May 5, 2006

Remains of the Drums

Last night at the Bowery Ballroom I saw a man who looked like a butler rocking out. This is his story:

Simon O'Shea walked the halls of Misselthwaite Manor once more, to make certain everything was set for his departure. He had told his employer that he had a sick nephew in New York. This wasn't exactly the sort of hobby a respectable Head Butler could admit to having. Simon checked his pocket watch (a Timex--butlers don't make what they used to), and heaved a sigh. He really needed to leave now. If anything wasn't done, well, it would have to remain undone.

He didn't even have time to change, he realized. Oh, well--wearing a tuxedo would probably seem ironic and hip to jaded New York youth.

At Heathrow, he got some strange looks. After all, it's not every day you see a man in a tuxedo carrying drumsticks and nothing else onto a transatlantic flight. He did remember his passport.

On the flight, Simon decided to at least remove his bowtie and cummerbund. His employer would never know. And they were pretty uncomfortable. Coach seats got smaller every year, it seemed. He tucked his discarded clothing into the seat pocket in front of him with SkyMall and someone's forgotten headphones. He didn't want to have to carry them with him.

He took a taxi from JFK directly to the club. It was appallingly expensive. Simon wondered if he was getting too old for this shit. Again, a butler's salary was hardly enough to keep him in pints of cider--he'd been saving for this trip all year. Didn't even buy the most recent Harry Potter.

He was early. He practiced a few bars on his shoes. They were too shiny anyway. He rubbed his chin, feeling the beginnings of stubble. He normally shaved twice a day, but obviously that wasn't an option tonight. But the stubble made him look unprofessional, vulnerable. No, not vulnerable, he told himself. Hip. Bet Josh didn't shave for days.

Josh showed up, his curly hair like a halo around his head. "Simon! You're here--how was your flight? Man you look cool, I wish I'd thought to wear a tux. You got your sticks? New York is crazy, huh? Can't wait to get back to Idaho." Simon followed him in, shaking his head. The audience always seemed to find Josh's enthusiasm infectious, but Simon just didn't know how to deal with it. He loved the music, but he didn't have Josh's boyishness. He wasn't even that much older than Josh--but then, he'd looked thirty when he was nineteen, and Josh would probably look nineteen for the rest of his life.

Simon sat backstage, twiddling his thumbs and suffering through the opener. Bluegrass pop? American Loreena McKennitt? Sweet Jesus.

When they finally went on, Simon tried not to shudder. Not a face over thirty. What in God's name was he doing here? He broke one of his sticks during the first song. A bad sign. The helpful techie with the obscure but surely offensive t-shirt brought him new ones. More expensive ones.

But when Josh broke into Me & Jiggs and the Irish lads in the front started jumping with literal joy, Simon remembered why he had come all this way. And he smiled, and began to really play.

Good Man, Josh Ritter

Another short anecdote, for Gilmore Girls watchers--Dave Rygalski was there. He was one of the dancing Irish lads. Guy says his name was probably Dave O'Rygalski.

Dave Rygalski: A few weeks ago you told me that Lane had a crush on me. Well, I have a crush on her, too. Now, I know you have very strict rules about dating and boys, but I just want you to know that I'm a good person. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I've never gotten a ticket, I'm healthy, I take care of myself, I floss. I never watch more than 30 minutes of television a night partly because I think it's a waste of time and partly because there's nothing on. I respect my parents, I do well in school, I never play video games in case they do someday prove that playing them can turn you into a serial killer. I don't drink coffee. I hate soda because the carbonation freaks me out. I'm happy to give up meat if you feel strongly about it. I don't mind wearing a tie. I enjoy playing those hymns on my guitar, and I really, really want to take your daughter to the prom.
Dave Rygalski: [Mrs. Kim doesnt say anything] Mrs. Kim? Please don't make me repeat that list again.
Mrs. Kim: Let never day nor night unhallow'd pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done.
Dave Rygalski: Okay, thank you.
Dave Rygalski: [Dave and Lane walk outside] Did you hear what she said?
Lane: Yes, I did.
Dave Rygalski: What did it mean?
Lane: I don't know.
Dave Rygalski: Was it a yes, was it a no?
Lane: I'm not sure.
Dave Rygalski: Well, it's gotta be from the bible, right? So I'll just go home, do some research, look on the Internet, see what I can find. I'll call you when I know something.
(Gilmore Girls)

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