ready to start
If it weren’t for all the blurred vision and buzzing ears and whatnot I’m sure John Sampilgremson would have appreciated the irony to a much greater extent. What with him being a bit up a tree in the metaphysical sense and at the same time being at least partially on a tree in the he’ll-be-needing-a-tow-very-shortly sense and all. I’ll give you the proverbial heads up that this tale is headed nowhere good and if you’re of questionable mental constitution or just plain having a bad day you might want to give this one a miss.
It would be misleading to state that this adventure started off innocently enough because at the root of it all the innocent part isn’t quite as innocent as the word innocent would lead you to believe. Tricky word innocent. It started off with John driving down a road at high speed bellowing a song. Not any song, mind you, but a song seemingly designed for bringing Johns to rest on top of trees. It featured lines engineered to have the listener not only bellowing them but doing so with their eyes shut for extended periods of time. This formula rarely works out for the listener if said listener is hurling themselves down a windy patch of road at breakneck speeds. You can see that the endeavor is fraught with peril from the start. So you can now see where the innocent part is called into question.
The eye-closing, foot-still-pressed-firmly-on-the-accelerator thing happened to go down during the verse “the businessman will drink my blood … like the kids in art school said they would” followed quickly by the road taking a rather brisk left while the minivan he was piloting chose to stay on a more straight ahead course.
Anyone can see how irresponsible it is to be writing and singing verses like that when the possibility exists that one of your listeners might be operating heavy machinery. What else is there to do during such a verse other than lean back with your eyes closed for business and sway your head back and forth? Particularly if you are John Sampilgremson.
You see, John was nearing 50 and had three children and a mortgage and had recently decided to chuck it all in and begin again as an actor in California. He was actually on his way to a used car place to turn in the minivan in the hopes of getting a vehicle that would better express his new outlook. At that point he would throw the luggage from the former into the trunk of the latter and make his escape with nobody the wiser. Lurking somewhere out there, he believed, was a dinner theater one man short of a successful production.
During college he strode the boards, or however those creative types say it, and would breathe in the smell of sawdust and fresh paint the same way a florist buries her nose into a particularly attractive nicotiana rustica. He was theater through and through, the very picture of a card-carrying, flag-waving thespian.
After college he was unable to launch himself directly into a full time acting gig so he got a real job and pursued his theatrical yearnings after hours.
I’ll stop here and let’s just assume you’re three steps ahead of me and you’ve already digested the pertinent details concerning his successful rise in business. The wife. The three kids. The minivan.
Which now sat perched on top of what remained of a tree. Should the tree have been a bit further along in years the collision would have worked itself out decidedly less in favor of the vehicle, but suggesting to John at this juncture that he was in any regards lucky might have gotten you a thick ear.
“The businessman will drink my blood … like the kids in art school said they would”.
He was the kid in art school and now he was the businessman who seems to have a cannibalistic leaning if you are to take the singer at his word.
You know, the whole ‘path not taken’ syndrome, the slow boil. His happiness like the perspiration clinging to the warming kettle.
The airbag didn’t even deploy. He sat there and started the song over again. Nobody saw him go off the road so he had a few minutes to himself. He would never be an art school kid again and he felt pretty resolute in thinking he was also no longer able to carry on with the part of a businessman. Or even a man. And clearly this minivan wasn’t going anywhere. California seemed a long way off but his home seemed even further and much less realistic.
He turned off the engine, stepped out of the minivan and into the dark … even though it was early afternoon.