Get Off My Lawn

I can't tell if he's laughing or crying.

Prisoner Transport: Part 2

Prisoner Transport: Part 1

The school bus had become our sanctuary, an oasis of acceptance in a vast desert of judgement where cruelty was a form of currency and there was always an abundance to spend. Children doled out to other children small nightmares as though their survival depended on it. The wrong kind of jeans could banish any one of us to “bottom bitch” status where identity was reduced to that of victim. If you were a victim that is all you were and all you could ever be. I felt as though I walked among vampires in the halls of this junior high and I had no garlic, no cross, and no fortitude needed to fight back or even run away.

It was on the bus where we could breathe at last. At the end of the day we would be giddy with the elation of plane crash survivors, relishing the here and now, this moment of knowing that for the next five minutes we were safe. And then five more minutes. And then five more minutes. This time of safety was our currency, a black market economy that traded in relief. Our true selves could come out of the hardened shells of anonymity and the “please God don’t let them see me” default demeanor we had created.

True to his word David brought his Walkman for me to listen to. The tape was Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil. The art work was a picture of a pentagram on one side and on the other a head shot of the four band members.

 

Motley Crue 2Motley Crue 1

They were terrifying. The pentagram was terrifying. And this may have the coolest thing I had ever seen up to that point in my life. I pushed “play” and when the song “Shout at the Devil” began to play,  I was vaulted to a new evolutionary level. It was my first time using headphones, and it was as though up to that point in my life I had never heard music. This song was everything I felt. The anger and frustration, the hatred, the love, the passion, the pounding beat that seemed to insert itself into my soul and give voice to my confusion and exhaustion. It was a hyper-masculine artifact that felt like a cloak I could don and it would afford me protection. I finally had a talisman to ward off the vampires.

I looked at David with wild wide eyes as the song played, and he smiled at me knowingly.

“Pretty fucking awesome, huh?” he asked.

I had no words. I hit rewind and then played my new anthem again.

I would join this tribe and be reborn.

 

Categories: Non-Fiction, Personal, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , ,

56 replies

  1. It’s interesting how much solace music gives to teens. It does to adults too, of course, but as teens the emotion that accompanies music is so intense. It’s certainly a better outlet than many other things they could get into.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sooooo powerful! So sad, happy and awesome.

    Sent from Andrea’s iPad 480-223-3228

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had not heard this song of which you speak. Had to YouTube it. Back in my day it would have been listened to by those devil worshipers who were sacrificing cows up on the hill…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “…true selves coming out of the hardened shells.” I remember those times.
    Very well written, John – rich language and authentic in tone.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Will this be the theme song for your cult? 😉

    Cool story, though, gotta love how some friendships are born.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Awesome narrative, wonderful description.
    You’re younger than I am, or somethin like that, because I discovered Motley Crue in the third grade. Before Thriller, just after Care Bears. I still had pigtails.
    My cousin, aspiring musician, was obsessed with them, and at the time, I recall arguments about devil worship, the wrong path, and awful noise going on in his house. I thought my aunt was bizarrely dramatic and I had no idea she was religious. But then, you know, those kids killed their parents and blamed it on Judas Priest, and that prolly stuck with the parents of teenagers.
    My favorite remains the piano ballad.

    PS: I was only bullied once in my school years, and it was on a bus, so the bus was definitely NOT my refuge! lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, the “Satanic Panic” of the 80’s. How is that Satan is not the king of the whole world? He had women breeding babies for him, cults performing black masses, and all those bands making kids kill themselves.
      I could totally see how bullying could take place on a bus.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I could picture you on the bus putting on those headphones =)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The bus, the classroom, the playground; it didn’t really matter, there were bullies. Hearing people talk about it, though, we were all bullied. I’m not sure how there could have been any bullies.

    Name brand jeans and tennis shoes were the currency at my school. I had neither. My nickname was ‘blue light special’.

