Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Yanni and five other things I wish you didn't know about me.

Yanni and five other things I wish you didn’t know about me.

Paste magazine is what I imagine Rolling Stone was in the mid-70s. Smart, intelligent, deeply connected to what matters most in music, film and culture. Their record reviews contain words I’ve never even seen and are usually about bands I’ve never heard of, Asobi Seksu, Amandine, Ambulance Ltd. Etc. Needless to say, I think it’s an incredibly cool publication, which is part of the reason I was so horrified by my recent conversation with one of the co-founders.

He was a nice enough guy and after talking for a few minutes at a hip lunch meeting we were having, he asked the question I imagine he asks everyone – “What music do you like?”

In that moment, I was really counting on my mouth to bail me out, to pull out some obscure rap/folk/acoustic/ambient trio from one of the Dakotas that he had never heard. Instead, I heard myself say, “Counting Crows.”

I wanted to pull it back in, yank those two words right out of the air and swallow them like a kid caught with gum, but instead I started rambling about the Counting Crows as if they were some small band most people were not familiar with. I could see the disappointment in his face, see him thinking, “Wait, the guy that dated all the girls from the show Friends? The white guy with dreads? The guy that was animated as a rabbit, with dreads, in the video they did for Shrek 3?”

It was brutal. I rambled for a few minutes and then avoided him the rest of the lunch. God, I wanted to look cool in front of him. I wanted him to think I belonged at that lunch despite my lack of a goatee or any really cool tattoos. But I just couldn’t.

I can laugh about that now, but I think it shows that deep down, I still expect other people to define me on some level. Upon meeting someone that I perceive to be cool, I hand them the definition of who I am and ask them to rearrange the pieces as they see fit. You want me to like obscure music? Cool, I can do that. You want me to watch art films where an old orange rolling on the floor is supposed to symbolize the deterioration of a love lost? Can do. And so forth.

It’s all pretty ridiculous and more than that, it’s kind of a big middle finger to God. It basically says to him, “This, this person you made me is not enough. It’s a good start, but this girl, this guy, holds some missing pieces. I’m going to get them to finish the job.”

That sucks, but it’s going to happen again. Maybe not as often though if I can identify some of the things I’m secretly ashamed of. That said, here are 6 things I wish you didn’t know:

1. I listen to Yanni.
I listen to Yanni’s Live at the Acropolis when I write. Screw that, I love Yanni’s Live at the Acropolis. I would go see Yanni in concert. I might grow a mustache, that’s how much I dig that album.

2. I read books with unicorns on the cover.
I’ve told my wife a billion times it’s a white horse not a unicorn but that’s not the point. I read Robert Jordan fantasy books. They’re so cheesy. If I’m on a plane, I open them from the back so people sitting next to me don’t see the front cover.

3. If it were sociably acceptable for suburban dads to breakdance I would.
My favorite show on television is “So you think you can dance.” I can’t get enough pop and lock. If 31 year old white dudes could breakdance, I would in a heartbeat. I have two dances Tivo’d and watch them at least once a day.

4. I wish I was taller.
I’m 5’7” and that just doesn’t feel tall enough. I mean I can reach most things in most cabinets, but it’s not a great height. And when I daydream about being a famous author, I always pretend that I went through something I made up called “Latent Puberty” and grew 6 inches in my early 30s. It could happen.

5. I heart Taco Bell
I wish I appreciated fancy food and cheese that had lots of syllables and vowels and maybe even knew the difference between North Cambodian food and South Cambodian food. But I don’t. I love Taco Bell and food items that have their weight right there in the name, like “1/2 cheesy been and rice burrito.”

6. I carry an African club when my wife goes out of town.
I am apparently the biggest wuss in all of Georgia. When my wife goes out of town I carry around a Masai warrior club my brother got in Africa around the house at night. I’m not sure what I’ll be able to accomplish with this deadly stick, but I’m so afraid of the bumps and creaks the house makes that it makes me feel better. Although, back in the day I used to slide my dresser in front of my door to prevent someone from getting in while I was sleeping, so I guess I’ve improved somewhat.

I’m not cool. I like Yanni and the Counting Crows and if I ever see you at a book tour and you think I’m shorter than you initially imagined I guess that’s OK.

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