Self-respecting loser loses, regains self-respect

One night a couple of weeks ago, while I was home from school for the Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa-Godless Pagan Winter Solstice Human Sacrifice Extravaganza holiday season, I ordered a pizza from - of all places - a local pizzeria.

On the drive across town to pick it up, geriatric rock group Aerosmith's Grammy-winning masterpiece "Janie's Got a Gun" came on the radio.

I was alone, so I did what any self-respecting loser with delusions of rock stardom would do while driving alone: I sang along with the parts I knew (in falsetto), mumbled through the parts I didn't know (in falsetto), and bobbed my head back and forth in the chicken-like way popularized by Mick Jagger in the early seventeenth century (in falsetto).

I arrived at the pizza joint in the middle of the song. I was tempted to continue rocking out until the tune ended, but I feared that someone might walk by my car, catch sight of me, and - mistaking my world-class moves for the spasms and convulsions of a seizure - call an ambulance.

Reluctantly, I killed the engine and stepped out into the real world, where I had to admit that my rock-star delusions were just that - delusions - and that I possessed a sick, feeble mind.

"Janie's Got a Gun" was playing on the sound system when I entered the restaurant. Considering the limited selection of radio stations available in Saranac Lake, I didn't find this development especially surprising.

What I found surprising was that the lone employee standing behind the front counter - a bearded guy wearing a white apron over a black t-shirt - was quietly singing along in falsetto. What I found even more surprising was that he didn't stop when I walked in.

I was the only customer present, so at first I figured he must not have heard me open the door - he must have thought he was still alone. How else to explain why he kept singing? But when the pizza guy looked up from his crossword puzzle and spotted me, he didn't do what I would've done in his position: freeze in mortification, blush, and start clearing my throat, as if I'd only been coughing (in falsetto), not pretending I was Steven Tyler.

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