As I was having dinner tonight, I heard a sad song from fifteen years ago. About this time in 1984, it (along with several other sad songs in an era full of them) would have had the power to make tears flow, so melancholy was my state at the time. It was messy.
But that wasn’t what I was thinking about as I ate my meal. I was wondering how I came to be sitting alone in this improbable little hoffbrau in Daly City, California, eating turkey with mashed potatoes and green beans. A strange little place, it was. A relic from the time when Daly City was populated mostly by meat-loving WASPs. I was a little baffled by my surroundings, and I realized this was the last place I would’ve expected to be fifteen years ago. I wasn’t really sad or depressed. Like I said, I was just a little baffled.
I kept listening to the song (and munching on the wilted green beans) and remembered spending a weekend crying my eyes out to the same song in an apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, and getting completely plastered with a friend whose whereabouts I no longer know. I thought the world was ending.
Of course, it didn’t. I’d get the idea that the world was ending many more times in the coming years. Somehow, it never did. Even though things never quite worked out as I’d planned, the world never once ended, and that’s probably good thing.
I’ve bounced around from place to place to place (and lots of places in between)without any particular plan or direction. I’ve done fun stuff, stupid stuff, and just plain pointless stuff in this impromptu approximation of a life. Sometimes I wonder what a nice, orderly existence would have been like. I think about how it might have been to go directly from college into a normal job, house, and relationship. It sure would have been less stressful. But I have a sneaking suspicion it wouldn’t have been quite as much fun either.
When I used to start bawling to that song, this “normal” path was the one I was planning on, but I guess I knew it was no more likely in 1984 than it is now. But of all the places I expected to wind up, last on the list would probably have been that little dive in Daly City on a Wednesday night pondering that stupid saccharine song. A chance combination of the music and bizarre surroundings put me in a very odd mood for five minutes or so.
Such, I suppose, is the power of a song. And no, I have no intention of naming it, thank you. I’m also not admitting that the photo above is of a truck stop near Bakersfield instead of a hoffbrau in Daly City…