When You Wanna Know If It’s Wild and/or If It’s Real

16 Feb

I had an interesting incident with Christopher this afternoon.

I found him in the garage underneath the car. He had his portable hi-fi on with the volume up to 11.  I almost had to raise my voice to get his attention (I needed another drink making), and I don’t need to remind you that I do not like raising my voice (it’s just not ladylike, is it?). When I finally managed to pull him away from whatever was so damn interesting under that car, he emerged with his shirt untucked and opened to the waist and his face and chest smeared with oil; he was dirtier than I’d ever seen him before.

This was quite a sight to behold.

While not unmoved by his rather rough appearance, I was also a bit cross due to my extreme thirst. He quickly cleaned himself up and satisfied my need. I tried to get him to talk about what had brought on this unusual behaviour, but he was reluctant to “share.” However, one thing he did confess is that he was feeling trapped and thought that working on the car might help remind him of all the places he wanted to go in his life. (Isn’t it cute when young people use metonymy?) In all honesty, I think the root of this reaction is not unrelated to a falling out he had with his mate, Georgio, who last week moved to Mykonos. Nonetheless, I gave him my time, a couple Bacardi Breezers and a bath, and he seemed right as rain again.

Like Christopher, I’ve had my moments of wanting to get away from it all. I’m sure we all have. It reminds me of a little song a good friend of mine penned many years back. When I was quite young, I spent a summer working with a group of carnies near Long Branch Beach in my home state of New Jersey; I worked primarily as a magician’s assistant, though I did manage to earn a few bob telling fortunes on my nights off. The Boss of the gang was called B Fred J, a lovely though short man. (Yes, he was in love with me.) After work, we would all sit around on the sand, and B Fred J would sometimes get his guitar out and sing to us.  He had written a beautiful ditty for me called “Born to Run.” I’d like to share it with you now, along with an explanation of its meaning (and my mother said that that minor in Song Lyric Interpretation would never come in handy).


In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream

(We did do it a lot in the day but never actually  in the street.)

At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines

(Our most popular attraction was called the Suicide Machine—B Fred J  later sold this to a crazy eyed doctor called Kevorkian who, I believe, went on to make big money from it.)

Sprung from cages out on Highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and stepping out over the line.
Baby, this town rips the bones from your back

(I believe a childhood spinal injury may have been to blame for stunting his growth.)

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.
We’ve got to get out while we’re young.
‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

(“Tramps,” in this context, means neither sluts nor hoboes, but rather “sexy people.”)

Wendy, let me in, I want to be your friend,

(Scansion, I’m afraid dictated the change from Agatha to Wendy.)

I want to guard your dreams and visions.

(LSD doesn’t always have to be dangerous.)

Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines.

(Vehicular imagery for sexual activities.)

Together we could break this trap.
We’ll run till we drop, baby we’ll never go back.
Will you walk with me out on the wire?

(The Wire was the “Lovers Lane” of Long Branch, so called after an unfortunate accident involving a very lonely lad and a loose electrical wire.)

‘Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider

(Vehicular imagery for masturbation.)

But I’ve got to find out how it feels.
I want to know if love is wild, girl, I want to know if love is real.

(Alas, it wasn’t. I left that September, never to return.)

Beyond the palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard.

(A clever double meaning here: hemi-powered engines do exist, but, of  course, this also rhymes with semi-powered, and trust me, most of the screaming that took place that summer started off with a semi.)

The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard.

(As a result of their semis, obviously.)

The amusement park rises bold and stark.
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist.
I want to die with you, Wendy, on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss.

(Again, I’m afraid B Fred J saw our “relationship” a little differently than I did.)

The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.
Everybody’s out on the run tonight but there’s no place left to hide.
Together, Wendy, we’ll live with the sadness.

(Do you see now why this didn’t work out? Who wants to live with sadness?)

I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul.

(I don’t think so.)

Someday girl, I don’t know when, we’re going to get to that place
Where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun,
But until then tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.Bruce-Springsteen-Columbia-Records

(Sadly, I don’t believe he ever got to the place he wanted to go. I, however, have been every place I wanted to go. If you really are born to run, you run. You don’t quit the carny business to become a real estate agent in Asbury Park.)


If you ever find yourself feeling trapped and lonely, don’t dismantle your employer’s car and get oil on her tea towels. Pour yourself a drink, turn down the lights, and sing “Born to Run” to your heart’s content.

Then turn on the lights, look in the mirror and grow the hell up.

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