Fondly: When I Was Your Age…

April 1, 2014

fndlygrphc

 

“When I was your age…”

 

When you’re dating someone 13 years younger, this is the moment your relationship changes.

 

It strikes a nerve—in both of you.

 

Suddenly, one of you feels young, while the other, extremely old.

 

It reminds you both that your love isn’t wildly accepted by the outside world, and maybe, the inside one as well.

 

It doesn’t change how you feel about her, merely the situation.

 

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Why couldn’t we have both been born in the same generation? Why did Grunge happen when she was four, while I was rebelling in college?

 

Why didn’t our nostalgia match?

 

Our passions were the same, and every bit as intense.

 

But she was still searching for something I had found.

 

When I was her age…sigh…I was every bit as passionate as I am now…and every bit as lost.

newestrings2

 

Retrospect: Yum-Yum. (Give Me Some)

March 25, 2014

retrospect

Four years ago tomorrow, my life took a rather unexpected turn. I’m not sure if it feels like it happened only yesterday, or a million years ago. It was the beginning of something that changed nearly everything.

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The day after that, everything did.

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It was the first step in a new movement, artistically, and a huge leap with a running start for me personally.

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Regardless of what happened after that point, at that point, I finally got the point.

 

What’s my point?

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I suppose that, no matter what happens in my life, I’ll always look back at this and respect the changes it stirred. I’ll remember new friends that would become family, a drunk tramp, bearded lady, fouled mouthed dancing girls, a caged beast, a moonshine-soaked hillbilly, a medicine show barker with suspect intentions and a miracle elixir.

 

And, of course, darkened elevator shafts.

Fondly: Well-Aged Inapropos

March 19, 2014

fndlygrphc

“You’re the first grownup I’ve ever dated.”

Ouch.

I’m pretty sure she meant it as a compliment, but it merely made me feel old, and it made her seem really, really young.

When a woman dates a younger man, she is called a Cougar.

When a man does it, he’s a lecherous, creepy, dirty old man in the midst of a crisis of some sort.

Given that most women mature faster, and develop rational thought, that seems a bit unfair.

Given that I act like a 15-year-old in my thirties only proves a point of compatibility.

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I’m sure when she told me that, she meant it as a compliment. I’m sure she meant she’d only dated boys until now—boys with fast food jobs, and a strange obsession with video games.

I had already caught myself starting a sentence with, “When I was your age” far too many times, as I searched for our level of equality.

But at her age, she was merely searching.

When I was her age…I was too.

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So why did I expect her to be different?

I didn’t even know how old, or perhaps young, she was until well after it was too late. I didn’t ever even think to ask. When your soul finds something that feels right, age becomes inapropos.

So does a house, a wife, and pretty much everything else.

ashtry

Fondly: Snow Day Pt. 3

March 15, 2014

fndlygrphc

She was rather good at vanishing.

A grand disappearing act, suddenly gone from my life, but never far from my thoughts.

She always re-appeared at my highest or lowest point, or simply when I would start to heal.

I don’t know if she was being calculated, selfish, feeling lonely or if, deep down, she loved me too.

My heart was developing a rather thick layer of scar tissue, but she could always find the soft spot, with little more than a well-placed smile.

Or the simple phrase, “I miss you.”

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Were I smarter, or perhaps merely stronger, I’d ignore it and continue on.

But I was neither—simply in love.

 newestrings2

When she texted again, she asked if I was home.

And with that, I found myself bundling up, scraping an inch of ice off my windshield and swerving through a snowstorm to see her.

I wouldn’t risk the roads for the office.

For her, I’d gamble away my life.

I did once before.

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Fondly: If Stella Were a Man…

March 14, 2014

fndlygrphcWomen.

After a divorce, they get their groove back; they eat, pray, and fuck. They are celebrated for their every step toward a normal life in the wake of a major change.

Nobody ever talks about what we go through.

We have to start from scratch, too. Learn how to be single, alone, and answering to none.

If Stella were a man, how she got her groove back would be labeled a midlife crisis, and heads would shake in a disparaging manor filled with judgment and jealousy.

Nobody ever makes a movie about a man learning to be alone, late in his life.

Nobody makes movies about having to buy trash bins and plungers and shower curtains to replace what was left behind.

Nobody makes a movie about a man who misses his friends, his king-sized bed—nobody makes a movie about a man who misses his dog.

