Tuesday, April 22, 2014

No. 44 – These Dreams

Performer: Heart
Songwriters: Martin Page, Bernie Taupin
Original Release: Heart
Year: 1985
Definitive Version: The studio version.

And all this time I thought Nancy Wilson wrote this song …

These Dreams is a perfect example of how timing is everything when it comes to music. When this song came out, I dismissed it as innocuous hair-band pop from a band that lost its edge. Sometime in 2002, I was flipping through the TV late at night, and I stumbled upon a show on Bravo where Ann and Nancy Wilson were the featured guests. It was a mix of interviews and performance, and shortly after I tuned in, they played this song.

It was unplugged, with Ann on egg shaker and Nancy on an acoustic guitar that sounded like it was amplified through a buzzsaw. Adhering to the Unplugged doctrine of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains that a good song is a good song no matter how it’s arranged, the quality of These Dreams shined through in that performance.

Not long after that, I was at Plank’s Café on Parsons in Columbus with Chuck, Andy and Holly. Holly wanted to load up the juke, so I went with her. I added a few more dollars, and we traded picks. As she punched in Voices Carry by Til Tuesday, I spotted a Heart greatest hits CD.

Remembering the TV show, I punched in These Dreams. That night, as we shot the breeze over beers and Plank’s incomparable pepperoni pizza, the dreamy L.A. sheen of the song washed over me, and I realized that I was wrong about it: It was a truly great song. These Dreams became a regular play at Plank’s thereafter—always after Voices Carry, as I mentioned (good ol’ No. 287).

You know, sometimes, dreams DO come true.

Like most newspapers, The Dispatch had an internal publication to announce hirings and style notes and whatnot. In 2002, about the time my opinion of this song changed, I came across announcements of the new crop of interns.

I fell on a picture of one in particular and couldn’t stop looking. She was stunningly beautiful, with wavelets of brunette hair that cascaded over her shoulders and a come-hither smile. Her name was Shannon, and she was a copy editor. Wow, typically, babes at a newspaper briefly are reporters before they make the inevitable transition to p.r. When I saw Shannon in the flesh for the first time a short time later, I saw the rest of her matched the quality of the picture. Mental note: Go upstairs more often.

That summer, Shannon came out to the Thurman with my crew, so I got to meet her … and find out that she had a boyfriend at Ohio University, where she was about to start her senior year at J school. OK, so it just would be one of those unrequited office lusts. Still, I can look all I want for the rest of the summer.

But then a funny thing happened after that: Shannon came back in the fall. She worked out well on the rim and didn’t mind the commute from Athens (almost an hour and a half), so her internship became open-ended. After that, something better happened: I learned that Shannon broke up with her boyfriend.

Not that I thought I had a chance. I mean, I’m 38 and she’s 21. I’m me and she’s hotter than Hell. But still … she had been to the Thurman before. I had to find a way to get her to start coming regularly, get to know her better and … well, one step at a time here, Casanova.

The first part happened on its own. Now free of any entanglements, Shannon started coming to The Thurman regularly with other copy editors. That meant I began to engage her more, like anyone else in the group, you know.

One night in January 2003, I was on fire. I was in a great mood, and it was just one of those nights where everything you say is insightful, funny or both—and at precisely the right time. As the night progressed, I thought Shannon began to look at me a little differently from before, maybe even flirting a bit with me. OK, Step 2 is complete. Now I just had to get to Step 3.

Someone once said bravery’s easy if you don’t care whether you live or die. You can do anything as long as you have nothing to lose. It just so happened that I fit that profile.

I was leaving, you see. The plan was that after Andy and Holly’s Eighties costume party in January, I’d tell my crew that I was leaving. Then, I’d drop my two week’s notice on my bosses and head to Cleveland—and a new chapter in my life—at the end of February.

Because of that, I could pursue Shannon, come what may. Why not? If something might happen, I could stick around. My remaining time in Columbus was open-ended. If not, I was gone. I had nothing to lose.

I made sure in the days leading up to the party that Shannon would be there. She was looking forward to it. So was I.

The bash was fun, and my Greed costume (good ol’ No. 644) went over well, but I just was biding my time. Shannon had to work that night, so she wouldn’t be there till after midnight. Finally, Shannon showed up, as Punky Brewster. I didn’t have anything for Punky Brewster until that night.

Infused with new blood, the bash went on for another couple hours. I wanted to keep Shannon as close to my side as possible, and it wasn’t that difficult. She stayed close to me on her own. The flirting of the previous night continued, and it seemed as though the opportunity was there where I could ask her out at some point. I just had to get her alone.

That occurred when the party broke up. Shannon parked at Plank’s, and the neighborhood wasn’t the best one for a female to walk around alone, so, being the gentleman that I am—and having an ulterior motive—I asked whether I could walk Shannon to her car. (I parked on the street in the opposite direction.) She accepted.

We left just after Chuck, and as we got to the parking lot, I saw him drive off in his electric blue P.T. Cruiser—the Chuck Wagon—honking at us. Now alone, we talked for awhile, still bubbly from the party, or at least the libations. Shannon started to make toward leaving, opening her car doors to put away her purse and bookbag.

Saying nothing now, Shannon shut the passenger side back door and walked around the back of her car and shut the driver’s side back door. I held the driver’s door open for her to get in. OK, this was my chance. I'd ask her out, and I felt confident of the answer.

What happened next was another moment where time slowed to a crawl. Shannon’s walking toward me, in slow motion, smiling. I’m smiling back, and suddenly, with crystal clear realization, I see that … she’s … not … stopping …

And then she’s in my arms, and she’s kissing me, and I’m kissing her with everything I got, everything I’ve felt about her and everything I’ve ever wanted. And all I’m thinking is … absolute joy.

Shannon had planned to stay with relatives that night, but her plans changed. She stayed with me at my place. It was a great night, but nothing could surpass that perfect moment in the Plank's parking lot when to my delighted surprise, I learned why older men date women nearly half their age.

Because THEY CAN.

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