Thanks, George

Let’s hope 2017 is better

Clocks in a New York City flea market

As a break from my usual tales of woe, lemme tell you some stories.

In sixth grade, the girl I had a crush on wore a shirt that said GO GO. Had no idea what it was about but, of course, I had to find out. No internet meant asking the popular kids, who just rolled their eyes because I never heard about WHAM!

Got my hands on a tape of them and I thought that they were ok. They were no Beatles but not altogether terrible.

Found out later that, as a child, George Michael was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to him.

And here’s why it matters to me that he just died: It was honestly, the first time I really thought that the trajectory of my life might be different than it was. That even though I was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to me, that it didn’t always have to be that way.

So I kept listening to him, impressed that he wrote and produced almost all of what he sang.

Enough that, when I had scraped together enough scratch from busing tables at the local Italian joint, the first two CDs I ever bought were Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun and Wham’s Music from the Edge of Heaven.

That girl that I had a crush on and I grew up together so that, when Faith came out, we were pretty good friends. By then, I’d decided that George was the coolest guy in the world. I bought shiny aviator glasses like he wore in the video. Because that’s what kids do.

The crush girl told me I looked like a bug. Told her that if it was good enough for George, it was good enough for me. He was old news, she said – but not to me.

Listened to I Knew You Were Waiting by George Michael and Aretha Franklin as I wrote my college essay. It was one of the few songs he didn’t write but that didn’t matter that much to me.

When I got to college, the two albums of my freshman year were Naughty by Nature and George’s Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Dude never released Volume 2. I woulda bought it.

Discussing music, my first freshman writing teacher said George wasn’t that great. He was no Beatle and, to her, somewhat terrible. I said she should give it a chance. She gave me a B+ instead.

It was always Waiting for that Day from that’s meant the most to me. Don’t think he ever even released a video for it but there’s a part that goes:

I just sit here on this mountain thinking to myself
You’re a fool boy
Why don’t you go down
Find somebody
Find somebody else
My memory serves me far too well

It dovetails nicely with a Chinese story I told you once about a man who sat on a mountain waiting sixty years for a flower to bloom as penance for betraying the woman he loved.

Suppose we’re all waiting for someone and someday. I heard that the man George loved the most in his life died just six months after he met him, which I always thought was terribly sad. His mom passed from cancer when he was just 34.

That’s the thing with tragedy, it gives you depth, but at such a price.

Maybe that’s why the songs I loved from him the most were about waiting and longing, two things I knew well growing up and, unfortunately, even now.

As it turns out, the person that I was waiting for in my mountain of brick and mortar was Alison. I wait for her still.

But I digress. Rumor has it that he died overweight and alone. That really bothers me. Perhaps it’s because that’s how I imagined I’d be now when I was a kid.

I could go on for a while. Just lemme say: George, you were the soundtrack to my childhood and you gave me hope that my life might be different for the better. And it was. In some ways, it still is, and others, far worse than I could have imagined.

Thanks for the hope, man. As for me, I hope you find the love the next life that eluded you in this one.

Me: I think my very favorite song from him is I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.
Her: I don’t like that song.
Me: How are we married?!


Crap, Debbie Reynolds died also. It’s like all the little bits of my childhood are determined to go before the year’s out.

This song sums up my thoughts as to her:

Here’s to 2017; let’s hope its better for everyone.

\’

Location: lying on the floor, listening to George, trying to get some relief for my @#$@#$ back
Mood: nostalgic
Music: Seems to me the peace I search to find ain’t going to be mine
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