Thank You Paul Simon

Sunset at Huntington Beach, California.

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And a song I was writing is left undone
I don’t know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can’t believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme.
Kathy’s Song– Simon & Garfunkel

I wandered empty streets down
past the shop displays
I heard cathedral bells
dripping down the alley ways
as I walked on
For Emily Whenever I May Find Her – Simon & Garfunkel

It is early March which means it is winter around most of the US and almost Summer in Los Angeles or so the almost 90 degree weather would have us think.

I am out with a few of the boys for a working lunch. We very well might talk shop but more than likely we are going to set aside work to lean on each other a bit and enjoy life.  There is a guarantee that we’ll spend some time talking about our children and what they are doing but on a day like this there are more than a few distractions.

Girls on roller blades roll by and it is hard not to admire hard bodies that have been pushed hard at the gym. Some of them linger near by and we see faces that belong to women who are clearly more than a few years younger than we are and we laugh.

We laugh because yesterday we would have spent time trying to figure out if we could approach them. Would we try to be funny or would we be serious. She looks like she likes to hike, maybe we’ll talk about the hills around Malibu. Except the thing is that we all recognize that there is a chance that we could be old enough to be their fathers.

It is a bit disconcerting and not something we want to acknowledge because we all picture ourselves as being twenty somethings but we aren’t and haven’t been. More importantly we all have daughters and are very aware that our thoughts about these women are things that men might one day think about our girls.

We may kid around about not wanting to talk to women but the truth is that even if a relationship isn’t wanted everyone wants a woman who is old enough to have a conversation. Besides the boys all remember the craziness that sometimes comes with a younger woman who hasn’t quite figured it out. More importantly, if she isn’t a mother she won’t understand some fundamental pieces and parts of us.

That is a game changer. We might laugh and smile. It might even be enjoyable to think about what could have been but that is not where we want to go or be. The past is done and we can’t get back to it. Not that any of us really want to, ok maybe it would be fun to revisit the summer of ’85 or ’88 but I am not convinced.

Go The Distance

I tell the boys a little bit about my 100 year-old penny and share with them two quotes from my post “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost“- J.R.R. Tolkien and “The only way to find what you are looking for is to go looking for it.”

It is tied into now and a reminder of The Lost Boys summer of ’88. Mostly it is me telling them that I am drawing a line in the sand. Been through too much nonsense and dealt with too much bullshit. There has to be another way through, around, over or under.

“He is going to get into trouble, he has that look on his face.”

“Tommy, I am right here. You can look at me when you are talking.

“I don’t want to get sick, I just finished eating.”

“Bite me.

“I just told you I don’t want to get sick.”

The banter quickly deteriorates and even if we aren’t in our twenties we feel like we are. There are no wives, ex-wives, or children around so no one feels a need to watch their tongues. This is good for us. We are all blowing off steam. Life is more complicated and more complex than any of us ever expected it to be.

“Jack, why are you smiling like that. It makes me nervous.”

I laugh. We all went to high school together and some of us have known each other since before that. They recognize that look in my eyes and know that when my lip curls at the corner I am about to cause trouble. Sometimes when we play poker I flash that smile because I have a hand full of nothing, but they don’t know that.

What they know is that I have that crazy side and that it could be a flush or nothing more than my trying to cause confusion.

“We have parent/teacher conferences tomorrow. No school for my kids for the next two days.”

They ask me if I am concerned about how the kids are doing in school and one of them asks if a dad blogger will write about conferences.

“I am not concerned about their grades and I am going to write about all of this.”

One of the guys says that I better not use his name so I promise to write about a beer goggling incident he had in college. I have done that now so we can move on.

I tell the guys that my kids are smarter than I am and better students than I was. I pay attention to what they are learning and push them to live up to their potential, but I don’t really worry.

“What I wonder about is what will happen when they are my age. Will it take them as long to figure out what they want to do with their lives or will they get their faster than I did.”

Everyone nods their head. “I want them to live their dreams and not dream their lives.”

The waitress drops the check off and as she walks away one of the guys says “I’d like to live that dream.” Apparently he still hasn’t figured out what it means to use his “indoor voice.”

She turns around and walks back to our table and issues a reply that leaves us roaring with laughter. I couldn’t possibly repeat it verbatim but suffice it to say that she managed to slam all of us, something about needing to share Viagra prescriptions and a chiropractor.

Later on as I am walking to my car I hear Kathy’s Song playing in my mind and wonder if 2012 is the year when everything changes.

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4 Comments

  1. jen dz March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Youre the real deal, Jack. I enjoyed this so much. Honest. Heartfelt. Real. For whatever reason it stirred me and put curled up grin on my face…maybe like yours. Anyhow, thanks for a good read. Cheers!

    • Jack March 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Jen,

      Any time I can make people I feel like I have done something good. Glad that you enjoyed it, hope you are having a great day.

  2. Bruce Sallan March 5, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I think Paul Simon is the most under-rated song-writer ever. His “book” is incredible. If you really look at all he’s done/written, it is quite incredible ’cause it has continued for decades. Most of the “greats” of the 60’s had maybe a decade or a decade and a half of greatness. What is the last Paul McCartney song you can name? His Valentine’s Day song is pretty darn good but we’ll see if it catches on. Of course PM is a GREAT songwriter, but most don’t last as long as Paul Simon.

    You sure rambled away from topic with this blog, JB…but then you usually do (meant and written with affection)…

    • Jack March 5, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      Yep, Paul Simon has been around forever. It is impressive to see how he has managed to keep putting out hits decade after decade.

      If I didn’t ramble you might think someone was guest posting for me. 😉

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