Thursday, March 18, 2010

Want to know the kind of dork I was?

A couple of small events today brought Neil Diamond to my attention, and from there my mind jumped back in time to high school. Here's a quick sample of the kind of dork I was then.

I had one close friend, my best friend. He was the kind of best friend I thought would be with me forever. He's not around anymore, sadly--a long story. But then he was always around.

We played basketball together, sometimes in full five-on-five pickup games, often just the two of us. We both loved it. We gave it everything we had, and we were pretty good for two 5'8" guys.

When we were getting ready to go to a rec center and play, or to go outside and run or workout or just shoot at the hoop on my garage, we would spin some psych-up tunes. For a long stretch, we would play the two songs I've attached here, sometimes together, sometimes just one of them. We'd sit on the floor of my room, in our shorts and t-shirts and sneakers and headbands, close our eyes, spin or palm or just fiddle with our basketballs, and we'd dive into the music. Neither song is great, but each has moments of change--the end of the instrumental part in the Neil Diamond, the uptick in the Cat Stevens--that were turning points for our concentration.

We went out when we knew we'd lose. We went out when the gym was new and we had to fight to get a game. We went out sometimes when we knew bigger guys we had beaten were gunning to beat us up. We took punches for each other. We bled together. We had each other's back. We had each other. And we always had the music, this music and many other songs.

Two high school dorks, sitting on the floor, listening to music pretty much everyone thought was dorky, the air around us crackling with the intensity you normally see only in young people, bobbing our heads, psyching up, and going out to take on the world together.

Want to know one more little not-so-surprising secret? I'm still that intense, alone at night, with my music, and sometimes at other times. I've just learned to hide it better. Most of the time.

Neil Diamond, from the Hot August Night album, the first two songs.

Cat Stevens, "Crab Dance," for years available only as a 45


Anonymous said...

Okay, I get to join the dork parade.The first two important albums I ever bought with my own hard earned babysitting money was Neil Diamond'a Hot August Night and Simon and Garfunkle's Bridge Over Troubled Water. Both of which I knew every song by heart which I would play on my little white record player over and over and over until I felt I could face the world. I understand.

Mark said...

Two fine album choices.


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