Web Site: John Mayer's Music and Stories
You can read this story on my website as well - www.megamarine.com/hello.htm
"Guitars, Girls and Déjà Vu."
By John A. Mayer
© Feb. 2002 | 2583 words
The Toronto skyline looked inviting from the air. Lake Ontario danced as the sunrise reflected on the water. It was good to be home. I had been playing my guitar on the road for two years now and it was starting to get old. Maybe it was time to abandon this crazy dream of stardom and get a real job, I thought. The jet banked hard to the right and began it's descent.
Unwelcome images of my ex-wife Lynda and driving to work in rush hour traffic swirled around in my head. Did I want to go back to that? Settling down again might not be so bad with the right woman, I reasoned. Some guys I knew were doing pretty well selling used cars. Maybe after the next gig, I would try it. The plane touched down.
A shuttle bus took me to my Camaro at the "Park and Fly". A place to stay and who to call were my first priorities. I sat in the driver's seat flipping through my phone book trying to decide if I wanted naughty or nice. Where do I find the perfect woman? Maybe she was right there on these pages and I missed it. I turned on the cell phone and headed toward the exit. By the time I hit the road, my decision was made. I would call Paige and try to start over. The phone was ringing. Caller I.D. nailed me.
"Hello Paige? It's me."
An hour went by in five seconds.
"Why are you calling?" she asked. "You walked out six months ago because you needed your space. Didn't you find it?"
I had just flown back from Thunder Bay after playing a solo gig at the Holiday Inn for three weeks. The crowd was a weird mix of cowboys, Indians, skiers, and businessmen with their "secretaries". My Camaro was now on the highway and the cell phone was breaking up.
"I found too much space in T-Bay," I said. "They wanted to hear more country and Neil Diamond. A gay Indian came on to me and the bouncer had to throw him out three times. He even tried to get on the elevator with me."
"Aw, poor baby."
The sarcastic snickering in the background was payback. I knew it was deserved. Paige used to sing and play keyboard with the band when we toured, and a natural, easy relationship began. Her voice made me think of her body. She was a petite brunette with lots of street smarts and intelligence. For some reason, probably fear, I just couldn't settle down with her then.
"Have you still got that twangy sheet music?" I asked. "I'd like to come over and copy some of it. Besides, I could use a friend."
"Don't get any ideas, Mr. Commitment. Against my better judgement you can come over, but we're not going to bed."
My ulterior motive was exposed, but I remained hopeful. The Toronto traffic was a nightmare, and I pulled into Paige's driveway forty five minutes later. She rented a nice house in suburban Don Mills and had a great music room in the basement. I wondered if she had a new boyfriend. I scanned my phone book just in case.
The garden and hedges were neatly trimmed as always, and the lawn ornament bunnies seemed to be staring at me. I didn't have to knock on the door. Paige opened it and gave me a big hug. A couple of cocktails later, I had a guitar in my hands and she was at the keyboard. The old harmonies were as fresh as ever. She still had framed road photos of the band on the walls. There was a really nice one of me with my Ovation. I knew I blew it six months ago and wished I hadn't. Maybe this time I could give commitment a chance and show my sensitive side.
Things looked promising.
Ring ~ Ring ~ Ring.
She picked up the phone. It was Bob or Bill or somebody.
"Dinner at IL Posto? Yeah, that sounds nice. 7:00 o'clock is perfect. See you then."
BUSTED! The mood went down the toilet, and I started copying sheet music. She was being taken to one of the most expensive restaurants in the city, probably by some rich guy. We played a few more standards, but it was time to go. My pursuit of Paige would have to wait. I excused myself to the washroom and popped open the cell phone.
"Hello Heather? It's me."
"Why are you calling?" she asked. "I thought you needed to be on the endless highway. Did you crash?"
Déjà vu was taking hold.
I used every silver-tongued devil line that I could think of. She accepted my peace offering of dinner and a movie, so I hit the road again to Heather's apartment in Scarborough. There was no pretense with Heather. What you saw was what you got and what you got was every man's fantasy. It was time to check in with my agent.
"Hello Rick? It's me."
"Hold on a minute. I've got this demo tape blasting at seven D's. This band is GOOD! How did it go in T-Bay?"
"Just fine. Nice crowd. Happy management. What's next?" I asked.
"You're going to Deep River for two weeks on Monday. Get ready for moose hunters and cowboys."
