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For One Night Only

When the spotlight hits the stage, it illuminates a single microphone on a stand.  The restless crowd goes quiet.  I walk out from the wings, in a black suit, no tie, shirt untucked.  It is very apparent that all the workouts and disciplined eating have really paid off.

I stand there for a moment, and appreciate the vast darkness that seems to swallow all sound.  There is the occasional throat clearing from the audience, but all eyes are on me.  

I lean to the mic.  "Hi there," I say. "Thanks for coming out tonight."  There are a couple claps and as is always the case in these situations, some character in the back yells, "You're welcome!"  I smile and wait for them to quiet down again, then I clear my throat.  I reach into my inside jacket pocket, and pull out a single piece of paper.  I unfold it, look at it for a moment, then reach into my other lapel and pull out a pair of half rim reading glasses.  Behind me in the darkness there is movement and shuffling sounds.  

"Hello everyone," I say, reading from the paper.  "My name is Ralph."  I look to the wings, where my wife and two boys stand.  I tip them a wink.  "The Old Man is in rare form tonight eh?"  I say.  I turn back to the audience. "Tonight is the night I turned forty years old.  My friends asked me what I wanted more than anything."

Then from the huge stacks, comes feedback, then a single sustained bass note.  I look back to the darkness behind me and nod.  Then a high hat rhythm starts.  

"What I told them," I say, raising my voice to be heard over the building sound coming from the stacks, "is to come here-" the sound fills the space and I can feel the crowd fill with anticipation- "and rock our fucking faces off!"  I take an ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon from a pocket, crack it open, and pound it as the guitar builds, then the shriek of a pickslide. "We are the Lolligaggers," I yell into the microphone as the guitar fills the space, the music builds and the crowd begins to shout, "and we are here to fuck your ears to DEATH!"

The chords start, the three chords that have lifted me since the day I was born, the music fills the space, fills me, and I am lifted, blown apart, shredded by the guitar, pounded by the rhythm, filled with whatever it is that fills me, the spirit, the life, the goddamn fucking unrelenting soul blasting power of music, and all is light, all is sound, and I am filled to bursting, filled up with a lifetime.  This is it.  This is what I was born to do.  

This is it...

The perfect moment.

Sometimes we are told to visualize the best result, the most ideal representation of what it is we are asking for.  We are told that our intentionality will shape our experiences, will help manifest our goals in real life.

This sounds to me very much like day dreaming.

I get it; I understand that we need to keep the goal in sight, to keep that light at the end of the tunnel, but in my experience, there is no tunnel, and certainly no light, at least until you dig one yourself with sustained hard work and a smidgen of self discipline.

When it became apparent that I would get to sing for the Lolligaggers on or near my 40th birthday, I wondered what it would look like. My intentionality was shaped a bit like the thing above, a surreal unrealistic dream, an ideal representation, and... yeah, it wasn't quite like that in the end, and how could it be?  For instance, what stage? What audience?

But I did get to play. I got to sing some old songs with my old friends, I got to show my kids what the old man got up to when he was a much younger man, I got to hug my bestest buddy, and sing in front of my dad.  We got shut down by the cops like I had imagined we would, and my wife was there to witness it.  It wasn't magic; I was as fat as I have been, I certainly wasn't wearing a suit, I hadn't transformed into some charismatic rock and roll god, I was just me, an out to pasture middle aged pork chop, and I missed all of the cues and forgot all of the lyrics, and I was always about a beat and a half behind, and it was sweaty and close and hot in an alley garage.

Oh, and also, it was awesome.

I got to play, for one night only, the songs of my youth, and magical daydream thinking can go to hell, because it was perfect.  My mom and dad and kids and wife and brothers were there, and we played just as I remembered, in a dirty garage playing for a handful of people and a few randos that happened to be walking by, and the cops came and told us to shut it down.  It couldn't be more classic.

I just think sometimes our imagination can get in the way of our reality, which actually does present itself perfectly on occasion.  Once in a while we get exactly what we need, even if it doesn't always look like we imagined it in our daydreams.

Sometimes, it is just imperfectly perfect.

Still Writing,

RP 8-27-18

A special thanks goes to the Lolligaggers, Ben and Dustin and Eric, my friends and rock n roll brethren, for putting up with me and my herd of cats family for an evening and making an old man's birthday wish become reality.  Love you dudes.  Comment here, follow me on Twitter, and Facebook, check out the Lolligaggers on Bandcamp: 
Be kind. Make art. Give more than you take.  Put more good into the world than bad.  Cheers, y'all.


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