Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Love Distortion (a rock & roll novel in 12 chapters) - August

(I Love Distortion (a rock & roll novel in 12 chapters) appears monthly in
Growing Old With Rock & Roll; January to December, 2013)

I Love Distortion - chapter eight

“I’m gonna write a novel
All about the next two years
And you can be my hero
It’ll be about sailing away
On the wings of a Monarch fluttering south
And a peaceful life made to comfort me
Because I deserve it
And you can be my hero
Keeping my head above the night waters
Holding my hand in the dark”
- Nicole Page, 1978

This is Nicole speaking.  I haven't had very much of a voice so far in this narrative, because I Love Distortion is Sean's story more than mine.  Maybe much more than mine.

I'm two girls.

One was Poet Rocker Girl.  Poet Rocker Girl was the girl that Sean loved.  The other was My Mother's Daughter.  I loved my mom.  She was kind of old-fashioned.  She just wanted to be a good mom to my little sister and me.  And to be a good wife to my dad.  That wasn't always easy.

I know my dad loved my mom but he was kind of mean to her at times.  He grew up in the country and came to Columbus to work in a factory that made car parts.  Sean thought that was cool.  He said, "It's just like The MC5 in Detroit."  But it wasn't cool.  It was just hard, grinding work and sometimes he took it out on my mom.  I think that's how I got involved with Tommy, my boyfriend/fiance.  It just seemed normal.  Tommy was mean to me sometimes.  One time in February when Sean and I were just beginning to become friends I came to work with a black eye.  Sean was the only person who noticed.  I had tried to cover it up with make-up, but Sean squeezed my hand as we were leaving the morning store meeting and said quietly, "Don't marry that guy."  I went up to the toy department warehouse loft and cried my eyes out.

I missed The Sixties.

I desperately wanted to be part of them, but I was born in 1960 and by time I came of age they were over.  I grew up with smiley face stickers, mood rings, pet rocks, CB radios & streaking and KNEW I'd missed out on something important.  I grew up with hippies & singer/songwriters and heavy-metal & prog-rock and disco on the radio.  All my mom and dad listened to was country & western.  I knew there had to be to more to music, but I had no idea where to find it.

And then there was Sean.

I had seen his band play around the West Side a couple of times and thought he was cute but I couldn't understand what he was doing working at K-Mart when I got hired there.  He was in a rock & roll band.  Why would he need to have a job?  I didn't understand then that if you played original music like Sean did there were never enough paying gigs to be had, there was never enough money to be made.  I had never met anyone who made up their own songs before.

And the first time he took me to see Lovely & Sonic - his friend Billy Ray's band - I couldn't believe my ears or my eyes.  Lovely & Sonic's music was amazing, better even than Sean's band.  And Billy Ray was astonishing.  Five-foot, three-inch black men with dreadlocks playing left-handed guitar while singing their hearts out and and doing split-scissor kicks just did not compute in my 18-year old suburban girl world.  Previous to that time I had ridden around in cars with my friends: drinking, smoking a little pot and listening to Journey, Foreigner & Kansas on the radio.  And then I would go home and write poetry in my white bedroom.  It was a small world.           

Sean gave me Elliott Murphy and Ian Hunter to listen to.  He taught me who Bruce Springsteen was and why he was so important.  He gave me David Johansen and Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello.  He gave me The Pop and Mink DeVille.  He gave me music I never in a million years would have heard otherwise.  He would constantly say things to me that made my head spin, but he never once knew he was doing it.

And he was sweet to me.  Tommy wasn't sweet to me.  Tommy yelled at me.  And he hit me.  He'd grab my mouth in his fist to stop me from talking just to show that he could.  Sean was interested in every single thing I said.  Sean never once raised his voice to me.  Even when he probably should have.
And he wrote me such great songs to sing, songs with lines like:

“Rock & roll as a force for social change
That idea got kicked to the curb
About the same time the noun ‘party’
Got turned into a verb”
- Sean Richter, 1978

I wrote poems like the one that begins this chapter, but I couldn’t write direct, declamatory lyrics like those in a million years.  But then Sean began to leave spaces, openings, in the songs and having me fill them in with my own words, so the songs would be more in my own voice.
I couldn’t have been any prouder when I came up with this verse for a song called “Stupid Games” that Sean wrote about loser guys:

“I don’t want no groping
I don’t need no sleaze
I don’t want your exclusive interest
Between my belt buckle and my knees”
- Nicole Page, 1978

I felt sometimes like Sean and I were twins in another life, or the king & queen of some ancient mythical rock & roll kingdom fueled by poetry & starlight.

One time after we made love on a Sunday afternoon our clothes were strewn all over the floor of the apartment Sean shared with Jeffrey Jay, our bass player.  I picked up his jeans and asked if I could try them on.  They fit perfectly.  And mine fit him.  Sean was five foot-ten, weighed maybe 140 pounds soaking wet.  I was five foot-seven, kinda slim, but somehow those clothes fit us to a tee.  We dressed up in each other's outfits (panties & underwear excluded) and went out for ice cream.  We thought we were the two coolest kids on the West Side - or possibly on the entire planet - that Sunday.

Sean loved Poet Rocker Girl.  But sometimes he forgot I was My Mother's Daughter.  Ever since I was little my mom had told me to get married early and to have kids right away, and then they would be out of the house while I was still young enough to enjoy my life.  My mom & dad got married when he was 18 and my mom was 17.  I was born when she was 18.  At the time we met, Sean's older brother was the same age as my mom.  In some ways we were almost an entire generation apart even though Sean was only seven years older than me.  And in a lot of ways, even though he was supposed to be a full-fledged adult, Sean was just a little boy.  A really smart and talented little boy.  A really kind and sweet little boy.  But a little boy.  And sometimes my mom said I had been 30 years old since I was in the eighth grade. 

I loved Sean.  I really did.  I loved him with all my heart.  You have to believe that.  And I loved being a part of The Twilight Kids.  God, how I loved being in that band.  I loved the rush of electricity coursing through my veins when we played gigs.  I loved the feel of the guitar dangling at my hips when I sang.  I loved writing songs with Sean, quiet days on couches with notebooks & guitars that we turned into rock & roll songs that had crowds screaming for more.  I may never have known such peace & beauty in my life.

But I was two girls. 

I was Poet Rocker Girl.  And I was My Mother's Daughter.  And one of them had to win.

This is Nicole speaking.  Thank you for letting me talk to you.

"Promise me no wishes
Demand of me no dreams
Just offer me reality
With heaven in the seams"
- Nicole Page, 1978

© 2013 Ricki C.


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