Everybody's Friend
by Dan
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Bill Callahan - "Riding for the Feeling"

"You get one thing, don't ask for more than one thing, that's the deal." Ham and his sister Ellie, Ham 'n Ellie, walked almost (but not quite) hand-in-hand to Muscles' house. Muscles lived on Pape by the poplar. On Pape, by the poplar. Saggy tree and saggy christmas lights, year round sagging in the front-yard tree. Like decorations so old they're new again, like daylight fireworks, that was Muscles. Muscles wore the same blue jeans, the same jean jacket since Ham and Ellie were little kids. Now they were 14 and 13, and they wanted one thing each. Ham knocked on the door, "Hey, Muss!" Ham liked pounding on the door, it felt good to treat something the way it was meant to be treated, like pounding on a door with your full fist. Muscles came out and he laughed and he picked up Ham by the waist, even though Ham was almost heavier than Muscles. He high-fived Ellie, because he didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable. Girls at that age don't generally like to be shaken and jostled. Not like when girls are 11, they're fun kids then, you can pick 'em up and twirl 'em over your head like a maple seed, like a helicopter seed. But 13, best leave them alone. "What do you rascals want?" Muscles talked loud, and the neighbours didn't all like him. Ham looked around, a bit nervous, and lowered his voice, "Can I have a beer?" Muscles lowered his voice in fake secrecy, "One beer," like a waiter taking orders, and pointed to Ellie who said, "Some pot."

Ham was embarrassed. Asking for pot from Muscles was like seeing one of those "please take one!" bowls on Hallowe'en and just dumping the whole bowl in your bag. He should have asked her what she wanted before they got there to avoid this situation. "Ellie!" he moaned, looking at his sneakers. "What?" she said, "It's one thing!" But Muscles took it in stride, "Naw, naw, it's cool, man. It's cool. You want a bit of pot? I don't know what I can do about that, but come on in and we'll see what's up." They went inside and saw Muscles' familiar Creed poster and Godfather quote poster, and sat meekly on his extended sofa, with TLC blaring on his now-aged projection TV. His coffee table was dirty in the coolest way possible. Dated men's magazines, fishing magazines, a couple take-out boxes, an ashtray, a spoon with old ice cream on it, all the stuff Ham was planning on doing as soon as he lived by himself. Muscles came back in the room with a Lucky Lager and a little baggie, "Presto!" They knew from other kids that the rule was if you were going to smoke pot, you had to do it 'on the premises' because Muscles had some legal loopholes that he was working. So they all sat together and enjoyed a show about a family of little people and their average-height children, while smoking a joint together. Ellie had a smug look on her face, like see? you get pot AND beer thanks to ME. But Ham was so happy he forgave this smugness. And in the June afternoon, they walked home almost (but never actually) hand-in-hand back to their house, talking about ways to make their clothes smell better and sharing a pack of gum.

[available today at Drag City]


Happy Birthday to my father.

Posted by Dan at April 5, 2011 1:11 AM


Posted by Andy at April 6, 2011 9:20 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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