Sunday, December 12, 2010

Susie Q... by James K. Bowers

(Note: Originally posted in my blog at on April 4, 2007) 

So, I'm at a tiny local café, the sort that has tin signs decorating the walls — "It's high time for Hires Root Beer" - "Cherry Pie a la mode made with Dairy Rich Ice Cream!" - "Harrison's Heart-o'-Orange Soda – 5 Cents"— which makes it all frighteningly obvious that I've slipped into the Nerdville dimension of The Twilight Zone.

I'm half finished with the "Country Skillet", an evil combination of foods that, at one time, was considered a good breakfast.  With little doubt, it is helping me to an early appointment with an undertaker, but I don't mind because even if it isn't good for me, it's still good.  If I can't enjoy whatever years I may have left, why on God's green earth would I want to prolong them?  I finish the skillet, ignoring the damage all that fried stuff is doing to my body.

What I can't manage to ignore is the loud and abrasively hick voice coming from the far end of the breakfast counter at which I'm seated while I savor the last sips of a delightful cup of coffee.  Five paces away a customer is paying for his breakfast, undoubtedly one as unhealthy and enjoyable as my own, and striking up a conversation with "Sue" like he was a gigolo at a nightclub.


We all know her name even if we don't know her.  A plastic nametag has betrayed her to the enemy.

Much to the horror and distress of his companion, Nerdville's middle-aged Don Juan says to his friend, "You know Suzie, doncha, Bill?" then launches himself into a nerve-debilitating rendition of... yes, you guessed it… Credence Clearwater Revival's "Suzie Q":

Oh, Suzie Q, Oh, Suzie Q, Lady I love you, Suzie Q...

Thankfully, we were only subjected to this brief chorus.  Perhaps he couldn't remember the words to the verses, because he couldn't even get that small clip of the lyrics right.  His audition would have been enough to cause Randy Jackson to say, "Yo, dawg, I don't know, man, it was a little pitchy for me"; Paula Abdul to begin with, "Well, the good news is…"; and send Simon Cowell into a wordless grand mal seizure.

I didn't say anything, and returned to my coffee, which had somehow gotten bitter.  Sue was polite, probably from a Novocain-like numbness accrued from years of similar attempts, but I could still sense the mild heat of her agitation from where I sat—something akin to Spider-man's spider-sense warning him of potential danger.

It was then that I felt an odd and eerie sensation creep up my spine.  The murmurings of all the others in the café didn't skip a beat.  It was as if I had succeeded in infiltrating this alien stronghold and I was but moments from being exposed as a spy in the Nerdville Breeding Pit.

Sorry, CCR, I may never be able to listen to that song again with the same sense of glorious nostalgia.

Why is it that some people just do not have that mechanism that tells them that they have crossed over from "playfully fun-loving" to "patently obnoxious"?  Or have I, over all these years, simply failed to understand the true aphrodisiac effects of the Breakfast Diner Serenade?

1 comment:

  1. Jim,

    A great piece to pull out this time of year. I think we all know, have known the clueless serenader at some point in our lives. But then think of the impact of CCR! Just how many tunes stick with you for a lifetime?

    Merry Christmas


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