unlikely because there was not too much left of downtown Hartford. In the 1950s its heart was ripped out to make room for I-91 and the parking garages for the insurance companies. Somebody should have filed a claim for that.
Nonetheless on the ride up Friday night I would start to get that feeling of eager anticipation, of knowing I was going to see a friend and drink beer and carry on: I loved looking forward to going out. At the bar I would watch loud girls talk and listen to the Dead cover band sound close enough to the Dead while an old local named Yogi played air clarinet on his necktie. On the way up, in my eager anticipation, I would talk to whoever was next to me on the bus. Or I would eavesdrop and be fascinated that not everybody lived my Hartford rock ’n’ roll dream.
6/9/96: The people in front of me on the bus are engaged in a discussion about religion. The clean-cut man looks to be from Utah but he’s from the greater Simsbury, CT, metropolitan region. He became a Jehovah’s Witness 7 years ago when he was “young,” 14. Now he talks about creationism in an aw-shucks tone of voice and ruffs his hair every once in a while.
Psh! What a mollycoddle! Then again he was talking to a girl and I’m sure he got her number in the end. Me? This might have been the same trip that, running to the bus and hungry, I found a tube of Ritz crackers on the floor of the Port Authority bus terminal. I was, of course, aware of Port Authority’s reputation for hygiene, but the wax paper was crisply sealed and not a single cracker felt crumbled. I ate all thirty-eight of them as I rode north. Chicks dig shit like that.
I wrote this song on the way back, and if the words describe defeat, it feels like I don’t mind too much, which I considered to be the ultimate victory. Maybe spacing out to the Beach Boys all the time wasn’t entirely in vain. Maybe the next cassette would be better than New England Music. Back in Brooklyn I would record it and then wait impatiently for my next opportunity to ride a bus and be excited for who and what I’d see when it stopped.
It’s a good thing you didn’t want to come to my party, cause no one else did either, it would have just been you and me, eating dip and playing games of Sorry. And every single time that I sent you home, said "Sorry!," snapped my fingers, made another roll, you’d look under the card table just to steal a quick look at your watch, wishing I’d sent you home for real.
Looks like I’m working the double reverse again. I think I’ve heard it said that two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights will turn around and make a left. Looks like I’m working that double reverse bit. I can say that I don’t want you, but now who am I gonna play all my board games with?
Well, if I only live to be forty-six, that would explain why I’m feeling so drained, I’m already in the middle of a mid-life crisis. There’s a moment in your life when you realize that there’s nothing left to happen except getting fat, and happy songs are sadder than the very saddest ones. When you hear them when you’re sad, you see how sad that you’ve become.
In the summertime here, the rain never stops, it condenses in drops from the window box. I turned on the air when we stepped inside, but I believe it was you who turned out the light. So I jumped on to the bed and slipped to the floor, the traction on nylon blankets is pretty poor, but I decided that was where I would lay my head so I wouldn’t have to get up from the wrong side of the bed.