By The Way
by Mark Logan
* * * * *
* * *
Spring quarter of that
year flew by. I couldn't believe that my first year in
architecture school was over, and I was one of the people
remaining in the program.
Originally, around one hundred and sixty people had enrolled in my
class but by the end of the year that number had been narrowed down to
little over ninety. That's some serious attrition. I'd had
a rough go of it at the end of winter quarter--my final project didn't
get the best reviews from the jury, but their critiques only served to
steel my resolve to slug through the next quarter with my head held
higher. But then, I've always been good at receiving serious
critiques and learning from them.
Sadly, Glen and I were totally on the outs by the end of that
year. He and I sent a couple of letters back and forth to each
other discussing the state of our friendship, and in each new letter
tone towards the other person got progressively worse. I hated
his friendship, and I especially hated not being able to talk with him
anymore. But sometimes, folks, that's how the cookie
crumbles. Glen had gotten me through some really rough times in
my life, and I always figured that he'd be a steady part of it.
What can you do?
Like the song says, "Some good things never last."
I wasn't always able to keep up with the voice lessons that the club
was paying for. By the end of the quarter I was only able to go
twice a month, which still wasn't bad. It wouldn't be long
before I was supposed to start working full-time at Rhett's, and I was
fairly certain that I was ready to hit the stage. The
organization of the group of singers had changed a lot by the time June
rolled around. I guess the partners were trying different ways to
present the singers to the patrons. For a while, each person
would sing their
entire set, with brief intermissions between singers. Then the
decided to have each person sing only two or three songs at a
time. The last change made was to rotate all of the singers so
that they only sang one song
at a time. I think the last was the best idea, because while
this was a place where people were to be entertained on the weekends,
it didn't make sense to make the patrons slog through an entire set of
music that they didn't like in order to hear the next singer.
I'd been to Rhett's a number of times, not only to get more familiar
the place, but also to get more familiar with the other people who
would be singing as
really reminded me of a club that my grandmother used to sing in back
in the forties in East St. Louis, where most of the waitresses were
singers, and not only served the customers drinks, but also
provided the entertainment. On many occasions I'd bring Don
along with me. Normally he would be working in Buckhead on the
weekends, but every once in a while he'd get a night off. He
liked the place so much that he applied for a security position there
as well. The managers did the whole
"we'll-keep-your-file-on-record, and call you if we need something"
deal, so he wasn't hired
I'd been meeting with the guys in the band for several weekends to
practice my set and work on the song arrangements. It was
that I'd never had the opportunity to do before, and I found it to be a
very enjoyable experience. These guys were pros, too. At
least I thought so. For some of the music, the bass player would
put up his electric bass and switch to the bass fiddle - the
kind that old jazz bands used to use. There was a piano player
who could play any style of music you might want to hear, as well as
being quite adept on the synthesizer. We had a couple of guitar
players, and of course a drummer. It was a really nice little
It was on
Saturday afternoon when I sang the songs for the partners' approval,
was slated to start working the following Friday. Kylie, Jim
and Rob thought that they were all good choices...except for one.
"Um...Paul," Jim said. "We liked the set, but...we're not too
sure about the last song."
"Why?" I asked.
"Well...." he started to say.
"I'm just not so sure a song like that would work here," Rob finished.
"Why not? It's a good song."
"I'm sure it is," Kylie said, "but, eh...."
"Did it sound bad, or something?"
"No. No, you sang it really well. I'm not quite sure how
you came up with that choice...," Jim said.
I felt a bit like I was in the twilight zone. We'd really worked
hard on all of the material that I'd be singing for the first weekend
or so, especially on this particular song. It wasn't the easiest
to sing, with a total of three key changes in it, and the last note
held for four to five bars. The partners were sounding odd,
and yet they still wouldn't tell me what the problem was. "Can
throw me a bone or somethin'? I'm still not understanding...
I-I've spent a lot of time...working on this."
"It's just not what we're trying to...do here."
"But why...why are you--" I started.
"It's just not a very commercial song." Jim was looking
"What is commercial, really?" The irritation was beginning to
show in my voice.
"The people that have been coming here so far...they're not going to
it," Kylie chimed in.
"Well how...how do you know? It's a really good song."
"They're not going to like it," he repeated.
"Guys, come on," I let out an exasperated laugh, "we've worked really
hard on it, and I still don't
understand the problem with it."
They all looked at each other again and whispered a few things back and
forth. Finally, Rob spoke up. "Can you change the word
'man' to 'girl'?"
"The word 'man'. Can you change it to 'girl'?" he repeated.
"Um...uhhh," I stammered.