Maybe I should write that screenplay.

Or maybe I’m just trying to justify her.

pollbk

Fondly: The Muse & the Fierce Defense of Artistic Integrity

March 13, 2014

fndlygrphc

This poor kid. I used to work with him a few years ago.

He was a web designer—young, uninitiated into the true ideals of advertising.

He was a new breed; the art school dropout who learned how to use a computer.

He came back from cigarette breaks reeking of weed, and was fiercely defensive of his work—his artistic integrity. He didn’t understand the utilitarian side of the work we do.

He didn’t understand we had reasons for things…

We called them clients and ROI’s.

He didn’t last long in the business.

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I used to be one of those guys full of artistic integrity and gumption—hunched over an old Underwood typewriter, listening to the manic tick-tack rattle on as my mind raced alongside, sometimes taking the lead, sometimes falling behind.

Most copywriters start simply as writers.

If they don’t have the first three chapters of a novel on their hard drive, it’s only because they already wrote one, before they learned how to make money.

I was one of those.

mtchmid

Fresh from college, with a Bukowski complex the size of Utah.

I didn’t write ads. I didn’t write strategies.

I wrote stories.

A few of them were even published.

Before I started wearing a tie, and making a life of consumer manipulation, I was simply a writer.

I finished two out of a three-book deal before the publisher realized nobody was paying attention.

They were the same story through two narrators. The first was called The Stone Cutter. The second was called The Thief. The third was to be a way to tie them both together for a full story with additional character juxtaposition. I had barely started when the publisher pulled the plug.

ashtry

And then I met the wife, and didn’t write another word.

She insisted I earn a decent living, so I moved into advertising.

I left the fierce defense of my work and artistic integrity at the door.

Until I left my marriage at the door.

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Now, as I found myself pacing around my empty little bungalow, a trail of cigarette butts and bourbon bottles in my wake, I wondered…

Did I still have the words?

Perhaps, with her, I did.

For what writer has never found refuse in a muse, from time to time?

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Fondly: Closer than Cheek-to-Cheek, and Slower than a Grind

March 9, 2014

fndlygrphc

The kitchen was dark, save for the fluorescent bulb, flickering above the sink.

I don’t know why we were even in the kitchen, and I couldn’t tell you if there was any music playing.

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I can’t dance.

I’ve never been any good at any variation of it. My sister tried to teach me, during my awkward junior high years, and that was enough to know I was born to be a wallflower.

But we danced, regardless.

Close.

Closer than cheek-to-cheek, and slower than a grind.

Her warm breath hit my ear, my neck. I could do nothing but close my eyes and breathe her in.

I had never been more in love, nor as afraid in all my life.

And I sure as hell wasn’t ready for the song to end, whether it was ever playing or not.

 newestrings

Fondly: Lines Pt. 1

March 7, 2014

fndlygrphc
I unlocked the door, skipping the mailbox, and went right past my best friend, happy to see me, happy to be fed.

I needed a drink first. Maybe three.

It was a day.

More than a day; the type of day that made me see my lines—my hypocrisy against my own youthful belief system. There was no denying it.

I wasn’t going to lose my job over this, just my self-respect.

And a lot of sleep.

newestrings

It came out of nowhere. We were ready to air. The media was bought. Broadcast, cross channel…set to hit the entire east coast.

It was a spot I was actually proud of. It was a cross between the rhythms of the 90’s theater sensation “STOMP!” mixed with an average Saturday afternoon in a modern family.

I made a point to have a mixed-race Husband and Wife. I made a point to cast believable, children.

If I could have made it a gay couple, I would have. But, I knew their lines, long before I learned mine.

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The client approved the script, the cast.

They sat, breathing down the back of my neck as I breathed down the director’s.

The crew, a friendly group of union workers who knew they had a nice gig, affectionately called us all Breathers because we were the ones paid to oversee professionals who knew what they were doing, only to cover our own asses.

They got it. So did we.

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The shoot went well. The edit took forever—building the beats, out of footsteps, video games, email and instant message alerts, ending with the wife tapping a spoon on the side of a simmering pan, and the husband and wife clinking wine glasses was a challenge for the sound engineer (as I breathed down yet another neck.)

It took two weeks to convince the client that having a married couple drink alcohol on television was okay.

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The week before it was set to air, we’re called into the dungeon, the office’s makeshift secondary conference room, set away from the sounds of hustle and bustle, nestled snug by the furnace.

