Saturday, May 24, 2003

Making Time, Losing Car Stereos


Now that I’ve gotten your attention, maybe I should back up a bit. About five seconds before this not-atypical outburst, our hero’s friend, and tonight’s concert going companion, Forsythe, had asked Simon why his car’s gas-tank-cap-door was unhinged, pointing out the obvious fact that it had not been like that before they had entered the club. The moment he had started to mention this little detail, Simon looked in his window, where he could do little but to stare in disbelief at the gaping hole in the dashboard where his car stereo had been just a few hours earlier. Simon would soon be mustering up all his cosmic energies to let loose a torrent of obscenities, but first, a moment of silence in remembrance of the fallen dashboard savior. This was where you came in. Let’s go to the videotape, shall we?

He looked down at the pavement, where several cards from his VH1 Pop-Up Video board game lay scattered like the autumn leaves with which they were now intermingled.

“Fuck! They got into the trunk!“

This he knew, as the switch to the gas-cap door was located next to the switch to open the trunk. They weren’t huffing gas -- they were feeling around for the trunk switch. He also knew what would be missing from there -- some cds of friends’ bands that were intended to be sold on consignment at the record store he worked in. He wasn’t expecting them to take the toolkit, however. Nor the board game.

“I can’t believe they took the Pop Up Video game... Those fuckers!”

Simon walked around the car, inspecting for damage and possible missing things. He didn’t see his backpack, the one that went everywhere with him (well, I guess NOT everywhere).

“Damn it, not my backpack!! I was right in the middle of Miss Wyoming! And I hadn’t finished reading that issue of The Baffler, either. SHIT!”

Also missing was the brand new portable cd player he got from his parents for his birthday exactly one week earlier. They even took the broken portable cd player. That, he thought, was amusing, especially when added to the fact that they went a little wire-cutter happy, and simply didn’t just unplug the cord to the cd player. That was about the only ha-ha funny element of the crime. One day, he will actually remember to detach the detachable face instead of leaving it attached and visible in a fun neighborhood, parked beside a pile of amputee bicycles.

At this point, the frustration overtook him, and as the bluestreak of obscenities continued to shoot from his mouth as if it were a Howitzer, he felt myself turning green and suddenly attired in a ripping collared button-up workshirt and torn purple pants. He started lifting and tossing the limbless carcasses of bikes at the park fence, as if they were dwarves; swinging them at trees, trying to exorcise the these demons... or maybe just being plain damn angry.

“Chill out, man. Take it easy. Just calm down. Be cool, alright?”

“Fuck fuck shit fucking fuckers, lousy fucking motherfuckers fucking car stereo goddamnit!”

Music -- the one thing in his life that means anything. The one constant. Music has always been there -- and now, there was a gaping hole in the dashboard, where the music had once been. Simon wanted to cry. This was worse than Bryce Hackford singing Smiths songs for half an hour (or was that an eternity unto itself?). He’d had friends whose cars had been broken into (even in their own driveways), but this was his first time. He’d had his apartment robbed once, five years prior, and several virtually irreplaceable cds were taken. No trace of them at the local record stores. Not a trace at all. Eighty-eight miles had been put on the odometer of the stolen rental car -- the thieves sure got around. He checked stores as far as Bellevue, and left a list of missing cds, complete with police incident numbers. Nothing ever turned up. Oh well, he thought. Material possessions, no big deal in the overall scheme of things. Just a blip on the screen of the big picture, right? At least they didn’t break a window or fuck with the electric. That would have been worse for sure.

As for the girl; how did she fit into this puzzle? When was the radio taken, and did she have anything to do with it? Could she have? He tried reconstructing the scenario in his head: he had just exited the club with Forsythe, and two new acquaintances, Jared and Ann Marie. Jared and Simon were discussing random musical groups, when he happened to mention The Creation’s song “Making Time,” the UK Freakbeat anthem that was introduced into the American conscious thirty years after its initial release by its inclusion in the soundtrack to the film “Rushmore.” All of a sudden, a pretty, but obviously intoxicated, woman enters the discussion.

“’Making Time!’ Are you talking about ‘Making Time?’ That is such a great song! I was just thinking about that song and then I heard you mention it. Oh my gawd! That is soo amazing! To think the same thing as some random person on the street!”

She said her name was Emily, and that she was a massage therapist. She also shared with us that she was currently living with her ex-boyfriend until she could get a futon to sleep on in her own apartment. He couldn’t help but wonder if they still had sex with one another. She seemed really nice and was quite attractive. Was she really that excited about The Creation? Simon hoped so. He also hoped she would ask him to come home with her to Brooklyn, get a cup of coffee and talk all night. He had seriously been missing out on all-night talks since the end of the whole mess with Naomi. Well, late night conversations and... sex.

That would be a welcome distraction from the tedium of the current routine that his life had become: work late --> watch television --> check e-mail --> sleep from three until eight am --> lather, rinse, repeat. He kept thinking to himself “Please, please, please ask me to walk you home. You can trust me. Screw Forsythe, he can still catch the 1:46 train home. Pick me, pick me!”

She prattled away some more, handed him a cd of Hawaiian blues music, then disappeared into the misty city night. That was that. She was gone. If she was indeed their patsy, that wold have been the coldest thing ever. How would they have known it was his car? How could she betray someone completely randomly like that? She couldn’t have. He struck the thought from his mind. Maybe she just really liked that song? It’s possible. More importantly, would they meet again some sunny day? Maybe for coffee? Or something...

Simon thought about how much he was missing out on by living such a long drive away from Manhattan. How many chance encounters per week he could be having -- instead of all the usual missed connections and narrow scope afforded him on that ridiculous sandbar. If only he could get himself some bullshit overpaying job requiring minimal effort, he could get himself a decent-sized studio apartment where he could keep all his gear set up to record whenever the mood struck him. Above a record store that he owned. Oh, to live the perfect life.

Simon was brought back down to Earth suddenly, focusing on the newly present musical void in the dashboard. The ride home would be even longer this time. He tried to talk to Forsythe as much as he could, while still in shock from the evening’s tragic turn of events.

“What a fantastic show. I’m glad we went.”