Part I: Uncovering the Past
The trek to Connecticut was long. The depths of the Pennsylbama and New Jersey wilderness are enough to drive a man mad. I had spent endless days creeping through the jungle. The guides had disappeared, but I knew that I was close. The idol would be mine, and I’d be hanging from the wing of an airplane in no time.
I arrived at my parent’s house to much fanfare and rejoicing. I still call the place home. I haven’t lived there in many-a-year, but regardless, the place is *home*. It was great to see my parents, as I hadn’t seen them since April. It was equally great for them to see me – a solid reminder of their strong and magnificent genes. We ordered a pizza. A pie, more specifically. If you were to order a pie in VA, you’d get a blank stare, that is, after several head swivels to the menu. “Uh, sir? We sell pizza here. Not pies.”
Well, the pie was delicious. You can’t get pizza that good outside of the New York Tri-State area.
The night soon turned bittersweet. The Commodore 64 had been sent to the dump, the circuits dead from moisture and mildew. Apparently, twenty years in a dank basement does little good for all things electronic. That didn’t stop me from engaging in a late-night, nostalgic expedition. My parent’s basement is amazing. You may have seen in the hit film National Treasure. It goes on for miles and miles and is filled with priceless reminders of what was a really stellar childhood.
It’s funny, though. Whenever I’m down there I get a “Phil? What are you doing down there?”
Here are some of the items I considered taking back to VA:
A stack of vinyls containing: The Lost Boys Soundtrack
A stack of 45s containing: Devil Inside
A bunch of unmarked cassette tapes
A coconut, shaped like a pirate’s head (Yarr!)
A stack of books containing: Moby Dick
But then I discovered a bag of Cheese Doodles on the storage shelf. I lost focus. But god, where those Cheese Doodles ridiculously delicious. It’s no coincidence, that on every visit, there is a bag of Cheese Doodles on the storage shelf in the basement. My mother knows me well.
The following evening I headed into NYC to see my college roomie’s band, the Walk Up. Alex and I had a few musical misadventures in college. We’ve followed each other’s progress over the years. I was looking forward to hearing his new band.
It was a great feeling, walking out of Grand Central. New York is like no place on Earth. Perhaps that’s why my New England countrymen refer to it as the City. If you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods, and someone mentions going to “the City” it only means one place. So, out of the terminal and into the streets I went – looking devilishly sexy, I might add. I spent a good hour walking down Park Avenue before I finally hailed a cab and went off to the club to see the band.
They were ridiculously good. Now, I knew they’d be good. I had no idea that I would be standing in slack-jawed incomprehension trying to determine if that was the same Alex that was the A in T.A.P. (that is a whole other story). Everyone should check out the Walk Up. They are that good.
Following their set, we hit the karaoke bar. I performed sympathy for the Devil as largely a spoken word piece. I couldn’t sing so well at that point in the night, but I could speak pretty well – less to focus on. I was a staggering, slurring, beautiful creature. When that joint closed down, we went to what I can only describe as a karaoke brothel. It was large building (as per my recollection) with a bunch of individual karaoke suites. A place where friends could share intimate, late night singing sessions. Great concept. It was definitely nice to sit on a couch, kick back, and let Alex’s girlfriend serenade us like only she can. A little later on, some reject tried to start a fight with me. I think he was trying to convince himself that I was not as wonderful as I appeared to be. I don’t think I’ve ever stood up some fast and assumed the alpha-male pose of “come on, Cletus, I’m right here.” It appeared that I was about to clean out his skull with a microphone, he rescinded. Suddenly, I was the greatest guy in the world (duh).
I later found out that no one liked the guy and I should have given him the beating of his life. It should come as no surprise; I am a lover, not a fighter. I hung up my gloves after Henry Brown. That was years ago.
Festivities began to wrap up. Forties were finished. The karaoke screen was blank. It was time to call it a night. I took a cab with Alex’s brother (John) back to Alex’s apartemento. I was delighted that I’d be getting a couple hours of sleep before spending Sunday with my nieces and nephew. I informed John that this was good news. He looked at me, brow arched and said, “Phil, what time do you think it is? Have you looked outside?”
Lo and behold. There was the sun, rising over the East River.
I stayed in that cab, all the way back to Grand Central Station.
Up Next: Part II: The Greatest Rallier of All