Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Lesson learned: dig deeper

My first job was as a busboy at the restaurant of the Ramada Inn in Benton Harbor, Michigan. My parents lied about my age so I could start working there as a 15-year-old. As a result of being even more immature than I would have been if I was actually of legal age, I lacked the sophistication (but not the motivation) to approach Pam, the hot waitress who worked there.
Pam was college-age, maybe 23, tall, with long brown hair. She was the only waitress there under the age of 50 who didn't smoke a million cigarettes (aside from the barmaids, who did smoke lots of cigarettes and whose tight, short skirts, husky laughs and salty vocabulary rendered them worldly, formidable and ultimately unapproachable). I was instantly smitten. She drew the attention of every lead singer of every band that played in the lounge and I knew that I had to do something dramatic to get her to see me as more than the bow tie clipped to the collar of a short-sleeved white shirt that cleared dishes and replaced linens from her tables. The obvious answer? Tell her I was in a band!
"Wow! What do you play?"
Guitar. Lead guitar.
"Oh cool! What kind of music does your band play?"
Rock and roll. But good rock. Not like these guys, I repiled, tossing a thumb in the general direction of the lounge, dismissing the musical credibility of The Midnight Sons or whatever local troubadors were holding court there that week. 
"I'd love to see you play some time!"
Somehow, it had escaped my logical mind that this would be the ideal response from a girl whose attention I wanted...if only I were actually in a band or could at least play guitar or I at least owned one. As it was, I was completely unprepared to respond. However, the mind of a 15-year-old, hormone-driven boy is capable of responding quickly to negative feedback and I quickly came up with a solid back-up plan.
I told her we didn't have any gigs scheduled. It's hard to get bookings in this town, you know?
"Well, make me a tape so I can hear you play!"
Um. Sure.
I went home and looked through the combined record collections of my household. For obvious reasons, I couldn't use anything from The Everly Brothers (my dad's), The Four Seasons (my mom's) or Sesame Street (my sister's). It all sounded old, very polished, instantly familiar and/or fixated on learning the alphabet. For many of the same reasons, I couldn't use my Beatles albums like Abbey Road. Then I remembered a two-disc Beatles compilation titled "Rock And Roll Music". It was a slapped-together cash-grab, issued in a tacky silver sleeve (with icons of '50s nostalgia, for some reason) and was comprised mostly of uptempo cover songs that hadn't necessarily been "hits" on the same level as "I Want To Hold Your Hand" or "She Loves You". Obscure (in my mind) Beatles songs! Perfect! I inserted a cassette in my tape recorder and put together my first attempt at impressing a girl via mix tape.
This went about as well as you would probably guess. I gave Pam the tape after work one night and told her to let me know what she thought. And that's exactly what she did the next time I worked with her. Apparently, she got less than 30 seconds into the first song on the tape ("Twist and Shout") before the jig was up. There is absolutely nothing more motifying to a male of any age than to be busted in the act of perpetrating a hoax with the intent of impressing the object of your desires by the object of your desires. For a 15-year-old, you get the added bonus of knowing that you have the rest of a very long life to live under the assumption that Pam the waitress managed to spread the word to every single female on the planet.
Of course, with the benefit of hindsight and the wisdom that comes with age, I can see where I went wrong: not that I lied about being in a band and tried to pass off relatively obscure music from the most famous band of all time, which makes it still pretty well-known, as my own. The plan itself was solid. My execution was off though. I should have done something like this instead...

Scratch that; I should have done exactly this instead!
So Pam, if you're out there; look, no one knows yet. My heart loves you. We meet because of destiny. We also create false promises. But my heart loves you. And I really do own a guitar now.

2 comments:

Denise said...

I demand more stories of teenage tragedy! People don't share those enough (at least, they don't tell me).

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Why, it's Clark! said...

Oh, I have more teenage tales of woe! I'd be happy to air them out here. Cheaper than therapy!

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