Tragedy struck the following Tuesday, and it’s effects were felt from the Night Raven to the Pines- and all the way out to the Agora and beyond. Bon Scott, the gritty, gravely voiced singer from the vertically challenged but extremely hard rocking band AC/DC was dead. Cause of death: Acute Alcohol Poisoning. The news spread through the phone lines, multiplying like an Faberge Organics commercial. She told a friend, who told another friend,who told another and on and on. The grid grew by tens, twenties, maybe even thirties. In the infancy of our heavy metal ‘scene’, this was big news. News that was tragic yet exciting. Most of us were both grief stricken and weirdly energized. There was lots of ‘when it’s your time it’s your time, and there’s nothing you can do about it’ talk, with all of us glossing right over the excessive alcohol consumption that killed him. We all agreed that this (alcohol overdose) was something that could just sneak up on you- it’s not like there was some alarm that went off when you’d had enough, right? (the stumbling, weaving, puking, fighting and memory loss weren’t even little hints to us) Not once did anyone express an interest in ‘slowing down’ or partying less. Not us! In fact, if we could die on any day at any moment, we felt it was time to kick it up a notch. And so we did. It’s hard to say how many shots and drinks were consumed after a shout out to Bon Scott. Clink Clink. Cheers! And the word ‘irony’ never once crossed our minds. Even to the few of us who knew what it meant.
Perhaps what made Bon Scott’s death seem ‘cool’ (to a bunch of young adults who still felt as immortal as ever, rounding the bases at 18, 20 or 22) is that although the reason for his demise was drinking to the point of alcohol poisoning-the official reason was listed as ‘Death By Misadventure’ which made it sound risky and-I’ll say it! fun. It was dark, yes- but also very rock and roll. It also ensured that Bon Scott would never grow old, never burn out, never find religion or go to rehab and renounce his wild lifestyle, never marry a famous actress and start hanging out with rich Hollywood types. He would never do these, or any of the myriad of things that rockstars did to get on our nerves. He would remain our eternal bad boy. His dirty deed would stay dirt cheap. And all it cost him was an early death.
Finn and I began perusing the papers and club hotline numbers for the inevitable AC/DC tributes that would be no doubt coming down the pike. Like rock and roll ambassadors, we spread the news to all of the places it hadn’t yet reached. The clerk at Cumberland Farms, where we bought our Newports, Kools, and Michelobs? He found out from us. As did Finn’s vocal coach and my entire ‘Feel The Burn’ Aerobics Class at the Figure Forum. God knows how many they then told! It was assumed that everyone cared! The loss also inspired many ‘deep’ conversations between me and Finn. For instance, we wondered if a person passed out drunk would even know that they died. If they were dreaming, and then crossed over how would they be able to tell the difference between the dream, and the crossing over? Wouldn’t it just seem like the dream was continuing? Listen: at least Finn was inspired by half a joint! I had no excuse. (It shocks me now that we were just assuming there was an afterlife! Why weren’t we arguing about that?!) We talked about how cool it was that Bon would exist forever on records, his voice saved for eternity, that he found a way to leave a permanent piece of himself behind. The Algonquin Round Table this was not.
Even Adrian called me at the end of the week, to get my ‘take’ on the loss. He acted like we had just lost a good friend. Like him and I were still in cahoots to begin with! I was immediately suspicious. I mean- yes I was bummed that a kick-ass lead singer had succumbed, but it’s not like it was Led Zeppelin or even Van Halen, no offense. AC/DC was good, but I hadn’t actually shed any real tears, as is usually the case with famous people who you admire but don’t actually know. Yet Adrian asked ‘how I was holding up’. Not only was it an odd question- but I got the distinct impression he was asking me something that had nothing to do with a dead rock singer.
“Umm, I’m fine!” I said,quickly adding: “It’s not like I was invited to the funeral or anything!”
“Yeah, but I know how you liked them!” Adrian replied “Always cranking that stereo of yours!”
“Adrian! What do you really want? Why are you calling me?” I asked, cutting to the chase. Like I was the one with a loud stereo. His was rigged to shake his whole neighborhood!
“Well!” he said, indignantly “I was just checking to see how you were! Is that okay?” He laughed uncomfortably.
“How’s your new girlfriend?” I asked, daring him to hang up and end the misery.
“I dunno” he said…..”Because I kind of miss you”
Oh brother! They must have gotten into a fight or something. I forced myself to think of all the shitty things he’d done to me less than six months ago: the lying, the cheating, the general deception. I thought of what Melody had told me at Rob’s party. But a part of me- besides being flattered (oh, look! I really am irreplaceable!) was also thinking that if I could get back with him, that I’d ‘win’ in some twisted head games kind of way. It would change the story that had already been written-that Adrian cheated on and dumped me, and give it a better ending-one where Adrian came back to me after all, so haha, guess who’s back?! I would save face after all! (Am I embarrassed to be copping to all of this? Of coarse. Wouldn’t you be?) Did I still love Adrian? Nah, he was pretty tiny in my rearview mirror by now- but it was a potential friends-with-benefits situation, and Adrian was always generous and romantic- heavy on the gifts and out-to-dinner dates, especially in the ‘win her over’ phase. (For which I now qualified -kind of like reemerging as a ‘new customer’) More importantly- he was a cute musician and lots of girls liked him. Besides, I didn’t have anything else going on. (My last crush had been Christian, and I hadn’t seen him since he’d been sprung!) My reappearance in Adrian’s life would also be a kind of symbolic Bronx Cheer to the floozy he had been dating and I wouldn’t mind slapping some karma back her way, just for sport. I could still see the condescending look she gave me at the Night Raven on ‘footsy’ night. I sometimes hold grudges. I’m not gonna lie.
“Oh, really?” I ask, but I’m sure he can hear the smile in my voice.
“Let’s go out. To a movie or something!” he says, seizing the moment.
“Like what movie? And when?” I ask, trying to act uninterested, even though the questions I ask prove otherwise.
“They’re playing ‘The Warriors’ at SoNo. I know how you liked that-”
“They ARE?!” I burst, “I LOVE that movie!” The theater in South Norwalk plays cult and independent films and movies that played in the regular theater last year. As I recall, when the Warriors first came out, I had to go with JJ because Adrian ‘had to practice’.
“Let’s go tomorrow night then” he says.
“Maybe!” I say “I still have to think about it. Call me at 7:00 and we’ll see”
“Oh, come on! Just say yes!” Adrian laughs.
“No!” I say firmly “I’ll tell you tomorrow night. And if that’s not okay- oh freakin’ well!”
Adrian sighs, but reluctantly agrees. Sure, I might decide not to go, but we both know I probably won’t. We cant bring Bon Scott back to life, but with his death as an excuse to break the ice, we might just breathe new life into what was once a hot and heavy romance.