Outside, the young anarchists and bored college hipsters were picketing again. I wondered if she was out there.

And I met a solemn group, a quiet Account Executive, confused Art Director, pissed off Creative Director, and the President of the agency, a loose cannon with far too many opinions the would be better kept to himself.

The Art Director and I were the only ones that didn’t know what was going on.

Were we about to be fired? Rewarded? Did I misspell something on a billboard? Did we land a client?

The President didn’t look at us. He just turned on the speaker for the conference line and dialed.

I didn’t even know who we were calling or why.

I could cut the air with a butter knife; it was so thick, as the phone rang out somewhere.

I didn’t realize it yet, but I was about to realize where I draw the line professionally, and the side I stood on would have greatly disappointed the younger, indestructible me.

ashtry

Nocturnal Admissions: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

March 4, 2014

len1

As most people who follow me here, there, and anywhere else might know…I’ve gone through a strange reset in my life. Where I once spread myself far too thin, pushing every abject moment of creative opportunity a bit past the limit, working my ass off on things that would never provide me more than simple, pure satisfaction at an alarming price…to put it simply, things have changed.

mtchmid

On the surface, I lost an awful lot; the show I was dedicated to, and the social life it provided…A band I had spent 10 years evolving, cultivating, and trying my best to keep alive…a band with an album, ready to be recorded, my finest songwriting to date. I lost friends. My job, and only source of income. I lost my ability to schmooze, to pitch, to come up with strategies for clients. I lost everything I had celebrated. Everything I had loved. You’ve heard this all before. I’ve mentioned it a time or twelve over on the book of faces.

And for those following along at home, you know what I did. I pulled back. Pulled back from the world. I spent my months hibernating. Retooling, rebuilding, reimagining.

Life isn’t easy, but it isn’t boring either. Living it gives you the insight to keep going, each step a leap, if you’re paying close enough attention. This is something I cannot wait for the younger generation to learn; that they don’t know everything. But I thought the same thing, as I made my grand declarations about life when I was young—the kind you can only make in your invincible years.

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My life took a hit, and then another…then another and another.

My life has never been normal, and I’ve learned from my mistakes. Though, some lessons, I fear I may never learn; being a regrettable, hopeless romantic whom believes in psychic connections and the undeniable yet altogether simple act of love oft makes me a poor student.

But romance must wait anyway. There’s a life to build first.

This hibernation. So many times I thought I should write, create—take advantage of the down time. But somehow, I felt as if that wouldn’t be an advantage at all. So I did nothing.

fmm1

I worked out, found the right job…

…And watched M*A*S*H.

All of it. Every episode from every season, in order.

The show began the year before I did, and went on until I was ten. The show’s intro theme was my lullaby long before I ever saw an episode. I watched the final few seasons as they aired, most of the humor and drama far above my head.

I watched the reruns. For a while there was an episode on some channel at every hour of the day, and I caught most of them.

But there was no timeline. One minute Beej and Haweye are pouring martinis, the next episode, Trapper is sharing the antics. I never got to see the characters develop and evolve.

This time, I served their tour of duty with them.

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I’m down to the final episode. I’m not ready for “That’s not a chicken it’s a baby” and I’m not ready to say goodbye, farewell and amen, because I know it will affect me.

It has been an odyssey— both watching the show in its entirety, and the act of rebuilding my life.

But here we are. My new job has begun, the final episode is waiting to be watched, as my mental and physical hibernation slowly draws to a close.

I told myself I’d get back to the things I love, as best as I can, once I made it through this show. One more episode, and I crawl out of my cave and let the sun hit my face. I get back to Fondly, and start my new short, Rough.

I have needed this break to collect my thoughts and to figure out what kind of man I want to be.

So, to my hibernation, I say goodbye, farewell and amen.

And to the world, I say hello.

 fmm2

Stay tuned.

Nocturnal Admissions: What do I know?

January 30, 2014

2am2

 

I don’t know. That’s how everything starts. We don’t know, but we want to.

 

We are indeed game, if we’re ready to close our eyes and jump, rather than lay down and sleep through the alarm.

 

What do I know?

 

More than I thought, when I started thinking.

 

I know that I owe my last girlfriend an apology. I never loved her, not the way I tried to convince myself I did. I cared about her, as much as anyone else that mattered in my life…I took care of her and tried my best to be good to her, but we both knew the truth. At least we both should have.

