Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wish You Were Here








I think I know why my old friend used to flip out so much.
He was a big Lou Reed fan.
I remember one night at Hudson Beach in particular.
On the ride over he got upset over the lyrics to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'".
"Lies. All lies. Working to get their fill...that's not true. Everyone wants the thrill for free."
I sighed, knowing it would be one of those nights and focused on the road ahead and the stars above me at the same time.
It was clear out for once and not too hot.
I was wearing a light sweater and I knew the sound of some waves would be inspiring.
There is something terribly dangerous about the creatives roaming around at nightfall.
Especially at beautiful places like a beach.
My friend and I were would-be poets.
I chose spiral notebooks as my easel to scrawl my finger-paint project prose.
He chose coffee shop napkins and margins of philosophy and "Great Quote" collection books to compose couplets.
Or observations of wherever he was at.

He told me a story once about how he and a conspiracy theorist friend of his spent an evening flicking off satellites.
Paranoia was a personality trait of my friend.
You either dealt with it or you didn't.
And it never got too out of hand.


Well, occasionally.
Hence, this story.
It's hard for me to listen to my male friends complain about loneliness.
One of three things are destined to happen.
I think, "Well, I'm single too..." (If that be true.) "So...what if we were to date?"
A dozen reasons on why that's such a bad idea then quickly crush that.
The other scenario would be that he is the one with the thought and then there's the awkwardness of the moment before someone/both decides to do something or nothing and pray for non rejection.
On this night I just felt bad.
That's what happens thirdly.
Usually if I know they're a good guy and could probably find someone.
I believe there is someone for everyone out there.
Maybe multiples.
I give the stale advice, "You'll find her eventually."
He starts to go on a tirade about women then and what they do and previous life stories of how they've tempted him and tore him to pieces.
Some of what he spouted off made me cringe.
Then he asks me if I've heard much of Lou Reed.
"I don't believe so, no." I said. I had heard some. Not enough to recognize but I wanted him to switch topics.
"Harry's circumcision," he said staring off distantly over the gulf.
"Excuse me?" I coughed hiding the chuckle that wanted to escape.
"There's a song called 'Harry's Circumcision...listen to it. You'll understand what I mean."
"Well," I inquired. "What's it about?"
I asked for another sandstorm that I didn't expect.
This time his voice grew louder as he explained to me, in despair, how unfair it was that he was robbed of a piece of his manhood and that they (whoever they were) were still allowed to do this and how awful it was and he had no choice in the matter.
How I was supposed to understand that, I didn't know so I tried the soothing approach.
"Hey, hey man...it's cool," was all I could offer.
He seemed to get frustrated and after a moment screamed out to the stars, "I WANT IT BAAAAAACKKK!"
I shushed him quietly and before I could even figure out what was happening he was off and running.
Where he was going, I don't know but my instincts told me to follow.
I'm short. I can't run very fast but I was doing a good job of keeping up.
I kept screaming his name but he wasn't stopping.
We didn't run for long.
Not even halfway across the small beach but the both of us were gasping for air.
The cool winds whipped my hair around my face as we were closer to the water now.
The waves crashed onto shore forcing us to scream now.
"What is wrong with you!?" My eyes had to be as wide as the sky.
"I'm sorry!"
"You freaked out on me, man!"
"I know! I know! I'm sorry!"
He motioned for me to follow him back to the car.
"You alright?" I asked before we got in.
"Yeah. Thanks for the ride to the beach. I feel better now."
"Really?" I didn't know whether to believe him or not.
He was shuffling around his backpack.
The one he's always carrying with him.
"Yeah, yeah. Sorry again." He patted my head and gave me the smile.
This middle aged man with his acid torn brain who still had the sparkle of naivety and innocence in his eyes was patting my head in reassurance and I felt like I needed to lead him by the hand straight to someone who could take better care of him than I could because I was his terrible, terrible mother even though I was much younger.
It seemed backwards.
"Here, put this on. Please."
He handed me a CD.
I popped it in asking "What is it?"
"Lou Reed. I think you'll love it..."


(for my dear friend Nick, wherever you are)


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