Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 7


Tram #7 to Heaven

“He said in love and war all is fair, he’s got cards he ain’t showing.”

    My father had picked me up at the airport and was singing along to the Jonathan Edwards oldie as we sped home on Route 24.  Due to the intended purpose of this visit, Dad wasn’t in very good spirits.  He tried to fake it with some small talk and scattered impromptu song fragment sing-alongs, but I wasn’t so easily fooled.  Since I had a slightly different plan for coming back east, my own mood was better, almost hopeful.  Dad more than likely thought I was faking it too, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    “How’s the job search coming?” he asked, abruptly lowering the radio volume without taking his eyes off the road.

    “No offers, just a come on from the whores on seventh avenue.”

    “Don’t mock one of the greats,” Dad said without even a hint of a smile. 

    People seldom catch on when I speak in song lyrics.  I get a lot of strange looks based on my frequent non-sequiturs, but little recognition.  I can’t even tell why I do it.  They speak to me in riddles and they speak to me in rhyme.  Oops, I did it again.  Sometimes the fragments aren’t even from songs I like.  It’s mostly just a word association game my brain plays that manifests itself via lyrical tourette’s.  So stand up and fight, stand up for your rights, and dance to the music that nobody likes. 

    Dad often understood the sources, though he never appreciated the concept.  He considered it a sacrilege for me to pilfer words of wisdom like that, even though he never complained when my Mom spoke the same way.  Maybe it was genetic.

    “How is my quoting any different than the cover songs you play on the guitar?”

    “My songs are a tribute.  You speak as if the words are your own.  That’s the part that isn’t right.  Now seriously, do you have any job leads?”

    In need of a better answer, I restated.  “I’m almost happy to be on the dole and avoiding people for a while.  Besides, only fools and horses work.”

    The “almost” was a lie.  I was actually thrilled to be void of responsibility for the time being.  And the way things turned out, it was perfect timing to have some freedom to do what I had to do here.

    The music critic career I alluded to earlier had imploded shortly after the turn of the millennium.  It wasn’t so much that my talent was fading, but more so that I just didn’t feel the passion for it anymore.  An early musical midlife crisis is probably the best way of describing it.  I had passed my musical peak and done quite well for myself being in the right place at the right time.  But as popular tastes evolved, no new music really moved me anymore.  Most of my few and far between freelance pieces covered the solo careers, new projects, or even deaths of my earlier heroes.  Fluff pieces saying “This new album is great not because it’s actually any good, but because it reminds me of the glory of my misspent youth.”  Artist loyalty and nostalgia tours may be good for the performers and the fans, but not so much for a journalist who is supposed to stay relatively objective at all times.

    Solicitations for my articles and reviews kept coming, but I couldn’t bring myself to fake it.  After being essentially blacklisted from most of the major publications for refusing assignments and not having anything inspire me enough to submit a review to the online and offline ‘zines, I turned to a string of personal assistant and call center jobs just to pay the bills.  The most recent of these had ended in a massive layoff a few weeks back, and the downtime and unemployment pay were quite welcome.

    Not that I really needed a great deal of time per se anymore.  The ability to time travel essentially gave me unlimited vacation days if and when I returned to the working world.  Vacations would have to be all sightseeing tours, but that wasn’t too bad considering my antisocial nature.

    “Just make sure you do something practical with your time off,” Dad continued as he exited the highway.  “I don’t want you just laying around drinking beer all day.”

    “I won’t just drink.  I’ll drink and complain.”

    Dad didn’t think that response was as funny as I did, so I politely thanked him for the advice.  He looked like he was about to say something else, but changed his mind and responded by turning the volume back up on the stereo and air guitaring out the last few bars of “Sunshine” as he held the steering wheel with his knees. 

    I tried to convince myself that he was actually jealous of the position I was in but didn’t want to show it.  It probably wasn’t true, but I knew I’d certainly be jealous if things were reversed.  Regardless, he seemed to be holding something back, but it wasn’t really my concern at this one moment in time.