 

I lost my crock pot. I loved that damned thing.

 

And there is the extent of loss.

 

I miss my crock pot more than any moment we shared. It was a motion. We went through it.

 

I didn’t lie to her, so much as myself, and I brought her along for the ride.

 

It wasn’t on purpose, and on the surface, I didn’t know any better than her.

 

Far too reminiscent of a marriage I worked so very hard to sever in every way, shape and/or form.

 

The saddest thing of it, really, is the simple fact that an episode of a show, well past its prime, and on its final leg, put it succinctly enough for me to understand.

 

You can’t move on until you let go.

 

Bam.

 

I’m sure a thousand memes have said this in one way or another, but the strangest things can influence a moment of thought, if you’re thinking at that moment.

 

And that is the most simple of truths in the matter of love.

 

And when you can’t?

 

When you simply don’t understand how?

 

Then you cannot move forward. Period.

 

Even when moving in the other direction isn’t an option either.

 

What does one do?

 

Nothing.

 

Love isn’t forced, though it is indeed a force. Our heart wants what it wants.

 

That isn’t to say it will only ever want but one thing, but it does work on its own accord, for better or (usually) worse. To try to force it in another direction will only be an exercise in futility. I prefer weights and yoga.

 

The world is out there, and chances are waiting to be taken.

 

And take them I am.

 

Because our gut has a say in the matter, as well; the heart may scream, but the gut will speak to us like rational adults.

 

So here I stand, on the cusp of something potentially great.

 

Something that could change the course of my life, to a certain level.

 

The removal of space, the opening of the skies as a professional.

 

The chance to follow my heart and passion.

 

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

 

Making a life out of those two things? If we can?

 

I speak not as a writer, a blogger, a fallen frontman, nor advertiser or poet.

 

I speak as a man on the cusp of potential.

 

I recognize my weights, my anchors, and I understand them.

 

What do I know?

 

An awful lot.

 

Who I am.

 

What I want.

 

Where I intend to go.

 

How I get there is merely the adventure—the dues we must pay to find our place.

 

The fun of it all.

 

At least when I look back.

Love songs and relevance

January 12, 2014

lv

 

She made love songs relevant again. For the first time in more than 10 years.

 

Ours was a love story with a very defined soundtrack.

 

And now.

 

Songs that once filled me and made me float are a heavy weight tied around my ankle.

 

Songs I love that I can never listen to again without mourning.

 

But she made love songs relevant again.

 

And someday, I will find a new song, as relevant as the past.

 

Because kitchens were made for a slow dance.

 

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Wayfaring Stranger

January 10, 2014

mmi

 

It’s been a rather long time since I’ve written anything outside a cover letter, resume and case studies for my portfolio. I’m chomping at the bit to get back to it, I have two short stories I want to begin writing, but not until I can devote enough thought into them to create something that is, by my definition, worthwhile.

 

I’ve been busy putting together my employment media, and searching for jobs all over the country.

 

For the curious, here’s my web portfolio, an organic piece that grows and shifts with time and work. Just click the image below.

 

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See ya soon, folks!

 

cheers

Hemingway and the Art of Being Concise

December 10, 2013

mmi

For sale: Baby Shoes, never worn.

Six words, one very full story.

As the legend goes, famed author Ernest Hemingway won a bet with those six words. While lunching with friends at the Algonquin, he wagered ten dollars to everyone sitting at the table (and probably a bartender and a few waitresses) that he could craft an entire story in just six words.

And then he did—on a cocktail napkin.

Six words. That’s all it took to make an impact. Hemingway proved that you can get right to the point, without missing it.

He’d probably punch me for saying it, but he would have been one hell of an ad man.

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There’s a lot of similarity between that storied literary tale and advertising; beyond scribbling something on a cocktail napkin, a concise message must tell a whole story, and it’s worth far more than a few ten dollar bills over lunch.

It’s the difference between making your point, or blending in with the rest of the white noise.

The average focus-attention span for a human is 7 seconds, and it decreases annually—that’s two seconds shorter than a goldfish. Divide that time in half while in motion.

That isn’t a lot of time to make an impact.

You don’t have time to explain every detail, but if done correctly, it’s enough to stimulate the desire to know more.

How does one say so much with so few words?

