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Crocodile Rock

I’ve been in serious contemplation about whether I’m going through a midlife crisis, with my wearing navy blazers and high waisted, highwater jeans. But maybe I really can still pin this on life after AE.

I had coffee with one of my absolute favorites a day ago, someone whom I started calling “Uncle,” because he just has that feel about him. He’s Uncle Tony to me: part famous satirist, part ND hometown guy, and part mob boss. Just like I can’t pin down the day I said I’d write a book, I can’t pin down the day I actually discovered Tony. I know I immediately realized he was sheer genius, and that I wanted to call him Uncle Tony, so I messaged him on Facebook and said so!

Early on in my memoir writing stages, I would call him to chat about what it’s like to write a book (something he’s done before, unlike me who was directionless for a year and wrote ten bad books in about four chapters). I had a lot to learn. Tony helped me become a dreamer, and helped along with something I aspire to become in my new life: a writer.

Very recently, Tony had his own come to Jesus time when he heard the very scary “C” word. Cancer. I prayed for him, hoped for him, and have watched him come back stronger and wiser than ever. We usually start off our coffee dates with:

“You look great!”

“No, you look great!”

Then we rant a little about politics and use language that children shouldn’t hear, which keeps us edgy. But yesterday, we started on a more serious note. Near death experiences really change a person. You can live with a very mindful attitude and present pace, but those perspectives greatly change when you skirt the edges of the tunnel.

We both agreed that you come out of that darkness and fear seeing a whole lot more light around you.

He’s now taken to so much art he doesn’t have wall space. I’ve already come to the realization that I don’t have enough wall space for all the art I want. (*Although, I just purchased “Bird Brain” through the Bismarck Art Coop – I saw it and I wanted it – I like to pretend I’m Elton John without the tantrums.)

He began wearing button down shirts for ease of access to his port for his cancer treatments. But then he upped his game – and bought brightly colored ones. I’ve begun wearing strange and altered muscle tees that say funny things like, “I don’t have enough middle fingers for this disease.” His color of choice moved to turquoise, as I saw mine change to navy.

Maybe I’m not as weird as I thought. Maybe this really is a thing. Maybe AE changed my tastes and thoughts as much as cancer changed his. But in Tony’s words: “How could it not?”

I agree. There’s no way around it. I know I’ve changed. (*If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you can go back and find my piece so subtly titled, “Change.”)

Most of the changes have been for the best. I know what I want out of life. Tony does too. We want to live with purpose, meaning, and evolve. We also want to stay alive. (*That was my first time out to drop a mask to drink since about late-July, so I made a big deal out of it, but we both hurrahed that we have our boosters, so I think we’re good.)

We agreed that there’s a certain **** it attitude you possess when you’re hit smack dab with the reality that a diagnosis can take everything from you in the blink of an eye. You just don’t have the uptight concerns anymore about what your honest words or unique appearance may mean to the rest of the world. And you know damn well that you don’t drive the car of life; you’re along for the ride.

“It’s liberating,” I told him.

I think he agreed.


“But they’ll never kill the thrills we’ve got

Burning up to the Crocodile Rock

Learning fast as the weeks went past

We really thought the Crocodile Rock would last

“Well, Crocodile rocking is something shocking

When your feet just can’t keep still

I never knew me a better time and I guess, I never will

Oh, lady, mama those Friday nights

When Suzie wore her dresses tight

And the Crocodile rocking was out of sight

- Sing it with us here -

“Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa la la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” ~ Crocodile Rock by Elton John

“Bird Brain” is pictured above with permission from the local artist, Paul Noot. I met Paul when I bought the piece and told him the reasons it spoke to me (my bestie Lacie likes crows and I’m into brain art). You can check out Paul’s work through the Bismarck Downtown Artist Cooperative (BDAC) on Facebook or find him on Instagram @paulnoot.

I asked Tony for the most fitting Elton song for us. He chose Crocodile Rock. We both agreed that we can’t hit those high notes, but he’s not sure that Elton can anymore, either …


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