Wednesday, March 29, 2006

If I Can't Repeat Myself...

...then who the hell can I repeat?

I posted the following some years ago on Chalkhills, the XTC Listserv.

About a day very much like this one.

I suggest this song might be a nice accompaniment (pops a new window).

Recipe for a Moment

1) Along about early March, break a major bone. For the Number-One authentic experience, try, say, your clavicle. Try it on, oh, I dunno, rollerblades. Just for the sake of argument.

(Stick with me, here. You gotta hit rock bottom before you can go up, dig?)

2) During your convalescence, become aware of layoff rumors at work. Believe them. It's happened before.

3) Panic. Go on many job interviews. Watch your coworkers, dear friends of yours, do the same. They're Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine.

4) Get some nibbles. Get some serious bites. Get two prospective employers bidding against each other. Play both ends against the middle. Spend a nail-biting week not knowing what you'll be doing for the rest of your life. Finally pick one or the other. Hand in your notice at the place you've worked for ten years. Try, just try, to do this without any twinge of nostalgic regret.

5) Notice your 6-year-old daughter has learned to read. When the hell did that happen?

6) Receive phone call from no-goodnik brother: his band's single is #40 in national radio charts. He's dancing around and gibbering like those people in the hardware store in "That Thing You Do."

7) Notice your bone has healed to the point you can think about exercising again. Gently.

8) Let the weather suddenly *snap* from crappy, rain-sodden late-March blah to summerlike 85 Fahrenheit, no humidity, aggressively beautiful cerulean blue skies with fluffy little meringue clouds. Get the Itch.

9) Scratch the Itch. Blow off an afternoon at work, drive out to the bike path, throw on the skates, and just go. The fruit trees are exploding in blossom. The very air is soaked with DNA: bees lovingly ferry huge pocketfuls of pollen from bloom to bloom, the trees are ejaculating pods, seeds, spores, cotton balls, helicopters, zygotes of every conceivable stripe, huge, sticky purple globs of Gingko Love. The squirrels are going apeshit, playing fuck-me-if-you-can in the branches. Gloriously plumed male birds strut and preen and spread displays of bright feathers for their coy mistresses: "Oh, baby, me so love you long time...." The earthworms underfoot, feeling the sun's warmth even two feet underground, are doing the Aerated Fertilizer Mambo--they don't have to impress anybody but themselves. The woods smell intoxicatingly rich and loamy, and the runs and creeks have already taken on a summertime lassitude that just begs for a naked dip.

10) And speaking of naked dips, we notice that all the office workers who have escaped from the fluorescent hell of cubicles and voice mail and PowerPoint presentations full of wretched clip art and Total Quality Market-Driven, Customer-Focused Soul-Death to revel in the newborn warmth, are looking...extremely good. Bodies that have been mummified for months in heavy wool and leather and denim, now suddenly sport cottons and silks that respond to the wispiest of spring breezes by clinging like love itself to curves and straight bits alike. A tall woman seated at a park bench, her pallid winter face uplifted worshipfully to the sun, exposes the graceful lines of her neck: Her facial expression is as ecstatic as Bernini's St. Theresa. She is the most beautiful thing we have ever seen.

11) On our personal stereo: Side One of Skylarking. Could it possibly be anything else?

12) The crickets and bees of "Summer's Cauldron" meld with the newly wakened real-life bees in the honeysuckle thicket along the bike path, and the sun beats down on our neck, laying the base for the year's first farmer tan. The segue into "Grass" happens just as we're picking up speed for the long downgrade to Sunset Hills Road, and the wonderful slinky strings and salacious lyrics begin to insinuate themselves into our mood, which is lifting with every turn of our wheels. The bell-toned cyclic guitar pattern of "The Meeting Place" brings the first reverie; our muscles relax and we skate in rhythm with the song's andante tempo, a small augury of imminent ecstasy. We slalom happily to the jaunty "Supergirl," as we reach the apogee of our outward journey: we've reached the Town Center, out of breath and sweating copiously, but we know the most difficult part is finished: It's all downhill on the way back. It is during the two Rain Songs, "Ballet for a Rainy Day" and "1000 Umbrellas," that we notice we're Seriously Happy. This is no mere good mood; this is something far higher up the emotional food chain. This might be a William Blake Moment.

