So a friend of mine got dumped by her boyfriend last night. Not just any friend—my best-looking ever semi-known actress-type friend—the kind of girl that everybody stares at when you walk down the street, the kind that you walk into a bar with and become invisible. I love looking into her eyes, and she can really act, she’s not one of those vapid LA chicks. But she got dumped by this screenwriter guy who was a little too suspiciously handsome. Like if you were ordering little plastic figures for your perfect dollhouse, he would be the most requested model of husband/father.
When you’re a regular person and you get dumped, well—it’s like being one of those lumpy potatoes that gets passed over for a smoother one. You’re used to it. But when you’re like the it-girl, well, she was devastated enough to have to pull over to the side of the road and call her old friend in New York who is certainly more experienced at endings. That’s the thing about musicians. We understand that for every piece, there’s a beginning, a bridge, the chorus, and then the end. Brrrm bmmm. But for this girl, there was the shock of it all, and the disbelief that this bastard—heck, any bastard, would dare pass her up for a better looking model, because there aren’t too many this beautiful, and with the talent and a brain, too.
So I spent a good couple of hours just listening, then trying to make her laugh, then when my battery was completely dead I hung up and thought about how sometimes everything you are just isn’t good enough, and how some guys that go after this kind of girl don’t really want the prize, they want to be in training forever. The actual Olympic event is a let-down. You can have the medal, the girl, around your neck—her kids, whatever… but it’s not the same. And sometimes—even when you get what you want, it’s just not what you want.
It takes years—sometimes until you’re too old to be good-looking—to feel comfortable in your skin. And for two people like this to get together, find each other—well, near-impossible.
Last night my teenage son was on his way out looking like either a drug dealer or some kind of reverse super-hero, with the hoodie, the backward hat, and those 70’s looking sunglasses that have unfortunately been revived. 'So lose at least one of those 3 things,' I suggested. 'Go fuck yourself,' he responds, which means I’ll do what I want and come back when I want. He’s having trouble with some girl—some actually real girl from his school, who maybe feels somewhat comfortable enough in her own skin to recognize that he is not. So this gives her ‘the edge’ which is death-to-relationships if you are a teen. It is torturing him; I can hear him tossing in bed at night, IM-ing like mad, even trying sincerity out occasionally. Of course I can’t help him; he does not receive on adult channels. I can only protest that a fashion ‘statement’ is something audible and since fashion is visual, anything bleeding over to another sense, means it is LOUD and uncomfortable for the audience. This is not going to bring him love. Nor do most teens actually process it as love anyway, even when it smacks them in the face.
So what does he want? He’s not sure. Probably the thing that eludes him—the human condition thing; like wanting to be older and then being older and you still don’t have ‘it’.
Do good things come to those who wait? Not necessarily. These days some good things come to those who can afford plastic surgery or gastric bypass, or a winning lotto ticket. But we are all ourselves—no matter how we repaint and renovate. We can only convince the rest of the world that we are what we wear or what we listen to or where we hang out.
All of a sudden one day we wake up and realize we don’t know where the heck we are—like we have lost some road map, or suddenly left is right, and North is South, and we come up out of the subway all disoriented. But we are still here—I am I.
I once had to play after some great Motown musician. I told him it was unbearable to have to follow him. He looked me in the eye—right in the eye—and he said—‘Look, girl, with music, you either is or you isn’t. And you is.’ I thought about that for years. It wasn’t until two husbands, kids later, way further on down the road, that I realized. Whatever. It may not be what I thought it would be, but it 'is'.
Yesterday it was snowing in April. I was freezing and ducked into some side-street café attached to a supermarket. Old people in there—homeless people, students with computers. Not the trendy kind of café. Coffee still a dollar a cup. They were about to close, but there was still enough in the pot for a large. An old black man was mopping up, asked me how I liked my coffee, asked me if I could take home any cake in the place, which one I’d pick. I pointed to the chocolate mud. 'You got it right, girl,' he said. And then he told me it was his birthday, and all day he’d been mopping up and the boss said he could take home any cake in the display that was left at the end of the day. As I put my cup in the trash they were boxing up the mudcake. ‘May your birthday wishes come true’, I said to him. He winked at me and pointed to the cake. ‘Oh, they already is’, he said.
And he ‘was’. And one day my best friend and my teenage son ‘will be’. And me, 5 AM at my computer, my old guitar by my side—I might already ‘is’, too.