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It’s a matter of selecting the words carefully, and with both sides of the brain—and what is left between those words, is the true craft of writing.

Be it humor or wit, a touching moment, the beginning of a mystery or a desire to grab a person by the shoulders and scream, “LOOK AT THIS,” the only way to say more is to get their attention in the first place.

In about six words or less.

Hemingway proved it can be done. Now it’s up to us to continue doing it correctly.

What will your six words be?

newestrings

relevance

December 9, 2013

Oh, how I wish I were still relevant…

If ever I wished we still mattered, it would be now, that I have nothing.

But then, you are a part of all I have lost.

Fondly: Six Weeks No Idea…

December 9, 2013

fndlygrphc

 

We were down to the wire, with not enough left to even hang ourselves.

 

Still asking, “What’s the big idea?”

 

Six weeks.

 

Six solid weeks of throwing anything and everything against the wall to see if anything would stick. Perhaps we weren’t as dynamic and creative as we told people we were.

 

Or perhaps my mind was elsewhere. Leaving your life behind in a cloud of dust can be distracting, at times.

 

So can falling in love.

 

A lot can happen in six weeks…except, of course a good idea.

 

Where do ideas even come from?

 

The more we thought about it, the harder it was to answer that question.

 

The pitch was less than 48 hours away, and we had safe, we had easy; but we didn’t have it—that big idea that was actually worth getting behind, rather than merely executing for billable hours.

 

The workday had ended, and the overcast day would soon be any other night. I didn’t want to stay in the office, drinking heavily and coming up with bad ideas any longer. I didn’t really want to go home and drink heavily while chain smoking and coming up with bad ideas either.

 newestrings

So I walked.

 

And walked.

 

The question was still in my mind. What were we trying to say? What was the point? How do you get consumers to give a brand one more chance? What were we trying to do, and how did we want to do it?

 

We had done a lot of work before ever even thinking about campaigns or font selections. We had to have something worthwhile to sell. We spent countless (billable) hours helping our client change how they did things from top to bottom. We helped them become the type of company we could feel good advertising. But how would we convince the world as much?

 

I kept walking, past old buildings cracked and ignored, a hidden treasure of the city.

 

Over broken sidewalks, and past a wrought iron fence in poor repair.

 

Then I noticed something. Something strange.

 

Something wonderful.

 

I turned around and walked back a few steps, and looked again in wonder, repeating the process enough times to look like a man off his medications.

 

Never mind the fact I was.

 

I fumbled through my pockets for my phone, and called the art director. I knew where he was, and what he was doing.

 

“Pay your tab, and meet me back at the office.”

 

I had an idea. It was big.

 

mtchmid

Be Thy Name

December 3, 2013

nxt

 

The stones, the sticks.

 

The arrows. The slings.

 

Outrageous.

 

Fortune.

 

Be thy name.

 

And I shall sing once more.

fmm2

Nocturnal Admissions: Thoughts as simple as a kiss…

November 27, 2013

2am2

I’ve been sitting in that rather strange place tonight. Trapped between deep thought, a million stories to be written, and the simple lack of alertness to do justice to the prose.

Tonight, my mind has been coming back around, again and again, to the kiss.

The first kiss of any relationship.

The second, the third, and the 300th.

You can tell a lot from a kiss. The first one, usually desperate, awkward or accidental is merely a leap together. The risk that, in that moment, you both are willing to take.

But the ones that follow, as your lips learn each other, fitting together like pieces of a puzzle—those are the ones that matter.

I have kissed many a beautiful young woman in my lifetime, but very few have been the type you think of days later; months later—years later.

It’s more than love, more than intimacy. It’s passion.

It’s a whisper in the ear, over and over again, reminding you that you aren’t in this alone. The warmth of a big spoon, stirring, stirring.

When the lips fit, as if they were designed for one another, it is a rarity, and presents a far deeper connection than three simple, often misused words can.

When the lips fit, the souls tend to follow, even if the heart cannot.

mtchmid

The Dapper King Takes Vegas: Epilogue

November 19, 2013

vgs1a

The trip started off so nice and polite. Earnest, even. Standing in the airport bar, offering to share my table with a nice family that wanted a bite.

Two minutes later.

A friend walks by, on the same flight to the same city. And he asked what I was going to be doing.

47 seconds into the diatribe, the nice family opted to move.

But hey. This is my first vacation since 2008, and even then I was with the wrong person, dictating our every move.

