Sunday, March 11, 2012

No. 816 – Bitter Sweet Symphony

Performer: The Verve
Songwriters: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Richard Ashcroft
Original Release: Urban Hymns
Year: 1997
Definitive Version: None

My departure from Columbus to move to Cleveland in 2003 was something of a belabored process, albeit unintentionally so. It’s not as if I was looking for reasons to stick around at the time. I’d known I was going to pull the trigger for months, but a few things happened that led to necessary delays, as I will recount at a later time.

Finally it was the end of March, and time to go. At the Dispatch, I had a farewell lunch at Salvi’s Bistro, and it was great. The Grump, one of my few champions at the newspaper, had organized it, and he had the chef—Ron Salvi himself—present me with a half dozen pieces of frozen PastaSalvi, which is simply the food of the gods, to take with me. For whatever reason, Salvi’s doesn’t market frozen PastaSalvi, and one only can guess at how much money has been thrown away as a result.

I had another farewell bash with friends that was about as bittersweet as one such thing could be—at one point, I was in the kitchen by myself while everyone else was watching TV in the living room. Bon voyage, right? I left early.

And with that, I was gone … but not really. Chuck had tickets to the last Blue Jackets game of the season in the lower bowl, which was the next Friday after my farewells, so I was gone one whole week and then I was back again.

I wasn’t about to turn down free Blue Jackets tickets. When the Jackets came to town, dad bought season tickets under the impression that Casey would go to a ton of games. But it turns out Casey would rather play hockey than watch it, and he’d definitely rather watch it with friends, so I ended up getting a bunch of games each year. Scott and I went several times, and it was always a blast even though the team stunk (something that hasn’t changed).

The game was fun, and although the Jackets didn’t lose to the Red Wings, they did blow the lead in the last minute, ending in a tie. That was a perfect send-off considering how many times I’d seen Marc Denis sieve one up in the last minute of a game—although usually it was to lose the game.

During the pregame when the Jackets ice babes were throwing t-shirts (not their own) into the crowd, I caught one. It came right to me, and while still sitting in the chair with a Labatt’s in my left hand, I just stuck out my right hand as casually as I could—figuring the whole time that the balled-up shirt would bounce off my hand to someone else. Nope. It stuck to my paw like honey to Winnie the Pooh.

After the game, the team came out on the ice to throw more stuff up to the fans as a salute. I got a Jackets jersey can coozy that was autographed by Matt Davidson—not that you’d ever know that from the chicken scratch of Sharpie on the back, but he added the number 41, which was the telltale.

Chuck and I had a great time throughout, but the best moment happened as we watched the pregame skate and before I caught my t-shirt. Just as casual as could be—although I figured that he had been saving it for just the right time—he leaned over and said, “So, what this I hear about you and Shannon?” I laughed. Like Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment, I was just inches from a clean getaway.

As promised, I hadn’t said a word about my dalliance with Shannon to anyone during or after, which I said to Chuck. Now it was his turn to laugh. Apparently she couldn’t keep her mouth shut. Several people knew, yet until that moment no one had led me to believe anyone was the wiser.

Chuck and I had talked about a lot of things during those days, so I spilled the beans. Chuck said he was bewildered that the whole thing happened essentially right under his nose and he had no clue. I can keep a secret, but now that it’s no longer a secret, I might as well clean one more skeleton out of the ol’ closet.

And with that, I was gone.


  1. My memory of this song is me, you and Scott standing outside your apartment, and hearing the guy with his windows down and radio cranked up playing it as he circled the block over and over trying to find a parking spot. He was playing it so loud that we'd hear the car before we could see it!

    1. Where was that, up in Cleveland at EG3? I don't remember that, but it obviously happened, to be so vivid.

      You know the history of this song? I didn't till this list, that essentially Ashcroft ripped off a sample of a symphonic version of The Last Time, got nailed for plagiarism and had the writing credits revert to Jagger/Richards who ended up getting 100 percent royalties. (Well, actually the record company that owned the rights to the song got the money. Who knows how much Mick and Keef got.) Crazy.