Let me tell you a story. This story, and a handful of others, influenced my decision to publish fiction, and form the backbone of how I feel about people creating in public.
Also, something-something, you never know who’s listening when you speak, and I mean listening here as reading, hearing about second hand, stumbling upon on social media.
Where to fucking start? I’m obsessive. I become obsessed. I love obsession. I love the feeling of wanting to live inside someone–a writer, a musician, a film maker or television series or website. I will play an album over and over again for hours, and still be sad to turn it off. (In my family lexicon we have a word for this: lisaloeb (v) meaning “To play one album or artist so much everyone in your household wants to kill you [and them].”)
I fucking love Green Day.
Yeah, didn’t see that coming, did you?
I have friends for whom I’m the only person they know who waxes poetic about Green Day (the only one who admits it, anyway). I can’t help that shit, man, I fucking love those boys. There’s a hometown thing to it, perhaps, but while I love them early on, something happened when I was in high school that cemented it.
No, I didn’t have some kind of name-droppy celebrity interaction with them. I’ve never met those guys, though the people I know who’ve seen them around, picking up pizza or whatever, have only good things to say.
This was on the radio. On LIVE 105, specifically. Damn everything, on the LIVE 105 morning show, and I’ll come up with the fella’s name who ran it, but it’s escaping me now. (So close. I want to say it was Alex something and he was kind of an ass, but he was funny with it. Surely someone out there’s a Bay Area native and will remember.) This would have been the late nineties, I suppose, when Green Day was big, and they came on the local morning show and chatted and took calls.
I cut school to listen to it, cause like I said, when I fucking love something, there is nothing rational about how I go about it. I will read your entire blog all the way back to 2002, dude, just give me time.
(Other LIVE 105-related reasons I sucked in high school: Hibernia Beach Live. Sigh. If this show was still running, I’d subscribe to satellite radio just to hear it. That shit aired on Sunday nights until one a.m….)
I cut school and listened to Billie Joe and Mike and Tre talk to kids from all over the Bay Area (and they did sound mostly like kids).
Then this kid calls, and he sounds a little high, giggling and silly, and he finally manages to say, “Are you, like, gay, Billie Joe? Cause I heard you used to go out with dudes.”
Here’s where we pause for a moment. I was never all that closeted. I was the president of the gay club, and I’m pretty aromantic, so I never had either girlfriends or boyfriends (ah, the dark ages, before we had delicious terms for the rest of us), but I never thought of myself as a straight kid. I used to envy the people in relationships because really, no one believes you’re queer until you “prove it,” a burden the straight kids did not have.
God, it’d be nice if that was outdated soon, if a queer child could be taken at face value. I’m not exactly holding my breath, but maybe in my toddler’s lifetime.
Anyway, I knew something was wrong with me, we’ll just say, and leave it at that. (Oh, hush, don’t project your shit on my teenage self. A whole lot of things were wrong with me, of which sexuality was barely a blip, and “wrong with” was how I thought about it, so I’m’a let that stand.)
So I held my breath, waiting for Billie Joe Armstrong to fucking blow me away. And this is a band that took fucking Pansy Division on tour, so it’s not like I thought he was gonna bust out with the nastiness, but I didn’t expect what he did say (after his bandmates covered by clowning on the dumbass kid who’d called and giggled).
“Yeah. I’ve dated guys.”
That’s it. I swear to god.
I tend toward the dramatic, in writing. I tend toward seeking out the dramatic in real life, too. I have a deep, sincere appreciation for moments when the expectation of drama is foiled by something better, and this was a moment like that. I expected someone in the studio to address this in some way, any way, just to acknowledge it. But no one did. They moved on to the next question.
In the Scientific Method stories, it’s usually Truman Jennings who subverts the drama. Truman’s got a bit more reflection running when it comes to the blissful absorption of self-indulgence, and he resists it more successfully than Hugh does. My early drafts of, oh, everything I’ve ever written, include a whole lot of blah blah blah (some folks will argue my final drafts do, as well). Hugh didn’t get his shrink kink from the ether, y’all, and I love me some processing.
But there are things that don’t require all that, and this moment I skipped school to hear, in which a young man only a few years older than myself, who’d been with the same lady for a long damn time already, said he also dated men? Yeah. Well, shit. That was a damn important fucking thing to hear as a six- or seventeen year old.
You don’t know who you’re talking to, when you throw words or art or whatever it is out into the world. You don’t know when you’re talking to a kid who might not hear anything else for many days straight that they can relate to the world inside their head at all. I love those moments. I collect them. And this is one.
Fuckin’ Billie Joe Armstrong. In any event, I just watched the documentary about making Green Day’s American Idiot album into a Broadway musical, and it was a lot of fun to see the whole progression of the thing, to see the ways you’d take songs and weave them into performance. No idea if it’d appeal to people who don’t like the songs already, but color me bowled over. Good stuff. And I guess I can relate, a little. Those guys took a lot of shit for having the indecency to make money off their music, so it’s pretty incredible watching them react to people who went meta and talk about their melodies and read a bunch of work into what a lot of folks considered hackery.
Speaking as someone long considered a hack, man, there is nothing like the feedback that reinforces that you managed to do what you intended to do, that the story you told was the one you were trying to tell.
Signing off from the land of fire and thunder, I’m gonna go immerse myself in making all my books into print. Like, whoa, dude. Print. The mind boggles. (The Scientific Method is on its way to me, a hard copy, and let’s be clear: I have never seen any of these stories on paper. Ever. I’ll do an unboxing when it arrives, just for fun.)
Back to West Wing and formatting.