Friday, January 14, 2011

"Friday Night Frolic" - Let's Jam

Here comes the weekend...

She was out in the night, every weekend, to mitigate the pain. Ameliorated by stentorian rock, booze, smokes and contortionist, non-stop dancing. In the mid-eighties, in her mid-twenties, this is what she did. (Pretty much all her twenties, in fact.)  This is what you should do when you're young, she believed. (Or was she told?). To shake it off.

Burning the midnight oil at work, she at the same time was in, what she called, her 'hate men' phase, an overwritten chapter, having had her heart battered more than oncethe last with a narcissistic psychologist who messed with her head (how does that make you feel, my screwing around?) while claiming he was nothing more than an innocent man. Men were nothing more than misogynistic jerks, she thought, and she began to tease and torment them, play them for fools, venturing to scrape away their ego. She vowed never to be taken as the fool again, never to commit, never to marry. Never.

She had left New York for Boston and thought it too provincial at first, and perhaps it was. She cut her hair short and asymmetrical, found her own apartment (several actuallyI've changed my address, she often had to explain), and shopped at Salvation Army where she bought dusty, used rebel outfits for fun.

Hopping the T at Cleveland circle, imagining she was down in the tube station in a bigger, more exciting city, she scrambled to punkdom at the Rat in Kenmore Square, or to Spit at the foot of the Green Monster, or anywhere else she could go head-banging in the city.  Once in a while, when the lawyer friend, the veritable boy about town, called upon her (sometimes, in the middle of the night in the middle of the week—though this couldn't be right as all the clubs shut their doors by two sharp), she grabbed a cab to Cambridge where they met in a murky, below-ground Central Square club, a black box, where anonymity awaited, where they thrashed in mad gyrations, threw themselves in the crowd, into a whirling sea of leather-garbed, metal-studded, spike-haired opaqueness.

Long hours of Westlaw, depositions, constitutional this, statutory that, endless paperwork and billable hours, were left back at the stuffy three-story, four-named firm on the corner of Beacon and Tremont. Speeding up was their way to slow down. They didn't talk litigationabout the guy who was paralyzed from the neck down while having his hair cut. Who would have known the steel nail of a high powered stud gun would penetrate a shared wall and the nape of his neck. The man in the corner shop, the gun manufacture, the construction company, the insurers, the whole goddamn world, was being sued. Though none of it would remedy the father's incapacity to ever embrace his young children again, living in a private hell.

She shook it off with Sam Adams and sticky, cement floors. A beat surrender.

She liked the chaotic rawness of punk rock, the circus of it all, the release, even though she was already too old for it. She listened to the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Iggy Pop and the Ramones, and especially these boys:

The Jam. That was entertainment. That was her escape. Where all was forgotten.

She went dotty for the Jam's sexy, mop-haired Paul Weller, his anti-complacency, anti-establishment codeeven though she suited up daily for the office, and the Jam had disbanded, the punk rock scene quietly fading. And perhaps that was the gift, the sign, a message to move on.

So she broke her vow. Married, had babies and moved to the burbs, where culture was Saturday morning soccer and PTA meetings, and heatwave summers at the club, screaming kids racing around the pool and mother's staring at the burning sky, thinking it a bore. Such contempt and disdain for it all, for each other. Years of dirty diapers and Gerber jars and sleepless nights passed.

She shook it off with bottles of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

And then she found that even Weller had grown up.

Though cynical and always feeling the world had too many brown-nosers and social climbers, too many miserable lawyers, and disaffected mommies living in sallow cultural wasteland, she discovered in the burbs there were still fine people and families, there were safe streets and decent schools, and it wasn't entirely vapid. For the kids, she even joined the club (the bitterest pill)—though begrudgingly, half-heartedly, pacing along the periphery of its boundaries, lounging in long, woven chairs and hiding behind books.

Shaking it off with Chekhov and Beckett.

And as her children grew, she became more forgiving, accepting that everyone had their good and bad moments, dark and light intermingled; the world, not unlike herself, was just a spectrum of ever changing moods...


  1. Touching, sad, angry, spirited, hopeful - life in colour. With a Jam soundtrack.

    Makes me want to read more.

    p.s I saw the Jam on what turned out to be their final tour. Great night.

  2. Wow! Reading this was like riding bareback on a comet! What a great story of a person's metamorphosis and continual discovery.

    Wonderful read!

  3. WOW! Jayne - this is BRILLIANT! Loved how you did this. It flowed really well. I met Paul Weller on a beach in Bognor Regis (no kidding) he was shooting for a video. I was only really young, so don't remember much - but Mum made me go and ask for his autograph! Such a different post - loved it.

  4. I say WOW also! Well done. How do you do that? Do I even know you? Jayne, is that you?

  5. SF - Sadly, I never did get to see them myself. How lucky you'll always have that final tour story/memory!

    My Lord - bareback on a comet... Whooee - yes that's probably just how she felt, especially when she orbited a little too close to the sun. Thanks for your kind words.

    Bth - I had a lot of fun with this Frolic - the Jam kind of lends itself to that. And meeting Weller... lucky you. Love how your mother made YOU get the autograph!

    LA - Thank ya, sista. Yes, it's me, it is. Or is it? Do you know me? I think so. Maybe not? ;)

  6. Jayne - If this is you, you lived quite a life of enjoying every moment to the fullest. If not, you have quite an imaginative mind. Brilliant either way.

  7. Interesting read!
    I like it that it ends on a conformistic note. She broke her vow (never say never) , married , had children and became "more forgiving..".

  8. Shopgirl- I'd say it's a semi-autobiographical piece? Or maybe a bit more... wish I could remember, but it's all a blur!

    Duta- Yes, but she's still a rebel at heart. ;)

  9. I loved this post and the strange way its written. It has a punk feel to it. I also love Paul weller and have seen him live a few times. Thank you for you kind comment on my last post.

  10. This was angry and powerful. Well done.

  11. I'm like the mayor of a Town called Malice.

  12. Worry - I was hoping to evoke a punk feel, so I'm glad you read it that way. I'd love to see Weller in Aberdeen. Oh to dream.

    FC - Angry & powerful? Good to hear - wanted to push it further, but tim wasn't on my side.

    Kono - So you're bringing in the street cleaners? A little joy and lots of duct tape might help. Or maybe you like it just the way it is. Either way, good luck. ;)

  13. LOve this story, kinda reminds me of someone I know who dug similar things (cos 'that's entertaaaainnmEEEENT'), walked across sticky carpeted inner city dives (and probly whispered 'there's a thousand things I wanna say to you' to some beautiful nightmare in fishnets n docs n a tartan mini and Birthday Party T Shirt), bounced around like an epileptic, got tattooed at a tender age, asked the brave captain 'why are the wicked so strong? How can the angels get to sleep when the devil leaves his porchlight on...?', crawled through bathroom windows to see the Bad Seeds play and trash a local club, decide that Johnny Cash was god, develop a nasty liking for illegal substances, watch the Dirty Three develop into a beautiful soundwave...
    Enough of my mimicry. I cannot even match the beauty of your post. Beautiful writing!

  14. Dan- Why do I have the feeling I've bumped into you somewhere in the past? I'm rolling like an epileptic - wo - trying to catch my breath here. Too funny. Really, love the way you mimic. Kiwis. Or is it Wallaby? Or is it Bruce? ;)