Pre-dawn Mid-life Non-Crisis

Posted: February 3, 2008 in The Roper Files


Wandering from room to room through a crowd of people at a party. Everyone here seems to be a fairly intellectual sort judging from the snippets of overheard conversation. Lots of seemingly artistic creative types. The apartment is filled with every high-tech toy you can think of; lots of wires on the floor. With the exception of myself everybody here is dressed like they’re going to a Grateful Dead concert. Full grown men with beards wearing long orange robes and other equally strange attire. Can’t help but wonder how they get away with this in Texas; seems the “good ole boys” would kill them.

The  guy hosting the party pulls me aside: “Have you read the story about our show in the weekly?”

“What show?”

 He laughs. ” I love the way you’re always bullshitting everyone. Here look; we’re on the cover of the Weekly!” He holds up the free local weekly rag. On the cover there is a blurb about some upcoming new musical written by some rock artist whose name I just barely recognize alongside of my own.  “When I first heard this I thought of you in the lead part immediately. Have you been rehearsing the guitar parts?”Attempt to explain to him one more time. You’re talking way ahead of me man. What the fuck are you talking about? I’ve never even heard of this. And no, I haven’t even picked up my guitar in a month.

His reaction is incredulous. “You’re kidding!” Explains to me this part in the musical requires someone who can sing and play minimalist three-chord guitar, which is why he thought of me in the lead role I didn’t audition for and didn’t bother telling me about until tonight. “Next Friday is opening night; you better have this thing down.”

Loans me his one personal copy; it’s a two-disc set. Let’s see…I’ve got a week to learn a ninety minute musicals worth of words and music?  Uh…no problem. Promise him I’ll take care of it and will return it just as soon as I burn a copy of it.

After leaving the party I return alone to my pad. Further perusal of the local weekly reveals that this upcoming production is a big deal after all. Their critic writes of it in a very anticipatory manner. See my name written up as a “promising unknown talent”  Uh-oh.

Shit, I better get to work. Guess I have an obligation to listen to this little opus. Get out the jewel case and drop it on the floor. The case shatters and the two discs roll in opposite directions across the hardwood floor.

Then I wake up.

Look around. No shattered jewel case. No cds to copy and learn. No obligations. Only a dream? Good.

Vision is sludgy; my eyes are caked with eye-boogers. Alarm clock with blood red numbers says it’s 3:30. Roll back over and toss and turn for awhile.

How long have I been asleep?

Slowly it all starts to come back to me. It’s Sunday morning. Ate a big dinner last night; couldn’t even keep my eyes open during COPS. The memory of getting off the futon and crawling off to bed and seems like some hazy blurry distant recollection that happened during a long-forgotten dream. Dim and indistinct; out of focus.

The house is freezing. Forgot to turn the heat on before I crashed. Crank up the heat, get dressed. Grind beans, fix coffee. Feed the cats.

Upon opening the door, I see 60 degrees on the thermometer outside my door. A relatively warm morning for February. Off with the heat again.

Why am I cold? Where’s that coffee?

Put on some music. Sip my Kona bean and reflect. What the hell am I doing?

It’s 5am. I should be asleep; the rest of the world is.  Should I feel guilty about this; I’ve been asleep most of the weekend.

Blame it on my job. I’m conditioned like Pavlovs dog to get up at 3:45 am every day. Even on weekends my auto-pilot awakens me pre-dawn. Have to stay up all night to over-ride it. So here I am listening to Camper Van Beethoven and California Guitar Trio at (now) 5:30am. The sun has not yet put in its guest appearance; still dark outside.

In 24 hours I’ve got to start that whole ugly cycle again. So for this moment I must live.

Turn up the music. Damn the neighbors! Pour my fourth cup of joe. Inhale it like liquid oxygen.

Tomorrow’s gonna suck; I already know that. But for today life is good. And I can live with that.


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