[Credit Where Credit Is Due Department: This was inspired by Buck. He wrote a similar post back on August 29th. You should visit there and read it, either before or after reading this one. You could try reading both his and mine simultaneously, but I wouldn't recommend it. You'd probably blow off the top of your head and then your brains could get all wet when it rains.]
UPDATE (9/6/12) - Uncle Skip and Michelle and Craig have joined in the fun. Why not follow their lead and do one of these yourself? I'd love to see it!
Buck started off with a song. So have I. His held special meaning for him. Mine is just one of my favorites, featuring one of the best guitar solos of all eternity, by the incomparable Skunk Baxter. What follows is a very quick snapshot of life; the highlights that come immediately to mind. Actually, it will be six snapshots, one for each decade I've been alive. Let's start with the 1950's.
I was born in 1957. I can't say that I remember much about my arrival, which is probably a good thing. I've heard that the decade was pleasant enough, outside of a few trivial inconveniences like The Korean War and Joe McCarthy, but my contribution to America was mostly done via eating and pooping. From all reports, I did my job well.
As we moved into the Sixties, I gained consciousness. This was a good thing, overall, even though it made the pooping more embarrassing. I went to school, where I learned a smattering of useful things and a whole boatload of utterly ridiculous foolishness such as New Math. I watched a lot of TV.
I also became aware of sports. And the Red Sox were instrumental in shaping my outlook on life. They stunk, but I adored them. I was the only person in my neighborhood who cheered them on without a hint of sarcasm. Everybody else jumped on the bandwagon in 1967 when they suddenly started winning, but I had been there before they arrived. I look at every other thing I've championed in my life, from the Libertarian Party to The Ramones, and I see that I've tried to do the same thing that I did with the Red Sox, which was to find something I thought was really cool and shout about it before every dope in town decided it was the best thing going. That so few of the things I've 'discovered' haven't panned out as well as the Sox did is no fault of mine. I've been right, every time.
(Well, OK, maybe I went overboard with the XFL, but I've been right on everything else, dammit.)
Next come the 70's. I gained consciousness in the 60's, then expanded it in the 70's.
For me, it was basically the decade of drugs. Sure, lots of important things happened - my parents were divorced, I got laid for the first time, I found out I was lucky enough to have been born a year or so too late to have had to go to Vietnam - but mostly I turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Drugs led to my liking music one heck of a lot more than I did before drugs, so I decided to join a band. The fact that I had never taken a music lesson in my life (aside from a failed attempt to learn the trumpet during sixth grade) did not deter me. I told some guys I was a singer, so they let me 'sing' in a conglomeration named World's End. I also bought a keyboard, taught myself a few chords, and filled out the sound a bit with it. By the end of the decade, I was playing the bass - and playing it rather well, I might add.
Let's see; what else happened in the 70's? I figured out I wasn't going to make the major leagues in baseball, so I began playing in organized fast-pitch softball leagues. I'm still doing that, so I suppose that counts for something.
Now we come to the 80's. This is where fun drug usage devolved into serious addiction. I spent every cent I earned on cocaine. I was in a dead-end relationship, no direction whatsoever, working jobs that meant nothing to me, and coming to the realization (after a couple of wonderful years in a band named Live Wire, which I truly thought might have a shot) that I probably wasn't going to become a rock 'n roll star. In addition, I was rapidly going bald. My Dad had open heart surgery, and I was his only child and he was divorced, so I was the one who took care of him, period. It was a stressful and wasted last half of the decade, following a wasted and enjoyable first half of it.
Then, in the last weeks of the 80's, I was the recipient of a "Dear John" letter from a woman I had been with for a few years. She went on vacation and never came back. She sent me a letter, a couple of days before Christmas, telling me she had met someone and we were through. I was, to put it mildly, knocked off-balance. Some others might say that I was insane for the next several weeks. I didn't eat at all. I dropped about thirty pounds (a good thing, actually, as it cleared my head and made me more attractive for my re-entry into the dating pool.) Oddly, I had stopped doing drugs about six months before she wrote the letter. Maybe that's why she wrote the letter. She liked to get all lit up as much as I once did.
Nah. We were never right for each other. I was as much to blame as her; maybe even more so. I've come to realize that slowly since the actual time.
So, I entered the 90's at possibly the lowest point of my life. Then, in February, I met MY WIFE. And we lived happily ever after.
Well... more or less, anyway. The past twenty-some years have been personally and professionally rewarding. There have been bummers - My Dad died, both of MY WIFE's parents died, My Grandma died, My Auntie Ba died, lots of folks died - but overall, on balance, a decent enough couple of decades, even if I still have never won a championship of any sort in 35 years of playing softball and I don't have any teeth left.
And here we are, in 2012, which means, now that I do the math again, I am in my seventh decade (although I'm 55, this is the seventh decade in which I've been alive. Somehow that doesn't seem right, especially considering the drugs I've done, but it's the truth.)
I will not make any predictions concerning how much longer I expect to be around. I mean, really, I expect to be around forever, because I'm a Christian, but not necessarily in this rapidly-decaying body. I survived to the end of this piece, at least, which may be more than some of you have been able to do and I can't say I blame you.
Soon, with more better stuff.