"Or how about 'gal'? Something...female." Jim suggested.
I thought about the song and the lyrics for a second. "No.
It would sound pretty stupid, if you did that."
"But it just...might...not go over too well, a guy singing a song like
that..." Jim said.
"Guys, I don't know what to tell you. Rupert Holmes and Paul
Williams wrote the song. They're both men, and they didn't have a
problem with the lyric. What's the big deal?" As I was
talking, a man I'd
never met before came walking up out of the shadows from the back of
the club. He was dressed in a pair of nice slacks and a golf
shirt, but the air about him said "I've got a lot of money, though I'm
only going to show
you a little of it." He was a tall man with gray hair that was
slicked back on his head. He walked around and turned his back to
me, facing Jim, Rob and Kylie, then started speaking quietly to
them. I turned and looked at the guys in the band, shaking my
head in frustration and rolling my eyes. When I heard footsteps
approach behind me, I looked back around.
"Paul," the man with the gray hair said, "I'm sorry, but we've never
had the privilege of meeting. My name is Rhett Broussard."
"Nice to meet you, Rhett," I extended my hand. "Wait a
minute. Rhett, as in...'Rhett's'?"
He face lit up in a warm smile and he nodded. "One in the same."
"But I thought that they were
the partners who ran the place."
"Well," he said, still smiling, "I'm the 'silent' partner. And my
name's on the door, so every once in a while I get to have the final
say." He had an unmistakable gleam in his eye that told me I'd
won. "Please, feel free to sing whatever you like. I really
enjoyed the last song, and frankly, I think it's very ballsy for
you to sing it."
"Well, I just thought it was a good song, that's all. And these
guys," I gestured to the combo behind me, "well, they've been an
absolute pleasure to sing with."
"Yes. They are a great group, aren't they." It was more of
a statement than a question. "Well, I'll let you get back to your
work, gentlemen," he said, looking between myself and the others.
"Have a nice afternoon. I'm looking forward to Friday,
Paul. Best of luck." He reached his hand out, and we shook
"Thank you, sir. And....thank you."
"You're more than welcome, son," and he winked, then turned and walked
* * * * *
Friday night came around and I was more than a little nervous.
worked at a restaurant the previous summer, I at least had an idea how
they were run. This was the first time I'd ever waited on
anybody, though, and I knew that it would take a while to get to the
point where I could memorize orders and not write them down.
Luckily, there were a couple of really good waiter trainers. I
was most freaking out, however, about singing for the first time.
Sure I sang all the time to myself, in studio, under my breath around
friends, but the idea of standing on a small stage with a spotlight on
you and an extremely talented band behind you proved to be more than a
little nerve wracking.
I'd invited both Don and Alan to the club for my first night. I'm
not sure why, but it still amazed me how well the two got along with
each other. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that
they were both athletes, who knows. I was glad, though,
because they were both pretty important people in my life. Now
school was out for the summer, I'd be able to see them a bit more than
had. Architecture school really can make you a recluse from your
former life if you're not careful. Don was just...Don. We'd
talk occasionally on the phone, and not a whole lot more.
But we had become close again, and I was glad for that.
Alan and I had had some ups and downs, albeit minor ones, since his
to my school back in March. Some days were good for me, and
other days were really horrible. The horrible days I worked very
hard to keep from him. There was never really a middle
ground when it came to him. We almost never talked about Reed,
which was probably good for the both of us. He had one year left
of school and already was being scouted to play pro ball. It was
hard for me to to think that the young man who was the favorite running
back of so many people in Georgia, was the same nutty guy that I'd
befriended and fell in love with in high school. He was
definitely bigger and faster than he was back when we first met.
Hell, you couldn't watch a Georgia Bulldogs game on television without
hearing "Diesel" this or "Diesel" that from the announcers. It
never really bothered
me, not that it should, but to me he was always just Alan. Plain
Because of his popularity, and I'm sure partly because of his good
looks, he got a lot of camera time on the field. It never really
went to his head, though. He was always just a regular guy who
happened to be extremely good at a particular sport. The few times that
I'd been out with him lately, he would have several people, mostly
guys, who'd come up and start shooting the shit about football, the
Bulldogs, or sports in general. Watching the women approach him
always got me to laughin'. I knew that he had absolutely no
interest in them, but they'd show up, with their breasts pushed up
around their necks like goiter, laughing and throwing their heads back,
touching his arm, flipping their hair. The had no idea just
how little his interest in them was.
he had intended on going to school for a B.B.A., but lately he'd had
plans to continue his education and get his M.B.A. With four
years left of my five-year architecture program, it still meant that
I'd be in school one year longer than he would be. Since our long
discussion in my dorm room three months before, we sort of let any talk
about our futures settle down on the back burner. I might have
had long-range goals, but I also knew that you couldn't predict the
future, and I wouldn't get my hopes up. At the very least,
regardless of whatever rough times we may face, I knew that our
friendship was cemented stronger than ever.
