Dead

The Grateful Dead have been around forever, it seems.  I’ve heard their name since the sixties, but can’t say I was ever a fan.  I was more into beach music and Motown.  Loved the Beatles, Four Seasons, Supremes and Carpenters.

From the albums I noted in George’s apartment back in the eighties when we started dating, his tastes were quite different:  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Riders of the Purple Sage, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan and yes, the Grateful Dead.  This music, what I knew of it, seemed rough and earthy to me, conjuring images of drugs, alcohol and endless sex.

Far removed from the safe music I favored.

I will confess that I went to a Jimi Hendrix concert when I was in ninth grade, at the insistence of a rather unconventional guy I was dating at the time.  I remember the sickening sweet smell wafting through the crowd as we made our way into the arena, and Jimi, playing a guitar with his teeth, then smashing it against the stage and throwing pieces to the screaming crowd.

My date informed me that I was smelling marijuana.  Wonderful.

Being a musician myself, I was impressed that it was even possible to play a guitar with teeth, but heartbroken to see an instrument needlessly destroyed.

Did I fit in with that crowd?  Not at all.  And I became more determined not to fit in after attending the concert.

But here we are, in 2014.  George and I are driving to the local vineyard to buy a couple bottles of wine.  I suddenly become aware of the music George is playing.  It sounds like old sixties/seventies rock music, voices slightly off-key.  Then, I am struck by the words themselves.

Please don’t murder me.

I confirm with George what is actually being said, the words seem so unlikely for a song.

“Who is that?” I finally ask.

“The Grateful Dead.”

And I realize I have never heard them before in my life.

How is that even possible?

I am fifty-nine.

Old.

I ask why George has never played a Grateful Dead album in our home during the almost thirty years we’ve been married.

He tells me he has.

I don’t remember.

Either I’ve been horribly sheltered my entire life or my memory is gone.

My brain–fried by a singular exposure to marijuana.

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