Somehow today is the day I tell this story. I met Melody Garren at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC on February 20th or 21st back in 1999.
But the story really begins at Justin's house back in the late '80's. Justin played me a song by a group called Emmitt Swimming. I hated it. Made fun of HIM for liking it. To me it sounded like Mel Torme covering an REM song with The Cure. Hmmm. That doesn't sound half bad! But I truly hated this song.
Within 15 minutes we had moved on to writing a song, watching the Red Sox, eating buffalo wings or taking a drunken rowboat ride up the small river that ran through his backyard. I wouldn't think of Emmitt Swimming for at least another 10 years.
In that time I'd lived in France for a year. Lived in Providence for two. Did 500 children's theater shows. Met my future ex-wife in an avant-garde play at Perishable Theater. Formed a band and played rock shows. Broke up with future ex-wife and moved to NYC. Reconnected with future ex-wife and planned marriage. Appeared in several NYU student films which will come back and haunt me someday. Started another rock band and played rock shows in NYC. Got married. Got a job on this crazy new thing called the INTERNET. Wrote an article a week about Urban Legends for AOL as Legs Urbano. Moved to Brooklyn when Maria got pregnant. Appeared in first full production in NYC of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore' at Expanded Arts. Got my SAG card with the same day booking of a video for the band Live and a Law and Order episode. Began couples counseling several times. Halloween 1997 brought Cashel Michael McManus O'Malley into my life. Booked and shot several commercials. Attended Public Theater Summer Shakespeare Lab. Auditioned for anyone and anything anywhere at any time. Wrote song after song about the difficulty in my relationship with Maria. Felt impending doom in spite of all the good things.
Auditioned for and was cast in 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' at Playmakers Rep in Chapel Hill, NC. I got my Equity card with the booking. I would be there for two months, from the middle of February to the beginning of April.
This was a dream come true in many ways. Paid acting work. A gorgeous setting. A chance to work on a groundbreaking Irish play. As I've said here before I was determined to use my time wisely. To get in shape. To deliver my maximum effort. To knock the role out of the park.
I did all of these things. I also set about going to see live music as a way of reconnecting with a part of myself that had gotten lost in a marriage I knew I would end.
Rehearsal was leisurely and enjoyable. The gym was clean and well laid out. The house I lived in was spacious and quiet. Cat's Cradle was a 2 minute drive away. I saw Combustible Edison and wasn't impressed. I saw King's X and was but had to leave because they went on so late.
Then I saw that a band called Emmitt Swimming was playing that Friday night. Where had I heard that name before? It took me some time to find the memory. Once I did I actively set about making plans to do something else. Perhaps a movie. Perhaps stay home and read. I had hoped to keep seeing live music but I knew I wouldn't go see Emmitt Swimming.
The day of the show I woke up early and went for a workout before rehearsal. My thought was to work out twice so as to tire myself out so I'd be able to go to sleep early and not go to Cat's Cradle. I ate a big lunch and relaxed around campus. I went to rehearsal for a couple of hours. I went and worked out again in the afternoon. I cooked myself a big dinner and read. I turned out the lights at 9 and settled in to go to sleep. I was not going to go see Emmitt Swimming at Cat's Cradle, that's for sure.
I lay in bed. I became annoyed with myself for getting up and putting my clothes on. I then got up and put my clothes on. I told myself I wasn't going out to the car. I then went out to the car. I reminded myself that I did not want to see Emmitt Swimming at Cat's Cradle. I then drove to Cat's Cradle.
I sat in the parking lot and looked at the line. I listened to the radio for 15 minutes. At least 3 songs. I hadn't had to wait in line to get into Cat's Cradle before. I didn't want to wait in line. I didn't even want to see the damn band! I was going to start the car and head home.
I got out of the car.
Tomorrow: I feel a tap on my shoulder...