Through The Past, Darkly

 

 

 

When you were eighteen months old, you stabbed yourself near the right temple with a blue pencil. This predated Iggy Pop’s self-destructive antics by a few years. Meaning, perhaps, that you invented punk rock … except that Richard Berry recorded “Louie Louie” back in 1956. Regardless, there is still a blue mark on your right temple.

 

 

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During the energy crisis of the mid-seventies and unaware that you were being racist, you trick-or-treated while wearing a homemade “Arab” costume – complete with bathrobe, towel on head, and a pail marked “oil” within to collect candy. Your buddy Phil dressed as a terrorist, sporting a rifle and ski mask.

 

 

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Your senior year at Grand Forks Red River High School, you were awarded the $200 Lars Haugen Scholarship to the University of North Dakota for your kinda-good score on the PSAT exam. (“The Lars Haugen Scholarship was established in 1965 to provide financial assistance to students with integrity, dependability, academic promise and citizenship.”) At Senior Day in the school theater, UND’s representative repeatedly stumbled over the pronunciation of your name while senior wiseacre guys in a wing of the theater helpfully yelled: “Tuomala! Tuomala! Tuomala!” When brought onstage to accept the scholarship, the rep asked you how your name was pronounced. “William,” you said.

 

 

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After months of relentless Lutheran-bashing from Catholic friends, you finally gave in and attended a Mass in 1984. Two days later, the bishop in Fargo died. You were blamed for this by your buddies, to which you responded: “I want the bishop’s head in a jar!”

 

 

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You went to a fraternity rush party your junior year at the University of North Dakota. You were instructed by your dorm buddies to “give a fake name to the frat guys so they can’t look you up later and call you to bug you to join their stupid frat – we’re just going for the free beer.” You decided to test the house’s rush chairman by introducing yourself as “Jeff. Jeff Beck.” He vigorously shook your hand and said “Nice to meet you, Jeff. Do you have any questions about our house?”

 

 

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When asked your senior year at UND why you were taking a class called “The Historical Jesus”, you said: “Hey – I worship that guy!”

 

 

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Once while wearing Chuck Taylor hi-tops, jeans, and a teeshirt outside of Whitey’s bar in East Grand Forks, an attractive blonde told you that “girls would like you more if you dressed better.” Seventeen years later, while wearing Chuck Taylor hi-tops, shorts, and a teeshirt in Whitey’s bar in Northeast Minneapolis, an attractive blonde told you that “you’re probably too hip for me.”

 

 

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One time while dining at Lord Fletcher’s on Lake Minnetonka with your parents and other adult relatives, you asked the waiter: “Do you got Schmidt?” The answer was no, and you instead drank Michelob.

 

 

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When you moved to the Twin Cities, the first cool record store you spent time at was the old east-side-of-Winnetka Down in the Valley. It was a Saturday night a half-hour before close, and the dude behind the counter was drinking a Molson. You knew the Cities was now your home, because back in Grand Forks the cool record store only smelled like stale beer.

 

 

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At the age of 22, you were the Boy Genius payroll coordinator for the Minneapolis district of a large North American general contractor. You were scared of a guy named Chris Clark, who would weekly send stern faxes from the head office in Denver asking for things like: “FICA withheld for all union employees for the current quarter, broken out by trade by month. Fax to Chris Clark by 3:00 p.m. today Mountain Time.” When in Denver, you toured the head office and met Chris Clark; who turned out to be a drop-dead, gorgeous, raven-haired gal. You said: “I thought you were a man.”

 

 

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In the spring of 1989, you declared yourself “The Superstar of Love.” You got dumped a few weeks later. You then entered a prolonged slump that was only briefly interrupted by a date that involved attending Richard Gere/Julia Roberts product Pretty Woman at the Suburban World theater. You claim that while leaving the movie you heard someone out on the sidewalk say: “Welcome to the Nineties.”

 

 

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In 1990 when “dry” beer was the latest marketing scam, one brewery advertised their dry beer as having “no aftertaste.” You continued to drink Schmidt, declaring that: “I enjoy aftertaste.”

 

 

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You once shared a one-floor elevator ride with Prince in downtown Minneapolis. You were dressed in a blazer and tie and said: “How’s it goin’?” To which Prince’s bodyguard replied: “We’re doing fine, thank you.” Prince stared at the ceiling the whole time. You were miffed, because just months earlier you and your good friend Joel had chatted with Slash and Duff from Guns ‘n Roses at the Uptown Bar and you thought rock stars were nice guys.

 

 

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Once on a wind-blown, below-zero night outside of Mariucci Arena, you declared to the shivering, miserable mass around you that: “It’s not so much the heat, it’s the humidity.”

 

 

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Once at a party, you proclaimed that you were able to name the participants and winners of every Super Bowl in chronological order. You proceeded to do so, impressing the partygoers. You did not consider your feat a big deal.

 

 

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You were once introduced to a fiftysomething man from Kentucky. You had been informed that this guy was a little obnoxious and likely a bigot. You chatted with him, at some point innocently saying: “Kentucky, huh? You must be a basketball fan.” You talked a little about hoops, but at some point the man said: “I liked it better back in the days when we only had white boys on the team.” To which you said: “You must have really liked that game against Texas Western.”

 

 

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At your old building, you introduced yourself to your shapely and cheerful new neighbor. After she complimented you on your taste in music, she told you that not only was she a musician – she was also a masseuse … “in case you’re ever interested.” To which you replied, “Oh, no thanks. I already have a massage therapist.”

 

 

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After you had your hair dyed blonde, a naked, seventy-something man in the YMCA locker room asked you out to lunch. You replied: “Nah – I usually stay home and read the paper during lunch.”

 

 

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You were once introduced to an ultra-cute, ultra-talented rock writer in the Turf Club’s Clown Lounge. After dropping cuss words, blowing smoke in your face, and generally being a hottttt chick, she asked you: “What is your zine about?” You replied: “It’s about stuff I like.”

 

 

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Last summer, your foxy neighbor Beth knocked on your door, looking for ice for her drink. That night, you sat down and wrote a song:

 

Beth I hear you callin'

But I got no ice right now

The trays have been in the freezer

But they're completely empty somehow

 

Just a few more hours

And I'll have some cubes for you

I think the corner store's open

Oh Beth what can I do?

Beth what can I do?

 

You say your glass is empty

That lemonade tastes bad when warm

And I'm sippin' on a cold Schlitz

And have truly lost my charm

 

Just a few more hours

And I'll have some cubes for you

I think the corner store's open

Oh Beth what can I do?

Beth what can I do?

 

Beth I know you're thirsty

And I hope you'll be alright

'Cause my freezer's magic could take

All night

 

 

 

 

Info

 

Everything written by me, except where noted.

 

Thanks to: Vinnie and the Stardusters.

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Bill Tuomala                                           

3400 Harriet Ave. #205   

Minneapolis, MN 55408

 

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