When I was growing up, I wanted to be a musician… a singer in a rock and roll band. My friends wanted to be firemen, police officers, astronauts, professional athletes… something noble, athletes were nobler in 1984. I think my desire to be a musician was embedded in my (then) uncultivated fondness for sex… rockstars score loads of ass; it’s a fact, even the ugly ones.
I never became a singer in a rock and roll band, but I will admit to pretending I did… a hairbrush for a microphone, playing air guitar with my genitals. Sometime between high school and college I recognized that just because you want to do something, or be something, it’s not always in the cards. That’s life. You can call it unfair, but I won’t—I see it as the offset for the things that I am really good at.
So… throughout Memoirs of a Serial Bachelor there are references to one of my favorite musicians, Bruce Springsteen. Some of the notations are obvious (“The Crux”), others are loose (“Persuasion”). There are a lot of things like this, movie tie-ins and other aspects of pop culture. But the “shout out” to the Boss was something I took great pride in. After all, not only could the man sing and play guitar, but, to me, his writing overshadowed all of those other talents.
His ability to tell a story under the guise of concision and transplant the audience to that very moment in time mesmerizes me even today. That tingle down my spine… it’s something I rarely feel anymore. Within the last few years, to the best of my recollection, I have felt it only a few times; the first time I listened to The National, the first time I flipped through Zack Whitford’s photos, the first time I saw the young woman who I now call my girlfriend, and when I first found my book on a shelf at a Barnes & Noble. As we grow up, these moments become fleeting… few things excite us like when we were children. When I think back to 1984—sitting on the concrete porch of my parents’ home in rural Ohio and belting out every word to “4th of July, Asbury Park”—that tingle down my spine seemed to always be present. It was part of my daily routine between sugar-laced cereal and picking on my little brother. I turned four during November of 1984.
Generally speaking, George Bernard Shaw was right, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I don’t think it has to be that way though. I don’t know about you, but I am hard at work (building my empire), all grown up, and still cultivating my curiosities. That tingle may rarely make itself known, I’ve seen and done too much in my 30 years, but that doesn’t mean that life has to be any less exciting.