Jerry Wick & Jenny Mae part III


Jerry is setting up the stage; his new band is getting ready to play.  He is so excited that he drinks a few beers.  This is a real club they are playing, with a stage, a hired soundman, a “professional” doorman and a drink tab.  Gaunt doesn’t really need a drink tab, two of the members don’t drink and at this point in his life, Jerry barely did.  They are playing on a Monday night with the New Bomb Turks who are also psyched about playing the club.  This is the same club where Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Scrawl and The Replacements have played.  The stage is small, but big enough to house incredible egos quite comfortably.  The television is showing the Simpsons and the five regulars who come daily will not leave until the Simpsons have ended. They get here for the first episode for the Simpsons at five pm and leave after the last one at 7:30 unless there actually happens to be a band they enjoy. They are very funny men in fact and over the years I will get to know them pretty well as we laugh over the absurdities of our own the lives of various bands.  The soundman, shaking his head is asking Jerry what he is doing.

Jerry has taken a bar seat from the bar and is hanging a sheet across the back of the stage.  He has spray painted the sign of an asshole across the front of the sheet.  It is very large and looks like this: “*”.  There is the official start of the “Jerry’s an Asshole” phase of his life, and he wears it proudly.  I don’t want to tell him that it is obvious that he lifted the asshole from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions” that I had already read almost ten years prior in high school. Jerry tells the soundman to mind his own business which I believe the soundman is doing.  Jerry seems to miss the point that the soundman’s business happens to also be Jerry’s business this evening. Jerry goes to the bar and gets another beer.  This has been a fairly new thing for him, the drinking of multiple beers.  I believe the tag of “Jerry’s as Asshole” has also been borne out of his new thirst for beer.  One begat the other. Gaunt plays first followed by the New Bomb Turks.

They played a hurried set, full of nervous angst while Jerry interrupts their set to read from “Breakfast of Champions.” He makes no sense when reading.  Several of his friends, including me cringe when he does this. We all act like neither one of us is there for a few minutes. Soon enough he picks up his guitar, jumping nearly four feet in the air, hair bouncing wildly as he screams into the microphone “punks don’t wear no silly watches…arrghhhhh”.  From this point onward they are incredibly awesome.  His two-band mates don’t say anything except for the drummer Jeff, who is tall, polite and quite handsome in a Steve Buscimi/Don Knotts sort of way. Jeff smiles towards Jerry and says “alright” as if recognizing this is the reason why Gaunt exists. Jeff has a kid, which floors me.  His son is six or seven.  He draws dinosaurs and loves his dad.  I can’t believe his dad doesn’t drink.  “Maybe it’s the kid” I think as to why he wouldn’t want to drink.  Jeff has only been playing the drums for a year or so.  He sounds great.

The Turks play next and they somehow have taken the energy that flew off of Gaunt, mixed it in their drinks, chased it with about five pots of black coffee and regurgitated it. The sound like a semi-truck with bicycle wheels.  One big roar and one big smile from the ten people who have come to the show.  Their songs are more punk than Gaunt’s, and are laced with irony and almost as wordy as an Elvis Costello song.  Unlike Jerry, these guys didn’t drop out of their English studies majors.

After the show the crowd of girlfriends and record store employees (that was all that was there) mill around and congratulate each other.  I am lit, Jenny is lit and so is most of the club except for Jeff and Eric (the bassist) for Gaunt.  We stumble around, in a protracted electric hum left over from the buzzing amps still plugged in on the stage.  Jenny and I are in the midst of our final break up.  I spy a blond haired woman at the edge of the bar with a bob-hair cut and think how beautiful she is.  Jenny grabs my shoulder, calls me “Laz” and says we need to go.  On the way home she asks me who I was looking at.  I say “I dunno, I think she is in Ron’s band, her name is Nora.” Jenny sniffs, “well quit looking.  I don’t like you around blondes.” This is in reference to a woman I had seen briefly on the sly, named Monica.  Blonde, arty and big tits.  I was smitten till I came home one night smelling like patchouli and Jenny sniffed me and yelled “Monica!!” When she yelled this, it cut through me more than the scent of Monica who would tell me after a few brief encounters that she had fallen in love with me.  When Jenny yelled Monica every speck of guilt I had ever accumulated bubbled forth and sat in me like stagnant sewage water.  I thought of every mistake I had ever made, every mistake my mother had made and every mistake that Jenny had made.  Then I thought of Monica’s tits.  This had all happened in front of my friend Rory who was tutoring me in math, a course that scared me almost as much as my new found fear of patchouli.  Rory looks as me bug-eyed and mouths, “I need to leave now”, I grab his wrist and eyes pleading mouth back “please, please don’t leave.” Rory, obviously brighter than me (and not just book wise) shakes his head and says “sorry, you’re on your own.” In the other room, Jenny is making a tornado of herself.

