You've Got to Smile Sometimes

You've Got to Smile Sometimes

I had to stop quitting things.

I quit my job as an usher at the Portage Theater, high school and, more significant than any other, I had quit on baseball…I gave up on a dream that defined me to myself. Luckily the dream was immediately replaced with guitar and songwriting—the next Jimi Hendrix/Frank Marino meets Jackson Browne/Harry Chapin I was to become. First I had to, as my Dad so colorfully put it: Wipe my own ass. After turning 17 the Old Man would frequently pose me this question with a friendly smile, “So, when are ya leaving?” He meant it; he just wasn’t mean about it.

                For the next five years I toiled away at MARSHALLS, cleaning toilet bowls, wiping windows, chasing carts and pushing brooms. A dead-end job in the 9-to-5 world I refused to quit because of some ill-conceived, misplaced completion complex but also because I was afraid. I could play baseball, jam a mean guitar and craft a pretty, even profound, song…other than that I felt clueless and of little use to the world at large. No practical skills did I possess, I was no brother Art—mechanically inclined? Not so much.

Losing my virginity to getting a steady girl; my first apartment to first rock band playing the bars and clubs of Chicago; disillusioned by the world at large to the closest of friends and my own shockingly shallow behavior; family deaths to broken hearts; yearning dreams perpetually out of reach to learning the ineluctable truth of how easy being an asshole could be verse the never-ending struggle toward achieving decency. All the while trying to remember to be happy, know how wonderful it was to be me and smile at my misery, embracing the adventure.

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