Ode to DC
Corinne Conover He used to take us out in the hatchback in the mornings on Sundays down to the marina. He didn’t have a boat back then, so he would crank up the music, pack up some salami and provolone sandwiches on a kaiser bun with a few MGD’s.
He used to let me drive, starting at the age of 6. I’d sit on his lap. He would press down on the peddles and I’d steer. Two fishing poles lined up off the pier with usually nothin really caught, but a strung out shoelace and a spider crab. For a while there I thought you could eat those crabs, but I was taught the difference between the bad kind and the eatin kind even if they do share the same name.
He used to put on his old dungarees that he would change into at a McDonald’s rest area after a long work week as a bank teller in a suit and tie. It’s a suit he wore for this girl I used to know – when she got sick, he chose to work in a bank for health insurance and only play jazz part-time. One night while he was playing drums after the set, a wiry old dirt-bag of a man came up to him and the guys he was playing with and said nice playin. Now get the hell out! They turned around and said “Uh, you forgot to pay us.” The guy pulled out a gun and told them to get the f–k out.
He used to put on the same damn dungarees to paint houses. He and Eddie would turn up their jazz music, or someone else’s, and paint all weekend long. Wallpapering was his least favorite. And staining houses was alright because it was outdoors. They didn’t really have power washing back then. That came later.
We came up with this plan to go to rich people’s neighborhoods. He would pull up the old hatchback down the street and I’d come out with pig tails, long blonde hair, and a purple little dress with mary janes. I’d be packing 100 or so flyers for him. And, I’d go door-to-door, putting them in people’s mailboxes.
The truth is, 1 out of every 50 would call. Guaranteed. So 5 neighborhoods a weekend… you get the idea. Rich people need to keep up rich property.
One of the neighbors came out of the door thinking I was a brownie selling thin mints. I remember that was the first client I bagged. I told her with a big smile I’m not a Brownie. Handed her a flyer with a shit eating grin and said “Here you go! This is for my Dad.”
It worked. And so did many… many.. other flyers. Pretty soon, my dad had his own business with Eddie on the sidelines of workin for cheap pay at a bank for health insurance and playing the drums with his jazz band down at the gas light on 19th Street on Fridays.
I asked him once if he misses playing the way he once did. He said quick and sharply, “Nope.” I don’t miss not getting paid. I don’t miss the slow elevator jazz music we had to play at cocktail hours. And I don’t miss luggin around amps, and equipment, drums, and whatever else we had in that 75-dollar van.
He still plays. He still has the same drum set that he got at 18 years old.
He’s almost 60 now. He made the entire downstairs basement into a jazz frenzy. Bootlegs, stereo equipment, speakers galore. Vinyls on every damn shelf.
He hates the Grateful Dead. He thinks they’re a sore excuse for music. He hates rap and rhymes it with crap. He hates Kenny G and turns his sorry ass off every time he hears him. No offense to Kenny. I’m sure he’s a wonderful guy. He hates heavy metal and thinks it’s just angry people yelling. He hates punk and thinks it’s angry people yelling, just dressed better.
He’s close to retiring now. He’s got a nicer home. Nicer car. It’s a Jeep that he has owned since 1997. 184,500 miles and still kickin. He even got himself a little boat. His brother fixes it up each summer and in return he stains his brother’s house and deck.