My Ongoing Dream About Being in Shea Stadium
spot to tell you that this piece is NO JOKE. I cannot put it into words. But I have thought about this piece for weeks and now it's time to share it. If I might, I would just ask that you pretend to be blessed enough to be working from 1955 through 1967--at any textile factory. Your work week is finished. You have ate dinner, and now sitting on your front porch relaxing with a glass of tea. Your thoughts are not about tomorrow. You have put in 12 years at the same job, at the same place and at mostly the same hourly wage. You have not only seen, but felt Life as in the figure of a flotation device (like those in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade) but it is smiling all while you and others are feeling changes in society, industry, music, family members, neighbors, music, trends on music, books, keynote speakers and the rebels--Dr. Martin Luther King, "the" head of all peace-building rebels who dared to rage against the machine. Oh, to have met Dylan Thomas--and inspire him to put into words what "I" have tried to get you to feel about Life, The Entity. (Kenneth).
Just Sharing That
people everywhere dream. Even animals dream. For years, I’ve had a reoccurring dream, but it’s more like a Cyber-mercial. I’m standing in Dead Center, Shea Stadium, where The Fab Four appeared in 1964. I am standing there with NO shirt, just jeans, sneakers and a mouthful of off-brand lighter fluid—used for manly men to fire-up grills on a weekend night to cook thick, juicy T-Bone’s, Ribeye’s, Chicken quarters and a few all-beef wieners. These men were born and bred in America. They know their meats.
When Shea Stadium is completely-full, security guards are told, you’ll have to leave! The security guards repeat, No seats Available! The crowd, now angry, sweaty, ready to see something, anything out of their usual hamster-on-a-wheel lives, insist that the Rent-a-Cops are liars and start chanting . ..We want a seat, or get beat! This continues in perfect rhythm for fifteen minutes. Then the security officers, with brand-name wireless phones, hit the Asterisk on their keypad meaning 9-1-1 is about to be contacted and the Real Police will roll up in cruisers with blue and red lights flashing followed by a huge, Khaki colored armored vehicle with six inches of tempered steel (immune to bullets) that parks near the crowd with machine guns cocked and a voice from the inside of a bullhorn yells . . .You there! The people chanting against those security guards. Cease and desist, or you will be arrested and taken to jail . . .this is your only warning! Of course the police officer inside this Police Super-Machine was lying through his teeth—he did warn this unruly crowd several times. The first time that he warned them was simply for the Fear Affect on this crowd. Note to self: stay away from remarks on The "Real" Reason Behind The Crash of '29.
(Back at Dead Center—Shea Stadium) . . . I’m still standing, with my mouth full of lighter fluid, with no shirt. I have a bright red “A” in the middle of my chest depicting: Alabama, The Crimson Tide, that a buddy of mine, “Greg,” a gifted tat artist in Muscle Shoals, did this great work for FREE, if I would just give him some FREE WOMM (by word-of-mouth) Marketing. His cheapest tat’s run from $300.00 to the highest: $1350.00. The stadium is now full to the gills. Sweat spills from the older crowd of people who only came to this “out there” event because they read it on my Full-Page ad in the New York Times—paid for by numerous friends in Hamilton, Ala., my hometown. The Beatles were backed by Polydor Records, their first label, and George Martin, record producer, arranger. I had to beg for my bucks to pay for my ticket to New York, hotel room at a moderately-sized room (one bed), food, (canned salmon) and of course, that full-page ad that sucked-up most of my funding.
I hated the Beatles for “getting in on a Free Ride.”
(I recall when my Unusual Event happened) . . . I was so nervous, soaked with sweat, and heart almost ticking-out that I could hear the crowd mumbling, giggling, feet shuffling, peanuts being cracked, (Did I not mention that about me carving out an agreement with some Hot Peanut Vendor, “Louis,” who was down on his luck and I gave him a 60/40 deal?) and the distinctive sound of low grumbling. It was time for my Unusual Sight Event that was billed as a One-Time Thing! I figured if I had used “One-Time Lifetime Thing,” that would be going too drastic.
