Monday, March 19, 2007

Blame The Boss

Once a month at International House Katowice we have Conversation Club – a get together where teachers and students hang out, drink beer and talk. Grant, one of the 25 or so IH teachers, planned a successful pub quiz and sing song of Molly Malone and Wild Rover (complete with pounding on the table) in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. And once the quiz winners were announced and they had received their IH pocket calendars, the pub pretty much cleared out. Only a few of us from the school and a guy at the counter in a Guinness Top Hat made of foam remained.

Ready for my second pint, I headed to the bar and introduced myself to Mark, the guy in the Guinness hat. Clearly well beyond his second pint, Mark was a 45-year-old businessman from London. He was short and round in the middle. Sweaty gray hair peered from beneath his hat and stuck to his neck. Mark had relocated to Poland five years ago, he told me, to teach English and start a chain selling leather-cleaning products at local malls. Short on specifics, Mark had a quick mouth and a love of music from before I was born.

“You like Springsteen?” he asked. “Na. A little too much denim for me,” I replied. “If you ever get the chance, go to his concert -- when he sings it looks like his neck is going to explode,” Mark admired as he finished his beer and switched to Long Island Iced Tea.

Not halfway through his Long Island, Mark had already professed his love for David Bowie, Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, The Beatles, Phil Collins, and Elvis. And before I knew it he was once again talking about The Boss.

“It’s amazing.” Mark continued. “I said to myself as soon as he started Born in the USA -- by the way he always starts with that song, which I don’t particularly care for -- I said that’s it. He’s fucking done. No way he can sing another note. He’s done. But he did. And he sang for four hours. The entire time his neck was …” Mark trailed off gesturing to his neck, his hands on either side, miming swelling. He was clearly impressed.

“Man, sounds like you really like Springsteen,” I said.
“I tell ya, he sang this great version of American.”

And before the ten of us left in the pub knew what was happening, Mark was five bars into a 6-minute performance. And to his credit, as drunk as he was, he knew every word of that song. Feeling partially responsible and a little embarrassed about the impromptu performance, I stayed perched on my stool with an uncomfortable grin. Mark was strutting and stroking the bar. He had clearly done this before.

I invited Mark over to the table, where the rest of the group was sitting, in an effort to avoid another outburst. After a brief discussion over the relative little value of music being produced today as opposed to 30 years ago (at least that was Mark’s position), we all grabbed a taxi, minus Mark, and headed up town. I’m convinced he hung around until closing time or he fell asleep.

Either way, I’m just glad he wasn’t a Madonna fan. I don’t know what would have happened if he had chosen to sing Like a Virgin.

1 comment:

Shyda said...

I haven't posted a blog in a while, but I wanted you both to know that I am still enjoying reading about your travels. I think this is one of the greatests experiences, and I thought about you two the other night when I watched "The Journey."

Yes, poor, poor Mark I know what that feeling feels like, and as you know Beth, I do know how to sing "Like a Virgin."