Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mean To Me


It was a warm, perfect summer day in Wisconsin. It took my eyes weeks to get used to sunshine, and I precariously rode around on my un-cool, banana seat-less bike, when the sun finally came out. In the mid seventies, if you didn't have a banana seat on your bike, you had a seat that looked like a pair of cement filled under wear. Very un-cool.
Brad lived to do the wrong thing, even back then, and we would ride around our neighborhood looking for 10-speeds for him wreck. He was so matter of fact with the passing of his knowledge to me, like he was teaching me how to roller skate.
This is how you strip a 10-speed's gears...
Oh. Ok. Should you be doing this?

We hung out by our school a lot, because it was a few blocks away from our homes. One day, in the ditch in front of the school, I noticed something shiny.
Now, I've always been a lover of all things shiny, so that was nothing new. Every chance I got I was into my mother's jewelry box, and I was constantly putting dimes in the plastic crap machines at the grocery store, to try to get a tin engagement ring with a pink rhinestone.
Earlier that year, our school held a carnival, with games, and the prizes were all that stuff I loved and coveted, but held as my own little secret: boys don't like pink rhinestones, or any rhinestones, as a matter of fact, so I dejectedly took the 'boy' prize whenever I won a game. Don't get me wrong, I did love getting a little plastic gun or dog, but I wanted the jewelry more, which brings us to a flash forward...
Sitting in the darken theater in my Connecticut high school in 1980, I learned a little something about myself: The movie we were watching featured Bette Davis (I think The Virgin Queen, but probably not) as the Queen of England, and, as a sub-plot, a gay couple got caught 'doing it' while wearing the expensive jewels they had stolen. I wasn't sure if the jewels made them horny, or the sense of security their value created, or the fact they were stolen from the Queen, but they did seem to play a major part of their amorous actions.
"Oh. Hmm. Gay and diamonds and rubies. Hmm. Whatta ya know..." I thought to myself.
Anyway, back to that summer day in 1977 with Brad, I saw a bunch of those plastic bracelets and rings and necklaces lying in the ditch, mouldering away. They were also lying with the 'boy' toys, but there were just too many toys there for me to think any one or two kids had put them there. There were dozens! I started picking them out of the muck as fast as I could, then slowly stopped.
I knew none of my classmates did this; we all wanted as much of the prizes as we could get. So either the teachers threw them here, or the people who ran the carnival did. Someone threw the things I had wanted so badly a few months ago into the ditch like it was garbage. Right in front of the school! They didn't even try to hide it!
I began to see the there was a difference between the true value things possessed, and the value I placed on them. It still doesn't stop me from buying things like this on Ebay, though.

In 1989, I moved out of my apartment on Pinegrove, and found a place with Scot. It wasn't too hard to find a place, for the moment we stepped into the courtyard on Sheridan by Broadway, we knew this was the place for us. It was big and light and in great shape for a vintage building, and very affordable.
I was happy Scot wanted to live with me, cause I really didn't want to be alone. And with Jody leaving Chicago, Scot was glad I asked.
My Floridian landlord was happy to see me go, and I walked my things down the street everyday for a week, and needed only one trip to move the rest of it, with a friend's car. This was my fourth year in Chicago, but it felt like my thirtieth.
For some reason, I played Crowded House's first two tapes over and over on my stereo, in the bedroom of my new place. Neil Finn therapy sessions. To this day, I am on Sheridan and Broadway if I hear a song of theirs. Those two tapes gave me such a complete feeling of utter failure, I'm not sure why I played them so much; maybe to spur me on to make some more changes in my life? I felt that way because theirs was boyfriend music; it was music I would make-out to, it was music you talked about the meaning of over dinner. It was music that could bring two people closer together. You don't have that, you don't have that...
I would come home from work and run to my room and shut the door and put on their music, for the first few months, but eventually I ventured out of my room, to begin getting to know my new world.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

I used to swim over at the Gill Park building during my first summer here...I grew to like that area (Sheridan/Broadway) a lot. Even before I moved here, a friend from high school used to live right down the street, on Dakin, and when I came to visit him once, I was completely mesmerized by the Chateau Hotel, even though I could tell it was a fleabag...