It was Spring of 1993 when I stopped into the mall about 1/2 hour before closing. The mall is not a place where I spend a lot of time. I usually have an objective to complete, like finding a 16 gig flash drive for example, and then, once the mission is accomplished, I am out of there. This Friday night was one of those visits. Get in, get out, no looking to the left or to the the right. I was just there to do what needed to be done and then run for the exits.
But that night between me and the rear exit, sitting on a bench was Kurt. He was hanging out with a fellow I had never seen before. He was tall and skinny with long black hair pulled back in a pony tail. Just looking at him gave the impression of loud music, wild guitars, and screaming fans. Kurt intoduced him as Joe.
I found out Joe was into music, something he refered to as thrash. I immediately found myself associating that musical style with pain. Thrashing is the process used in ancient harvesting to separate grain from the chaft by beating it with sticks. Think of playing street hockey and getting slapped across the shins with a hockey stick; painful. Thrashing is also a skateboarding term. Again, I think pain, for every time I stepped on a skateboard, moments later I was flat on my back, agony shooting in all directions of my body. Finally, thrashing was another way of saying punishment back when parents still used the belt to disipline wayard youngsters who got in trouble with the law. “When your father gets home from work he’ll make sure you never do that again by giving you such a thrashing!” So any music using the term thrash to discribe itself, in my mind, had to hurt.
I sat down with Joe and Kurt on the bench and for the first time in years I hung out at the mall. We chatted, watching people going to and fro from store to store, looking for stuff they couldn’t afford to buy, yet convince they could somehow not live without. Kurt, sporting the latest 90’s hairstyle and fashions look like he may have been a missing New Kid on the Block. Joe in his black leather and denim looked like someone you’d see emerging from the smoke onstage during an AC/DC pyrotechnics display. Then there was me, mistaken for someone just waking up, with my thick beard and messy hair, shades of gray, looking like someone greatfully dead.
If you could have see us sitting there on that bench I guess what happened next would really come as no surprise.
Kurt was talking about a new movie recently released, Wayne’s World (Yes it was that long ago), when a pretty young woman appeared before us, looking somewhat uneasy. “Excuse me,” she interupted, “are you guys the band playing in there tonight?” She smiled nervously and pointed at the entrance to the lounge off to our right. The smile that lit up her face faded when we told her no. “Oh,” she said, disapointment evident in her voice. “I made a bet with my boyfriend over there that you were the band. He said you weren’t. I said to you were.” She sighed, “Oh well.” She then shrugged, turned back to the boyfriend standing some distance apart and walked away. As they made their way down the mall, her partner looked back and with a huge grin on his face gave us an excited thumbs up behind his girlfriend’s back and mouthed a big thank you.
It was just after they left I turned to the others and said, “We should have said yes we are the band, we could have been rock stars!”
“And we should have at least found out what the bet was,” added Joe.
For that brief moment, betwen the time that the question was asked and the time that the answer was given, we were musicians. Of course any band that I played music for would sound like something being punished by dragging it across pavement then beating it with stick.
We could have been a thrash band. The thrash band known as…
We walked over and checked out the playing tonight poster outside the lounge entrance.
The Lavelee Brown Band.
And there, 47 seconds after it began, my heavy metal career ended.