Pet Sounds

 

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long?”

When she used to ask me that, I would get so excited, like looking forward to sweet tea in the middle of a hot day’s work. Who am I kidding? She NEVER asked me that. I would ask it to myself all day, though. It would have been so nice.

I’m older now. Mission accomplished, right? We got to say good-night at night and I even got to spend the whole next day with her. I’ve got money I could be spending on beer and gasoline, but that’s because I work from morning until night. Home Depot opens at 7, and is open til 10. On the days I work, I’m there all day, most of the time behind my vinyl steering wheel. It’s nice- I only work three days a week. I used to spend all day behind the wheel, and every time I got out of the driver’s seat it was too soon. Maybe it’s because a truck full of disassembled workbenches and ladders doesn’t feel quite so much like the Batmobile.

She had a way of making me feel like a kid again. She made me see the wonder of the world of grown-ups. That’s really how she talked. Maybe that’s why I’m playing this album again. The Beach Boys was my first musical phase. It was a time of hot, black cassette decks in my hand. The backseat used to get so hot, it went from sticky to slippery. I don’t know why I smile when I think that. On those trips, I always spent more time listening to my parents bicker about highway signs and college friends’ names and where to stop than being wherever it was we were trying to go. I just sat back and pictured Surfer Girls and T-Birds and thought about what life WAS going to be like when I had a girl to hold close the whole night through.

The last time she said good-night, I was crying. It was right after work, and all I wanted was to sit in front of the T.V. with her head on my chest. I ended up coming back to this damn apartment. Funny how a place can make you feel so sick, but you never want to leave. I can’t stop wandering the room, picking up a half-empty catsup bottle, thinking about how much she HATED catsup, and then realizing how pathetic I am, rewinding the tape, and listening to Pet Sounds again. I think it was the only one I own we never listened to. There I go again. Get a grip, Jeremy.

The sun’s rising, sweetie. I’m about to get up and go to work. I’ve been here, listening to this here tape since 4 am. maybe it was 12. actually, I have the feeling this album has been on in the background of my head for so long. I’ve been humming it in the shower, maybe, or beating it with my hammer. and my voice. I’ve been thinking about Summertime, when the girls’ skirts just got above the knee. I installed another BBQ today, honey.

The guy looked at me like he knew exactly what he wanted, and it had just walked through the door. It made me think of when we were both kids, and you were up there in Washington and I was down here, and all we needed was the last bell to ring.

Summer was going to make everything better.

Summer was when the Spring Showers were cooked off, like at the end of a good car wash, when the hoses were laid in the sun in the afternoon. I remember when I first bought my own truck. My Dad only chipped in the last 300 or so. I was driving through town and there you were. You had one of those dresses that just poof out right below the tits. I was on my way to work, but I just showed up late and pulled over anyway. I don’t know why agreeing to give you a ride home was like Adultery, but I still secretly pinch myself in Church. You pulled me inside for lemonade and by the time I’d finished the cookies your Momma force-fed me, you were already running the damn hose. We probably took longer washing that truck than my friend.

Drew’d just put together his ’76 Sting Ray on his crummy pay and more Sundays than always at the junkyard. I feel like even he would have tapped out at the third waterfight.

That was when I was happy, babe. That was when you were there with me. When I came home, you were there. and it was All Worth It. I knew you were always there with a new story or a new friend or just a smile that meant I could, almost, one day, hope to aim at being worthy of it. It at least gave me a reason to feel lucky.

Y’know, babe, I followed you up here. I missed you. I left Everything for you. Now, you left me for Nothing. Why the hell am I driving out to the suburbs every day to install yard equipment for some Senator who will probably never use it, except to maybe have his picture taken in the backyard? When I used to work this job back Home, I never left a house without being offered a beer. Sometimes even a burger off the new grill. I can’t believe I left for someone who was willing to leave me for Here.

That said, I go out days and play the lottery. I look behind doors. I risk my life not looking at crosswalks, and work without respirators sometimes, and do everything else I can think of to make myself feel Lucky again. I need a reason to feel like my day was worth living, maybe because I cheated death. Reminds me of when we would mix up concoctions in our lunchtrays and get someone to eat it. It was always me. I was also always the one who tested out the safety harnesses on the trailer first, like that time me and the guys pulled it down SR-84.

But I just don’t feel like risking death even means anything anymore. It’s like that thing you told me, and me risking my own neck doesn’t mean that neck’s worth nothing. Remember, when you told me about Subvert- like it’s a funny word because- oh, I wrote it in my wallet. It “grants existence to that which it strives to negate”. You always did have a way with words. It always made me feel stupid to talk next to you, even though I KNOW you didn’t have but 2 more months of college than I did. You stayed up there just til the cherry blossoms bloomed, then you were at my door with a lot in your hand and a bunch in your hair. You told me you were bored up there. I just from someone with the paper the cherry trees were blooming again. Has it been that long?

Is that what happened, though? Did I bore you, too? Is that why you were in such a fucking rush to get away from me? What were you holding when you got to HIS door? or did he bring you those, himself. because I didn’t think cherry blossoms could reach this far without losing that Smell. That’s funny, I smell honeysuckle right now. That smell is the endrunkingest. The sweetness is baked into the air, like sugar cookies being twice-baked.
Fuck. Now I have to get up and reset the tape.

You were gone so fast.

Y’know, you ruined it for me. I can’t go back to my old house, because everytime I open the door, you’re not going to be there. I’m going to have to try it atleast 7 times a day before I believe. I don’t have that kinda time.

Don’t think I’m being an ass, babe. Please? I’m sorry, you know sometimes I have a bit of a temper on me. But I’ve been better lately. I haven’t yelled at anyone in so long, I think you probably would remember it better than I do. I promise.

The streetcleaners are washing the curb outside, and for some reason I immediately think how bad it’s gonna hurt the lilies in the front yard. as if water on cement sounds anything like knees on baby bulbs.

Each time things start to happen again, everything just happens again. Huh. You’re not the only philosopher, honey. Y’know, you’re not the first girl I’ve ever had. OK, no girl has ever been like you, but no one’s ever gotten to me for too long before.

The sun’s rising. I wish you could be here with me- the beats make me feel like I’m on some tropical beach. I feel like Panama City Beach and those long Hurricane cups. I have no homework today.

I actually don’t wish you were here. The day is too pretty, it would be pointless for you to try to compete. None of all those things you do could make you as beautiful as that spot of grass I can kinda see. Today even smells good. Just tell me, before I have to go to work: What was that you always smelled like? I could never make up my mind whether it was expensive French perfume or sunscreen.

You used to just smell like cherry blossoms, no matter when.

Ugh, I’ve been building up that burp for a long time. It tastes like Mexican and pizza mixed with beer and tequila. I didn’t know you could burp up what you ate Saturday on your way to work on Monday.

The music fades to the white noise of reel-to-reel. I know I need to get up. I want to put it back on. First, I wander into the kitchen, unwrap a hotdog, put it into the bun cold, and go to the table for catsup.

Strange, I don’t feel so bad right now. I feel like she just stepped into the bathroom. That always took her a while. I timed it once at eighteen minutes.

About five minutes later, I get up and almost restart the album and lay back down. but I need to get dressed for work. I was lucky to get a job where they pay $7.15 an hour. That’s way over minimum wage.

  Y’know, my life hasn’t changed a bit, and it’s impossible to miss someone who’s right there. I return Pet Sounds to the shelf, where she waits there, right next to my Endless Summer.