And yes, here it comes, as we're steaming under the Toll Road bridge, the climax to the whole thing, isn't it, the crowning moment, the Big Glorious Orgasm of Skylarking: "Season Cycle." We're punching the air, conducting, singing along tunelessly at the tops of our voices, ignoring the looks we're getting from our fellow pagans: Oh, people, if you could only hear what _I'm_ hearing! "Season cycle go from death to life Bring a harvest or a man his wife," in counterpoint to "Winter chased by springtime/Springtime's turning" and all voices melding on "It's growing green"! It's growing greeeeeeeeen!

It occurs to us that now would be an excellent time to throw a triple toe loop, stick the landing.

As we weave ecstatically among cyclists and pedestrians, our arms outstretched to pull everything in and give the world a big, wet, sloppy, deep-tongue kiss, a minor note of anxiety enters at the theological speculation: "I really get confused on who would make all this/Everybody says join our religion, get to heaven." But then, to rescue us from this dreary fingerwagging image, comes the insouciant retort: "I say no thanks why bless my soul/I'm already there!" And aren't we just, though? A brief pause for reflection, the skates' rhythm slows, solemnity sets in: "Autumn is royal/As spring is clown/But to repaint summer/They're closing winter down..." Our mood deflates pensively during the fermata; we wonder if we'll ever get back as high as we were a moment ago. Then Prairie Prince's aggressively organic,
goading snare starts up again with those triplets, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-POW! and we're off again, and the joy surges back so quickly, so breathtakingly quickly, that we can't contain ourselves. Tears well up, the lower lip trembles, and we find ourselves actually -- uncharacteristically, and certainly unexpectedly -- weeping, overcome by ineffable, unspoiled, unmediated, perfect joy. It's only a moment, we're big boys and big boys don't cry, but whoo! Guess I was a little more vulnerable than I thought!

Yeah, that's a good album to listen to on a spring day.


The Viscount LaCarte said...

Sometimes I think it is their best.

Employee of the Month said...

I have this image in my imaginary video for Season Cycle of Andy in a straw boater and candy-striped jacket racing/dancing/singing evangelical romp through the village with his ever-growing collection of citizens in his wake ala "The Music Man".

I wonder whats playing at the boozxoi?

CrayolaThief said...

I had a similiar experience a while back when I was having a particularly crappy day & everything was going wrong. So I fled in the car, destination unknown. My mood was Black Flag but all I had in the glove box was Oranges & Lemons. I popped it in & by the time I reached "The Loving" I was beaming like a little lighthouse. Them blokes are the best anti-depressant I know of. Well, second best.

XTCfan said...

"On our personal stereo: Side One of Skylarking.

Ah, cassette tapes. Back in the days when things still had sides. I liked that.

Nice post, Ned. Having ridden that trail more times than I can remember as a bicycle commuter, I can picture exactly where you experienced each song. In fact, I probably saw you as you were skating along, oblivious to the outside world because you were WEARING HEADPHONES and WAVING your ARMS around, skating ALL OVER THE GODDAMNED TRAIL and HEY!! ON YOUR LEFT!! Jesus, what was UP with that idiot?!?

Jim said...

Great post about a transcendent moment - almost got out the skates, but chose the bike instead, my preferred source of broken bones.

Kevin Wolf said...

We're getting our first seriously warm weather here in Boston - nearly 70F. Heard that Saturday would be in the 70s but having just checked the weather, it says maybe rain and closer to 60.

Screw it. It's spring in New England. I'm starting to feel myself unclench. Season cycle, indeed...

uuurb - Gosh, sorry. No more soda pop for me.

Mike said...

I prefer their damning indictment of the IMF and World Bank in "Meeting Place":

Strolling under grimey skies
Machines that make you kiss in time
Smoke on your breath, smoke on your breath
Chimney never looked so good
Never looked the way it should
From lying in the Bretton Wood

< googles>
Oh. *Bracken* wood. Nevermind. I fired up the album when I read this post, and sadly I did have that real moment of confusion.

greqag, the role the eldest Brady played in the school production of Moby Dick.