|For about two months I felt really high. This was awesome. What a drug! To this day Theresa and I still laugh about
"Your father is double-parked." It wasn't too bad that I didn't get to meet them -- hey, I could do that
next time, right?
I only do stuff for me. It is a human condition. Everyone does what pleases them. Sure, sometimes you do stuff
you have to, but don't wish to (what sicko wants to change a diaper?). For the most part, humans are the
most awfully selfish and lazy animals on the planet. Frogs don't manufacture makeup or clothes. Geese don't drive
cars to where they want to go. Sure, critters build shelters, but humans are the only ones that install home theaters
and add wallpaper. And eventually everything ever made (and sometimes stuff that was just made) and everything
that will be made will become garbage. Yes, landfill. We are willing to destroy the planet we inhabit in order
to have these conveniences. OK, so people are terrible. What's the alternative? I'd be perfectly happy running
around naked and eating stuff off the ground, but that's just me. So include me in with all the other terrible
people, because I go along with it. But any attempt to prod me into doing what I don't want to do is met with stubborn
refusal. Forget it, pal, it ain't gonna happen.
School, the very fact that I had to be there, angered me. From kindergarten, when I cried and cried for weeks because
I wanted to be at home with my poached eggs on toast with fried ham and tea and juice and cartoons and animal shows.
When I finally stopped crying, we moved and I went to another kindergarten. And guess what? I cried and cried for
weeks because I still wanted to be home with my poached eggs on toast with fried ham and tea and juice and cartoons
and animal shows. I was told not to make my fours like sailboats, and that the sky was not magenta, it was blue,
and I had to color it that way. The new teacher's name was Miss Veronna. I called her Miss Piranha. I was five
years old and soggy throughout that school year.
First grade was OK. I figured out what "S.O.S." meant and the teacher thought I was brilliant. In actual
fact, the opposite was true. I didn't get my brain until later. I liked my teacher and thought maybe school wouldn't
be so bad after all.
But in second grade we had a combined class -- two loads of school children and two teachers. What's the point
of that? One day we had to draw pictures of things that began with each letter of the alphabet. I was cruising
along fine until I came to "Y". "Y"? I think most kids got out ye olde yellow crayon and colored
a patch on the paper. Never occurred to me. Hell, I didn't even think of "yo-yo." I wrote my word and
began to draw my picture. The teacher came around and paused by me. She asked me what I was drawing 'cause it's
not like you could ever read my writing (not even now, and certainly not then), and I said "I'm drawing a
yak." She was dumbfounded. She said, "You can't draw a yak!" and walked off in a huff. Damn those
nature shows! I felt really stupid and sat there for a bit clutching my fat red pencil and pushing back the tears.
A yak. But I couldn't think of any other "Y" words. Now wait a minute here -- I could draw a yak!
Why not? Because she said I couldn't? Screw her. Maybe I'm weird, but she was mean for no reason. Mean for
no reason is about as low as you can go. I drew my yak and decided I didn't like school, people who were mean,
or the letter "Y".
When I started 7th grade, I discovered they had different levels of difficulty for each subject. Also, you ended
up with homework for each class -- up to six different subjects per night. Hang on here -- you mean it's
not enough that I have to spend a whole day here, you want me to do a bunch of stuff at home too? Oh no, I don't
think so. Home time is my time and ain't a soul on earth gonna touch it unless I say.
It was paramount that I be in the lowest level classes possible. I did manage to get into easy classes for most
subjects. That way, I could do all my (easy) work in class so I was free at home. My plan worked, too, for the
most part. Grades didn't mean anything to me, but they did matter to my parents until I got them used to the fact
that anything above a C was not to be expected of me.
School chafed my nerves. Chrissie didn't like school either! ALL RIGHT! If she hated it like I did, but got through
it, I guessed I could too. That gave me a lot of hope. After school every day, I came home and played my Pretenders
albums. I'd long ago stopped putting them back in the covers -- I just had to get them back out again real soon.
They lived on the turntable.
I became a typical angry teen. The anger I've always had, undiluted. That's how I want to feel everything. Joy
overwhelming and sorrow unbearable. It must be pure. I'll take my pain straight because, sometime, my bliss will
be equally potent.
Mid-June 1982. Summer vacation. I woke up and turned on the radio, which was next to and level with my head. I
closed my eyes. "Well, another rock star bit it, huh?" The DJ was a jerk and I never listened to him
but I hadn't changed the station from the night before. My eyes opened and locked on the Pretenders tapestry that
hung from my ceiling. I didn't breathe. Uh-oh. "Yeah," the news guy cut in, and I will never be able
to forget what he said, "It seems James Honeyman-Scott of the Pretenders was found dead in a London apartment..."
No way. No fucking way. I was out of bed and heading for the TV. C'mon, MTV, tell me it's a rumor. C'MON! Not a
word. I went back to my room and cried. Theresa came in and told me she'd heard the news in the early morning hours,
but didn't wake me because I'd be up all night crying. He was gone forever and I never got to tell him how awfully
amazing he was. He was only 25 years old. He played The Perfect Song. He gave the gifts of warmth, laughter, love.
I cried for him all day and many days after. All the notes he never got a chance to play. Even as I write this,
uncontrollable tears sting my eyes and rain down. Even my tears refuse to listen. When I tell them to stop, they
don't. Or won't. Or can't.
Years later, Chrissie said, "That was the end of the Pretenders as we knew it." Chrissie, it was the
end of a lot of things. What a dreadfully appalling world this is, so ugly and twisted. And what breathtaking beauty
there is to overshadow every miserable aspect. Loveliness and charm tenfold for every stomach-turning quality.