diary of a mad
househusband

24 december 1999

 

 memory triggers

I was hanging out in the Canada & Friends message board, firmly anchored in the Here And Now, when I chanced to read a message containing the phrase, "...the ex-wife of my mother's late husband." That reminded me that the first band I ever played in for money included my ex-wife's ex-husband's brother as the bass player.

Jack was a very tall, very quiet, very passionate man, probably 15 years older than I. He brought to life for me some storybook terms: Even then, his hair was truly silver, rather than grey or white, and he was the first person I ever met who could properly be described as courtly.

He was a profound musical influence. He taught me, by word but even more by example, to get into character for a song, as an actor does. He could sing the tritest, most hackneyed lyrics and have tears in his eyes at the end of the song. I acquired this ability myself, and in later years it enabled me to hold audiences and gigs in situations where performers of far greater technical accomplishment could not.

Jack was also a drummer. I went to see him play a gig with a singer/guitarist, and Jack was the only other member of the band, playing his rare long-scale five-string bass with his hands while his feet played bass drum and hi-hat cymbals. This was a direct inspiration for my later career as a one-person band.

Jack eventually moved back to the New Orleans area. Years later, the band I was in played at a gay bar in NO, and I called him and invited him to the gig. Now, Jack was emphatically heterosexual (a fact enthusiastically confirmed to me by C., a very young, very pretty, very fat, very sexy woman to whom I had introduced Jack, and with whom both he and I were privileged, at different times, to be intimate), but showed up despite his misgivings. After the gig, though, he confided to me in his slow drawl, "I was a little disappointed that no one even made a pass at me."

My life has been, as you might infer, rather colorful. One problem with living such a life is that it leaves little time for nostalgia. As a result, half a century's accumulation of memories of delightful experiences remain largely dormant... until a phrase such as "the ex-wife of my mother's late husband," written by someone I've never met thousands of miles away, awakens the images and echoes of silver hair and the throb of a five-string bass (and long, dark hair and the feel of soft skin), not dulled by the yellow waxy buildup of frequent recollection, but sharp and fresh as yesterday afternoon.

What an unexpected pleasure...

Update, 25 March 2000: My stepson Rick just called. His Uncle Jack, my ex-wife's ex-brother in law, my mentor and friend, died yesterday of cancer.

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