Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tomorrow Never Knows

One of the guys in the fraternity house rents a farmhouse way out in the country, where he lives part of the time, but mostly gives wild parties. It’s a decrepit place, a falling down wreck of a house that smells like beer and sweat and cigarettes. The floors are sticky, the windows opaque with layers of smoke. It’s infested by field mice that scurry around corners, into holes along the floorboard. There are mousetraps everywhere, waiting to be sprung, and someone starts hanging the dead mice by their tails in a row above the porch. Someone else makes a sign with black magic marker: “Mice, Beware Your Brothers’ Fate.” Once, someone finds the perfectly preserved skeleton of a mouse in the downstairs closet, poised for flight. The guys think all this is hilarious. Especially the dubious practice of sitting outside in battered lawn chairs after class, drinking beer and shooting at mice with the hunting rifles the small town boys brought from home.

There are bedrooms, available to everyone, pretty much occupied morning, afternoon, and night.

So much more appealing than, say, spending your time studying.

And there’s always music, always loud: The Stones, the Animals, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, the Moody Blues. The Beatles’ new “Revolver” album plays over and over so many times that I know the sequence of the songs by heart, all moving in my mind to the end cut on the first side, “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Its agitated droning, the screeching electric guitars and discordant violins, the unrelenting drumbeat, the wild whooping both excite and unsettle me. I’ve been so dogged about getting away, not being the person my upbringing had set me up to be, hiding the person I’d been before college and might become again if I’m not careful.

Now the Beatles are telling me to let go, give in to the void. Love is everything.

It’s druggy music, but I don’t know that then. Drugs are just beginning to get to Indiana, they’re not even on my radar. By spring I’ll be pregnant, married, living off campus in a dinky red and white trailer in the middle of someone’s muddy backyard. One weekend, we’ll go to a party where once clean-cut fraternity guys who’ve let their hair go shaggy, who’ve given up their khaki pants for blue jeans, their starched oxford shirts for blue work-shirts and lie around smoking marijuana with their sorority girlfriends, who’ve traded their Villager outfits for jeans and tie-dyed tee-shirts and wear rolled-up bandanas to keep their unruly, growing-out hair in place. Where the music has become edgy, hallucinatory, edged with the anger and rebellion that will soon surface for real and change everything. The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Who.

We’ll leave because we feel ill at ease, left behind. Because don’t we dare smoke marijuana, we don’t even dare risk being where other people are smoking it. We’re still shell-shocked by finding ourselves a married couple, with a baby coming. The last thing we need is to get busted for drugs.

Now, though, fall making its way toward winter, it is rebellion enough just to be out at the old farmhouse playing house, partying, knowing our parents would be horrified if they could see us, knowing there’s no way they can find out what we’re up to unless we decide to tell them—and we won’t. Why should we? It’s just us now, it always will be.

They think they know what’s best for us, but they don’t. They don’t really know us at all.

Where were you when this song was playing on the stereo?



faithcohen said...

Barb, I'm gonna read the post in a minute, but the album should be "Revolver", not "Rubber Soul".....hope you don't mind me jumping in..

faithcohen said...

I was at home, because my brother purchased it. I remember listening to this album in headphones was an absolute treat. Boring memory, but hey- at least I am fortunate enough to have one....

faithcohen said...

Loved the blog, and whenever the Beatles told me to do anything...I pretty much did it- almost. I definitely thought about it at least.

Barbara Shoup said...

AAARGH> You are so right!