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Monday, September 26, 2011

Abilities

Everyone has at least one relationship they can look back on and shudder just thinking about; that one special person in your memory Rolodex where the idea of their saliva in your mouth or how much time you spent with them makes you want to run puking to the nearest wax-coated airline bag. What were you thinking? What allowed you to let them into your life? Are you just some kind of kind of emotional baglady with a shopping cart of character defects, hobbling along, mis-wired empathy in one fingerless glove and faulty gut-instincts gripped tightly in the other?

I've made my fair share of bad decisions in the past. In fact, I'm sure my future is sprawling with new bad decisions, shining like diamonds with the hope of tomorrow's tomorrow. But enough about me, let's talk about these songs...


RUBY DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN

by Kenny Rogers

You've painted up your lips
And rolled and curled your tinted hair
Ruby are you contemplating
Going out somewhere
The shadow on the wall
Tells me the sun is going down
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town

It wasn't me
That started that crazy Asian war
But I was proud to go
And do my patriotic chore
And yes, it's true that
I'm not the man I used to be
Oh, Ruby I still need some company
It's hard to love a man
Whose legs are bent and paralyzed
That my wants and needs of a woman of your age
Ruby, I realized
but it won't be long I've heard them say
until I'm not around
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town

She's leaving now cause
I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I've heard it
Slam one hundred times before
And if I could move I'd get my gun
And put her in the ground
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town
Oh Ruby for God's sake turn around



I think maybe the question here isn't whether I would date the narrator in “Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town,” because I think I already have. The narrator here has a laundry list of problems, the least of which are his bent and paralyzed legs, which actually seem to be the only thing keeping him from murdering his wife. In the line, “it wasn't me that started that old crazy Asian war,” he seems to be downplaying Vietnam like it's some kind of newfangled video game, the Nintendo all the kids seem to be into these days, with their 8-bits and their stubby, blown-off legs. He's blaming everyone except himself for his crappy attitude. People are all, “It won't be long until you're not around, Kenny,” and he's all, “It's not my fault I'm laying here bitching and feeling sorry for myself in my last moments while my young wife is boning the whole town.” Yes, Ruby keeps bailing on her crippled, dying husband, but she may have joined a dart league or a support group. There's no way of knowing, and, really, even if she was out boning the whole town, can you blame her? If he could move, he'd get his gun. I'm sure he's not quiet about it either. She's feeding him grits, and they're dribbling back out because he's muttering about his gun again, like some kind of feverish backwoods mantra.

This song reminds me of this dude I dated who had been hit by a train and I was his first girlfriend “since the accident.” That said, I would probably date the narrator of this song for about two weeks, until he said, “I LOVE YOU!” in an outburst the way you would scream your order into the drive-thru panel of a Burger King. Then I could try to break up with him, but he would cry, and I would take him back until I realized his twitch got worse, then I would dump him for once and for all.

DATEABLITY +'s: Notices your painted lips and curled hair, Proponent of 2nd Amendment rights
DATEABILITY -'s: Needy, Psychotic

PINBALL WIZARD
by The Who

Ever since I was a young boy
I've played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain't seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
He plays by intuition
The digit counters fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

He's a pinball wizard
There's got to be a twist
A pinball wizard
He's got such a supple wrist

How do you think he does it?
(I don't know)
What makes him so good?

He ain't got no distractions
Can't hear those buzzers and bells
Don't see lights a flashin'
Plays by sense of smell
Always gets a replay
Never tilts at all
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

I thought I was
The Bally table king
But I just handed
My pinball crown to him

Even on my usual table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
He's got crazy flipper fingers
Never seen him fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball


If you have ever dated someone after the recent purchase of a video game system, you are basically dating the Pinball Wizard. Proper nutrition and personal hygiene fall by the wayside as they struggle to move on to the next level and beat the game. Their interpersonal relationships falter, night turns into day, they fall behind at work. Not before long, they're sitting in three-day old boxers, squinting and complaining when you turn on the light, growling if you touch anything in the nest of take-out containers surrounding them.

But maybe the Pinball Wizard is just looking for someone to love him. Maybe if there was something else in his life to take the place of the silver ball, he would move out of the dank Soho arcade and into the shelter of a mutually rewarding adult relationship. It could be a romance as beautiful as Eric Stoltz and Laura Dern in Mask. You could teach him what “billowy” means and let him touch your face. You could go to the flea market and get matching airbrushed jackets that say “PINBALL WIZARD” and “PINBALL WIZARD'S GIRL,” or “I'M WITH PINBALL WIZARD,” if commitment isn't his thing. But I think it is. Pinball Wizard strikes me as a sensitive lover. Maybe it's those supple wrists.

DATEABILITY +'s: Unsurpassed manual dexterity, Will to win
DATEABILITY -'s: One-track mind

If Kenny ever found out I'd been going down to the arcade, he would use his last reserves of strength to roll off the medical bed and get to his gun rack, then he would then crawl to the mall with the gun in his mouth like Prince Randian the Human Torso in the movie Freaks. At the arcade, the Pinball Wizard is playing the Aerosmith machine (which doesn't actually exist, but for the purposes of this fantasy does). He is flanked by his disciples while I rub his lower back in concentric circles, saying encouraging words he couldn't see or hear, but can sense in the far-out cosmic way that is characteristic of our love. Suddenly, he feels a disturbance in the air, licks his flipper finger, and smells the gunpowder as Kenny enters the room at a slow crawl. Then PW picks up the machine and hurls it at the doorway with a controlled abandon never before seen by any of us. Pinball Wizard blew his streak that day, but he saved all our lives.

And that, children, is the story of how your grandfather and I got together.