Monica just sort of fell into my lap.  Jenny and I had not been getting along for a few years, basically since we came to college.   I went looking for someone else after Jenny had tossed me out of the house for questioning her faithfulness.  What a strange world we made for ourselves. One of the charms of Jenny was that she knew no boundaries, which made for a great time at a party (depending) but fueled suspicion and broken hearts in a relationship.  She was one to follow a thought, no matter how inane or dangerous down the rabbit hole.  As a survivor she had a deft knowledge and skill to be able to pull herself out of every rabbit hole she had managed to craw down, this left me full of self-doubt and with a heavy chest.  It also reinforced my own belief in my inner set of boundaries that I would never cross (one being my fling with Monica) which comparatively appeared much more structured than Jenny’s did but it is sort of like comparing the records on a 1-10 football team to a team that is 5-6; they are both losers.

Jenny was an expert at switching; a defense mechanism that allowed her to move the topic of conversation to someone else meaning that what ever flaw of hers was being inspected was now onto someone else.  This had most likely proven to be an essential and healthy in her childhood when her father was in an angry and brutal mood.  He was known to come after his children with teeth bared and hands stretched to their maximum for full effect.  Most likely to she learned the skill from her old man, whom was known to disappear until late in the night and who had made an extra career of dancing in shadows protecting another life he held dear to his heart.  So when Jenny confronted me on Monica all I could muster was “what about Bob, and Barry, and Juan, and Salvador, Randy and who knows who else.” Jenny said “what about them, you have no proof”(which I didn’t) “and anyways I NEVER FUCKED THEM!!!” How could I argue with this?  She tossed me out of the house which really meant, I had to sleep in the other room for a while.  She announced to everyone we met the next three months that I cheated on her.  The greetings would be like this.  Someone would say “Jenny, Bela this is so and so.” And Jenny would lean over shake their hand and say “Hey, glad to meet you I’m Jenny Mae and this is Bela who just cheated on me.” So and so had know idea what to say, wondering if Jenny was serious or not.  I would smile almost as hesitantly as so-and-so and say “hey, how are you doing.” Jenny always keen on picking up someone’s nervousness would pick up on it and say “it’s ok now, we’re over it. I’m just still punishing him.” I would step back behind her, a beaten man, quiet and smiling in my public humiliation.  I had believed this was normal part of the penitence I had to perform for holding those huge tits of Monica’s.

We stumble towards home, feeling more alive than ever before. Jenny remarking how mesmerizing Jerry was live. She said “fuck, if he keeps that up he may even get laid one day.” Gaunt had just started recording their first single, a split with the New Bomb Turks that would be out later that year. Jerry was doing the recording on his Tascam 4-track, he called it Cornhole Studios.

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6 Responses to “Jerry Wick & Jenny Mae part III”

  1. Scott R Says:

    Great stuff, Bela.

  2. eric Metronome Says:

    Yes. Thanks for sharing…I’ve been reading each entry with anticipation towards the next.

  3. sandor Says:

    Hey, I really like this. The first Columbus record I ever bought was a Jenny Mae record. Please, just keep writing.

  4. Dan Dougan Says:

    Jerry was an asshole; and truly a pUNK. How else does one describe the constant attempts, to sabotage his; “career”, in music ? Thus assuring, that his best, and maybe only true friend, would not recoup his investment in; time, money, blood, sweat, tears, beers, booze, girls, girls, girls, ad nauseum. That fate would not befall the other boy punk band of note, from our state: fair, capital, university, test market, two horse, three whore town; but more on that later at my little bloggey bog…

  5. Dan Dougan Says:

    And I loved the shit out of him, not literally you dirty minded punkers!

  6. Shawn Foster Says:

    great stuff…a true character.

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