Normally when I get a song trapped in my head, I simply do what my favorite girl with the golden hair Agnaetha would and say “thank you for the music and for giving it to me” – Normally that is what I would do. But not this time. This time is different, darker than ever before. I am being tormented by the songs of Broadway shows past. And not the cool songs. I am not talking about wicked witches with emerald skin defying gravity, the merry murderesses of Cook County jail and all that jazz, or even a turbaned Norma Desmond saying everything with her eyes. I would even settle for an instrumental medley from Kenny G, I am that desperate. But instead, somebody has sent in the evil clowns and going round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel, I have the following lyrics blowing through the circles that I find in the windmills of my mind…
Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry
When I take you out in the surrey,
When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!
It is driving me insane and I can honestly say I am going off the rails on a crazy train. Why, I ask the universe, am I haunted by a musical number from “Oklahoma!”? If a dream is a wish my heart makes when I am fast asleep, then what is an annoying song stuck in my head during my waking hours supposed to represent? I can imagine you are busy trying to figure out what the most disturbing part of this whole thing actually is… That I know these lyrics are from “Oklahoma!” or that I actually know the lyrics and melody in the first place? I too am troubled by these questions. But to answer those questions means to look back on a colorful life…
There I was in high-school, as nerdy as nerdy could possibly be, long before nerdy was the new cool. Back in my day, we nerdy types got put in trash bins and chased home from school. Undressing at the end of each day meant finding yet another “kick me” note that had been taped to my back. I had a collection worthy of an eBay auction. Hey, if someone will pay $1300 for a corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois, my 25 year old kick-me signs (hand-written, I might add) should be worth something. We were the last ones picked for sports. During touch football I was ruthlessly tackled. Tennis would mean being slammed with a wet tennis ball. Track would mean being tripped and pushed until I fell, although I did jump a mean rope! And God forbid it should be a rainy day in Southern California. That would mean Phys Ed would be in the gym and that it was time for dodge-ball. I was a favorite target and never very good at dodging. I probably would have been had there not been 100 balls coming at me at exactly the same moment from every possible angle.
As if gym class was not enough of a crime against humanity, there were the school dances. I was usually the one without a date and would either get laughed at or beat-up if I asked a girl to dance. Assuming I would have had the courage to actually do such a thing. It wasn't as if I wanted to do anything with her, I just wanted to brush her hair and perhaps fix up her make-up. If there ever was a poster-child for nerdiness, I would have been a supermodel. Where was Napoleon Dynamite when I needed him? I would definitely have voted for Pedro.
So I did what any self-confessed nerd would do. I hung out with the band people and got involved in drama. Why is it that drama is such a magnet for gay teens even if they haven’t yet figured it out for themselves? It is almost as though we are helpless to escape the gravitational pull of costumes, make-up, hair and lighting. It is the very sad and pretty much hopeless gay teen in drama that gets assigned to props or anything not requiring at least a few moments in the spotlight. We can deal with the name calling, the teasing and tormenting, but assign us to props or scenery and start looking for the hard drugs to get us through. So anyway, there I was, tragically unhip and terminally un-cool in my first high-school play. I had wanted the lead, but my wiry frame and rather still high-pitched voice landed me in the chorus. Just one step up from props and scenery, but at least I got to linger at the edges of the spotlight while multi-tasking in my most artistic way. Belting it out to the balcony while performing a flawless hitch kick, adding my own background vocals to “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”.
But those days are long ago and faraway, usually not even a whisper of a memory which is why it is so surprising to have this song stuck in my head. I can still see the faces of all the people that made my life miserable and I throw mental darts at them all the time. I have to say, I take great pleasure when I go back home and run into my old arch-enemies. I usually spot them behind a counter, wearing a visor and asking if I would like a large fries with that Big Mac. Gotta love karma.
And with that, the CD player in my mind seems to have shuffled and now I have Boy George looping.
Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon
You come and go
You come and go
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream
Red, gold and green
Red, gold and green
Have no clue what those lyrics are about, but for the next few hours, my life will be red, gold and green, not a hint of fringe in sight.