The Reluctant Hook (and the day that caught it)

by Tad Dreis

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The makeup company called for you They said they had some gifts I said, "Your timing's impeccable Her birthday's on June 5." They said they already knew that And your mother's maiden name I said "You're creeping me out now And I think she'd feel the same." "Well, if you don't want us to know these things," they said, "why'd you tell us?" I said "This conversation's over." They said "You're just jealous." I said "I want to talk to your supervisor." They said "Fine, can I have your name?" The makeup company called me back The boss was on the line She said her name was Gladys I wouldn't tell her mine She expressed apologies And said she'd take the blame For the conduct of her subordinate Then she called me by my name "Well, if you don't want us to know these things," she said "why'd you tell us?" I said "I didn't tell you anything!" She said "Are you jealous of the power of our omniscience?" I said "I don't even live here." The makeup company follows me Everywhere I go They tell me things about myself I don't even know Still, I don't feel envious Maybe that's the key It's like Gladys and her underlings Are just showing off for me "Well, if you don't want us to know these things," they say "why'd you tell us?" I say "You've really got low self-esteem." They say "You're just jealous." I say "Why don't you try to sell me something?" They say "The makeup's just a front." The makeup company called for you They said they had some gifts
When I'm away from home a few days I adapt, I can sleep anywhere But when I get home, at least for the first night Sometimes I wake up, it isn't fair Not when you're asleep, soundly indifferent In healthy dream cycles, charging your batteries I'm a flashlight fading on the sunlit trees Shadows lengthening along the ground Like they're being stretched My mind's a fishhook The day is what I catch It's suicidal It throws itself onto the barb I can't shake free, what a reversal The reluctant hook and the day that caught it A passion play with much rehearsal I know how it goes I'm so resentful Of your whistling nose As you flirt with snoring I'll put on my clothes And go downstairs 'Cause the traffic shows No sign of slowing Inside my head And I've got so much to do When all I want Is to lie back down with you Not that you'd notice When I'm away from home a few days I forget the easy living So accustomed to the dislocation And mattresses much less forgiving Or at least not quite Yeah, that's the problem With this fight or flight It wasn't bad The hotel last night Made me think that All was right But my alarms say "Don't wake up To the radio's bad news Unless your love is there To press the snooze Button for you"
My Backstory I'm here to fill you in on my backstory I'm thinking most of you don't know It's been twenty years now since I first fell in love I think it's time the truth showed I'm here to fill you in on the new constellation I spotted when I was seventeen It was shaped like a manta ray rising up from the mountain And that's not the weirdest thing I've seen But oh, oh, how is it possible? Oh, oh, not to know in this day and age? Oh, oh, just look in any newspaper Oh, oh, it's me on every page Me on every page No, the weirdest thing has got to be myself caught on camera Facing the opposite way from what you see in the mirror at night Or else maybe the weirdest thing I've seen is a bully Laying into some kid 'cause he feels small when his own parents fight But back to me and my backstory You've got to know I was one of those kids Made me feel so small every time it happened Tell ya I was one of those, but I won't say which And do you think you know? Do you think you know? You think you do Oh, but you don't And how is that possible? Not to know it all in this day and age? Oh, oh, just look look on any newsgroup, It's me on every page Me on every page When I was five, I saw a film I wasn't supposed to see 'til twelve And when I was thirteen, I learned some things about myself When I turned twenty-one I was so far away from home Took me through 'til twenty-two to learn you can't make it alone And back in the garage, I never had an entourage One picture's not enough, so I made my own collage Now everywhere I see unauthorized biography If you want to know your roots, just read my backstory