Back to that Friday night at the bar. I had my six songs lined
and here and there between filling drink and food orders, I'd run them
through my head. At one point I became so damn nervous that I
thought I was going to just say fuck it all, and leave without even
performing. Whenever I'd think of that, I'd just look over at Don
and Alan, and remember that they were there to support me. I knew
I wasn't supposed to, but once or twice I'd belt back a Jack and Coke
just to calm my nerves a bit. That only helped so much, though.
A few minutes before I was to go on stage for the first time, one of
the other singer/waiters filled a drink order for me. I was
shaking like a leaf and walked over to Don and Alan. "Hey guys,
wish me luck," I said.
"You up now?" Don asked.
I just nodded.
"You nervous?" he asked.
I nodded again, more vigorously this time.
"You'll be fine," he said, putting his hand on my shoulder and
squeezing it. I noticed that Alan quickly glanced at him then
back at me.
"Yeah, man," Alan said, "go...break a leg, or whatever y'all do up
I smiled a bit, then headed toward the stage area of the club, which
wasn't far from the bar and still viewable from there. Once I was
introduced, I stepped up and walked over to the mike, amid polite
applause from the audience. The stage was only a couple of steps
off of the main floor, and wasn't very large. The combo took up
about the back third of the stage, and the microphone was in the
center, near the
front. Even though I'd practiced at the club with the guys the
it was still hard to get used to having a bright light shining in my
face. Walking up to the microphone seemed to take thirty minutes,
and I knew that there was no turning back now. For a brief
moment, I'd forgotten what songs I was going to sing, and a million
thoughts raced through my mind. Would I sing in the right
key? Would I remember the words? Would I remember the
order? Wait, that didn't matter because I wasn't running the
whole set at once. What if my legs locked up and I got dizzy and
keeled over? Would I remember to bend my knees just
slightly? Would I remember to smile when I needed to.....
Then the music started and the first strains of "Crazy Arms"
began. Peter, the bass player, was using the bass fiddle, and
John, the drummer, was tapping out what I always referred to as his
groovy Calypso beat. Then Mark came in with the strings as well
as the piano on his keyboards, and the key was locked into my
head. As soon as that happened, I forgot all about the people in
front of me as being scary. Instead, I glued a slight smile on my
face and made it a point to make eye contact with as many people as I
could. My head started moving slightly to the groove that John
was sending out and I leaned into the microphone and did my best to
have a good time.
When I sing, my arms have a tendency to move around a bit, much in the
fashion that Patsy Cline's did when she sang, and this time was no
exception. The boys in the combo played flawlessly, and I just
concentrated on having a good time. When I finally finished
singing, the applause was not exactly thunderous, but it was a helluva
lot more than just polite. I was pumped! I couldn't wait until
the next song, because now I had stage fever. I loved being up
there in front of everyone, just singing and having a great time.
Dynamite couldn't have taken the smile off of my face as I went up to
the bar and received high-fives from Don and Alan. They were so
excited for me that they just laughed the whole time and clapped me on
"I told you you could sing, you son of a bitch," Don said, still
"Yeah, well..." I said, still beaming. "That was pretty
fun!" We all laughed again at that. Once our momentary high
was over, I went back to taking drink orders for the people at my
station in the bar area. One guy in particular was somewhat
drunk, but seemed very happy to give me compliments. It was about
fifteen minutes or so until I had to sing again, and my nervousness was
completely gone as I approached the stage for the second time that
night. Having six people singing five to six songs apiece meant
that there was live entertainment for most of the night. There
were a couple of breaks throughout the evening to give the guys playing
in the combo a bit of a rest.
While I was slated to sing what the partners termed "torch songs", I
made it a point to try and at least keep the song choices a little
upbeat. As the evening went on I'd learned that the one drunk guy
who kept giving me compliments was named Damon. I never really
asked him his name, but somehow everyone around him seemed to know
it. Damon had also moved over to the bar and was a few seats away
from Alan, and every so often he'd look over towards Alan and Don and
holler out, "Hey Diesel! Go Dawgs!" then he'd let out some
horrible noise that was supposed to be dogs howling or barking.
Alan would just politely tip his beer and nod.