    I remember when I was a teenager all my girlfriends had posters of Motely Crue, Poison, Bon Jovi, Guns n’ Roses, Van Halen, and Whitesnake all over their wall. I didn’t even know who they were. I had come up on Beach Boys, The Who, The Kinks, Olivia Newton John, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. My parents had a gigantic console radio/record knew who they were. Needless to say I wasn’t exactly part of the “in” crowd. I don’t think I missed anything. I still love sixties and seventies music even though I’m an 80’s kid.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Conway Twitty, Merle Hagard, and especailly Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson were staples in our house growing up. “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is now one of my favourite songs of all time. But when I was twelve I was desperate to carve out an identity seperate from my fairly oppresive parents and my very Catholic comminity. One of those ways was finding music, books, and movies that were far removed from their horizon.

      I just finished reading Pete Townsend’s autobiography and it was quite good. I may look up some of his essays and short stories. He is a talented writer.

      I think people who were bullied would be more inclined to write about it as opposed to bully’s who, in adulthood, are too ashamed or too dumb to write about the experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My younger brother was the metal head in our family. While I was listening to Springsteen and Petty, he was into AC/DC and KISS. My sister came along later and was into Motley Crew and Bon Jovi. While bright, handsome, and charming, my brother struggled as a kid and teen. I think the metal matched the intensity of his person in a way that was real (think about that blasting through your nervous system) and was safe in it’s way. The culture he was in simply didn’t know what to do with him, his energy, his jovial non-conforming ways. He needed to channel it somewhere and metal was a part of that.

    I’m loving this series, John. But it does break my heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Angie. Your brother sounds pretty amazing. I think you nailed it when you talk about heavy metal being an outlet for certain kind of kid that didn’t fit in. I’m just glad I lived long enough to appreciate Springsteen and his amazing songs.

      Liked by 3 people

      • You and my brother would get along just fine, John. You both share a great sense of humor and quick wit. Yes, I’m very proud of and happy for my brother. His young life wasn’t easy ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my god, this is awesome!
    The only thing better would have been for you to get stoned and listen to headphones. ha!
    This is such wonderful, evocative writing.
    Music is sublime. It elevates to magical places.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I made friends with the bullies…they needed my help with homework. ☺

    My son suffered in silence, as a relocated kid in the nightmare that is middle school. He turned to music, taught himself guitar, joined a hard core punk band. Think: heavy metal with a whole lot more angst and anger. I was alarmed at the lyrics he wrote, but supported the effort. It saved him through high school. Love your post, John. Heartfelt and authentic. Thanks for the connection to music. Van

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Awesome blog. This is a great series. I’m sorry you had to live through it in real life. Your descriptions are spellbinding. Hurry and write the next one!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I used to have that same album as a kid. My favorite track was Bastard. That’s one you didn’t hear on the radio that much. I love the way shout at the devil begins with that cool creepy drone and those menacing choral sounds, now that’s the stuff of dark ambient.

    By the way, here’s an excerpt of a new album I just finished, I call it the Hammer of Hell, based on the concept that an explorer found the legendary hammer used in the construction of the nine circles of hell.

    http://soundcloud.com/sklawlor/the-hammer-of-hell-excerpt

    Liked by 1 person

  14. And that’s when his Aquanet addiction began. Thhhhhhhhe End…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. John, music was and is very important to me, but your post makes me think how so many guys, at this age and later – sometimes for the duration of their lives – rely on music to express everything they’re not allowed to; it’s a kind of vicarious emotional outlet. We girls and women generally are permitted/offered more outlets, and that’s true all our lives. I think it’s related to how many men, even once successful in a field (like a slew of famous actors), secretly and not-so-secretly want to be rock stars. It’s emotional but also masculine in a way few things are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right. I’m really impressed with your insight. I think for a boy/young man that age, who is trying to figure out what it means to be masculine, sees a group like this, with the leather, the war paint (makeup), the cockiness/bravery, the warrior stance, the rebellion, and all those ladies that want them, you have a movement that affords young men a simple and very cool way (at the time anyway) to be young men.

      Liked by 1 person

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