i got a baby’s brain
and an old man’s heart
— the prophet vincent furnier
I caught a grevious error in one of our papers last night just before it went to press. I am a Good Person.
“Alice Cooper still rocking at 67,” it said. I could only shake my head and laugh. Alice 67 years old? Yeah, right. No way he’s that old. Damn typo.
I remember a warm May day in high school. It was the last day of school. The song came on the radio. “School’s Out.” It was the perfect anthem for a disenfranchised youth. I peeled out of the school parking lot, as least as much as a battered Chevy with a 253 block could muster, and threw my notebook out the window, leaving a snowstorm of paper in my wake. Then I stopped, picked it all up and put it back in the car. I was never much of a rebel.
I listened to 18 when I was 16 and imagined what it was like to be that old. I listened to the lyric “I told her that I came from Detroit City, and I played guitar in a long hair rock n roll band” and wondered what a “Detroit” was. It must be a good place. Only many years later did I learn the awful truth.
He was dark and scary and confusing. Alice? Makeup? Guillotines. I loved that guy. I still loved him years later as I lived in Phoenix and watched him turn into Alice Cooper, Golf Nerd.
So obviously, the hero of my youth could not possibly be 67. Because that would make me, um, Jenster math, depressed. I changed the headline to “Alice Cooper still rocking at 35.” Let ’em run a correction tomorrow. Whatever.
But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here because I just bought a stockpile of shoes.
Deuce, he of the amazing half marathon performance, pointed me to the Skechers GoRun 3. It instantly became my favorite shoe of all time, along with my other favorite shoe of all time the asics piranha and my other favorite shoe of all time the new balance 110 and my other shoe of all time the banana hokas that i can only wear with the leopardskin dress. And I really like these shoes. I like, like them. We’re talking Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper before they figured out life doesn’t always play fair and WHY DIDN’T KEVIN DITCH WINNIE FOR MADELINE ADAMS ANYHOW WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING, KEVIN? OK, I feel better now.
A company that shall go unnamed (left lane sports) was clearing out the shoes for a crazy cheap price. I was suspicious that the new model wouldn’t be the same. So I got three pairs of the old model. They must have names so I don’t mix them up. But what name?
Gotta be ZZ Top. Billy, Dusty and Frank Beard (the one with no beard.)
I was a kid washing dishes at the Holiday Inn at San Angelo (Rhonda Hudson was a waitress. Totally worth hot water) when a maid came in. You play guitar, don’t you? she asked. She said some band had stayed here last night and one of them left a guitar pick. I looked at it. “Billy G Special,” it read. In an instant, I was the proud owner of a guitar pick of the Greatest Guitarist in the History of the Universe Amen.
I was a disciple of the little ole band from texas before they got weird. first album, rio grande mud, tres hombres. Those albums were the soundtrack of my misspent youth. They’re still on an eight-track loop in my head all these years later.
The biggest trouble I ever got in was when we skipped town without permission to go to the Barn Dance and Barbecue in Austin when I was 16. Joe Cocker, Bad Company, Santana all took the stage. And were promptly forgotten as soon as the guys walked out on stage. Yes, you can clearly see me in the aerial photo of the UT stadium. I’m wearing a baseball cap. Best sunburn ever.
All these years later, we still drive through La Grange on the way to Joe races. And yes, I always, go ah hah hah hah when I see the city limits sign. And I’m 16 all over again.
So when coming up with three names for the new shoes, the answer was obvious. Frank, Dusty and Billy G. will be my running companions for the next year or so.
Because your body gets old, but your memories don’t. And whenever I hear “hallelujah, hallelujah, drive my chevrolet,” I’m in that Chevy flinging my papers out the window and driving into a life of endless possibilities. If I’d told 16-year-old Gary how the story turned out, he’d say “sounds good.”
I’ve still got that pick. Sounds good, indeed. It’s been a good life, I think.
But then, I might be mistaken …