when you were mine (for about 2 1/2 hours)

I keep a bunch of happy internal mementos stored in my brain-safely tucked away. They’re for days when I’m feeling a sort of low… ….which is what brings me here today.

right now there’s everything and nothing that gets me down

social injustices

pandemics

uncertainties of the country’s future…. y’know stuff like that

that’s what little stories of ‘ nice things that happened to me in my life’ are for.

I reflect on them and

it helps.

helps to remember gratitude.

helps to remember hopefulness.

helps to remember that things change. the earth revolves and things change….all the time.

anyway….where was I ? oh yea these memories…these stories or whatever you want to call ’em…

today I’m thinking of this one in particular.

it concerns a guy who was called Joe Strummer who was in this band called The Clash.

some of you know who I’m referring to and some of you are like

‘….what? who?’

probably- if nothing else you know of the clash’s indecisiveness from a relatively commercial successful tune pontificating whether they ‘should stay or go’

truthfully it doesn’t matter if you know who joe was because this story is not really about him as much it is realizing that underneath it all- whether rich/poor/famous/ordinary all joes are just regular joes.

so… my story goes like this:

back in the 80’s the band was touring and there were a cluster of shows scheduled in the tristate area. back in the 80’s I was a struggling actress/waitress in an ordinary eatery close to NYC’s Grand Central Station. one VERY early morning while I was working a section reserved for incredibly large groups of tourists -all by my lonesome- a bleary foursome sat at one of my tables. I was terrifically busy- barely having time for a glance. I mean I knew someone was there but like I was just peripherally aware of their presence if you know what I mean. So in the midst of catering to a enormous group of Italian tourists -not speaking a word of English and in a hurry to eat and get on their bus to see the sights of NYC there was a very frazzled me I calling over my shoulder while balancing more platefuls of breakfast than I could hold.

‘Be with you guys in a minute’

…and no more than a second or two later a hand reaches over my head and a male voice from behind says

‘s’kay love take your time.’

then the hand clumsily removes several plates from my arms and follows me- carrying them.

…. I delivered the food to waiting customers and turned around for the plates the man took and yea staring my dead in the face was the clash…well one of ’em. the singer. yea that singer guy in the clash. holy macaroni!!!!!!!!

of course I was shocked to see it was joe- I mean come ON…really? I didn’t need that shit so early in the morning. joe freakin strummer helping me ?!?!?!!!!! when I was finally free to head over to the table where the guys had seated themselves he moved over and patted the seat beside him.

me: I’m working

he: Alright then we’ll have tea and biscuits here

‘Okay four biscuits.’

Uh…semi..calm yourself I told me because like just about every other customer that day- I had no idea what they were ordering and in this case we spoke the same language. du-lang. du-lang.

What was I going to bring these guys? there was nothing on the menu identified as a biscuit. ugh. I ended up bringing them four cups of tea and four very large restaurant baked English muffins…. various jams….jellies… cream… etc. By then most of the customers properly undertipped me- not familiar with the currency and left to meet their tour guides so my section had pretty much emptied out- I head over to see if they needed anything else and joe wipes his mouth and asks

‘do you know the club ( blah blah )?’

I half nodded I think.

joe: ah then- we’re a band

he actually motioned playing a guitar and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to not laugh out loud

me: Oh yea?

joe : yea. do you know the place?

me: yea…I think I’ve heard of it.

I neglected to mention I already had tickets for one of their shows.

joe: What’s your name love? You’re our guest tomorrow night- bring your mates and we’ll come up after

Then they left me a VERY GENEROUS/ridiculous tip and we said adios.

The following night I went to see The Clash with my friend Rich. When the band finished its set we just hung out by the bar chatting it up with the bartender who was a former roommate of Rich’s. True to his word Joe comes out- walks up to the bar for a drink and a talk with us.

he didn’t have to and I’m pretty sure there were a lot of other people waiting for an opportunity to meet him- but he stayed with us for well over an hour.

years came and went. I continued to enjoy his music both with the clash and as a solo artist -but the impression his fame didn’t mean a heck of a lot to him stuck with me. He just seemed like a guy who loved making music for the sake of it and whatever else came with that he kinda went with the flow. and then I read an interview where he said:

‘… I learnt that fame is an illusion and everything about it is just a joke. I’m far more dangerous now, because I don’t care at all.’

there it was- an elusive lightbulb over my head.

dangerous? nah- still it certainly didn’t appear that he cared much about his fame. but what do I know? I just met him twice and briefly at that.

joe died close to 20 years ago but meeting him…

Man that was something.

He was a truly humble and kind guy.

AND this is one of those recollections- that when I think on helps me feel less blue…silly at that may seem.

so thank you for this wonderful memory joe – rip *rudeboy*

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