I was watching her talk to Trevor, the way her fingers reached out and touched his arm with a kind of possession that no woman had ever shown me. She would go on these rants now that she was living here, somewhere in Cambridge with an aunt who ran a dating service where Darla had a job. It must be a day job, because she was at every practice and every gig now, acting like a band manager and mother hen, though if you called her that she insisted she wasn't Mavis.
You wouldn’t know that she had her own apartment; she’d been spending so much time at Trevor and Joe’s that they’d bought her a toothbrush. She treasured it like it was an engagement ring, or something. Then again, in a way, it kind of was. Not that I could say anything - I was crashing on their couch for free, so I was just happy to have a few cushions to myself and not have to worry about where I’d live the next day.
“None of the bars have Happy Hour? What do you mean?” Trevor said.
“In Ohio we have Happy Hour most nights at the bars. You walk in and they’ve got free or super-cheap food, like wings and mozzarella sticks and all kinds of things that you can munch on,” she said. “And then they try to get you to buy one drink, get one free or buy one drink, get one half off – you name it. But here...” She rolled her eyes and threw up her hands. “Nothin’. And why do the bars close at one o’clock?”
Trevor shrugged. “Beats me. I know alcohol can’t be served after two.”
“Yeah!” Darla interjected. “So why one o’clock? What’s up with being so uptight?”
I laughed. “Maybe it’s the Catholicism in this state.”
She turned to look at me, crinkled her forehead, and asked, “What the hell does the Pope have against a mozzarella stick or a basket of wings? ”
“Darla,” Trevor said, pulling her in, their hips touching, his hands all over her ample ass. “You go march right over to the bar owner and give him a piece of your mind. Change the world. Free the mozz sticks.”
“The poor schmuck who owns this place doesn’t control any of that. It’s the voters,” she insisted.
“Run for governor. Vote for Darla!” Trevor shouted.
“Why would I do that?” she asked. “It’s so much easier to just sit here and bitch about it.”
Joe walked over and opened his mouth and then Liam marched over, interrupting, and said, “Something is wrong with one of the synthesizers, guys, and we need to fix it.”Liam was taller than any of us. When we were younger he looked like a wiry praying mantis, but now he had that long, built look of a guy too tall for the society he was in. He towered over Trevor, and that wasn’t an easy accomplishment. This summer, though, he’d taken to lifting and had filled out a lot bit. It was good to see that if you took your own destiny in hand you could make major changes and shape your life – or at least your body – the way you wanted.Joe looked relieved. The easy way the three of them hung out together, a touch here, a look there, a wink, a kiss - made me...something. I don’t know what to call it. It’s not jealousy because, frankly, I didn’t want Darla. She was nice and all, but she wasn’t my type.Whatever my type was, it leaned more toward the studious. The quiet girl who surprised you when you got to know her. A rebel, wild child on the inside, yet a tightly analytical type on the outside – that was what I liked.
I liked people who fooled the world, who made you think and expect one thing, and then who delivered something so different it made the foundation of your entire philosophical system quake.Only one person in my life had come close to that, and I hadn’t seen her in four and a half years.I tried to be that kind of person. It wasn’t easy in a world that told us we were supposed to be happy, to project happiness at all times as a sign of confidence, assurance, and of contentment. What the message really taught was that we were supposed to live lies. Lives of lies.
And also -- a reminder about my contest, which is still going on! Please enter!Most of my childhood and teen years were spent lying non-stop about the kind of family I lived in, and I drew a line in the sand because I wasn’t going to lie about the kind of man I wanted to be, about the kind of man I would shape myself to become.Drums don’t lie. Drumbeats and measures and music are exactly what you see on paper. They lay everything out in stark relief, page after page after page. The beats, the microbeats, the macrobeats, all of it are a kind of language that tells you - note after note, tap after tap - exactly what you need to do to get to the end of the song.How you interpret the emotional landscape within those beats is entirely up to you. You can go heavy and deep, or you can go shallow and wild. You can paint your own clean canvas. If only life were that simple and uncomplicated.As I looked up and studied Trevor, and Joe, and Darla, I saw a complication of their choosing and no piece of music, no set of lyrics or measures or notes laid out in a blueprint, could capture what they had improvised. Only they’d done it in three-three time.