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10 Songs Indelibly Stamped Upon My Cortex - #6
2007-10-17 - 10:07 p.m.
What a day. There were turkeys bungeed to the back of sedans and Target noodlings and comic store rage attacks and sweat pants love affairs. What a day. What a day. Also - it's time for the next installment of Jem & The Holograms. And by "Jem & The Holograms", I mean "song that reminds me of stuff from that time".
#6. Lump - The Presidents Of The United States Of America
The Presidents of The United States of America came out with their debut CD in July of 1995. What a heady time. I was working at the Winnipesaukee Pub and Brewery with TC and Mad Dog to start the summer - until that went down in wrongheaded flames, and finished at Water Street Cafe with Serene. It was that scurrilous summer of Godspell. It was . . . quite a summer. Monique and I had begun a dance that would take more chills, thrills, ups, downs, and loop de loops than 100 Six Flags. Fissures were noticably appearing in Jeff and my friendship for the first time since we became friends 8 years before. Keith was already long out of the picture. Peter had entered Witness Protection and Chad was just getting released from it. Dog was "doing it sober". Annie and I were slowly colliding towards an inexplicable falling out. We watched our upperclassmen friends get shot out of the LA cannon outwards to their respective colleges across the country. We knew we had precious time left on our watery patches of land. But again, this is another patented fake-out beginning. Because "Lump" doesn't remind of the Summer of '95. [Incidentally, "Peaches" does. But that comi-tragic party at the Haughey's house when I first heard it is nothing I'm exactly yearning to write about.] Nope, "Lump" reminds me of when I went Christmas Shopping at the Steeplegate Mall with two of my best friends I had that last year of LHS: TC & Jimbo.
Nothing can touch you during your Senior Year of High School. This is it. This is what you've been told about and been made ready for 13 long years. K through 12. And this is 12. We - must have been - hellacious. We felt we were better than the teachers. Better than the administration. Better than our parents. Better than ourselves. But it was ourselves that kept bringing us back to Earth as well. You could be better than everyone else, or at least think it, but nothing could knock you down a peg as fantastically as your own friends. Our slack-jawed impressions of each other far out-classed those of teachers or enemies. We'd lived and breathed each other for almost 18 years. We could see that our wagons were in the process of circling. We just made pretend that we didn't care.
One particular December night free of care saw Jimbo, TC, and myself, crammed into Jimmy's "sporty little red coup" (a nickname I believe, like most, had been created by Jeff), barreling down Rt. 106, past the defunct Zachary's Club 106, and onward to Steeplegate Mall to no doubt buy our mother's festive candles, picture frames, gift certificates and our fathers ties, socks, books, and pens. There was quite a bit of snow already on the ground for December. This was years before Dick Cheney had invented his Weather Controlling Machine. And it looked like snow was slowly starting to fall again as we made our way through a darkened Belmont. The soundtrack was TPOTUSA. It's an album chock-full of crazy songs with short, More Songs About Buildings And Food-esque titles, such as "Kitty", "Peaches", "Body", "Candy", etc. [Of course, at this point, I had no idea what a "More Songs About Buildings and Food" even was. Ah, youth.]
As we hit Loudon, and the eerily ghost like race track, full of nothing but shadows and snow that time of year, Jimbo must have decided that we were in such a hurry to get to Steeplegate that he was going to pass the car in front of us. Meanwhile, "Lump" started to play on the radio. "Lump" is only 2 minutes and 16 seconds long. This is a very short song. And yet, by the time it was over, our collective lives had flashed before our eyes. "Lump sat alone in a boggy marsh" / Jimbo's car had either caught on some ice while he was passing, or we were going to fast and hit the unplowed snow on the double yellow line the wrong way, who knows . . . but suddenly, we were spinning around 360 degrees, "She's lump, she's lump, she's lump, she's in my head" / while shooting across the left lane and towards the parking lot of the race track. "Is lump fast asleep or rockin' out with the band?" / Spinning 360 degrees. Again. And again. There were no cars coming in the opposite direction! "She's lump, she's lump, she's lump, she might be dead" / There was no control no matter what Jimbo did to the wheel or the brakes. Tim and I watched the black and snow whip by our eyes. "Is this lump out of my head, I think so" / And then BLAMPH! We weren't moving. The car had stopped. The song was over. We were shoved into a giant snow pile that the plows had made when they plowed out the race track parking lot. We all checked to make sure we were breathing. We were. The next song on the album, "Stranger", started playing. We pulled out of the pile. Jimbo got out and checked the car. Everything was fine. We slowly pulled back on to Rt. 106 and continued driving to find Christmas presents. Our wild ride that was Senior Year continued. We all got into different cars at the end of the year but the highway system is all connected. So no matter if it's Chicago, San Diego, Portland, Boston, Dover, New York City, or LA or L.A., we're all still connected. For good or ill. I'd like to think for good. But in the end, when I hear "Lump", I think of spinning in the darkness with my heart in my throat, knuckles white, wondering what was going to come next.
A Postscript: The truly odd thing about the story you just read is that no one's memories of it are totally cohesive. I originally thought it was Jimbo, Jeff and myself in the car. Then I decided it Jimbo, TC and myself. Jimbo claimed it was He, Wentworth, and me in the car. When I told him I knew it wasn't, he corrected himself to say that it was Chad, Me, and himself. We need some sort of confirmation from TC, but someone's off galavanting it up in Italy/Croatia. Thanks for nothing TC. Until he returns from those sauce-filled shores, I suppose we'll have to let the mystery be.
It's been real,
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