But now I dictate me. My choices, my movements and my leisure.

lxr1

I could sit here and recount my drunken flight there, the crazy weekend that ensued…

I could go on about the limos and personal chef and endless river of free booze, but none of that holds a candle to the bigger picture of the trip; the people, the event, the simple notion of being in the moment for the moment every moment.

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It’s a rare occasion when you find yourself surrounded by so much quality in a group. So many dynamic people willing to smile, converse and simply enjoy their time.

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Genuine people.

I could wax poetic about hookers, bowties, sugar hearts and the blinking lights of the strip…I could lament about the 13.5 hour stay at the airport on the final day, and getting lost in the casino trying to find an exit or a clock…Regale you with adventures on and off Vegas Blvd…

neo1

I could have come home with a plastic bag full of shot glasses, postcards and T-Shirts…

But my souvenirs come from a much deeper, less tangible place.

Truthfully, we could have been in Iowa or Detroit, and I would have taken home the same level of satisfaction.

It isn’t where you are, but with whom you are with.

vgs3a

Vegas.

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The Dapper King Takes Vegas: Prologue

November 13, 2013

vgs1a

Oh Vegas.

 

Soon, I will upon you, drinking your cocktails and smiling at your women.

 

This isn’t like the last time—the first time.

 

Though I didn’t gamble much, and lost even less, I walked away with the feeling that I merely broke even.

 chp

 

Walking the strip, with the wrong people for the wrong reasons…

 

I was merely another family lost in Disneyland.

 

When I left, with barely a hangover from the experience, I vowed never to return unless I could do it properly.

 sands

The swirl of friends and limos and booze and women, dancing in the lights like the fountains of the Bellagio, all shaken up for me, a martini ready for its olive.

 vgs

And I am a thirsty man.

 

Vegas.

 

In the sudden rush of a hot wind, like the breath of a former lover on your neck, I’m coming back for you.

 

vegas

The Suicide Jones: Nah, Nah-Nah, Nah-Nuh Nah-Nah…

November 7, 2013

sj

*AUTHOR’S NOTE

This is the second to last chapter of the Suicide Jones. The final chapter will not be posted within this blog. Look for its official publication in 2014 to see how it all ends.

12

 

            “Where to, miss?” the cabbie asked as I climbed into the back seat.

“St. Frances de Sales Cemetery in Clemmons,” I responded in a masculine falsetto, doing my best to sound like a woman.

 

Maybe I could pull this off.

 

I adjusted my wig to make sure it was still in the upright position as the cab pulled away from the Stagecoach Inn. In the front seat with the driver was a portable radio. The antenna was extended and wrapped in tinfoil.

 

I sat in the back trying to do my best impersonation of a woman as Hey Jude crackled out of the front passenger seat.

 

“Did you know him long?” the cabbie asked as we drove on. It was sprinkling gently; the day was caught in an eternal overcast of clouds—the rain started and stopped as if it were on a whim. It fit the occasion.

“Did I know who long?” I responded blankly, staring at myself through the rearview mirror.

“The deceased. I figured you were headed to a funeral, what with the veil and all,” I looked at the back of the driver’s head. He had dark curly hair that looked as if it hadn’t been washed in months. It was easier than looking him in the eye as he glanced back at me through the mirror.

“Oh, right,” I replied as my eyes shot down to the floor. “You could say I knew him my whole life.”

 

We drove on in silence as the Beatles sang on. As soon as the song ended, it began again. I chalked this up to a programming error. Then it played again.

 

After it’s fourth rotation, the DJ chimed in.

 

“Ladies and gentleman, I’m sad to announce that our radio station has been bought.” In the background I could hear the muffled sounds of someone pounding on the door. “When my show ends, the format officially switches to easy-listening. Well let me assure you, ladies and gentleman, they’re going to have to break the door down, because I’m not leaving my listeners.”

 

“He’s been in there for four hours now, playing the same song,” the cabbie told me. Hey Jude began playing again.

“Shit,” I said quietly to myself. “This song’s going to get stuck in my head, I just know it.” I looked up and asked, “Why don’t you change the station?”

“It’s a good song.”

 newestrings

The last time I had been at St. Frances we were burying my grandfather. It was equally as gray then, too.

 

Finnegan was being laid to rest right next to him.

