Friday, October 01, 2021

House Party - Part VI

Friday Fiction

No Regrets, Coyote
“Look who showed up… ” said Scott, nodding towards Tommy.

A tall woman, wearing a designer dress, had walked, no… had sauntered into the room where the band had set up their equipment. Her entrance was too classy for a slink, but her subtle sashay did turn a few heads.

“Irene, the queen of small talk,” thought Tommy, “There will be no lack of conversation tonight.”

Tommy had a warm spot for Irene, they went back a long way together. Irene’s stream-of-consciousness discourse flowed continuously; there was never a drought when it came to the minutiae of her (or her acquaintances) lives. When they were young Tommy used to talk to Irene for hours until he gradually came to realize that with her the “log” was mono, not dia. Irene and her friends had spent a lot of time hanging out with him when they were young—but not making out. There was just enough difference in age between them that it was far easier to fall into the role of siblings; the path to lover’s lane was a much rocker road.

Tommy had always felt that he hadn’t been good enough for Irene. It didn’t help matters any that when he used to get drunk he would do things that he regretted. Nothing major—a single stolen kiss—although in light of #MeToo even that seems bad. But the incident at Woman Lake was definitely one step beyond a stolen kiss. It was a sunny afternoon, warm, everyone was swimming except Irene, who was holding court from her inflatable raft. Tommy had drunk one beer and then thought that it was such a nice day that two would be better, even though he knew that two was his personal line of demarcation. As he gazed at Irene that day he beheld a glorious scene: in a white-on-white linen outfit, backlit, basking in the late afternoon sun, she was a queen surrounded by her subjects. Tommy flipped the raft and Joan went into the lake. When she emerged her outfit clung to her lithe body, leaving nothing to the imagination. “How could I have been so crude?” he thought, thinking back on the incident. Almost simultaneously a devil in him said “But it was so worth it—what good are the glories of life if they are always hidden from view? No regrets, Coyote!”

“Hey,” said Irene to Tommy, breaking his reverie, “Looks as if you’re back in the saddle again with all that sound gear.”

“It’s like riding a bicycle, you don’t forget, here’s hoping I don’t crash, I didn’t bring a helmet,” said Tommy, “You are looking fabulous as always Irene, is that dress vintage?”

“T.J. Maxx,” said Irene, “I’m the expert of all the southern Minnesota outlets. It’s my superior sense of style. Speaking of style, where’s the Blatz?”

Irene always drank the lowest alcohol light beer she could; “I can drink myself sober on Blatz!”, was one of her non-drunken tirades. At 3.4% ABV, she just might have been right. She headed off to the bar. “A definite slink in that walk,” thought Tommy.

Tommy’s romantic reminiscences of Irene were quickly supplanted by the actual history of their parallel lives—his marriage and children; her various affairs and marriages. When they grew older they both moved to small towns and had done alright for themselves, with meaningful lives well lived. Candide.

It was time for the band to begin. Scott was the nominal leader and he nodded to the bass player who laid down the groove for In With the In-crowd. And they were off. There was still no hint of what the “surprise” might be. After the band played a few more songs Scott began to speak:

“There has been a rumor going around that we have a special surprise for you tonight… we have a special guest… you all know him… you all love him… Bob Dylan!”

Groans were heard and Tommy joined in. In the old days of the band Dylan would hang around Minneapolis from time to time so there was always a chance that it could be true—at least it was geographically possible.

“No, really,” began Scott, as Tommy began to sense a rustling in the crowd. People turned around when Scott pointed to the rear of the room, “Direct… from the Beehive State… you all know him… you all love him—Kevin!”

Shouts from the crowd surrounded Kevin as he walked to the stage and put on the guitar. Some people began to cry.

It had been almost forty years since anyone had seen him play. Although he was nominally the lead singer of the old band, as well as being the most prominent guitarist, Kevin was always a reluctant star. But he was never unnoticed. Major record labels, other bands, everyone wanted him. He and his family had moved out west in an attempt to find a better life. Tommy had visited him out there once. Kevin told him then that, musically, he had reached a dead-end in Minnesota. Looking back on it with hindsight, Tommy had to agree. Performing was marginally remunerative in the best of times and, with the advent of the internet and file-sharing, recording was no longer a viable enterprise either. Still, neither man had any regrets, some things have no measure of worth.

But seeing him in the flesh, this was a reality of now. Nothing lasts forever, does the moment of glory compensate for a lifetime of mediocracy? Tommy let this fleeting muse evaporate and returned to the task at hand—mixing sound. The horn players had been told what the next song would be and were arranging their charts as the crowd chanted “Kev-in! Kev-in!”

“Such an appreciative audience!” said Kevin, “We’d like to shake off a little rust with an old Curtis Mayfield number that Major Lance had some success with back in 1963… ” and then he counted off The Monkey Time:
There’s a place right across town
Whenever you’re ready
Where people gather ‘round
Whenever they’re ready
And then the music begins to play
You feel a groove comin’ on its way
Are you ready (are you ready)
Well, you get yours, cause-a I got mine
For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)

Now the dance that the people do
I don’t know how it started
All I know is that when the beat brings a feel
It’s so hard to get parted
And then the music begins to play
Automatically you’re on your way
Are you ready (are you ready)
Well, you get yours, cause-a I got mine

For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)

Do the Monkey, yeah (do the Monkey Time) Do the Monkey, yeah (do the Monkey Time)…

Ah-twist them hips (twist them hips)
Let your backbone slip (let your backbone slip)
Now move your feet (move your feet)
Get on the beat (get on the beat)
Are you ready (are you ready)
Well, you get yours, cause-a I got mine
For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)
For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)
The Monkey Time-Time-Time-Time-Time-Time-Time-Time
And then it was only percussion for eight bars until Kevin came back in with one of his funky guitar solos for another eight bars and then the saxophones began trading fours and everybody was dancing and all the years of gigs in seedy bars and disappointments faded away into ONE BIG NOW.

And when Kevin came back in and sang the last verse it was Tommy’s turn to cry. No regrets, it was just experiencing something that he had thought he had lost forever.

House Party - Part VII

By Professor Batty


Blogger jono said...

Kevin Odegard? Nice story, either way.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

I just can't picture Kevin Odegard singing The Monkey Time

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