(Tribune September 2006)
You know what? I am older than Wayne Gretzky’s father.
(Want a beer? I’ll have an OV…what about you…. What? You drink that stuff? Whatever…)
OK, we both are older. The point is that everyone knows about Walter Gretzky but no one knows about us.
Fifteen American presidents died before they reached our age. We have been on this earth longer than Elvis was and we’ve lasted longer than Hitler did.
(I know it was fifteen…I looked it up… I can show you the book!)
So, why are we not famous or even infamous? We’ve had plenty of time. We must have screwed up somewhere.
Come on, you know what I am talking about. We all had dreams. When we were young we were invincible. We were going to change the world. I don’t care if it was medicine, music, politics, sports, or business, we all thought we were capable of rising to the top. You remember, we would set new benchmarks! We would be honored. We would be famous!
(Sure, a bottle is fine. Yes, I would like a glass. Can we get…Miss? …Wings?… Whenever it’s convenient… Thanks.)
Lots of things made us change direction. We all stopped to smell the roses and we got sidetracked. Jobs, girlfriends, family and financial commitments got in the way of our big plans and our goals became fuzzy memories as time passed. We went to work, paid our taxes and raised our families. I know, most of the famous people did the same, but with us it was different. We just dreamed about the glory. Famous people got the job done.
(Make my wings mild. How can you eat that hot stuff? …I would be up all night…Miss? Can I have a double order of celery? … What was her name? ... They always say but I always forget… Oh, I see, she wrote it on the place mat … with a crayon.)
You must remember those old high school yearbooks. In the mid 1950’s, "Ron Ryan and the River Rats" was the hot band for a brief moment of time at Pelham District High School. Sure, we pictured ourselves as better than "Bill Haley and his Comets" but the rest of the world didn’t. Our classmates who hoped to become doctors became telephone technicians. Remember that guy who wanted to be a research scientist? You got it, a civil servant. We’ve seen potential rock and roll stars become accountants. None of us became really famous.
(Wow, This stuff is hot…can I have a glass of water? …You? …Two glasses please.)
Look, I’m not saying that we weren’t successful in our lives and real careers. We were just not famous. We were like baseball players who laboured in the minor leagues. Some got called up and may have played a few games or a couple of seasons in the majors, but never impacted the record book. We didn’t win the series.
(There’s sauce on your chin…get a napkin…lower…got it!)
I guess we all have some regrets. Everyone thinks some parts of his or her life could have gone in a different direction, but that is hindsight. We cannot change the past.
But we don’t have to give up. We still have the future. Did you know that Grandma Moses was in her mid 70’s when she first started to paint? She enjoyed her fame until she was over 100. Daniel Defoe was about 59 when he published his first novel, Robinson Crusoe. His later successful stuff, including Moll Flanders, was all written when he was a senior citizen. Whistler’s mother does not look like a young chick and her son was almost 60 before his painting of the old girl became famous. Do you get my point?
(I got all of that on the Internet… you can find lots of stuff... come on, why would anyone post lies about Daniel Defoe?)
Now, think about our hot band. We can do it! We still have time. There is a huge market of old geezers just like us who are waiting for someone to bring back the good sounds. You and I just have to get some decent musicians together in your garage to get the ball rolling. I know I can sing better than that Cohen guy. You just have to write a few verses and we are in business.
Of course, at our age we don’t have time to waste. We can’t just wait and hope someone discovers us. We need a jump-start. We need to recruit a band member who will get the attention of the press.
Do you think we could get Wayne Gretzky’s father?