Soundtrack to Life – A Tribute to a Friend

So, I’ve been on a six week hiatus from this column. Like I said, it’s not like a lotta ya read it. But I guess I had a loyal fanbase and that really shouldn’t be denied. So, I have returned from the grave to bring you more stories, and hopefully, you can send me yours, yes?

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A Tribute to a Friend

“Hammering in My Head” by Garbage

It all began in the spring of ’98. Having turned 16 the previous winter, Scott was the first person in our little clique to get his license. This was big for us because it increased where we could go and when we could go. Still, we spent a lot of time at Jay’s place, finding some game to play (ie. Capture the Flag). We’d created a wide variety of games to play so the days were always full. On one of these days, around the time Scott got his license, we were goofing around, playing one of these games when Scott made a dash for his van. He began to make a getaway when he stopped at the corner and called for me to get in. I somehow got ahead of the others and jumped in. He turned on the CD player as we sped off down the block. The song playing was “Hammering in my Head” by Garbage. Since then, I’ve always felt that to be a cruising tune, and the thought of it just takes me back to that day.

But that’s hardly the story here, just a minor portion of it. See, Scott was one of the most popular guys in school. He coulda had any girl he wanted and had friends in all forms of social cliques. I was lucky enough to have known the guy since we were in 2nd grade. That summer, we’d often be at his place, another bonfire party. I remember one in particular, in the fall though, shortly after school had begun that year. People of all walks of life meandered about the yard. Me, I was flat on my back staring up at the stars. A beautiful night. Later we wandered down the street by the old church and ran into another party that was wandering through a field. I think they were looking for someone’s keys. Adam let one of the girls take his car for a test drive. She returned with the rear bumper in the trunk. Tore it off on a mailbox as she was backing out of the driveway. We all had a good laugh about it. As our party died down, we heard rumors of another bonfire in the area. We decided we were gonna crash it. We never found it. We asked a few bars, witnessed a fight in one of the parking lots and wound up wandering an unfamiliar neighborhood. Just a stellar night.

Things were gonna be alright. Everything was right with the world. Suzan had stopped harassing me, and I actually had a social life now. And then, late at night on January 1, or was it 2? I dunno. But it was early ’99. I’d been chatting it up on Battle.net for a good portion of the night and was ready to go to bed. I was about to log off ICQ when Jay sent me a message.

“Scott was just in a bad accident. They had to rush him to Froedtert.”

He’d been driving, heading to Jay’s house when he hit an icy patch. He went into the ditch, but was able to recover and get back on the road. Unfortunately, the car coming from the other way couldn’t stop. He hit the driver’s side door, slamming Scott’s head into the window.

Around here, if you gotta be taken to Froedtert, you got fucked up. I knew that. I walked off to bed, blank faced. I never told my family what had happened. I slept fitfully, praying that he pulled through.

I found out the next day that he’d made it……. but, he was in a coma. When my family found out, I’d told them I hadn’t mentioned it because I just didn’t want to talk about it. This was Scott! The picture of perfect health. This guy was just amazing, and now he was clinging to life. I couldn’t fathom it. I don’t remember how long it took, but he eventually came out of the coma. I didn’t get to see him until April.

The whole clique came down to see him where he was rehabilitating. Awake, yes, but he was bed ridden. How conscious was he? I wondered. I thought they’d take us into his room where he’d be lying there and we could stand at his bedside. Instead, we took a seat in the cafeteria and they wheeled him out in a wheelchair. Here he was, a star track athlete, a ladies man, the king of charisma and just an all around great guy……. helpless. He sat there, head restrained so he didn’t have to support it himself, expressionless, pale, and not moving an inch. Occasionally he’d let out a zombie-esque moan. I did my best to look positive, but I could hardly even look at him. Literally a shadow of his former self. I felt sick. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t fuckin’ right……

It’s been 4 years now, nearing the fifth anniversary of that night. I still can’t believe that this is what has become of my friend. He has vastly improved over the years, but he still has a long way to go. He’s still in his wheelchair, can barely control his legs and arms and has a hard time keeping his head up. He can speak, but very slowly and very slurred. A lot of the time that I see him nowadays I require a translator. The one positive thing I can note is that, well, he’s still in there. The accident cost him his motor skill but he still thinks, acts, and talks like he did before the accident. When I visit, we usually play Magic. He needs someone to handle the cards for him, but he can still beat my ass on most any given day. It’s still not certain as to whether or not he will recover 100%, and sadly, I have my doubts.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com