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These Are Words That Go Together Well

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Or – ‘How Paul McCartney Once Kept Me From Getting Laid’

Anyone who knows me knows that at some point in the distant past I lost all patience keeping up with sentimental ‘stuff.’ All those records, tapes and CD’s that I’d been holding onto like The Grail? Gave ’em away or put them in storage. Kazaa and a case of slugs would hold me. The shelves full of books I used to line up like soldiers? Parceled most of ’em out as Christmas gifts and got myself a shiny new library card instead. High School annuals? Fuck that. I was ugly and so were most of you. And who among us really needs to re-read gems like ‘Chris – God loves you and I am trying’ (direct quote – from a majorette, no less) scrawled in the margins of a $30 dollar book I bought 15 years ago? Nobody, that’s who.

Why the change? I dunno. Honestly. I just remember thinking – you know what? I have been listening to the same music, reading the same 15 books, eating the same food, and traveling in the same circles for quite a while and I’m done with that now. And that was that. Amen. So I became the ‘hey, let’s go do something different right now’ guy. Hydroponic Indian food? Sounds delicious. Jeet Kun Do classes? Absolutely. Ditto for Buddhist meditation and slam poetry. Ambient techno music by a 12 year old Israeli girl? I’m IN! Colonic? Well … maybe.

Still, every once in a while you just gotta look back – pillars of salt be damned. And I did just that (in the silliest of ways) Friday last by shelling out $16.95 for the (used) 2-CD set: The Beatle’s Greatest Hits : 1962 – 1966. I bought them for no other reason than that I woke up humming ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and couldn’t quite get over it. Waking up humming anything, much less ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ is probably a sign that my meds need adjusting, and it kept on nagging at me until I found myself at the music store on my lunch hour. No, the irony is not lost on me that my ‘nostalgia’ music is from my parent’s generation. I’m weird, always have been.

So I spent the weekend getting reacquainted with the music that kept me company so often when I was younger and it was nice …

Which leads me to one of my favorite stories:

When I was 20 I met and fell into deranged lust with a woman who was 17 years my senior. It was a beautiful relationship and I studied intently at the feet of her many personalities. The age difference was never really an issue – except to cops, waiters, co-workers, family, friends, members of the clergy and the staff of the Mariott Hotel chain. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, though: No one has since used the words ‘stalking’ or ‘insanity’ in my presence that I wasn’t able to nod my head with an air of wisdom. Or maybe it’s fear.

At any rate – we were hanging out once ingesting enough Tanqueray gin to sedate a hump-back whale and listening to John, Paul, George and Ringo. I had the warm glow that drunk 20 year-olds get when sex is imminent. I was singing softly to myself (as I am prone to do) when I looked up and saw her staring at me…

‘What are you singing?,’ she asked.

‘The song …’

‘What song?,’ she asked.

‘That song. The Beatles song that is playing on the CD player right now.’

‘How does it go? Sing it’, she said.


‘Just do it …’, she says.

And so I did – and this is what I sang – to the tune of ‘Michelle’:


At which point she burst into tears and I ended up consoling a drunk who was suddenly as humorless as (I soon discovered) a woman can be when she becomes aware that she is in a relationship with someone who is younger than many pairs of her shoes.

So I didn’t get laid that night – or for several nights thereafter – and I fully intend to address this with Paul McCartney if the opportunity ever presents itself.

For the record, what Paul sings in ‘Michelle’ (I all but had to tattoo it on my chest to get back into her good graces) is:


Which loosely translates to – I think – ‘date people within a decade of your own age or don’t date at all.’

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About Chris Gray

  • Eric Olsen

    Chris buddy, we have a “smart quote” crisis, please disable them in your word processing program. I will fix here.

  • Eric Olsen

    classic story by the way – lack of cultural affinity killed this one. One of my last reminding areas of double standard – I still think it typically (please note I said “typically”) works better if the man is ten years older than if the woman is. I found in my own experience that the outer limit of age-differential that didn’t result in absurdity is 10-15 years regardless of gender.