I read the poster in the alley behind my office, three or four times, in a state of disbelief. How is that possible? When I was thirteen or fourteen, back in middle school, back when my hair was very long and my attention span ever so short, I would sit, held captive actually, pen in hand, head in the clouds, drifting through my English class fantasizing of one day fronting a rock band, singing in front of thousands of devoted fans who would know every lyric to every song that I ever wrote. The name of the band I came upon in those daydreaming days was The New Vocabulary. Later I thought it would be interesting to have a second backup band titled The Interesting Quotes.
I reached into my pocket, found an old business card and wrote down the pertinent information. I was about to walk away but the picture of the band, small as it was, caught my eye; there was something about them that looked familiar. I studied their faces: the drummer’s lopsided smile, the girl with the blue guitar, the lead singer had his hat pulled down low but still…yes, there was definitely something very familiar about them.
My cell phone snapped me back to reality.
“Greg, it’s Rita. Where are you? Your 3:15 appointment’s here.”
I mumbled my apologies and quickly made my way to the office and fell back into that all-encompassing, mind-numbing routine. That endless quest in pursuit of money. Forced smiles and insincere handshakes, appointments and sales calls. Breaking my back turning that giant wheel each and everyday. Diving in with my energy and time, emerging at the end of the day, week, month and year with a little less spring in my step and a little less of my soul. Trapped, just another silly man and his expensive suit.
I sat one night at the agreed-upon bar, nursing my drink, wishing I was anywhere but there. Another business meeting, another jerk who didn’t understand that I had better things to do than wait around for his grand appearance. I had a life once. I had dreams and aspirations. I glanced at the clock: an hour late; I assumed he was another no-show. I gulped my drink, rose to my feet and searched my pockets for a tip. I dug deep and pulled out a business card instead of a bill. It was the one on the back of which I had scrawled the information about The New Vocabulary. I checked the date and time and realized the show was about to start.
It took me a while to find the address. A simple black door with a large red seven painted on it. I almost changed my mind a couple of times. After all, I had to get to work early the next morning, work, work, work. Always striving to keep Greg a dull boy. There were no lines outside the club and no doorman. I took this as a bad sign and almost turned away but for some reason I pulled open the large door instead.
A tall man with a pasty face greeted me with a smile of relief.
He blurted out, “Thank god you’re finally here – follow me!”
“Um, sorry I’m late. Has the band started yet?”
He rolled his eyes. “Very funny. Follow me.”
I did. I followed him down a long dark hall. I’m not sure why, it was all so strange and peculiar. The man walked quickly, his gait long, his head bobbed and swayed. He finally stopped in front of a weathered oak door, gently knocked and was quickly granted admission. The room was dark and charged with energy. I could hear the impatient murmur of a large crowd behind a black curtain. Someone hung an electric guitar around my neck. I didn’t question why. I was pushed through a gap in the curtain. The crowd roared; it felt natural. The band turned and greeted me with smiles. The drummer struck up a beat. I walked to the center of the stage.
A loud voice suddenly barks, “Greg!”
I jump and gaze up from my desk. Astounded that I’m back in my middle school English class. I gawk at my classmates, realizing they were the faces I saw in that New Vocabulary poster.
The teacher marches down the aisle and stops in front of my desk, the anger clearly visible in her eyes. She bends down, her face inches away from mine.
Her voice is stern and sharp. “How many times must I tell you to stop daydreaming in class?”
What about you? Ever fantasize about being a rock star?