And now, children, hear and remember the tale of me, Billy Paul, Mrs. Jones, my friend Rob, and my dog Meatball:
Long, long ago, in a little state named Kansas, which no one wants to admit coming from except the classic rock band Kansas and possibly Bob Dole, two young men and a dog were tooling around town in the legendary muscle car Charles the Deep Breather, which probably sounds silly because you weren’t there, but which would make perfect sense if you were there, because Charles breathed very, VERY deeply indeed, and communicated in a subsonic, almost heavenly, rumble that made fans of glasspack mufflers sneer, fans of turbo mufflers weep tears of pure joy, and everyone else say, “That car! It—it spoke to me! It made my panties moist and/or my jeans tight “(depending on their gender)”, and I want to run after it to hear and understand and remember its teaching, but I can’t because I have nothing but two legs, while Charles the Deep Breather boasts 8 cylinders and 318 wholesome, part-of-this-nutritious-breakfast Detroit cubic inches (plus a .30 radius of bored-out glimmery smooth cylinder walls, rebuilt 340 heads, a 60,000-volt Mallory racing ignition coil, graphite ignition wiring, an aluminum Edelbrock intake manifold, a 600 CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor, a bunch of other racing parts no one gives a shit about, and the most important component of all: the storied underdash Pioneer Supertuner pumping its juicy American-made stereophonic DNA through a 60-watt graphic equalizer and finally into the Holy Grail of mobile tunes: a pair of 6x9 Jensen triaxial speakers!”
And on this long ago night, my friend Rob, my dog Meatball, and I were engaged in the…
What? Meatball? You’re worried about Meatball? Look, Meatball loved loud music, okay?1
Anyway, Rob and Meatball and I were—okay, now what? Oh, you think it was cruel to name him Meatball? Look here: People should not name animals. We should instead listen to our animals and use the names they choose. Meatball was named Meatball because that’s the name he wanted me to use.
So! We were observing the time-honored tradition of getting drunk via a cooler of beer in Charles the Deep Breather’s back seat as we drove around, which also sounds silly (if not downright irresponsible) if you weren’t there, but if you were there it made perfect sense that two friends, a dog, one car, and some beer all had to be enjoyed simultaneously, because that’s just the way it was and get off my lawn.
Rob, Meatball and I had been drinking, driving and rocking out for a couple hours and had just finished listening, on cassette, to Queen’s 1975 album “A Night at the Opera,” with punishingly high decibels, and for some reason we couldn’t agree which cassette/band/album we should listen to next, so I just flipped the Supertuner’s switch from cassette to radio and we started listening to KDVV, aka V‑100, to see if anything good popped up.
And it did. To an exponential degree, it did.
The moment we switched over to V‑100, Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” had just started. And Rob and I (and, I am convinced, Meatball), we all loved “Me and Mrs. Jones.”
Meatball generally showed his approval by wagging his tail, while I, carefully and wisely, avoided trying to sing along with music if anyone else was present, even if it was just Meatball. To do otherwise would probably violate the Geneva Convention.
Rob, on the other hand, was and is an excellent vocalist. Meatball and I were both delighted to delegate the mouth music to him.
Billy Paul had just finished the first stanza from “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and was gathering his strength to explode into his famous refrain: “Meeeyeee aaaayaaand… MISSUS! Mrs. Jones Mrs. Jones Mrs. Jones Mrs. Jones! We got a thing going on!”
And Meatball and I were happy to be The Pips to Rob’s Gladys Knight, reasoning that with Rob bellowing out the chorus along with Billy Paul’s ear-shattering voice hammering out of the Jensen Triaxials, we could add to the overall volume without drifting too far off-key.
And the moment arrived: Billy Paul’s thundering “Mee-yeee aaayaaand MISSUS! Mrs Jones!” plus Meatball and I uttering an unreasonable facsimile thereof, and the other cars and traffic sounds and other urban background noises, all setting the stage for and pumping up Rob’s better-n-average contribution, and the whole world screeched to a halt and cocked its ear to see what Rob’s contribution would be, and he did not disappoint:
Verily did he openeth his lips, and he sang with all his might, and he utter—uttereth, no, utteredeth… SHIT! Okay, he proclaimed to the heavenly skies above and the rest of us mere mortals, and he sang:
“Weeeyeeee aaaaayand MISSUS!” and then he paused, realizing he was having a little pronoun trouble exacerbated by beer, because “Meeeyeee” and “Weeeyeee” are radically dissimilar, even as I was wondering why he paused, and then Meatball whispered to me “Who’s this ‘we’? You got a mouse in your pocket?” and I blurted out “ ‘WE?’ Ooh! Menage a trois!”
And Meatball started laughing, as did Rob, and I started laughing as well but then belatedly realized hey, maybe I shouldn’t veer left and kill us all.
In conclusion, we all got home in one piece even though we all laughed so much no court in the nation would have convicted us for being unable to drive, and then I ran away and got married and had two kids, but Rob didn’t, and then my marriage fell apart, and somewhere along the way Rob got married and had a kid, and I got remarried to an unreasonably beautiful and amazing woman who by all rights could have landed Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt but instead she chose ME, and I bet Rob feels the same way about his wife and son too, so I’m pretty sure I don’t need to threaten him with telling his wife about our stupid juvenile behavior and hey Rob, I love you and thanks for giving me so much of your time way back then.
- When I lived with my friend George and musicians came and went and jammed and hung out, we were making an even louder racket than usual, and someone asked me if I wasn’t concerned about all the noise being scary or stressful for Meatball, so I went looking for him and he was asleep on the carpet under George’s biggest tom.