Best Kept Secret
It’s hard to keep anything hidden for long in a town with a population of less than 2,000 people. You know who’s at the post office by looking at the cars parked out front. If you are walking down the street and see someone working in their yard, chances are you’ll know each other by name. If a kid gets a speeding ticket (or God forbid a minor) it seems like the lady at the grocery store will somehow manage to find out before their parents do. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that any change, no matter how slight, is always noticed… and always talked about.
Change arrived to our little community during my 8th grade year in the form a new student named Shane. He came from the (comparatively) giant city of Moorhead, Minnesota. Moorhead was known among us small town kids as the slightly seedy sister city (say that 5 times fast) to Fargo, North Dakota. There were many utterly baseless urban legends about gangs, drugs, and other nefarious and unmentionable things that could be encountered on the streets of this mysterious place across the Red River. Shane thus carried with him this mystique, and immediately the rumors began to spread.
Shane’s outward appearance was unlike anything we had ever encountered. Who was this dude walking down the hall with baggy pants, Spitfire and DC shirts, Vans sneakers and spiked hair? We weren’t accustomed to metal ball chokers, chain wallets, or skateboards. This peculiar sense of style was both intriguing and mystifying and immediately caught the eye of students and teachers alike.
If the looks weren’t enough, Shane’s actions managed to grab the attention of the remaining members of our school community. The “fire in the bathroom” incident shortly after his arrival would earn Shane the title of “badass” in some circles and “dumbass” in others (pardon the language, just trying to keep up with POD). His many “Parental Advisory” laden albums by artists such as Limp-Bizkit, Eminem, and Snoop Dog was another instant status symbol among the sheltered citizenry of our school. More impressive to me though than his style, antics, or the amount of cuss-words in his cd collection was his seemingly ceaseless natural musical ability which he would wow everyone with during band class.
Our first real personal encounters would be there in the band room where Shane and I were both members of the percussion group. Neither of us really fit in with the others in our section. Shane was shunned by the “cool kids” for the aforementioned reasons, and I for being generally considered “weird” by small town standards. This may have been partly to blame on my infatuation with 1970’s polyester disco attire. It was under these circumstances that Shane and I naturally drifted together and began to get to know one another. Our conversations always centered on a mutual interest in music. Primarily we’d talk about popular rock radio groups as I was still in the closet so far as my interest in Christian rock was concerned. I wasn’t about to share my secret with someone who had so much obvious street cred. His disapproval could seriously hamper if not totally destroy my chances of ever starting a cool band, Christian or otherwise, in our little town with the one person who had obviously serious chops. So, I kept things on the down low for the time being.
Shane was a much more advanced musician than I was and knew how to play multiple parts for songs like ‘Longview’ by Green Day or ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana. He would teach me how to play the drum parts then grab the school’s bass guitar and we’d jam out at the beginning or end of the band period. It was during one of the little jam sessions that Shane invited me over to his place after school. His dad was a mainstay of the regional bar band scene and we could rock out on some of his gear! So it was that I found myself one afternoon in a basement bedroom cramped with amps and drums. I was sitting behind an amazing old drum kit as Shane was strapping on a black fender Jazz bass. He got plugged in and after jamming the couple of songs we both knew things started to wind down. “What do you want to play next?” I asked. “I don’t know, what do you know how to play?” Shane replied. I kind of shrugged my shoulders, not really knowing too many other radio rock songs. Shane didn’t seem fazed and suggested we try learning something new. Never in a million years would I have expected to hear the question he asked next come from his mouth. “You ever heard of a band called Audio Adrenaline?” My jaw dropped. Turned out we both had a secret, but not for long.
I’m only going to do this once, and only so Jerry gets the chopstick out of his keister and quits whining about me leading him on only to be disapointed. Here’s the titular song of today’s blog.