Performer: Toad the Wet Sprocket
Songwriters: Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, Dean Dinning, Randy Guss
Original Release: Fear
Definitive Version: None
Steve was my first friend to turn 30, and his wife schemed to have a surprise party for him in February 1994. Because I was the only one from our crew who had left Columbus, I was going to be the biggest surprise guest.
At the time, I was writing in my journal and the most tapped into my muse that I’ve been at just about any point in my life, so I decided to write a poem to commemorate the event and read it at the party. That sounds gay, I admit, but I wanted to do it for the experience—to face down fears about reading something I wrote in public. I worked on the poem for about a month and got it into what I thought was presentable shape, then made the trek down to Columbus. (This was the trip where I went to see Beth’s mom after her husband died. It was the last time I’d ever see Beth, now that I think about it.)
The party was at the late, great Diebel’s, a nearly 100-year-old German brauhaus in German Village (where else?) that has long since passed to the sands of time, and the surprise went off to great success. There were about 15 of us there. I, as usual during this period, was the only one who attended solo.
My poem was well-received, and I gave Steve Dulcinea—Toad the Wet Sprocket’s new album. This song, of course, isn’t on that album, but because I associate Toad with Steve, this song is as appropriate to recount this event as any.
By the way, I read the journal and therefore this poem again recently for the first time since maybe that party. It’s OK, but it’s safe to say I won’t be pitching for the cosmic all-stars anytime soon.