Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rhyme Beyond Reason

Mark Twain once said, "History doesn't repeat itself... it rhymes."

That dude was so fucking cool.

Thought for the day. Enjoy.

Oh, okay, I'll riff a bit on the topic...

In my own life, I've noticed certain rhymes. I'll have an experience, and then shortly afterward I'll have an extremely similar, but much higher-stakes version of the experience. This type of thing was happening over and over again, in all sorts of striking and obvious ways, and I came to call the phenomenon the "rehearsal - performance effect." For example...

One time, shortly after I moved into the city, I signed up to take bass-guitar lessons from the Sam Ash music school. You signed up and paid for a block of four lessons at a time which were $35 each, so I had to shell out a total of $140. A little sad to say, but that was actually a heckuva lot of money to me at the time. So after the first lesson, when I realized that I probably wasn't going to get much out of the lessons because the bass teacher kinda just wanted to hang out and be my pal, I figured I'd better cut my losses, cancel the rest of the lessons and get my money back for the unused remainder. I'd still be out the $35, but at least I'd recover $105.

That Saturday, I went on over to Sam Ash to the office where I paid for the lessons originally, but they were only open for a few hours during the afternoon. I was there about 45 minutes too early. To kill the time, I walked a couple blocks over to Burger Heaven and sat down at the counter for lunch. I figured, I was about to get $105 dollars back, so I could splurge on a very delicious burger and especially good fries. (Oh such good fries -- lord how I miss french fries.)

I ate my food, looked at the time, and sure enough, I'd killed the requisite amount. I left a tip on the counter, grabbed the check and went to the register by the door to pay. When the lovely young woman behind the cash register gave me my change, she accidentally gave me an extra 75 cents. For a tiny fraction of a second, I considered just pocketing it, because I could always use extra money even if only 75 cents, some more quarters for the laundromat were always convenient to have on hand, and who would notice? But I decided to do the right thing, saying, "Um, you gave me too much change. Here--" as I handed her back the three quarters.

At first she was a little stunned, and then she was so incredibly grateful that you'd have thought I'd just saved her child from a burning building. I thought she was going to hug me. I walked out of there 75 cents "poorer," but feeling like a million bucks. Off I went to the Sam and the Ash.

A few minutes later, I got to their office and it was open. I went in, explained my situation and the lovely young woman behind the desk figured out what to do. I guess they didn't get many requests for money back on the lessons, or canceling the lessons, or probably even taking lessons in the first place. It all seemed a bit makeshift up in there. Still, after a few moments, she handed me a check for the full amount. For the full $140. I was only supposed to get $105 back.

An extra 75 cents was easy to return (and I'd even contemplated keeping that), but I really really could've used an extra 35 bucks! It was like the universe was watching me... I mean, I really felt as if I was in the presence of some kind of guiding intelligence. It was saying: Okay man... you did well on the little pop-quiz, but now let's see how you do on an exam when it really counts.

I looked down at the check in my hands, and just smiled. I knew I was going to give her the money back, and I knew she'd be shocked by my doing so. It was already starting to feel good, so I took my time and savored the moment. And when I handed the check back to her, explaining that she'd over-paid me by $35, the look of astonishment on her face was worth so much more than the money. She tore up that check, wrote me a new one for the proper, lesser amount, and as she handed that one to me I thought she was going to not only hug but kiss me as well -- which would've been totally great as I remember her being a super-cute redhead (I kinda have a thing for redheads). I probably should've asked her out right then, and if I'd only had a little extra cash, say $35 bucks for a few beers, I totally would've. Just kidding. I didn't really think to ask her out until I was half-way home because I was too busy being all awed by the universe and pleased with myself for having actually done something right.

Here's another, much much weirder example of an experience rhyme (a morally neutral one this time)...

