Late Saturday afternoon, I called my friend, Anita.
Come on over, I said. I’m cooking dinner.
“Sounds good,” she said. “Does that mean you’re ordering pizza or Chinese?”
Pizza, I said. The place down the street is having a $9.99 special. Speaking of which, I need to borrow 10 bucks.
“Ten bucks?” Anita said. “I don’t know. Your borrowing money might strain our relationship.”
Why should it? I asked. Relationships are built upon trust. For example, I trust you’ll give me money whenever I need it. Besides, you should be proud. Between the two of us, you’re the breadwinner. You bring home the bacon.
“True,” Anita said. “But I don’t bring home the bacon so I can feed it all to the pig.”
What a mean thing to say, I said. Especially when I’m here cooking you dinner.
I knew Anita would want something healthy, so I ordered an extra-large vegetarian pizza.
She frowned when I opened the box. “How come it’s got sausage, pepperoni and salami?”
I ordered those extra, I said. You’ll have to pick them off. But underneath, it’s a vegetarian. See the peppers and mushrooms?
“You’re always so considerate,” Anita said. “Speaking of which, I got you something when I was shopping today.” She handed me a plastic bag. “I didn’t wrap it — I know you hate wasting paper.”
Exactly, I said. That’s the main reason I oppose inflation.
“Open it up,” she said. “I can’t wait for you to see what it is.”
You didn’t have to get me anything, I told her. It’s not my birthday.
She shrugged. “I wanted to. Can’t I do something nice for the sweetest guy I know?”
The sweetest guy you know? I frowned. Hi, I’m Allen. Have we met?
“Just open the bag,” she said, glaring.
I reached in and pulled out a four-disc DVD set.
Hey! I exclaimed. This is what I’m talking about: “The Rolling Stones: The Biggest Bang”! It’s concert footage from their 2006 worldwide tour!
“I figured it’d be the next-best thing to seeing them live,” Anita said. “With the crappy economy, they may not tour again for a while.”
Yeah, you’re probably right, I said. And besides, have you seen the crowds those Stones concerts generate? Who’d want to thrash through a million-plus people to find a good seat? With my luck, I’d be trapped behind that unavoidable guy who’s hoisted his girlfriend atop his shoulders. Instead of seeing the band, I’d be stuck staring at a wedgie. If I wanted to watch an ass all night, I’d stay home and turn on the news.
“Never say ‘never,’” Anita said. “And who knows — they may even visit Reno. If they do, we’ll get the best seats possible, and you can hoist me atop your shoulders.”
Are you kidding? I asked. My shoulders can’t support two asses. The weight of my head is enough.
But I agree, I said. We shouldn’t give up hope. We may see the Stones someday. But if it’s not in the cards and we never see them in our lifetime, I hope at least our grandkids do.
After polishing off the rest of our pizza (Score: Anita, 1 slice; Allen, the rest), Anita and I sat down in the living room to watch my new Rolling Stones DVD.
I slipped one of the discs into the player and plugged the stereo into the TV. The speakers thundered to life with a pulsating roar.
“I hope your neighbor doesn’t get mad,” Anita said.
Forget him, I said. This is payback for him annoying me all the time. He’s up at dawn each day with his shower running and his toilet flushing. Then I hear him thrashing around in his kitchen and opening and slamming his closet door.
“That’s because he’s getting ready for work,” Anita said. “He has a job, Allen. That’s why he gets up at dawn.”
So? I said. I have a job, too. Right now, I’m reviewing a Rolling Stones DVD for my blog. My contribution to the economy is my intellectual insight.
“But no one reads your blog,” Anita said. “And if all you’re contributing to the economy is your intellectual insight, then it’s no wonder it still seems like a recession.”
I don’t follow you, I said, frowning.
The TV flashed with brilliant, vibrant colors as the Stones swept onto the stage. With a riff-exploding wrist-flick from Keith Richards and a foot-sliding stage-prance from Mick Jagger, the band launched into a soulful, body-sashaying rendition of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Anita pointed at the screen. “Look at Mick Jagger’s pants. He must have a size-30 waist.”
Hey, I said. Keep your eyes off his pants. I could look like that if I wanted to. It’s just that I prefer the sedentary lifestyle. There’s a lot less work involved.
And besides, I added, just because someone’s skinny doesn’t mean they’re great.
“Well, no,” Anita said. “But in addition to being skinny, Mick Jagger’s also wealthy, talented, world-traveled and famous. I can see why women like him.” She looked at me. “You should get in shape. You have no excuse. Mick Jagger’s in his seventies. You’re less than half his age, and yet I bet you couldn’t swivel your hips without losing your breath.”
Forget my breath, I said. I’d be more concerned with losing my lunch.
“Then you agree that you need to get into shape,” Anita said.
Whoa, I said. Let’s not go that far. I’ve always thought exercise is overrated and unnecessary. Take Keith Richards, for example. He’s not exactly a wellness zealot. He and Ronnie Wood chain-smoke throughout their concerts. And I think there were some drug-related arrests in the past. Keith’s not exactly a poster child for temperance.
Yet if you listen closely, you’ll notice he never misses a note. The guy’s spot-on. He’s an amazing guitarist and a gifted songwriter. Plus, he can sing. How many of today’s musicians can do all that?
I think Keith achieved longevity by living life on his own terms and by having fun. You can tell those guys love performing — otherwise, why would they do it? Money? Women? Fame? (Well, come to think of it, that would be enough for me.)
The Rolling Stones represent much more than rock ’n’ roll, I said. They represent a philosophical approach on how to live. They’ve pursued their passions and flexed their creative muscles. They’ve traveled the globe and touched millions of people (most of them groupies). Their work breaks through cultural, linguistic and political barriers. They’ve not only endured through the decades — they’ve flourished. Their songs have become stitched into our societal quilt. The Rolling Stones epitomize the profound, soul-caressing life force of American music — an amazing accomplishment, considering they’re from England.
“I think we’re cutting you off,” Anita said, taking away my Heineken.
Oh, c’mon, I said. You know I’m right. Their music resonates because it touches your soul.
“Actually, it resonates because it’s too damn loud,” Anita said. “My ears are ringing. Turn it down.”
When I’m in my seventies, I said, I hope I have at least half the passion, talent and energy that Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie seem to have.
“What are you talking about?” Anita asked, frowning. “You don’t have half of their passion, talent or energy now. You just sit on the couch and blog. That’s why I want you to get in shape.”
OK, I said. Maybe I’ll start by walking to the fridge and fetching another Heineken, since you took mine away.
“Take just one step toward that fridge,” Anita said, “and you’ll be belting out a soulful rendition of ‘It’s All Over Now.’”