Last weekend I did a little B&E. Yeah. You heard me. (read me) Breaking and Entering. A felony. Or a misdemeanor. One of those words they used to say on L A Law.
That’s right…I’m a badass.
I went to my old hometown, Meriden, Connecticut to do a show and visit with old friends. I go up there a couple of times a year. Hit all the old spots that fill my heart with joy and my arteries with cholesterol… Les’s Ice Cream, Ken LeMay’s Steamed Cheeseburgers. I give myself about three days in town before my old habits truly become life threatening. Breakfast? Dunkin’ Donuts. Lunch? Steamed cheeseburger with fries. Of course with fries. What am I? A farmer? Dinner? Pizza. A good New England diet plan.
I always drive by the house I grew up in. My father built this house. I didn’t help build it but you might say it’s the house that… constructed ME… no wait…. TRANSFORMED me… no… damn. There’s a song in there somewhere. This time when I drove by I saw overgrown grass and bushes and a paper stuck to the door. I pulled in the driveway and realized that it was deserted. The paper was a notice telling the world that the property was foreclosed. I got out and started walking around the property. A neighbor saw me and told me that the family who owned it last lost it in the recession of ’08 and the bank took it back.
There was no one to tell me not to (that is a perfectly valid defense if you ever murder someone) so I wandered around and reminisced.
I stood on the little hill that used to be a huge hill when I was six and perched on a silver saucer, ready to sled down after a winter snow. I stood on the back porch where green vinyl used to shade me while I played with my chemistry set and began my lifelong obsession and fear that someday I was going to put something in my mouth that was going to kill me. I climbed to the top of the hill where we played baseball and football and where my Dad put in a pole vaulting pit so I could practice the sport that would one day lead to me coming in third and scoring 1 (one) point for the Platt track team. (height: 6’ 3”). Upon that hill I saw… holy crap… they put in a pool! Okay. No memories here. Moving on.
Wait… I DO remember that my Dad put an ice skating rink up on that level area… until the sides broke when the ice melted and all the water ran down the hill and flooded the house. Cross off TWO Olympic events I will never be good at.
I saw the steel hatch doors that led down to the basement. My Dad and I put those in after we decided that it was never NOT gonna rain in New England and flood the cellar with the old wooden doors in place so we might as well “man-up” and put in something sturdier (and more weather-proof).
I tugged on the basement door. Hullo! It opened… revealing a wide open door at the bottom of the stairs. No wonder ne’er do wells perform B&Es. They’re so easy!!
Just like that I am in the basement room where Dean and I started our first band. Not all that different. A few boxes and bits of trash on the floor but essentially the same. The fridge where we kept the Moxie was long gone. The creepy room where Mom kept all the canned goods and decomposing bodies was still there but I was scared to go in there when my mother was ORDERING me to… so now that I’m an adult I have no intention of opening that door and letting the monsters get me.
I came up the stairs to the living room. I walked down the hall that I wrote about in my Conway Twitty song, “That’s My Job”. They had closed the end of the hall off and moved some doors around but it felt eerily the same. I remember hiding in that hall after I was supposed to be asleep… watching The Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man”. I was about ten. I stopped having nightmares about it when I was 17.
My bedroom was intact. It was my sister’s room actually… until I broke my leg and they moved her out and me in so I could be on the ground floor. Tiny. So tiny. I was about to type “How could so many big dreams come out of such a tiny room,” but as I started to type I threw up a little in my mouth so I stopped.
Rinse. Spit. Repeat. Good to go.
I climbed the stairs and checked out the room that was mine all through high school. I could superimpose my memory over the empty room in front of me. Posters of CSNY and a Daily news front page saying “Traffic Uptight At Hippiefest!!” A small gabled window (I almost dyslexed that word and typed “bagled” window. That could be a delicious alternative for the housing market. I’m an idea man. You’re welcome.) I used to climb out that window and sit on the roof to watch the fireworks go off over Hanover Pond. I stood in that window many a summer day and watched my neighbor sunbathe in her bikini. (bikinis were new then.)
I opened that window all summer to the sounds of quarter midget race cars roaring around the tracks down the hill… and the train in the distance chuggin’ thru town on it’s way to somewhere that wasn’t Meriden, CT.
I didn’t take anything. I didn’t leave anything, (I did pee in the yard. Full disclosure).
I snapped a few pix. Made a few calls to my siblings to tell them where I was. I’m pretty sure that will be the last time I will ever be in that house since I am currently in the cocktail hours of my life.
If the bank wants to prosecute me for trespassing… come on! I’m sure Jimmy Smits can get me off. (I was gonna type “I’m sure Susan Dey can get me off” but that looked dirty.)