The Square Root of 10; Musical Mysteries


So. I got a call from a good buddy last week inviting me to listen to some music, said he had an extra ticket to see Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen out to the Santa Fe Opera.

“Hell yes,” I told him, “when and how much for the ticket.”

“Sunday at 7 pm, and your money’s no good in my town.”

That’s my buddy Doug, a man with a big heart and a photographic memory. He’s a man who remembers every slight word-for-word yet holds never a one against you. Me, if I had a photographic memory, I’d be extracting retributions.

“Hey, Sister, remember that time you ate the blue Crayola and I had to color the princess’s eyes brown? Well, fuck you… Huh, what’s that? You were only two-years old? Who gives a shit, you were an asshole and I never forget anyfucking thing.”

I was expecting Robert Earl to open as a solo for Lyle and his big, sassy band and found myself disappointed when we took our seats to find the stage set with two chairs, two mike stands, two feedback speakers, and four beautiful guitars racked—two beside each chair.

Did you know that Robert Earl is taller than Lyle? Not me. I always knew he was tall, but thought Lyle was the taller. Not that it makes a shit. My disappointment at missing the horns and saxes and backup singers dissipated as soon as the two men sat—their longtime friendship visible in the comfort they took with sitting at each others side.

A weird thing happened for me at this concert. OK, stop. Background is everything when you try to interpret the words of a backwards-thinking writer, so let me provide you with a little info. Due to my having been genetically inflicted with the dreaded ADD and its big brother, ADHD, my musical comprehension is incredible—for maybe ten bars of every song I have ever heard.

I can provide you a few lines of melody and/or libretto for anything in the catalogs of such varied artists as Harry Connick to Frank Zappa to Amadeus fucking Mozart. I can hum a couple bars of anything I’ve ever heard yet can’t sing you the complete verses of even my most favorite songs. Hell, I even have difficulty with the Star Spangled Banner. After six decades, I still mix up “Home of the free” with “Land of the brave”.

But what I lack in musical comprehension I have been spaded with human and emotional association connected with any song and my own life. I can tell you all the details of my life surrounding any song ever to pass through my brain. Take “In the Jungle, the quiet Jungle” as an example.

I had this tiny crystal transistor radio bedside as a young adolescent. I lay in my bed one summer night—the summer I grew 11-inches between school terms, and every bone in my body ached with the pain of their expansion rates. My legs and feet hurt the most, and this one night I was thinking I could actually hear my bones creaking and splintering as they expanded and extended under my skin. Each night I pressed the zero end of a yardstick tight to my sphincter and measured the distance to my foot—you know, that spot where the smooth skin of your leg turns into the rough sandpaper of heel. I’d mark the measurement on a Big Chief Pad, then measure again in the morning.

Most nights the increase in seam length would be small—discernible, yet quite small. But this one night I actually grew a quarter-inch overnight. Anyway, I was lying there on the cool cotton sheets debating the virtues of masturbation and whether I wanted to get up and make a date with my personal bar of Ivory soap, or just lay there and hurt. I remember that I was thinking about adding steps to my nightly yardstick ritual and see how much my pecker was growing and whether I should measure softy or stiffy.

I had just voted “stiffy” when that silly song squeaked from the paper cone speaker on the radio.

“The lion sleeps tonight, weem-a-wacka, weem-a-wacka?” I asked myself in the darkened bedroom, “What, inthefuck, does that mean? That might be the stupidest thing I ever heard.”

However, I must now edit my teenage thoughts by saying that I had not yet discovered Iron Butterfly at that point. “…Inna gotta da vida, baby…” Really?

So, the memory/emotional responses I got from Lyle and Robert Earl were for/from my buddies Squatlo and BJ. I laughed for Bob at songs such as “She’s No Lady, She’s My Wife”, and I teared-up for Bill with Robert Earl’s family stories. Bill’s mom is really sick and Bob likes silly shit.

And that reminds me that this woman at the Whole Foods asked me a question the other day. She somehow knew that I’d been married ten times and she asked me, she said, “Which of the ten was the sexiest?”