A few years ago, a friend of mine named Mike was in possession of an old, beat up 1973 Dodge Dart "Swinger" which was a sporty muscle car of the era, prized for its legendarily indestructible "slant-6" engine. And yes, the engine of this car was still in great working condition, even though the rest of the car was rusting through and beat half-way to hell. The few times I ever took it out, the thing was actually really fun to drive, especially around town, and I must say... I looked (and felt) great in it. And despite how beat up it was (or maybe because of how beat up it was) I got great approving looks from girls as I drove past.

Mike got a job out in LA, and left the car in my charge. As cool as it was, I almost never even touched it, much less actually used it. Once in an extremely rare while I'd drive it a short distance. Whatever.

At some point, another friend, Daniel, was shooting an indie-film and needed a beat up antique car. He asked if he could borrow the Dart for a day. I said yes.

He and his crew came and got the keys, took the car, did their thing, returned it, everything was fine.

Two days later, I find myself heading upstate with Jay and Robert to do acid (my first acid trip, actually). Jay was driving us in his car, and he knew a lovely little spot out in the middle of the woods by a completely remote secluded pond. A perfect setting on a perfect day for a very pleasant psychedelic experience.

To get to the actual spot, we pull off the highway, onto a local road for a bit. Pull off the local road onto a smaller country road. Pull off that onto a dirt road, and eventually park in a clearing. Then we walk a fair distance on a little dirt footpath down to this pond. We're really in the middle of nowhere. No other people for miles around.

The acid trip is going great, but eventually we get thirsty and realize we left the bottles of water back in the trunk of the car. I volunteer to go get them.

I walk back up the dirt path, and as I get closer to the clearing where Jay's car is, I see other people, doing some sort of something in an organized-looking manner. I don't pay much attention to them, since I'm thirsty and I'm on mission of grave importance (what with my cohorts relying on me for a basic survival need) and since I'm tripping my face off and all. I just keep walking and soon enough, I get to the car, get the water, drink some and start back down the path to the pond.

As I pass back by the group of people, I can see that it's a film shoot or a photo shoot or something. There are a couple guys with camera gear, some assistant-looking types holding things, and in the center of the activity is a gorgeous willowy blond model wearing a wispy floral-ish dress, draping herself on the hood of an incredible mint-condition classic ice-blue convertible from the late 50's early 60's from the looks/styling of it. I wish I knew exactly what the car was, because it may have been more beautiful than the girl. It was really just fucking perfect.

Why these people had come up to the middle of these particular woods to get this shot I couldn't say.

Off to the other side of the dirt path from where the work was happening, were the crew's support vehicles: a Jeep Cherokee and Lexus SUV. There was a young woman sitting in the passenger seat of the Lexus, reading a book or a magazine, with the windows rolled down. Since she clearly wasn't busy, I asked her what was going on. She said this was a fashion shoot, that they'd driven up from Manhattan. I asked her what her part was in the proceedings and she said that she was the one who had supplied the antique car.

I said,"Oh, nice car. Well, take care." If I hadn't been tripping, I might've lingered and asked a few more questions. But instead, I just continued down the path, back to my friends, Gunga Din bearing water. Then it hit me...

Two days earlier, I'd supplied an antique car to a film shoot. Now, here, in this extremely remote and unlikely place, I encounter a bunch of people and the only one I talk to is the one who supplied an antique car to a photo shoot. And just like other rhyming experiences, the second one was taking place on a much "higher level" than the first one. Nothing against Daniel or the indie film he made, and nothing against the old Dodge Dart, but every aspect of this professional fashion thing was obviously on a whole 'nother plane.

So, that was weird.

The rehearsal/performance rhyming experiences with a moral component are kind of easy to see meaning in. But that antique car coincidence was just fucking freaky. Of all the places they could've gone, to find a bunch of trees to shoot in, they chose this particular crazy out-of-the-way place, where we just happened to be tripping balls, and of the three of us, I was the one who went for the water and thus was the only one who encountered them, and of all their people, the only one I interacted with was the rhyme.

How does that happen? Why does that happen? What does it mean?

Maybe it's just the Universe's way of reminding us to be impressed.

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