Boom Boom

I’m conked out on American flight 1860, soon to be en route to Chicago. I had just over an hour of sleep last night. My sole and pathetic dream was that I’d missed the plane.


When we pull back from the gate I’m startled awake and seated between two attractive young women. The one to my right is Natalie. I know this because she keeps shouting her name as she makes an appointment with her gynecologist to have her IUD removed. “It gives me the worst fu&*ing cramps,” she says, before a flight attendant tells her to shut off her phone. Natalie does so reluctantly, with her long pink and white fingernails, which are decorated with small rhinestone flowers.

As we pass through a ceiling of foreboding clouds and the plane makes its slow arc over the Santa Monica Bay Natalie turns to me and tells me that she’s a professional manicurist. And then, for reasons unknown, she mentions that she slept with a member of the Black-Eyed Peas the night before last.

I process this information as best I can and settle in to read from a tattered book of psalms, something I do whenever I’m taking off in inclement weather. ‘We shall awake as dreamers, our mouths full of laughter…’

The other young woman sitting near the aisle is reading US magazine and I can’t help but notice that she has enormous, stone-like breasts. Even though it’s chilly in the cabin she wears just a thin T-shirt with a likeness of Rudolf Nureyev; it’s cut so low I can see the tops of her areolas. After she passes Natalie a Diet Sprite and a half-eaten container of Pringles, she turns to me and begins to tell some of her life story. “My dad, she says, “was shot in the head and killed by a sniper in Baghdad in 2005, the day after I turned 16. My mom’s crazy Christian, she kicked me out of the house nine months later for dealing coke. She’s such a c*nt.”

At this point she reaches into her purse and gives me two free drink passes for a Gentleman’s club called The Green Monkey in Fairfield, about thirty miles west of downtown Chicago where she works as an exotic dancer. After the flight attendant collects our plastic cups and empty bags of peanuts, the three of us begin to discuss music. Natalie asks if I’ve ever heard of Prince.

“Of course I have,” I say. “Prince was iconic, groundbreaking”. Both stare blankly. “Prince’s Purple Rain?” I ask, trying to will them somehow, into knowing who he was. “ It was a movie and a triple platinum album. You’ve gotta know the song, When Doves Cry,” More blank stares.

And then, with just a hint of pity in her voice Natalie says,  “I was talkin’ bout Priese Prince Lamont Board. Ya know, the writer of the Black Eyed Peas song Boom Boom?”

Boom Boom.

It hits me. These young women are the same age as my son. When they look at me, they don’t see the dark haired young man who plays me in my dreams. They see an inhabitant of a different world.  Some greying, balding, non-entity, who’s made a weary peace with the dissolution of his aspirations. A middle-aged man who’s long since cast his lot. Shot his load.

As the plane begins its descent into O’Hare, I have a visceral, nearly irrepressible need to tell the two of them that I’m not ready to become invisible, that I’m still in the game, still vital. But then surely, they’ll both look at each other and laugh. And after they reapply their lipstick before landing they’ll laugh some more.

And perhaps tomorrow, they’ll laugh again – quietly to themselves – at this geezer who has no sense of who he is or what he has become. Natalie, as she makes her way to the doctors office to have her IUD removed, and the young woman in the aisle seat, as she slips on her G-string for a performance at The Green Monkey in Fairfield, thirty miles west of downtown.




Listen to Kneel Down.


Kneel Down


I see you’ve got your radio on

Are you starting to shake my darling?

Move your hips

To the beat of my drum


Hey girl, are you ready to meet your master?

Come taste it,

with the tip of your tongue

Erase all trace of apprehension

There is time enough to have to time at all

I said kneel down

For the party’s beginning

We don’t run in the house of God

We only crawl.


Morning’s here

Are you ready to shoot that gun now?

Aim it well

For jealousy’s sake


You can chalk it up

To a violent and primitive instinct

I feel a little dizzy

With so much at stake


Erase all trace of apprehension

There is time enough to have to time at all

I said kneel down

For the party’s beginning

We don’t run in the house of God

We only crawl.


Lay down

Let’s listen to Johnny Rivers

Let’s hear his voice

He’s got a story to tell


He comes in so clear

The man can deliver

He can pick you up

When you look like hell.


Now erase all trace of apprehension

There is time enough to have no time at all

I said you’ve got to kneel down

For the party’s beginning

We don’t run in the house of God

We only crawl.






9 thoughts on “Boom Boom

  1. The masturbation of a banal culture’s social self-involvement is nothing but a cartoon cardboard cutout of what it means to truly make love – for those who know how to savor the rare beauty of being in the arms of their true lover, live in the full dimension of what it means to be human.

    So I’d say these two young ladies have nothing on you, my friend . . . this lucid palpitating seduction of a song is more than proof of that.

  2. These are the people that I am happy and somewhat proud to be invisible to. I once knew them. Yes, I sat at the Green Monkey many times. I slept with the gum chewing chick with the painted nails. I even let her paint my toenails once in a drunken cocaine fueled night of depravity. I am not proud of those moments but I do own them and accept them as experiences that helped shape me into the Man I am today. I am not white as snow. This allows me to accept them for what they are and who they are. This gives me the strength not to judge or give a good God Damn what they think of me. My prayer is that they live long enough to discover the joys, the truly big joys that are right in front of them. Maybe sitting right between them.

  3. We are all trained, to a degree, to see other people as invisible. But Peter, you were sitting there between two experts. I hope you asked them lots of questions that started with the word ‘why’. Any question at all. So long as it started with ‘why’.

  4. I am grateful for the poets, as even in prose, they are able to best capture what we mortals struggle to elucidate. Thank you for the funny, touching story.

    And please reschedule in Philly and DC soon now that you have recovered. I enjoy experiencing the music that was born out of the “the lot you cast” – and sharing the experience with my 20ish sons.

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