After a lengthy discussion about how each was quite sexy and the many different ways so, she asked me again. “OK, but which was the sexiest?”

I then had a question of my own, that being, “Why do you ask, you blue-eyed sexpot? Are you angling for a spot of Mooner?” a question that did not quite draw a slap to my well-sunned face, but did garner a look that might have shriveled the pecker of a lesser man.

And here I now sit, asking myself that self same question, and have come to an answer. The sexiest of my ten ex wives is as of yet unknown to me. I will, however, ponder the solution and report herein my conclusions. I can say for certain that if your idea of sexy is a woman having an insatiable appetite, then I must go with Roshandra Washington-Johnson, the gun-toting Nubian warrior guarding the headquarters of the Austin City Council. If mystery is your clue to sexiness, then maybe it’s number seven. OK, stop, maybe mystery would be number four, the shortest-lived of the ten. Then, again, mystery is a word of mysterious definitions in its ownself, and the understanding of the very word “mysterious” provokes a myriad of interpretive adaptations.

Ugh. Mother will be here in four days. Buy my silly fucking book and you’ll understand more. Manana, y’all.

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7 Responses to “The Square Root of 10; Musical Mysteries”

  1. Squatlo says:

    An acoustic evening with Robert Earl and Lyle? And you looked at the stage and felt disappointment? We’re different animals, you and I. I own every one of Lyle Lovett’s vast collection of discs, and love every damn one of them. He’s got a song “Record Lady” in which he sings about his friend Robert Earl always “looking out for my best interests”… and since my name is Robert Earl I just told everyone Lyle wrote that one for me. Kind of like the book me and Willie Nelson worked on together (“100 Ways to Beat the Blues” by Tanya Tucker) except that we didn’t actually WORK on the book, or TOGETHER, for that matter, even though I spent more time on my essay than Tanya Tucker did on the whole damn project… But I digress…

    When you made your brief visit to our neck of the woods we didn’t spend a minute exploring the musical tastes of the group. We were too busy killing brain cells and laughing our asses off to appreciate music, and that’s a regret I have for our time together. Music is extremely important in my life, and I know for a fact it’s a major part of Beej’s life, too. Just hearing that got to see Lyle and REK do an acoustic show makes me regret that I wasn’t invited.

    I might have to remedy this musical gap in our relationship by making you some mix CDs from the vault. You might not be able to focus through entire songs, but at least you’d get an idea of my varied musical tastes, and might even find common ground with some of your own long lost memories from your nights with the yardstick and Ivory Soap.

    Here’s to our buddy BJ. May his troubles be brief and his mind put at ease. Wish the same for you and yours, by the way.

    Glad you wrote something, asshole. I was beginning to think I was the only one in the blobber-con still coughing up material…

  2. Mooner's on Lunchbreak says:

    Squat. I’m guessing I heard many of your favorites. They took turns and sometimes together, I think just like when they used to hang at REK’s place out to the Hill Country of Central Texas. I actually favor acoustics but have grown used to LL’s latest reviews.

    And here’s the tip of my hat to BJ. peace, brother.

  3. Squatlo says:

    And for what it’s worth, Google tells us the square root of ten is 3.16227766. You’re welcome.

  4. Mooner Johnson needs sexing says:

    Interesting that it is almost PI, one of those things that really fucked me up as a kid. Like to, two and too many fucking rules required to speak my native tongue.

  5. Katy Anders says:

    Growth spurts are the worst thing that could happen to a body.

    You’re not as cute, people start expecting things from you, and next thing you know, things are starting to fall apart.

    They need to do something to stop that stuff. Something sciency.

  6. Mooner's on Lunchbreak says:

    Katy. The only thing about growing that I was happy about was the maturation of those of my apparatusi (apparatusses?) which provide the delineation of the sexes. I’ll never forget my first stiffy. First I freaked out, then when my face didn’t fall off I became curious.

    Not a Genie’s lamp, but second best.

    Thanks for stopping by and when will you crank back up. I miss your insight.

  7. Squatlo says:

    She’s cranked, dammit! Go see!

    And stop telling us about your pecker… (although, I remember my first pubic hair like it was yesterday)

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