Slowly, I lit a homemade torch consisting of thin, pine lumber, about ten inches long, with burlap wrapped around the thin lumber about six times and tied with a piece of nylon twine. The fire shot up much better than when Jim Morrison showed his butt on stage in Pensacola. I heard sounds of Ooohhhhs and Ahhhhhs, as the flame grew instantly . . .and when I emptied my mouth of lighter fluid, it was like the benzabub digging from underneath the spot directly in front of me—laughing, rubbing his Claws together and when my mouth was dry . . .he looked depressed and disappeared back down in his dark hole
I lived up to my word. I did not cheat anyone. The House was over $5,000.00 and “Louis” took $1200.00 to his wife (of 30 years, “Marge”, and their two kids: “Harold” and “Mitch). He whispered to me as he walked away that he was going to get dressed up and take “Madge” out for the night, something that they had not done in 22 years. His only income was selling hot peanuts at Shea Stadium and he and “Madge” just barely made ends meet. A tough job for a Hot Peanuts vendor in Shea Stadium.
22 years is a mighty long time to take your companion out, to, or anywhere else, I’d say. But in the very short time that I allegedly got to know “Louis,” “The Master Peanut Vendor,” to all of the real vendors in Shea Stadium, I regarded him as a friend with many redeeming qualities. No time here to talk about his few faults. Just take “Madge” to the Singing Flamingo over on 32 and Fairlane—I promise you that both of you, when you get into a cab, will enter in high anticipation, and head home very happy with a renewed vigor for life. Plus, I hear that there is still a real orchestra playing on Monday, Thursday and Saturday nights. Desi “Ricky Ricardo” Arnaz got all of this orchestra thing started and was to blame for more than a dozen divorces.
Now is the time of my reoccurring dream. I know that when people dream, they all have this one soundtrack or song that they’ve loved for years and they play that song in waking hours maybe to remind them of “a” touching, loving time that could have went somewhere wild, but a word misused or maybe misunderstood blew it. And “she” walked away, but winked at you as she faded into a heavy Curtain of Promises leaving you sadder than if you had married her and then lost her to a sailing man.
I take a match from the right-hand side of my jeans. I look all around and down to see the smiles of this massive crowd and I can even see their white teeth so white that I am almost dazed from the huge wall of White. My left hand shakes, but not enough to cause the crowd to worry that they might not see what they paid for at the ticket booth—that would be on my behalf, thievery. A common rustler would be no better than me if this were a real feat that I am about to perform.
“Deep Purple,”by New Jersey brother and sister singing duo, Nino Tempo and April Stevens plays and I feel a soft wave of confidence. I smile widely at the security officers standing at each Exit. Hopefully no gate-crashers will try to get in this Once in a Blue Moon Event. Stealing is stealing, my dad taught me at age 10. He was right. At first, wisdom from my dad, or any dad at this early age was moot, but in a mere seven years later, that statement: stealing is stealing, came charging at me with fire blazing from its mouth and hailstones raining on me at the same time.
I was dating this hot girl whom I had met and she was everything female, but with one horrible trait: a hot, dangerous temper. If not for that, I might have helped to build (for us) a long lasting relationship, but I digress. I took her to the drive-in one night and I was feeling quite rogue and really didn’t want to fork out any money that I didn’t have to spend. The ticket price? Cheap. That was the “hook” used by the drive-in owner, a Mr. White Bedford, a natural carnival barker born too late. He had “that” smooth voice and quick wordplay that made him on the side of wealthy. I loved to hear him tell about his upcoming films over the speakers on the huge box near the Entrance of his drive-in. This box was where he placed those enticing movie posters to lure guys like me into his “money pit.”