It was finally time for me to sing my last song of the evening, and by
now the adrenaline surge had passed, and I was feeling very comfortable
singing in front of people. In the back of my mind I knew that
the three partners still weren't thrilled about this song choice, but
at least now I had the support of Rhett, the club's namesake.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome back to the stage, Paul
Lyons!" There was a lot of applause from people who weren't quite
drunk, but at this time of night were probably a bit more than just
walked up to the stage and for some reason got an extreme case of
nerves. The song is called "Everything," and began with Mark
playing some chords to open it up. While he did that, I looked
past the glare of the spotlight and smiled as I saw Alan and Don both
leaning back against the bar. I couldn't have asked for better
"I want to learn what life is for.
I don't want much, I just want more.
Ask what I want, and I will sing:
'I want everything, everything.'
I'd cure the cold and the traffic jam.
If there were floods, I'd give a damn.
I'd never sleep, I'd only sing:
'Let me do everything, everything.'
I'd like to plan a city and play the cello,
Play at Monte Carlo, play Othello,
Move into the White House, paint it yellow,
Speak Portuguese and Dutch,
And if it's not too much
I'd like to have the perfect twin.
One who'd go out as I came in.
I've got to grab the big brass ring!
So I'll have everything, everything.
I'm like a child who's set free at the funfair,
Every ride invites me, and it's unfair
Saying that I only get my one share,
Doesn't seem just. I could live as I must
If they'd give me the time to turn the tide.
Give me the truth, if once I lied.
Give me the man who's gonna bring
More of everything.
Then I'll have everything.
The applause started out as merely polite, yet as Don and Alan were
both cheering and hollering loudly, the rest of the audience seemed to
warm up to the song even more, and their applause grew very loud and
very strong. I was just thrilled because I was able to get past
all three key changes and hold the word "man" for its two bars and the
final "thing" through its four bars without a problem. I was so
glad that Rhett had convinced the other partners to let me sing the
song, and the patrons seemed to really like it, too.
I stepped off the stage and heard a lot of the female patrons saying
things like, "Nice goin' Paul," and "Loved it," among other
things. I think that many of the guys were still a little
reluctant to applaud for a guy who had just sung about wanting a man
who'd bring him everything, but hell, a good song is a good song,
regardless of who actually sings it and what it's actually about.
I got back to the bar area to talk to Don and Alan. I think they
were more excited about the night than I was. At least, they
acted it. I still had a hard time believing that people were
applauding my singing, but that's just me.
"So," Alan said, "that's 'the song'." I'd told him about the
initial reaction from the three partners, and how Rhett had stepped in
and changed their minds for them.
"Yep. That's the one."
"Hmmm. I thought it was a good song," he said.
"Me too. That's why I sang it."
"What was the problem with the song?" Don asked.
"Well, I don't think they liked the part where I say 'give me the man
who's gonna bring more of everything, then I'll have everything."
He just shrugged his shoulders and took a pull off of his beer.
"Have anyone in mind?" he winked.
"Hey man, what the fuck was that
about?" Drunken Damon had maneuvered his way next to Alan and
seemed barely able to keep his eyes open.
I looked around to make sure he was talking to me. It was obvious
he was. "What?" I asked, starting to get defensive.
"That...'I want a man' or whatever the fuck you said up there."
I rolled my eyes and turned to walk off. "Whatever," I mumbled,
but then he caught me by the arm.
"No...seriushly...ain't that kinda 'hoo-hoo'?" he said, fluttering his
hands at the wrist, indicating that it was gay.
I shrugged. "It is what it is." I started to walk off
again, and he grabbed my arm again. "Get your fuckin' hand off of
me." The guy was a lot bigger than I was, and while I knew I
couldn't hold my own in a fight with this booze hound, in the back
of my mind I knew that right now it paid to have Don and Alan as my
" 'Get your fuckin' hand off me, princess,' " he mocked in a feminine
voice. Behind him, in the distance, I could see one of the
security guys walking our way.
"Fuck you, asshole," I said, and as I did, his arm came up as though he
were going to take a swing at me. He was still next to Alan, who
quickly grabbed the guy's arm and wrenched it behind his back.
"Why don't you take a seat and finish your beer, fuck face." Had
a guy like Alan said that to me, I would've have immediately sat down
and crapped my pants. But Damon was drunk and wasn't quite
"What the fuck to you care, Diesel? This guy your fuckin'
boyfriend, or somethin'? What a faggot...singing about wanting a
This was all looking like a scene from a bad movie, and somehow, I was
at the center of it.
"What's the problem here?" It was Zack, the guy from security
who'd finally made his way over to us. By now there was a small
crowd of about ten people or so gawking at us all.