The last thing I wanted was more cowboys. I had to eat, but did it have to be moose? Life on the road as a solo entertainer can be lonely at times if you're a folk rocker trying to adapt to other styles. I guess that's what a professional does; adapt and survive. The thought of playing a hundred and thirty miles north of Ottawa where roads suddenly end did not appeal to me. I kept thinking "car payment".
I just finished talking to Rick when the phone rang. It was my bass player "Spider".
"How's it hangin' man? Wanna go downtown and pick up women?"
"I'll let you know tomorrow, dude. Got a date tonight with Heather."
Oh man, the LOVELY Heather? Can I come?"
"Not unless you pay the bill. Talk to you later."
The Camaro pulled into the Tuxedo Towers driveway. After finding a parking space, ringing the buzzer, and exchanging niceties with a Pakistani family on the elevator, I was in Heather's apartment. It was like entering a shrine. Jim Morrison's face was everywhere along with a framed collage of the "Doors" on stage. The fridge had beer in it and the huge mirror on the bedroom ceiling was still there. A Molson Export Ale was placed on a coaster by my chair. I inhaled it. Her long blonde hair shimmered every time she moved in that tight blue dress that I remembered oh so well.
Things looked promising.
"Where are you taking me?" she asked. "I feel like surf and turf and I'm dying to see this new chick flick. Did you hear that Joe and Rita broke up? Did you know Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt? Jackie told me a pregnant goldfish is called a twit. As if I cared! Do you want to watch 'Wheel of Fortune' before we go? Can I drive your Camaro?"
We ended up eating at the Olive Garden and then walked through the mall toward the Cineplex. Shopping was Heather's main focus in life. We strolled past the gauntlet of evil mannequins and she never stopped talking for more than ten seconds. Thank God for the movie!
The date from purgatory was only a forgotten memory later that night in the bedroom. We caressed, we kissed, we made love under the mirror. Our bodies came together so easily. Nothing else mattered.
She was so sweet and quiet lying there as I got ready to leave in mid morning. Her soft breasts were uncovered and moved enticingly with every breath. Luckily, the phone rang while I was in the kitchen getting some juice.
"Hey Johnny, you owe me money. You better make a trip to the store today and pay up before I break your fingers."
Happy Harry Baumgartner owned the local music store and I was behind on my amp payment. I think he was kidding about the fingers, but you never know. I left a note for Heather and drove to Harry's with a hundred dollar bill. On the way I called mom to let her know I was alive.
"Hello mom? It's me."
"Well if it isn't the prodigal son. It's a good thing you called. I was getting worried. Are you and your guitar surviving or starving?"
"Surviving mom. How's dad? By the way, what's for supper?"
"Roast beef, potatoes, carrots and corn. Are you coming?"
I would never turn down mom's roast beef so dinner was a done deal.
When I turned into Harry's, the parking lot was full of musicians hauling rental equipment in and out of the store. A few faces looked familiar. I paid my overdue account, and checked out the new Taylor guitars. What a sweet, rich sound! It was love at first strum. The store phone rang constantly, and I could hear Harry conducting business while he chewed on a half-lit Cuban cigar.
"Yeah O.K. bring it in, we'll fix it. Click. No, that IS our best price, you moron. I'll give you 15% off if you get this right. If there are three apples and you take away two, how many do you have? Wrong Einstein! Two, you took them remember? Click. Hey, Domenic Baby. What's up?"
The place was a beehive of musical brothers and sisters. It felt comfortable. My cell phone rang through the noise. It was Spider.
"Hey man, how did it go with Heather? Did you escape before she woke up?"
"Yeah, life is good. I hated the chick flick, but it was worth it. I'm at Harry's checking out guitars. What are you up to?"
"Just eating cold pizza and having a beer. Bring me some bass strings and come on over. I'll share."
The Camaro was pointed toward Spider's place in East York. His mother died four years ago and left him her 1950's era two-bedroom brick bungalow. He was happy and crazy and didn't need a whole lot of money. Women came and went like the prairie wind. The neighbors didn't care much for his lifestyle or his bass guitar at 3:00 A.M., but man could he play. A Rickenbacher fretless was his favorite, and he could run a funky lead on that thing.
We jammed all afternoon, sat out in the yard, and drank beer while chatting with his elderly neighbors. He never really bothered to talk to them since his mom died. It turned out that they didn't mind the music as long as they could hear "All my Children" on TV at one o'clock. He promised the volume would be turned down after midnight. With our public relations good deed of the day done, I called mom to see when dinner was ready.
"Hello again mom. It's me. When should I come over."
