Today was the birthday of Tina, a friend and coworker of mine. She will sometimes perform the ancient “No More Customers” dance a few minutes before the restaurant closes, so that we can all go home earlier. The dreaded latecomers are repelled by her dance. It is a mystical ritual that combines rhythm with profuse and dirty swearing. The work team can reach extraordinary exultation when the dance is successful. On her birthday, today, with no dance, we didn’t have a customer for the last forty five minutes, perhaps an hour.
I thought it must be some form of karmic reward, the lack of customers which allowed us to be out on the street thirty minutes after we closed, on Tina’s birthday, the woman who dances away selfish, lazy latecomers who demand to be served. One of my favorite slogans for the fictional energy drink “PowerThirst” is “IF God Gives You Lemons… FIND A NEW GOD!” But in this case, on her birthday, God or the variables of the universe came through. Regardless of one’s point of view about such things concerned, lemons, God, lemon-God (lemon flavored), the dancer danced. The supposed latecomers did not.
Report of similar occurrences was radioed in by an anonymous witness on the night of my birthday last Saturday. I was driving back to Somerville at the time with my laundry basket, black travel briefcase (soft-shelled), and assorted presents. First I noticed the clock for the first time at exactly 11:10, and then my favorite radio station began fading in a song from my childhood. It was that old classic from “Brothers in Arms,” by the Dire Straits, titled, “The Walk of Life,” and the song faded in full right as my car clock struck 11:11. One thousand one hundred eleven is my favorite number and always has been. I also enjoy eleven and one hundred eleven.
The idea that an invisible hand, perhaps in a white glove, and JUST PERHAPS actually the hand of Mickey Mouse, was controlling several variables all at the same time to conspire that this Dire Straits song faded in right as my car clock (set six minutes fast for anxiety relief) hit my favorite number, normally a time of day when I observe prayer, was one I could not turn over in my mind because contemplating that horrible abstraction would take away from the power of the moment. I’m not trying to take away from the Mouse, I just happen to believe the lyrics are much more important, as it should be:
Okay, nevermind. Its actually possible that I can fully accept that no one who reads my blog wants to read the lyrics of the song, “Walk of Life,” by the Dire Straits. Instead I will just tell you what they are. There is a be-bopping guy, named Johnny, a woman and a knife. He is “down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay,” so to speak, which of course was written in the 1980′s in England I think, so its probably the equivalent of someone today being in the 1970′s and trying to build a pipeline. I mean, that is a tough spot, but sometimes these things work themselves out. And then there is the global warming as well, the polar bears. I guess the lyrics don’t say much beyond that people on this earth walk around, which is true.
It just felt so right, I had to find out more. So later that week, today in fact, I cloistered myself in my room and got on my computer. Unfortunately I am not a dedicated researcher, and soon lost track of the scent of importance. A show on TV blared on about how Russian scientists (and science fiction writers) in the 1940′s deduced that the extra-planetary explosion over the Tunguska forests on June 30, 1908 was in fact an alien nuclear weapon or perhaps the destruction of the engines of an alien ship from Mars. The magnitude of the event was in fact one thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima… and to this day the Russians still insist it was a comet, not a meteor, and I have no way to know the truth.
Sometime after all the dramatized felling of 80 million trees, the TV got switched over to more neutral territory, the 1978 “Bad News Bears,” and I learned that the song, “Walk of Life,” was the song played during the Space Shuttle Discovery crew wake-up call on STS-114 Flight Day 7. Painting a picture of a team of astronauts rising and shining to the tune of “Walk of Life” brought me to my spiritual senses, and I decided firmly that God, or Mission Command for the secularists, played me “Walk of Life” because I am waking up on the seventh day of my first shuttle flight since my last shuttle blew up. Just like this Discovery flight was the first back up in orbit following the Columbia disaster.
That makes this a new era for NASA and obviously myself as well, we two organizations who danced to the tune years ago but fell out of step recently. The picture of the man in the spacesuit on the robot arm is actually literally from the seventh day of the Discovery flight, the third spacewalk. LITERALLY THAT SAME DAY THEY HEARD THE SONG, in outer space, as they woke up, and so too did the highs and lows grace my ears and wake me up on the drive from Connecticut to Massachusetts, and so too did I extend the robot arm and then in my spacesuit go to the end of it and spread my arms for apparently no reason except to delight in a dangle over the planet’s horizon.
This may be the appropriate point to pause and reflect that in home-economics class in middle school once, I fed a machine multiple answers to its questions about my life (I don’t remember if I was truthful or not) and it promptly printed a slip of paper telling me that my fullest life would be ultimately realized as a priest or rabbi. The machine did not give such a distinction to anyone else I knew, but even with good company I am not going to accept religion shoved down my throat by some mechanism of the state. Lets turn the tables and suppose I told a machine to fuck off and become a priest or rabbi: excommunication from the public school system would inevitably follow.
Which just goes to show, we like our machines to be efficient, not collared and preachy-feely-willy-nilly. They would never allow a machine of the cloth around young folks in our kind of society; it would be a social outcast. I feared that I too could befall just such a fate by believing in birthday blessings from the mysterious beyond… but the evidence in this case is justifiably overbearing. God (and whenever I invoke “God,” what I really mean is, “wikipedia,”) sent me a message on the day of my birth by playing that song on the digital display time that I infer is an abstract form of my favorite number: “The band explained that a “walk of life” in the context of this song is a traditional journey taken by a storyteller in the countryside, in which he went from town to town telling stories, in the days before radio, television, and recording.”
That is the form of my transportation when I am not updating this blog. When I am, I am this.