How long can you hold out? When you roll south, don't it make you lonesome? In the shade, in the brightest light Oh, the summer night, don't it make you homesick? Oh, the trees are different everywhere The oceans, too, when you get there I hope they fill you up, so you can share it all And the speed I know so well How can you tell if you shoot past me? And on a two-lane road, it seems so slow But keep your seatbelt fastened Oh the birds are lined up in the sky You follow them 'til it makes you cry 'Cause birds they never migrate alone You don't have to settle down, but as you make the rounds I wish that you'd come through here And where you are, I hope it's hot, 'cause if it's not You're in the wrong hemisphere Oh, the land can roll and then lie flat And the wind can steal your cowboy hat If you find mine, won't you bring it back to me?
Round and round the living room floor We ran gliding, sock feet sliding On the rug that burned, that carpet it swore Oaths our parents heard, embarassing words For a nine-year, and a six-year-old vocabulary When we were confronted, then the blame was shunted, swept Swept under the rug The rug that swore Ten years on, it came to me In my college dorm room, sent from home to warm My barest feet, and those that visited me All my friends expressed their admiration, Yes, that means a lot to a single kid, that rug was comfort When I'd get the blues, I'd take off both my shoes and sit Sit on the rug The rug that swore Popular though, that carpet it was For not disclosing any song composing It absorbed the sound, but also the dust If you detected secrets it collected You would have to swear With your feet so bare that you would keep it A promise also kept by the thing we stepped Over so many times - fidelity From the rug that swore Now, of course, there's only the wood I don't stay in places carpeted these days It's easier to clean and baby, I should Change the filter on the AC's built to take Only so much - remember that we live and breathe Soft as carpets feel, contagion there is real underneath Wash out your mouth For the rug that swore
Three forms of media delivered a booty call First, he pressed reply to her message from the mall She was at a kiosk, trying out a new PC She didn't mean to buy one, but they let you surf for free Too-rah loo-rah, loo-rah, oh She received his email just as Lauren came into sight Her dress that day was scandalous, much to all the boys' delight She tended her admirers with backup from her friends As did our protagonist and she and he IM'd He said he could be there in about a half an hour She looked at the boys, so stupid under Lauren's power She typed in her number, said to call when he was there Her friends demanded details and she promised them she'd share Too-rah loo-rah, loo-rah, oh They rode the escalator up and down 'til two Then they went outside to see what their best friend would do Warnings and discussion, laughter running through their train All of it cut off when, with a bling, her cell phone rang "Hello?" she said and looked around, she said, "Oh, there you are" She walked out to the curb and she got into his car Her friends all held their breath until she got back out again She'd said she'd be one minute, but they'd swear that she took ten Too-rah loo-rah, loo-rah, oh Back inside, they went upstairs, found Lauren and her crew Our protagonist walked up and said "I've got something for you" She held out a piece of paper, which Lauren did unfold And when she'd read the note, she smiled and said she had to go Lauren rode the escalator down and out of sight It fell to our protagonist to try and shed some light The phone call, the paper note, the emails were from Paul It took three forms of media to make this booty call "But why would you deliver this?" they said, "You like him, too." Our protagonist replied, "This booty call's untrue Lauren's getting picked up by her brother as we speak I wish that I could see it, 'cause I think she's going to freak" Too-rah loo-rah, loo-rah, oh Three forms of media delivered a booty call First, he pressed reply to her message from the mall
Well, I camped out with the Boy Scouts in the 1990s And I hitchhiked in Ireland, and also in Hawaii And you know I met some weirdos, but nothing really bad I've been lucky on the road, and I'm glad 'Cause you hear the urban legends, and also firsthand stories It's not hard to find horror in the public lavatories Or those guys you see begging but never talk to, Except to say "Sorry, I've got nothing for you" Yeah, we've all got our cross to bear Me, I'm no exception I'm desperate when I can't get good wireless reception So I can follow up on some gig that's gonna pay Before they kick me out of this cafe And if I get sleepy, I'll stop and take a nap And if I feel shaky, I'll make a turkey wrap And if every hand's against me and times are truly hard I might default on my credit card But yes, I'm traveling far from home today And yes, I'm lonely, my love so far away And even we troubadours who eat with golden spoons Appreciate you listening to our tunes 'Cause sometimes I sleep in a hotel with a spa, And sometimes I sleep in a vacant parking lot And sometimes my greatest burden is that I get to choose Where and when and how to pay my dues 'Cause I camped out with the Boy Scouts in the 1990s And I hitchhiked in Ireland, and also in Hawai'i On scholarship both times, or did I mention that? Please be generous when I pass the hat