The answer was anytime, so I packed up my guitar and drove back to Scarborough. The roast beef was excellent! My parents were always there for my brothers and I no matter what dumb things we did. I think my attitude and lifestyle troubled them the most. I can still remember my teenage jam sessions in the basement. Dad's chair used to vibrate from the noise while he was trying to watch TV. When I played alone, mom would secretly sit on the stairs and listen while I composed songs. She would always come down to offer advice and constructive criticism. I was truly blessed.
Star Trek had just ended when the phone rang.
"Hello John? It's me."
"Carol, is that you? I thought you were in Paris studying art. Did you get bored at the Louvre?"
"No, I'm just back on vacation for three weeks. Can I buy you a drink?"
"Sure. How about the Place Pigalle in an hour? You can tell me all about those arrogant Frenchmen."
"They're just cocky Europeans", she said. "See you there."
The phone rang again. It was Spider.
"Hey Johnny, listen to this riff. I might forget it in the morning."
"Not now buddy, gotta meet Carol at the Pig. ~ Later."
The phone rang again. It was Heather.
"Hi John, I thought we might get together again tonight."
"I'm at mom's Heather. Can I call you back?"
The phone rang again. It was a telemarketer from the Phone Company.
The phone rang again. I turned it off and inhaled deeply. The bombardment stopped, and I felt like the ocean ebbing into low tide. No rip currents, no sharks, no wind, only seagulls calling. As I was driving to meet Carol, I listened to "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors. I thought about Heather's body. The serenity was surreal and disturbing.
John Barrymore once said, "In Genesis, it says that it is not good for a man to be alone; but sometimes it is a great relief."
Laughing out loud I shouted, "No man is an island!" and turned the phone back on.
I fought twelve lanes of freeway traffic to meet Carol on time. With five minutes to spare, I pulled into the parking lot while the phone was ringing. It was Carol.
"Hello Johnny? It's me. I just found out from Heather that you two spent last night together, and probably will again tonight. I didn't say anything about meeting you and guess what? I'm not! Have a nice life."
Busted again. I turned off the phone, reclined the seat, and closed my eyes. When you chop a lot of wood, you get a few chips. Spider's place sounded like a good refuge for the night, and I drove there in silence. Only two days had passed since coming home, and I was already in trouble. I wondered how yesterday's need to settle down with one good woman turned back into wanting every woman. Changing wasn't going to be easy. The chorus to a favorite song of mine played in my head.
"Don't have to live any lies or make up dumb alibis
At Surfside's Bar and Grill.
Just give me shrimp and some fries, hot bikinis, blue skies,
A cold beer and a hundred dollar bill."
I crashed early at Spider's. The phone was thrown into a corner and I stretched out on the couch. Bass guitar riffs filled the house and all I could think about was Heather's body. My eyes closed and big button telephones swirled around in my mind. Resistance was futile. I was half-awake and reached for the phone.
An uneasy feeling made me stop.
Should I give in and spend another night with a beautiful body or be more selective, caring, and responsible? Will Paige let me back into her life and do I want to go there yet? Why was I torturing myself with this deep stuff now? I felt a song forming in my head. The melody was playing and the lyrics were unfolding. Maybe I was meant to do this. Easy Street and fame can't be that hard to find.
I picked up my guitar and a writing pad.
The music flowed like a river and for now there were no more questions.
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|Reviewed by Vivian DeSoto
|Well written. I didn't read the word, I saw the story. A day in the life....|
|Reviewed by Brian Heir
|I really enjoyed the detective story narrative style, and clean imagery. Guitars and women, what could be better, in sound and shape than these two things|
|Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G
|I Loved this! Good luck with the lady hunting!
and guitar strumming!
Wicked GREAT story! Thanks! for sharing!
YOU write really well!
What a life! If you slow down, BE SAFE!
WArmly, WArrior "Spirit" Lady Sheeeoox
|Reviewed by Gia Swenny
|Reviewed by Malcolm Watts
|Cool story John although it seems more an insight into the mind and life of the musician who struggles with committment and stability vs excitment pursuing the holy grail of music and the road.|
|Reviewed by Tracey L. O' Very
|This is great a man on the go. How do you keep your sanity? I know music!
I can truly relate to all the feelings here. variety is the spice of life!(c:)
Take care keep writing these Great stories. You've got a life so fun. So many fun adventures! always leave a smile and a good feeling inside. A great family too.xo
|Reviewed by Scott
|Fast paced and entertaining.|