Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No. 814 – Rhinoceros

Performer: Smashing Pumpkins
Songwriter: Billy Corgan
Original Release: Gish
Year: 1991
Definitive Version: None

I found Smashing Pumpkins’ first album by accident. I was in the Recordland at Genesee Valley mall one day, and it had the Singles soundtrack playing over the p.a. After the feedback-smothered finale of Drown, I asked the clerk who this band was, and he said Smashing Pumpkins.

Cool name, I thought. But what I didn’t ask was the song or album name. I went to another nearby record store that was in a strip center and found Lull and Gish. I saw that Gish was more or less current and it was a full-length album; Lull, of course, just had the four songs on it, so I went with Gish.

I have a clear memory of buying this album and the clerk assuring me that it was a great album. The odd thing about that was the clerk at this store looked like Urkel—certainly didn’t fit the stereotype of someone who would be into alternative rock. It turns out, of course, he was right.

Gish sounded great—and this song is one of several that sounds like a hazy sunset on a summer evening—but the song that I had heard over the p.a. wasn’t on the album. What the hell? I would find out later that year that I had bought the wrong album—not that I minded.

Gish became the sound of late summer and early fall 1992, and that can mean only one thing: Jenna.

By August, I had established something of a mild flirtatious rapport with Jenna. The Journal sports crew had gotten in good with every waitress at the White Horse—all of whom were hot, as I’ve mentioned—and by the time that we’d get there on a Friday or Saturday night, the place was empty enough so, typically, the waitresses had time to socialize.

We preferred a round table that was in the corner by the door, so we had a commanding view of the entire bar as well as of the door—just in case some ticked off high-school coach came looking for us. That table was in Jenna’s section, and before long that she—and the other waitresses—would come and sit with us and chat once it was closing time and they were more or less off the clock. It also got to be before long that—not entirely coincidentally—the chair next to mine was always the one that was open for her. (I was sneaky that way.)

But I figured I had no chance with her, because she was dating this huge guy, who had been in the bar a few times when we were there. I didn’t meet him, but that didn’t mean I still couldn’t form an opinion—he seemed like a tool. There was one night, I remember, where he was going to get in a fight with another guy in the parking lot as we were leaving and Jenna, all 5-3 of her, was trying to push him back into the bar to get him to shut up.

Other members of the sports crew who had established closer Flint ties knew of this guy and they concurred with my knee-jerk judgment: He WAS a tool. Conclusion: She could do so much better.

Well, one night in August—maybe after softball practice before MESS—a few of us went to the White Horse, which wasn’t the softball team’s usual hangout. I could be wrong, but my memory of this was that it happened earlier in the evening and not on the weekend. Whatever, I’ll never forget how Jenna came over to chat during a quick break and announced that she and her boyfriend had broken up.

I did not, in fact, start doing the yes-yes dance or turning cartwheels through the bar. I suppose that would’ve been bad form. No, I played it cool and played the friend, telling her I was sorry for her when, of course, I couldn’t have been happier.

OK, now it was time to enact The Plan: I would continue to be “the friend” for a couple of months, biding my time until she was ready to date again and then I would move in for the kill. The Journal crew agreed it was a good plan; now all I had to do was wait.

And you thought that the last few minutes of a school day went by slowly …

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