Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Clapton Concert and the Sacred Brownies

A couple years ago I learned that Eric Clapton was coming to St. Paul. I hadn’t been to a rock concert in years, and thought it was about time I went back to an indelible source of inspiration. Promoting his tour on the Today Show, he told a self-deprecating joke about getting old, describing how a kid on the street in London recognized him recently and said, "Hey, you're Eric Clapton, aren't you?!" Clapton admitted that he was. The kid responded, "Wow, you're history!!"

I assumed there remained tucked away in our freezer some marijuana brownies that I’d been carrying with me from house to house for the past 34 years. They’d been baked in 1971 using some of a friend’s personal crop grown on an abandoned farm in an unused horse paddock rich with manure. When I started dental school in 1973 I figured I better quit using marijuana for good, so I did. But eating one of those potent brownies before a Grateful Dead concert had been a sacred rite, and I just couldn’t bring myself to throw the last two brownies out.

It’s the afternoon preceding the Eric Clapton concert, and I’m thinking, “What the hell—I could benefit from a little mind-altering experience at this [middle aged] point in my life.” So I spend an hour taking the freezer apart looking for the last two marijuana brownies. The problem with having (a) a large freezer and (b) a wife who’s a self proclaimed pack rat—in all things in life—is that it gets harder and harder to find things as time goes by. In the freezer, the older things are the more covered they get with frost and ice. You have to scrape things, chip away the ice to figure out what they are. (Do we really want to eat this? What the hell is it and how long has it been in here?!) But I had a job to do—find those brownies.

The woman I was married to at the time walks in the back door, and sees the entire contents of the freezer spread out on the kitchen counter(s).
“What are you doing?!”
“I’m trying to find the last of Arne’s marijuana brownies for the Clapton concert tonight.”
She gave me a look that said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Then she said, “OK, what did they look like?”—as if my describing their original appearance would help us to distinguish one frost covered lump from another.
Although I knew she’d seen brownies before, I calmly tried to describe them.

[I need to interject a little background material here—when you have dogs, they may occasionally get worms, intestinal parasites, from sources unknown. And for the Vet to make a microscopic assessment, they will require that you bring in a stool sample—it should be fresh, although freezing it prior to delivery to the Vet’s office is sometimes acceptable. You see where this is going, don’t you?]

I explained that I had the brownies double-bagged in a small Tupperware container, which I’d (foolishly) neglected to label.

“Oh that! I threw that out—I thought it was just old frozen dog poo.”

I am speechless. The sacred brownies from 1971 have been mistaken for frozen dog poo, and have been thrown away. Not only are they gone, they were discarded in the most base and profane way.

Not wanting to start a fight, I managed, “Oh, that’s too bad.” (The price we sometimes pay for domestic peace.) I tried to console myself: “Well, looks like the Universe didn’t want me to get stoned one last time for this concert." Anyway, these days it probably would have been a migraine trigger for me.

So we went to the concert with our consciousness unaltered. Funny, walking into the St. Paul Excel Energy Center (what a name for a civic arena—corporations rule!) there was marijuana smoke everywhere. The crowd was a mix of young and old, biker types, aging flower children, younger students and a few almost conservative-looking types, women and girls, men and boys.

Walking through the crowd I could almost remember what it felt like to be 20. Just being alive is good; your body is light and moving feels as effortless as Eric Clapton’s guitar sounds. Our bleacher seats (@$150, not cheap!) were too small and close together to move in them; I got cramps in my legs from sitting for 2 1/2 hours. We sat next to a couple our age, and during intermission shared stories about the music back then. We all remembered being told by our parents, “That’s not music; it’s noise.”

I wondered how Eric Clapton must feel about singing the song, Cocaine (J.J. Cale), what with his now being a recovering addict. I guess if Cocaine (the song) is popular and makes money then he’s still going to play it:

Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm! Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"If you wanna hang out, you’ve gotta take her out, Cocaine!"
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
“If you wanna get down, get down on the ground, Cocaine!”
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"She don’t lie, She don’t lie, She don’t lie, ...Cocaine!"

I was listening to the song, and as I was looking down (binoculars are great fun at concerts) from our bleacher seats I noticed how many old guys like me there were in the audience with male pattern baldness. (I’ll admit, it bothers me a little—but what can I do about it?) Anyway, as Clapton was playing Cocaine I thought of some alternate lyrics:

Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm! Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"If your head’s lookin' bare, where you had a lotta hair, Rogaine!"
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"If you know you're getting old, and your scalp is feelin' cold, Rogaine!"
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"It’s alright, It’s alright, It’s alright, ... Rogaine!"

OK, OK, I know it's a bit silly--I don't care. I feel better when I make fun of things that bother me.

1 comment:

pattig12 said...

You are absolutely hilarious & a great writer. I found your blog reading some random Lake Superior writings - we sail the Big Lake. You wrote a good story there, too. Anyway, I loved the Rogaine song. Keep writing.