“a Coke (in crushed ice), a
There’s a commercial that’s been out for a few months now where a young, pretty, normal-sized (meaning, not Abercrombie & Fitch anorexic) black woman walks down the street singing and passing out Coke bottles full of the pale-brown elixir of the gods to surprised and appreciative strangers.
Everybody in the Weber household loves that commercial, not just because she can sing better than all the “American Idol” contestants, wannabes in all the Hawaii karaoke bars and 3/4ths of the Billboard Top 40 artists, but because the commercial itself harkens back to a simpler time in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, to the original Coke commercials made classics... the singing human Christmas tree (“I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony...”), the Mean-Joe Green meets little tyke (“Here, you can have it...”), when commercials didn’t seem so desperate to plagiarize from past hits or so blatantly corporate, but a genuine means of making you and me, the viewers, genuinely happy.
I love anything that takes me back to the simpler times of my youth, when all I had to worry about were school and boys; otherwise, I was just a kid, doing kid stuff, kick ball and roller derby with friends, wandering street festivals and cheerleading tryouts, checking out the latest movies with my dad during the evenings and my baby brother on Saturday matinees, (hiding under the covers when my mother went at my father with a kitchen knife –and missed – because she came home late again from her bartending job and he called her a whore one too many times, throwing up in the downstairs bathroom when the cops had to forcibly drag my screaming crying mother from the outdoor screen after my father stole me from an elementary school kicking off the ugliest custody battle this side of Sonny & Carly)... generally daydreaming at every opportunity about growing up, becoming independent, taken seriously, the bullshit I wish I could take back now.
Back then, I had to get up off my lazy ass to change the channel on the TV knob. I dialed numbers on a black rotary phone, waiting impatiently for the little circle with a bunch of other tinier circles to rotate back in place, the click-click-click of anticipation. I watched my fair share of TV, but I equally filled up the afternoons spending as much time in the sun sliding down my hilly backyard on a flattened cardboard box, or climbing a huge oak tree higher on the hill overlooking a playground and regulation Army barracks, sitting on top of the tallest, strongest branch, listening to K-59 on the AM radio dial of my round little Panasonic, and just living out daydreams in my head.
I took so much for granted then, my unblemished youth, my fearless naive optimism, my egotistical ambitions. I still do, until—news of a friend’s child graduating from high school, when I’d only last vaguely remembered Jana as an infant in my arms while on a hospital visit to check how her mom was doing—jars me back to the present, all 39 years worth.
It’s like Jackie Zeman (Bobbie, GH) said in “ABC Soaps in Depth,” just the other week. She doesn’t feel her age as a 25-plus-year soap veteran. In her mind, she is still the promising ingénue, just about to embark on a fulfilling career on the front lines of major, often-controversial, sometimes-earth-shattering stories (prostitution, spousal abuse, loss of a child), co-star opposite some of the most talented, sexiest hunks in creation, Rick Springfield’s Noah and Brad Maule’s Tony most assuredly, and be the envy of young women everywhere.
Then, she glances at herself in the mirror, or she is told by a SID reporter of those 25-plus years already lived fully, and then the memories remind her of her age. After that, she can do nothing else but find comfort and pride in her past accomplishments. Today, she is no longer a fixture at GH, her Bobbie but a mere afterthought, if that.
Unlike Zeman, I don’t always feel as if my life has counted for something other than narrow misses and dodging bullets. I’ve only cheated on a test once, but it feels as if I’m cheating all the time, barely getting away with it, and then what?
I can barely even remember that Coke commercial, unless a current one reminds me.
The past weekend, I happened upon the Boomerang channel, and the 1968 children’s show, “The Banana Splits.” Then, it all came back to me, how much I hated the cartoon filler in between the dancing. How the toothy cat reminded me of “The Monkees’” Mickey Dolenz, whom I had a crush on at the time, and when in the world would I have even watched that show if I was only, what, four at the time? I don’t even remember where I was then.
As I age gracelessly every year, I remember even less. One year forward, one year lost. Add a baby, and forget it.
I don’t remember what my husband’s hair smells like, after I used to swirl it around with my fingers falling asleep, the swirl itself helping to lull me away as my mom’s singing used to, then my brother’s guitar-playing, then, the radio on constantly by my ear, until I married Eddie, and he became my music.