The fridge is running low And the car tires pressed up on the curb The television's on The armchair warrior is alone His feet propped up on the side Of a secondhand futon And the bills beat him home again He jumped the steps, but they always win So he walks real slow and he drives too fast And he wants you to sign his cast "Only avarice," quoth he, Regarding time on his hands And saved up on his face The armchair warrior Has a pension plan where he keeps his nights He saves 'em just in case He doesn't really think he'll get 'em back It's just the principle, since he's in the black It's borrowed time, that's what he's learned You can't even keep the interest you've earned The neighbors echo in from the hall His eyes reflect in the mirror His aftershave is stinging The jumper cables In the back seat, like alligators The birds don't call it singing They're just kind of OCD Armchair warriors in a tree With their puffed-out chests and bad comb-overs He hides from them under the covers
Ladies, value your humorous gay friends I mean the guys for whom there really is no issue They can be sincere with physical affection And have no fear, they're not going to try and kiss you Unless they really are confused Unless the gay thing's just a ruse Maybe they'll make an exception just for you Or maybe they're bi, and they thought you knew Ladies, otherwise, these guys have got your back And you can benefit from their perspective They know the whims of their own appetites and with you they can be quite objective As much as anyone can be, but they get mixed up though, just like me Gay guys aren't perfect, you see Just practically Ladies, realize that straight men get the joke We can never be as close as you are to each other and to gay men who befriend you We wear pleats and wonder why you won't go too far But I can learn to dress more gay And I can read up on feng shui If you'll just let me have my way, I'll be OK So ladies, value your humorous gay friends I mean the guys for whom there really is no issue They can be sincere with physical affection And have no fear, they're not gonna try and kiss you Kiss you Kiss you
When you call me and I'm awkward on the phone, Sometimes I stand there afterward and listen for the tone When we've hung up, but that's not how cell phones work Still I stand there anyway, until my screen goes dark It was a meditation, it kind of make me sick To listen to the dial tone until I'd hear a click Then a female voice recording would come on And I'd have to hang up quick, so they wouldn't call my mom And in the morning, you can't expect too much But as the day wears on, if you're still out of touch, You can call me, it's my Achilles heel I keep my phone on vibrate, keep it where I can feel And when she called me, I just talked about myself As if that were natural, as if there were no one else She wanted to talk to, or about I just answered her questions and I got out Now I don't hang up, I press a button marked "End" And when I call you, it's something I "Send" And in my real life, I listen very well But when the phone rings, I hope they won't tell
I'll be there Just behind the first real chill in the air When you pull The sheets up to your chin and the moon is full I'll be there Then I'll rise And kiss you like a fog on both your eyes Your last waking dream Will be of dewdrops turning into steam Then I'll rise
I fell down in the pear blossoms Scented of oil and of cold oceans And the furry trundling bee had nothing Nothing on me Only the sun, gold glaze on a blue, smooth pot Felt like a kiln wherever the shade was not And the blossoms drifted down Lazy like a lacy crown Pear blossoms I cut designs right into the atmosphere But the fine arabesque lines gradually disappeared And I lost my sense of sight Covered up in blossoms white Pear blossoms


Produced by Tad Dreis and Jeff Crawford
Recorded at Arbor Ridge Studios
Mixed by Tim Carless at The Mockin' Bird Recording Company
Mastered by Brent Lambert at The Kitchen


released September 11, 2009

Tad Dreis - guitar, vocals, harmonica, keyboard, Wurlitzer, piano, percussion
Charles Cleaver - keyboard, Wurlitzer
Jeff Crawford - piano, accordion
Lindsay Ellerbe - cello
Hugh Swaso - electric guitar
Alex Van Gils - bass
Rob DiMauro - drums


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