I went to meet some people at a bar the other night, and, arriving ahead of them by some time, and finding the bar all but empty, and the jukebox winding down about the time I entered, I went over and queued up some music: Clarence Carter, Steely Dan, Johnny Ace, The Drive-By Truckers—good stuff, if not a little dour. I imagine if anyone had seen me sitting there alone, smoking cigarettes and sipping whiskey while listening to “Pledging My Love,” they’d imagine me some kind of heartsick sad sack doing his best to soothe some inner wound through the majesty of song rather than what I actually was: just some dude.

Anyhow, while I was sitting there, the only other two people in the bar were this older bald guy, probably in his late 40s/early 50s, and some lady he was with that was somewhat younger. And about a third of the way through “Aja”, he looked over at me and gave me an approving nod. “Steely Dan?” he asked, and I nodded back. “All right,” he said, and went back to talking to his date.

It’s always the old bald dudes that give me the thumbs-up whenever I pick music at bars. Which is fine, really. I pick old guy stuff almost always, because that’s just how it goes. But just once it would be nice if instead of some old guy, twice-divorced and looking to party, that’s so enthused about whatever I pick, it could be a 19-year-old female college freshman who gets so excited when they hear that I selected, I dunno, “Many Rivers To Cross” by Harry Nilsson that they have to come over and say hello, and are so impressed by my acumen and taste they decide they want me to teach them about culture and literature and, ultimately, the art of pleasing a man. Just once.

Alas. Dry your eyes, dear reader. Do not weep, just look away: this is the life I’ve chosen.


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