Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Can Change It and I Can Change

My least favorite part of bar tending at The Oyster Bar in the 80s was serving the West County crowd after a ball game. They would head out from the stadium after a game to slum in the dirty city. They would actually cause physical damage and expect us to clean up the mess they’d leave behind. I had nothing but contempt for these spoiled, self important jerks.

My opinion of them only made matters worse. It made them more aggressive. They would start fights knowing they’d be restrained by their friends. I’m sure many of their parents had to fetch them out of holding cells downtown. I suppose their lives were otherwise quite boring.

My partner through all of this was my dear friend Sharon. She assumed the roll of bar mom. “Kill them with kindness’” she’d always say. I learned to take this advice to heart. The angrier I got, the softer my demeanor became. It worked; their momentum would derail and they’d lose their psychological advantage. Sometimes I could even find some quality in them to appreciate.

I tend to get excited and I can become overbearing at times. I remember playing a show at an outdoor event in the Central West End. My buddy and bass player Tracy invited several members of his family. I found some hyper-active way to piss them all off. Tracy was furious. “You know my whole family thinks you’re an ass!” he said. “That’s too bad, I really like them,” I said. This had the desired effect and Tracy’s mood softened. “They don’t really,” he said.

Dede, an old high school friend, has been commenting recently on my political blog. She said “I sense a certain amount of disdain in your opinion of humanity.” At times it’s true but it’s like every interview I’ve ever read by rock and roll personalities; when they’re asked what their likes are they say people and when their asked what their dislikes are they say “people.”

I wonder if rock personalities fit some kind of social archetype.

In 1990 I was determined I’d stop smoking. I had already tried twice and it was painful. I really loved smoking. I convinced my self that I enjoyed the deprivation, the pangs of withdrawal. It’s strange that humans have the ability to enjoy pain. Have you ever been bitten or scratched during sex? Hot peppers also come to mind.

When my marriage was breaking up I wanted to do everything I could to save my family. I researched every psychological avenue. As wrong as I thought my ex was about everything all the counselors said I had to agree with her if I wanted to break through her defenses. It occurred to me this was the same strategy I’d been using for years. They also warned that I should be sure the marriage was worth saving. When I realized the damage had already been done to my kids, I knew I was much happier being free of the burden of my marriage.

My point is that when you come at things from an unexpected angle you can penetrate the most hardened defenses. Change really is possible. I’ve changed often enough to know.

Tending Bar in the 80s pic taken by Sharon or Joanie.


Anonymous said...

Your perspective on people has always interested me. A lot of people seem to like you. With me I quite often decide if I want them to like me. And yes, kindness and charm can turn a situation. I can never decide if I dislike people as a mass and like the individually, or if I like them as a mass and dislike them individually when I find myself disliking someone..

I'll never forget many years ago you and I were having a discussion about this and you said "I like people. It's all we have."

So profound!

Your Mom

Anonymous said...

Took me time to read the whole article, the article is great but the comments bring more brainstorm ideas, thanks.

- Johnson

Anonymous said...

My dear friend, I've always found you to be a great agitator. You stir up what's in the mind because you were raised to 'think' and you detest those who don't.

I love that about you.

Dorothy said...

Wow Dave, I made your Blog! But, honestly I shouldn't even have mentioned it disdain, must have been having a bad day! Besides, as I said, I feel that feeling myself sometimes, much as I dislike it.
Your description of the ending of your marriage is the situation I've been going through. In fact the past two months have been spent getting this house ready to sell, because we just can't make the "bird nesting" separation work. But just this past week, we've been given a way for me to stay in the house with our 8 y/o. I can afford it on a tight budget, and I'm relieved to be able to keep this stable environment for him. His dad's looking for a small over shop apartment nearby. The day I found out we could stay here felt like a huge load went rolling off my shoulders. We've been together 23 years, and it's a long story, but I don't think I'd change a thing. Just happy to know I'll soon have more peace and happiness in my life.

You always were a very clear minded person. And brave. Keep the stories coming. I hope you're working on the music, Dave. I LOVE that My Space stuff. Dede