“Romeo May be Bleeding, but Mercutio is Dead”
by Jamie S. Rich
“This day’s black fate on more days doth depend;
This but begins the woe others must end.”
It’s amazing what you can do on the internet. A musician doesn’t need a booking agent cutting into his meager earnings if he wants to go on the road anymore. I simply looked up each city, read up on the various clubs and music-friendly coffee houses, and then contacted the management. I wanted to get out of town and a mini-tour of the U.S. was as good an excuse as any. Map out my itinerary, get a car, and drive.
For once, I was rather mercenary in my self-promotion, playing up angles I wouldn’t normally use. “J. Cricket is a marketable act. He hails from Portland, Oregon, a virtual Mecca for indie music, giving the world the likes of Death Cab For Cutie and the Decemberists. Local press may also be interested to know that his real name is Lance Scott, and he is the younger brother of Tristan Scott, alternative music legend, former lead singer of Like A Dog.” This was how desperate I was to get away from home. I’d hitch my wagon to anything.
“You’re in love with this girl,” Lori said.
“No, I’m not.”
“Okay, seriously, I’m asking. Are you in love with her?”
“Lori, you know me, I’m in love with every girl.”
“Granted, but this one is different. You really are, aren’t you?”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Does it make a difference? Say it’s true; what’s to be served here? Why are you doing this? If it’s true--and I’m not saying it is--I need these walls I’ve built to remain standing.”
Lori looked at me in disbelief. “Pffff. You’ve really done it this time. You’ve escalated your technique. Do you think about these things before you do them?”
“Not really. If I did, I would never happen.”
“Lance, she’s married.”
“I know. That would only matter if there was anything going on here and there isn’t.”
“To your friend, Lance.”
I don’t know why for sure, but that bugged me. “No, he’s not,” I said, my voice growing hostile. “Men aren’t friends with each other. We’re not. We’re part of a social order, and that’s it. Men are ‘in it to win it,’ and they’d climb over each other to get what they want, regardless of whatever bullshit code they preach about.”
The bullshit code I meant was a particularly sticky one. It was a playground set of morals: friends don’t go after their other friends’ girls. It’s practically the first rule they teach you. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t broken all the time.
“I hope for your sake you’re being straight with me,” Lori said. “I’d like to think you’ve learned your lesson, what with chasing after impossible women and getting involved in other people’s relationships...but why do I think you’re just the way you’ve always been? Maybe worse?”
Because I was the same. She was right.
The truth is, people don’t change. We like to think we do. We think we’re growing and learning from our mistakes, and as we go through life, we convince ourselves that this time was better than last time, we were smarter, made better choices. But we aren’t and we don’t. Nick Cave says, “Some things we plan, we sit and we invent and we plot and cook up; others are works of inspiration, of poetry.” This is how most of us live, vacillating between notions of being our own engine and notions that there are greater forces easing our lives along...but the truth may very well be that there are none of these things. No scheme or blueprint or wild mood swing can change our individual courses. Everything is set, and we’re hopeless.
Which is another reason why playing by other people’s rules is for suckers. It’s hard enough to get by without stumbling under our own foibles, much less deal with those handed down by others.
“I make my own fucking code,” I said.
Of course, I wouldn’t have been talking so big if I had known it would only be a couple of weeks before that fancy code of mine caused me to have to get the hell out of Dodge.