I drove up to the ticket booth. A kid named “Randy,” told me that the total price would be five bucks--$2.50 x 2. You do the math. The other $2.50 was for my then-hot girlfriend who looked 12 for she was short and when she stooped down in the car seat, she really looked like a young girl. “Randy” wasn’t fooled. He only looked like stone in the face and wanted five bucks. But the more he kept asking, the more I insisted that “she is my little niece,” I told him until finally, I had worn him down. I paid him the $2.50 and when the fifty-cents entered the palm of his hand, I heard my dad’s words about stealing being stealing, but when you’re 17, got a hot girlfriend, and in a drive-in, all’s fine with the world.
It was not long until being with this girl was nothing more than one scrape after the next. It got worse as each Friday night went on. I would get home from work on a Friday night and when I would sit down and have my supper, she would bellyache until my ears ached when I would pick her up five minutes late. Five minutes. Heck! I knew guys who would intentionally get tight on Wildcat Whiskey and get to their girlfriend’s house a good hour late and smelling of liquor—but the girl never complained. I must have done something really bad before I was born.
The lighter fluid was leaking from the left of my mouth. Actually my mouth was numb from the dangerous chemicals in the fluid. I struck the head of the match and with that one small flame, I held it up high until I took the little flame and touched it to my homemade torch and without as much as a warning . . .the torch went off. Much like a Saturn V booster in Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., the sight of that torch caused the capacity crowd to gasp; some, I heard fainted and there were some who just sat there mesmerized.
Here comes the but . . .not the Boom, depends on what I ate before I went to sleep.
My homemade torch continued to burn brightly. Some in the audience applauded and I did hear one heckler say, I paid good money to see a goober light up a torch? Well, the goober had one up his sleeve. And now I was wishing it was an extra Ace, for what I had in mind might not have been so glamorous as my full-page ad had read . . .See This Death-Defying Act, in 120-point type at the very top in Bold Bodoni Type dead center, top of the page. What an attention compeller. It worked.
With one smooth action, much like that of the Winchester 1860, the earliest model made from the early Henry rifle—I opened my mouth slowly and took my right hand and the torch and all came closer to my mouth. One of the security guards got scared and yelled, What you trying to do, kill your fool self? I smiled, but it didn’t matter. I was mostly in the darkness. Then with all of my might, I began to spew the lighter fluid that I had held in my mouth and the flame on the homemade torch blazed up to a flame that caused my face to be like sunburn, it was so hot.
I kept the fluid divided into two spews and kept the biggest amount of fluid for the climax of my unusual act. It worked. The crowd jumped to their feet and all I knew to do was bow and gesture a big thank you all around Shea Stadium. Oh, there were beer cans and bottles popping so loud that I thought someone had sneaked in a Tommy Gun. Nope. But it sounded a lot like it.
After an unusual event, feat, or magic act, the crowd will instantly go from a heavy focus on the one in the spotlight to the ones by their side and the mild hum of people talking and softly laughing is all that a performer can hear. He might cry. He might fall to the stage or in my dream, face first, dead center of Shae Stadium and let his emotions well up to a point to where it looks and sounds identical to an old oil gusher in the early days of oil drilling in Oklahoma.
The performer’s companion, stage hand or if you are the member of a high-grossing Rock Band, a roadie, will slowly walk up and offer to help that performer who is now completely drained of every ounce of energy, talent, and natural ability. He only stands there and says nothing. Sweat rolls off of his trembling body.
Then the performer, companion if he has one, stage hand or roadie, if he is good with his money, has one, all load up and head to another town where there are plenty of suckers to be plucked.
And my reoccurring “dream,” if you can call it that, starts up all over again.
More Notes to Self: at "this" juncture, do stay clean away from remarking about "Life, The Entity, Living Silently From 1920, Moving on to The 40s, 50s, yeah, man, and The 60s . . ." where many -a Eddie and Corky who swigged Schlitz on a sneaked I.D. with Big Johnny, who was smarter than anyone with book smarts, but found himself out-gunned and out-lived by Life, The Entity, who sadly just floated by while Big Johnny just stood proud with his gray hair greased to the scalp wailing out "I'm a Rebel Child" hoping a few passengers in Life, The Entity, would change their minds and come back to help Johnny fix his hot rod.
That, self, would take way too long.
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© 2018 Kenneth Avery