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August 05, 2002

The Soundtrack of My Life

The first part of the Soundtrack is here.

Welcome to the Jingle.

Not all of my soundtrack comes from the record industry. A lot of it comes from the beer industry. I was nowhere near the drinking age for the entire decade, but demon alcohol already had me firmly in its musical grasp.

Colt 45 Malt Liquor - I was late learning to whistle. My younger brother learned before I did, which was galling enough that I forced myself to learn, practicing in the bathroom to get away from the family, because it just would not do to let them know that I, the eldest son, had to struggle to do anything. My whistling, when it appeared, would be fully toned and mature, with no lost notes or sudden dry lip conditions. I would present it to the world nonchalantly, as a skill I had always had but had not deigned to share. "This little thing? Oh, it's just something I picked up a while back. Don't even remember, actually. Fancy a bit more of the Rimsky-Korsakov?" Colt 45 was my first idea of what the epitome of cool was. James Bond drank Colt 45--I was sure of it.

The Colt 45 theme was the first thing I learned to whistle, and I whistled it again and again, until it was note perfect. It became such an integral part of my concentration process that I was apt to find myself whisting it while reading, or pulling the legs off crickets and feeding them to the ants, or taking an exam. Now, 25 years later, the malt liquor ad still slids occasionally past my lips without a second thought.

Here Comes The King - Budweiser

I don't drink Bud. We used to crawl around in the bushes outside the Louisburg college dormitories to gather up the beer cans the college students dropped out the windows when they were done with them, and nothing puts you off beer faster than a Bud that has baked cigarette butts, the occasional condom and a cup or so of stale alcohol in the southern heat for a week or two. I'd dump the resultant brown, half-solid mixture onto the ground, gagging all the while, and toss the can into a plastic bag holding 20 or 30 others. Eventually the entire lot would be lugged home for a little Daisy Red Ryder target practice. The end of spring semester was bonanza time, when the student body cast off the surly bonds of Methodism and drank like Baptists. The yield was enormous, enough to fill each of the 30 gallon plastic trash bags carried by our group of 5 or 6 pre-adolescents. We looked, and smelled, like the town's smallest, dirtiest drunks, dragging enormous leaking bags of aluminum cans down the street from the college to our backyard, singing all the while;

Here comes the king,
Here comes the big Number One,
Bom Bom Bom Bom Bom
Budweiser Beer the king is second to none.
Bom Bom Bom Bom Bom
The king is coming, let it be known;
When you've said Bud, you've said it all,
When you've said Bud, you've said it all.
da da da da da da da da da da da

We'd set the cans up in rank after serried rank on top of the 6 foot wooden telephone cable spools we had stolen from the town maintenance yard and plink at them until they were all shot down. Then we'd do it again. Full beers were gold beyond compare. Not because we drank them, but because a dead-on shot from a Daisy ten-pump rifle into a hot, shaken up Budweiser was a sight to behold. I swear I once saw one shoot 30 feet into the air, propelled upwards by expolding foam like a rocket. I'd like to know what the garbagemen said amongst themselves about the preacher's family that went through five cases of beer a week, then shot them all up for giggles.

Later it became a song of triumph. You can keep your "We are the Champions". I had "Here comes the King". The camp on the coast I went to every summer sent groups of us out in little sailboats for overnight trips. The competition to get to each night's campground was intense, and there were no rules. If you got there faster by paddling, then you paddled. We didn't sail around sandbars, we got out and dragged the boat over them. For two glorious weeks I was paired another kid, name of Jack. We were the outcasts in our 16 member group. Compared to the rest of the group, I was young, and underdeveloped, and geeky to boot. The rest of the guys had hair where I did not, so I took my showers in the wee hours, and I wore a bathing suit. They flexed and bragged and did the normal dumb-ass things boys do in front of girls their age at the beach. I did algebraic expressions in the sand. Jack...well if Jack wasn't retarded, he was within hailing distance. Nowadays he'd be on ritalin five minutes after he walked onto the school grounds. But he was big, and he took orders well, and he could lie on the front of a Sunfish and paddle like a metronome for hours as long as you kept him distracted. We won every race, so we'd sing for ourselves on the way in, beach our boat and sing triumphantly at the second and third place boats as they pulled in. That the summer Jack learned, for what I'm pretty sure was the first time in his life, what it felt like to be the king.

Next: The Clash

Update: The Fusilier Pundit has a soundtrack too.

What does the soundtrack of your life sound like?

Posted by Bigwig at August 5, 2002 10:02 PM | TrackBack
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