Alan let Damon go. "Nothing, man. Guy's got just a bit of
the whiskey muscle talkin' tonight. He was just goin' back to his
Zack eyed the situation, and stayed there while Damon shrugged his
shirt back into place, muttered something, then headed back to his bar
stool. When things seemed to settle down, Zack walked off, but
remained closer to us than he originally was.
I started to say something to Don, but out of the corner of my eye I
saw a flash from behind Alan. "Alan, get--" I shouted, but it was
too late. That asshole Damon had taken his beer mug and swung it
at the back of Alan's head who went down like a lead pipe,
landing on his hands and knees. It all happened so fast and
seemed so surreal. In an instant, Don grabbed Damon's arm, spun
around and pulled him off of the stool. Then Don crouched down
and flipped Damon over his head
and onto the floor beside Alan, who was now leaning down and holding
face in his hands very close to the floor. The wind was knocked
out of Damon and his eyes were wide with shock. As Zack ran over
to us, I dropped down next to Alan.
"Alan! Holy fuck! Are you okay?"
He just rocked back and forth, holding his head and groaning. By
pure, dumb luck, the mug didn't break on his head. Maybe that
would've been better than being hit by the solid glass itself.
Zack and I tried getting him up off of the floor, but I couldn't budge
him. "Don, help me."
I felt my arm being pulled as Don got me away from Alan and then
stepped in to help Zack pull him up. The drunken Damon was still
lying on the floor, wheezing as his breath came back to him, and it
took everything I had not to kick him in the head. Now there was
a crowd around us and two of the other security guys came through to
help calm the situation down. Don and Zack pulled Alan up and sat
him at a stool. His eyes were closed as he held onto the place
where the mug had hit him. He said that he didn't need an
ambulance, but Don and I insisted that we take him to the
hospital. He didn't want that either, but we didn't give him a
choice. Don and Zack held him up a little bit, and I took Don's
keys and ran out to get his car. When I pulled up at the door,
the three of them were standing there, Alan looking unsteady on his
After they got him in the car, I drove as fast as I could over to
Piedmont Hospital. It was only about six blocks or so away, but
it felt like an eternity getting there. Two hours later with a
prescription for pain in his hand, Alan, Don and I left the
Luckily, all he had was a huge goose egg on the back of his head.
He kept making jokes about getting more hurt in a
bar than on the football field. I was just glad that he was going
to be okay.
"Dude," I said to Don, "where in the hell did you learn to move that
Don just shrugged as he drove back to Rhett's.
"What are you
talking about?" Alan asked.
"Man," I laughed a bit, as the tension of the night died away, "after
that guy hit you with the mug, Don jerked his arm , did something I
couldn't see, then the guy was flipped over and landed on the floor."
"Hmm," Alan said. "A regular 'Charlie's Angels' move, huh?"
Don snorted out a laugh. "Yeah, you dick."
"Seriously," I said. "You should've seen it. It was fuckin'
"I told you he wanted you, Lyons." He grinned a little as he
"Shut the fuck up, Alan," Don said with a grin. "It was you I was defending."
Alan sat there, thinking for a second. "Oh. So you want
both of us. I get it," he said with a shit-eating grin.
"I'm glad that you can crack such witty jokes, Alan," I groaned.
He just smiled back.
"Yeah," Don said laughing, glancing back and reaching his hand back,
"lean in and let me smack the other side of your head."
"Now, now boys, that's enough excitement for the evening, thank you
very much," I said. It was obvious that we all were good friends,
good friends could sit around cracking jokes when one of them has just
gotten hit in the head with a beer mug.
Don pulled up to Alan's car, and Alan, who by now was feeling
somewhat better, promised to call me when he got home. Don made
sure that I was okay. I was fine, though a little shaken up, as I
headed back into Rhett's. He left to go home and made me promise
to let him know how things were with Alan.
Once I got back into the bar, Kylie came up to me with some bad
news. It turns out that the drunken sot Damon was not arrested
after all. Even though the police had been called, not a single
person saw him actually throw the mug. I wasn't sure how that was
possible, considering the small number of people around us
during the original commotion. Unfortunately, there was nothing
that I, or anyone else for that matter, could do.
It was the end of a very long night, and once I counted my tips and
clocked out, I tipped the bus boys, then headed out. My car was
near the back of the parking lot, and as I approached it I thought that
it looked kind of odd; sort of sitting at a funny angle. When I
got closer I realized why. The two tires on the driver's side
were slashed. Not only that, but the windshield was smashed into
a spiderweb. "Son of a bitch!" I hollered,
and turned back to the bar to once again call the police to Rhett's.
* * * * *
"Everything" music and lyrics copyrighted 1976 by Rupert Holmes and