My Musical Education

I have been working on a new something. I'm not sure if it'll be a book, short story, or simply remain in the woodshed. It interests me though. It has some of my favorite themes: teenagers, grunge, Delaware, mid-90's, unrequited love, and rock 'n' roll. I have never written about these subjects. I'm curious to see what will happen.

Sholeh was standing by locker 712. She was the first grunge girl I knew in high school. We would hit her basement for my musical education. I would sit on the sofa fidgeting, while she played her latest 7 inch. "This is Yo La Tengo," she would say. "This is the Screaming Trees!" I was ready to die. There was nothing I liked less than discordant guitars. The concept just didn't make sense to me. I had been raised on "Thriller," Persian pop, and the beauty of Trapper Keepers. There was no way a scathing Fender Strat was going to make me jump through hoops, no matter how cute Sholeh or her gaggle of wannabe music critics were. I just waited for it to be over, with my arms crossed and a half-smile where a scowl would have felt more comfortable.

I couldn’t imagine the mix tapes Sholeh gave me being anywhere else. They were personal anthems made just for me. If the labels were stained or a word misspelled, it only made the tape that much more valuable. I even remember my duped version of “Kerplunk.” Sholeh had written ‘Gren Die’ in place of ‘Green Day.” She said she did this on purpose, because I didn’t think “masturbation had lost its fun,” or that Billy Joe would amount to anything more than a hackneyed version of Op Ivy. At least that's how she painted my wounds when Green Day became the #1 band in America.

We went to our first grunge concert at The Yellow Bar in Wilmington. It was this hole-in-the-wall, with 6 tables, a Ms. Pac Man machine, and plastic cups to hold every drink. Big Chuck, the bouncer and resident drunk, was on hand to give us a proper once over. He reminded me of one of those Western bandits up to no good that I had seen with my Dad on our Sunday Marathons back in Jersey. I guess that was why I stepped up to the guy ready to kill. I figured that was what it took to get us into one of these places. I was wrong. Big Chuck took one look at Sholeh and waved us in like we were meant to be there all along and it had simply slipped his mind to let us in sooner.

Sholeh had raved about The Spinning Idiots for a week and a half. She called them “Godly” and “sweaty.” Two of her favorite words to describe a band we had to see before they played the Spectrum and left Delaware behind. Of course, this was the usual talk about the "local scene." Bands were always on the verge of something bigger. Everywhere else in the world had a bunch of 10’s compared to the Small Wonder's 11’s right around the corner. It was simply a matter of time. I didn't argue the point. I wasn't much of a raining parade in my youth. It wasn't until our weekly outings had ended and grunge was a Hollywood motif, that my cynical side turned the plaid it was meant to be.

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