 

“Keep the meter running,” I told the cabbie as the Beatles classic hit it’s fifth rotation. I handed him a pompous Ben Franklin and walked towards my grave.

The crowd had assembled, and the service was just getting underway as I walked across the soft graveyard, ankles still wobbling with every step.

 

The usual suspects were there. My parents, my in-laws, my circle of friends; they all stood, dressed in black, stoic and silent. Sam stood between her parents and mine; clutching the wine bottle I had left on the table. The flowers were still there, but had long since died. Her eyes were fixated on them as various members of her family gave her arm a reassuring squeeze. A few coworkers were there, but none of them were ever more than an obligatory hello as we passed in the office. It was a nice gesture, nonetheless.

 

Behind my parents stood my friends—the collective Joneses we were always trying to keep up with, babies in tow. Off to the side I saw James McCoy, my closest friend of 18 years. He was our “single” friend, and the last to grow up.

 

James was my best friend and worst influence in my youth, and the cause of many arguments with Sam in my adult life. He got me my first fake ID, when I was 18. He was the first to smoke pot, the first to get laid, and the last to settle down. His parents always blamed me for every bad thing he did, but it was usually quite the opposite. He was always the devil sitting on my shoulder leading me into temptation. In many ways I was jealous of James. He never took his life too seriously, focusing on enjoying the day, rather than planning for his future.

 

That’s not to say Mr. McCoy wasn’t intelligent, he had 3 college degrees. What he lacked was direction. While everyone else was settling into boring but secure careers he was tending bar. When we bought a house, he bought a bag of weed.

 

He was the dark horse of the family, and just about the only person on the face of the earth I trusted. He stood alone, wearing his only suit, once black but now a faded gray, his dark hair disheveled enough to almost look hip, were it not a product of neglect.

 pollbk

When I was in college I spent a lot of time imagining my funeral—planning the details of how I’d like it to be the way a girl spends her childhood planning her dream wedding.

 

I was always a little morbid, I suppose. Death has always been lurking in my mind, filling the blank spaces between television and work.

 

I always wanted to be buried in a plain white casket. All the funeral goers would be instructed to bring a magic marker, and then asked to pen their favorite memory or a quote on my coffin. Poems would be read, music would be played; it would be a production—an event.

 

People would remember my funeral.

 

Those plans were nothing more than delusions of grandeur. Pot induced ramblings in a dorm room during that experimental phase most college kids go through. What would my friends have penned on my coffin?

 

Have a kick-ass Summer?

            BFF?

            Remember that time we had brunch and made small talk about kitchen appliances?

 

 

I didn’t do anything memorable. My life spun in circles, and ran in cycles.

 rings

In reality, my coffin was the generic nondescript casket everyone gets: a dark mahogany with bronze handles– every bit as mediocre as my life had been. The Minister presiding over the affair was the same person that married Sam and I eight years prior. Our wedding was the last time I did anything church related. He stood in his robes, holding a bible in front of my empty casket, cleared his throat and began.

 

“We are gathered today not to mourn Finnegan’s death, but to celebrate his life,” the Minister started, as a soft rain started to fall. Hey Jude was rolling through my head on repeat. “Finnegan was a good man, and a good husband.”

 

As the minister continued fluffing the boring facts of my life, in a futile attempt to make my existence sound better than it actually was, the Beatles song began growing louder in my wig covered head, Paul’s voice cutting through my eardrum from within.

 

When he asked us to bow our heads for prayer I subconsciously began singing quietly to myself.

 

“Let us pray.”

 

Nah, nah-nah, nah-nuh nah-nah

 

“Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

 

Nah-nuh nah-nah, hey Jude.

 

As the preacher continued his prayer, my singing gradually grew louder. I didn’t notice until heads began turning back towards me with looks of puzzled disdain. I couldn’t stop.

 

Nah, nah-nah, nah-nuh nah-nah

 

I kept singing, just audible enough to be infective.

 

Nah-nuh nah-nah, hey Jude.

 

The Minister gave an amen, as I continued singing. Suddenly I noticed I wasn’t alone. In front of me I could hear others quietly singing along. More and more funeral goers joined in until everyone was singing—loudly.

 

It was incredible, and somehow beautiful. This one moment was more extraordinary than my entire life, and better than anything I came up with in college. I left the crowd, still singing, and headed back to my cab.

 

Nah-nuh nah-nah, hey Jude

 

 mid2


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