But then I hardly see him anymore, the work, the work, the gigs, and more work.
Every time someone asks of his time, that person is taking my husband away from me, and, in essence, a chunk of time from my own life. I keep thinking that he spends more time with other people than me and soon, when we’re too old, gray and decrepit to know better, we’ll have all the time in the world together, but it’ll be too late, and those people will have gotten the last laugh on me, as long as THEY got what they wanted from him.
I see them as a murder of crows, picking at my husband’s carcass, cawing me away, with their minutiae, and their mundane details, and their necessities, bills to pay, money to make, reputations to earn, at his expense.
Would it matter one more day, if he were to just tell them to find another keyboard player as at the last minute as they tried to find him, just to spend the day beside me in the bed while I tried to remember the swirl and the smell of his hair? Would these people care at all that I used to be young and beautiful and unblemished once, the kind of woman that could’ve turned heads if I weren’t so consumed with growing up and finding someone to love me back that I forgot the rest of it?
Yesterday, Eddie and I went on a kind of date, a rushed five-hour affair where we wound up settling for a movie, the worst movie ever made with Jack Black and Ben Stiller in it (don’t even rent “Envy”), because I hadn’t yet gotten over yet another bout with yet another variant of the cold/flu season, then my ravioli and his Veal Parmesan at our Mia Roma. Over which, we tried to exact conversation, badly, from a lack of practice.
“If I didn’t have to work,” he answered my perennial “What if you were rich?” query, “I’d resurrect the Steely Dan tribute band and volunteer at the church.”
So the church, cursed vehemently by me on more than one occasion for being a part of those murdering crows, would have his full attention voluntarily? So, he loves it there, and that’s why he says yes to every gig asked of him even at expense to his own sleep deprivation and dwindling health, when he would come home after pulling in full-time hours at his day job, then an all-nighter at his roving jazz night jobs, to barely snore through four hours before charging out of bed without breakfast, starving most of the rest of the day to get through a rehearsal and a free service?
Probably out of duty, to avoid looking selfish and lazy, I answered, “I’d go back to school and study medicine.” I didn’t really want to, but then, I don’t know what I really want, besides, more uninterrupted time with my husband, without those church people taking chunks out of him and him wanting to because he’s fulfilled or some shit like that.
I guess I’d like to be fulfilled. But I’d like a lot of things. I’d like this so-called merciful, all-powerful God up there in the heavens to restore a functioning sphincter, rectum and anus, free from bleeding prolapsed hemorrhoids that rupture every time I suffer an extremely ill bout of stomach flu diarrhea (picking up chunks of ass tissue last night was an especially fun activity). Give me back my gall bladder and fix whatever it is that causes my stomach to gag up and run if I don’t eat enough every two to three hours, full-on meals eat, but then those trigger the IBS-D which my weakened sphincter (after a fistulectomy) can’t handle, causing occasional chronic incontinence that even the adult diapers can’t hold in entirely (diapers! at 30!), which then kicks off the diarrhea and the bleeding, rupturing hemorrhoids, which caused this whole mess in the first place (is my hare-brained theory), because after I got my first set removed, an anal fistula developed, and when that got removed, I couldn’t do anything without shitting myself, shitting enough shit to fill every toilet tank from here to the East Coast and back.
That’d be nice, God. Then, maybe I could be active doing things I used to love doing before I forgot what I used to love doing because I had to worry about insane bullshit like my exploding ass and where the nearest restroom is in every area outside the safety of my own house, when just going to the grocery store is a fucking hassle on par with entering a Level 4 Biohazard room filled with Ebola Zaire viruses.
And THEN, maybe I wouldn’t mind getting up early to jog six miles, work, freelance write, attend children’s activities like Gymboree with my son and volunteer at the Red Cross, maybe do a summer stint with Greenpeace or the Peace Corp. Maybe we could travel, go hiking up the Himalayas, explore the ruins in Rome, walk around the countryside learning about wine without once having to run for the woods to take a dump or a piss, like normal people on the Travel Channel.
Age isn’t the only culprit to denial in my case.
If I still remembered everything, I’d need more than a Coke and a smile to haze all that, ahem, nostalgia.
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