It is the Fall of ’88 and there is a half dozen of us sitting outside of The Tap, or Tapestry Room as some were wont to call it.
We’re in our Sophomore year of college and the weather is still warm enough for us to watch a parade of girls in skirts, shorts and assorted summer attire and them us.
In a moment someone will throw out some line from a Who song and we’ll start singing along.
Can’t say which song we sung at any particular moment but today I hear Who Are You?
Ask me why and my best guess is it is a combination of someone having asked me where I went to college and me wondering about a few things that happened this week.
Who Are You?
A teenage boy and are I wrapped in a serious discussion about people and how sometimes those we trust the most can disappoint us.
Somewhere during our talk I tell him there are very few people who have ever hurt me with their words.
“I have been pretty good at handling the old ‘sticks and stones’ thing we taught you and that my parents taught me. There have been very few times when anyone has ever managed to pierce my skin with their words, but it has happened and when it did it hurt.”
He nods his head and softly asks, “dad will you tell me who?”
“Nope, it is not important. They know who they are and what they did.”
“Did you ever say something that hurt them too?”
“Maybe…probably but there were times I wasn’t sure. I won’t lie and say there weren’t moments that I hoped I had because I am not that noble, but when I was calm I never wanted that. Wouldn’t solve anything.”
After we finish our talk I walk away and I hear Roger singing the chorus and remember asking the same question he poses. That is what happens when you get stabbed by someone you care about, doesn’t matter whether it was intentional or otherwise.
Well, who are you? (who are you? who, who, who, who?)
Oh, who are you? (who are you? who, who, who, who?)
Come on and tell me, who are you? (who are you? who, who, who, who?)
Oh who the fuck are you? (who are you? who, who, who, who?)
What Is Important & What Isn’t
I got into trouble because of something someone else said and mulled over whether I ought to reach out to the person with the big mouth to ask what the hell they were thinking.
When you are as good at getting yourself in and out of trouble as I am you don’t want or need any help which was part of my motivation for wanting to ask.
The other part stemmed from wondering if they had thought about the potential consequences of sending someone on a fishing expedition.
It made me wonder how much the fisherman knew about some things because if they had a certain level of familiarity there was no problem with their search and if they didn’t, well sending them down that path wasn’t smart.
There was also the question of whether they had thought about how I might respond to such a thing.
I am not always the happy-go-lucky easy guy whose silly tales are shared upon these pages.
There is a darker and more intense side that has no interest in confrontation but isn’t afraid of it. That guy kind of enjoys the occasional ruckus and periodic fracas.
Hell, he has been in a dozen or more hubbubs, multiple earthquakes, the LA Riots and evacuated from a forest fire.
That dude never worries about being called a crumb, pushing a few limits or tweaking a few noses.
But as he ages he has gotten quite familiar with determining what is and what isn’t important and though he was irked by some of this he figured it was possible there was no malice intended on anyones part and it was just a silly misunderstanding.
Truth can be stranger than fiction.
Changes & More Changes
We left the Tap behind a million years ago and the young men we once were are all in a place most refer to as middle age, those of us who are still here.
That is not meant to throw cold water on this or to be morbid.
It is recognition that in the decades since we haven’t just watched each other get married and become fathers we have had other experiences.
Some of us got divorced and some of us died.
Every so often I think about doing some research to figure out if the number of my contemporaries that have died is statistically sound.
Simply put, do I know a lot of people who have died young or is it a normal number.
My best guess is that it was a higher than average number but as I age chances are that number will change and if I am around long enough…
Anyhoo, my Dodgers are thumping the Diamondbacks and I am one of the faithful who is doing our best to will our boys in blue back to the World Series.
They haven’t won a championship since we would sit at the Tap singing Who songs.
That was a heady time, we saw “The Lakers win consecutive championships, the Great One come to the Kings and that World Series win I just mentioned.
If you were of a certain age it wasn’t the only one either. We remembered winning in ’81 and though we lost, ’74, ’77 and ’78.
In short we were well acquainted with winning it all, or at least coming very close.
And now, well we are waiting to show our children the big win over the Astros, Yankees or the teams playing them.
“You have moved more than anyone I know and dealt with more crap than most. How the hell are you still standing?”
“There are a lot of people who have had it worse than me, but I had enough and then some. Life is changes and more changes. I say it all the time, some will be there at the start, some at the middle and maybe a few at the end.
I pay attention to who they are and who they aren’t.
Who Am I?
Am I the guy singing the original or am I the guy doing the cover.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are the original because the cover is better.
Better because the second guy does something to make it into their own deal and that transcends what it was before.
And sometimes it isn’t transcended but it is morphed into something else that has its own beauty and meaning.
Something that makes you listen over and over and know that you got a chance to witness magic.
I don’t know that you would call me a wizard because I haven’t figured out how to shoot lightning from my fingertips and I am not a Jedi that can force choke you.
But I can say I survived every bad day and will survive more regardless of what obstacles are put in my path.
People can call me a freak, a zealot and whatever else they want because who am I isn’t a question I need anyone else to answer besides me.
It is too bad I never learned how to play the guitar or the piano, those would be nice skills for a writer to have.