5.15 – Lost

“Where are we?” I asked El Puma.

At some point we were supposta get off the NewYorkCity Roads and enter the NewYorkCity Streets, but The Gods never told me how. There were lots of Roadsigns everywhere, but we couldn’t understand any of them, and then I hadta just pick a random exit.

“I have never seen these streets,” El Puma said.

They were dark with no street lamps and no street signs anymore. All the houses and shops had wooden boards over the windows, and someone had covered them with spraypaint paintings. As we drove thru I kept seeing mysterious moving shadows, and I didn’t know if they were from trees or dangerous Downtown MeNotzies. I tried to turn around and go back to the exit, but I couldn’t find a way to get back on.

“Dammit,” I said. “We’re trapped.”

“Where do The Gods say to go?” El Puma said.

“I don’t know. They won’t say.”

“The God of The Road has suddenly abandon one of his Gifted Realities?”

“I accidentally lied before. The God of The Road has no idea who I am. I was actually a terrible driver at first and hadta practice a lot just to be kinduv alright at it.”

“So anyone who practices could drive as well as you?”

“Yeah.”

“This encourages me, but also discourages me. How do we find our way now without The Gods lighting the way?”

“We probably hafta ask someone.”

“But you said a Reality Traveler never asks for directions.”

“No, that’s wrong, too. Anyone who’s lost has to ask for directions.”

“This makes more sense to me, but who do we ask? There is nothing but darkness around us.”

“I know. It’s scary.”

“Yes, I suppose we must keep going until we find some light.”

Soon we found a gas station with one dim lantern hanging high over it. The building was small and very spraypainted. Its windows had holes in them, and some of its pumps didn’t even have nozzles on them. It was kinda dark inside, and you couldn’t see anyone in there, and there was no open sign. It seemed too dangerous to get out and check. It seemed like you could hear bullets and screams in the near distance. But just as we were about to pull out and try to find a better lighted thing, I heard something else.

“Wait,” I rolled down the window to listen more closely. “There may actually be a God on our side afterall.”

“What is it?” El Puma said.

“Just follow me.”

Then I got out of the car, and he followed behind. We went to the door and jiggled the handle, and it opened. Inside behind a wall of bulletproof glass was a real live Downtown NewYorkCity Reality. He was a gray haired, gray bearded, old Adult, but he was up on his feet, flapping his arms, and dancing around beneath a flickering lamp like an old Moth who’d gotten inside the house cuz someone left the door open. My first instinct would’ve been to cover my ears and protect my wool wares, except he was listening to none other than Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” on The Radio. His voice was wheezy and not good, but he was singing and dancing with full passion. I started singing along, too, not to overpower him, but just enough to let him know I knew the song.

“How you know those words?” the Moth said. “This before your time.”

Then I told him about The Voice Professor and how I was supposta sing it for the Recital.

“That right?” he said. “This song a part of my past too. “Cupid” a song about my wife. Years ago we in the streets of NewYorkCity.  Outta a million people passing another million people we pass each other.  Arrow fly suddenly from the heavens right down into our chests.  Stops us in our tracks, we look into each other’s eyes, and know we gonna be in Love forever and we been ever since.”

“He’s a Lover like us!” El Puma said.

“Point is we think we in control,” Moth said. “But it really The Gods, and they be laughing at us. Ain’t nobody better than nobody else down here, ya know? Nobody a God but the Gods.”

“I know,” I said. “That’s pretty much the Reality Traveler Humility Mantra.”

“I don’t know those words. But I always known about The Gods.  Wasn’t even listening to the Radio tonight, but something tell me put on Old Old Hits station.

“The Goddess of Music,” I said.

“Yes,” Moth nodded furiously, “that exactly who it was.”

“I think she wants us to MeToo, so you can help us.”

Then we told him all about Reality Travel and how we were on a desperately important MeToo mission to NewYorkCity, but we got lost.

“Ain’t no shame in getting lost,” he said. “This a confusing place.”

Then El Puma told him where we wanted to go.

“Oh, that easy,” the Moth said. “Just take a right at the next light and then go all the way down Heart of the Streets Street, and then you home free.”

“Thanks,” we said.

“Gods bless ya,” he said.

5.12 – More LoveHunting

“I know it hurts to fail at the LoveHunting,” El Puma said at the next Dorm Party. “It is a pain that hurts your body and your head and your heart and perhaps even past that to the deeper heart. I have this pain, too, because even tho I Horizontal MeToo’d the chick from the last party, she does not want things to get ‘too serious’ now and will not Love me again. But neither of us must give up, Traveler Jonathan.”

“Alright,” I said.

Then we started scanning the room for chicks again. I noticed The Hottest Chick was there again. I’d recently overheard one of her Private Voice Lessons, and it sounded like she was almost as good at singing as me.

“I don’t care if she’s a MeNotzie,” I said. “I want her.”

“Yes,” El Puma said. “I like this spirit.”

I knew this time I’d hafta talk to her myself tho, so I waited for a moment when she wasn’t talking to anyone else and then headed toward her. I was almost there when I got blocked by a crossing Duckling.

“Hey there,” she said. “What are you singing for The Voice Recital?”

“You probably don’t know it,” I said. “It’s older than the Great List of Old Songs.”

“Try me, I know lots of old songs.”

I told her.

“Sam Cooke!” she said. “I Love him.”

Then she started badly quacking “Another Saturday Night.”

“Another Saturday Night” is a song about a lonely person who can’t find anyone to Love them too many weekends in a row.

“I don’t know that one,” I lied.

“Oh,” she said. “I should play it for you.”

“Maybe.”

“You know I don’t really like these dorm parties. Do you wanna leave and go to my room and listen to some music?”

“I don’t know.”

Just then El Puma pounced in and grabbed me with his teeth.

“Excuse us for a moment,” he told her.

Then he dragged me aside.

“I am overhearing your conversation and want to offer my advice.”

“Alright.”

“This chick is showing every sign she wants to Love you tonight, and I believe you should accept.”

“Really? I don’t know if I want to tho.”

“But Traveler Jonathan, Love is the greatest thing that can happen.”

“Maybe she’s alright, but she’s also kinda strange and doesn’t sing well.”

“But I have overheard you exchange MeToos, no?”

“I guess.”

“This is an important thing. She may seem like The Duckling, but the MeToos may turn her into The Swan.”

“Alright, but I’d rather get Love from The Hottest Chick.”

“But look at how The Duckling looks at us now as we speak.”

We looked over, and she smiled back.

“This is the look I dreamed of so many times as a boy in South America. There is nothing better than this look. And because the Goddess of Love does not shine down on this school, it is very rare here.”

“But I’m a Calling Card Traveler now, and I have The Gift. I deserve The Hottest Chick.”

“Alright,” El Puma sighed, “This does not feel without flaw to me, but I wish you luck nonetheless.”

“Alright, thank you.”

Then I went over and told The Duckling I couldn’t go to her room.

“Oh, Alright,” she said. “I just like you and thought we could MeToo about a lot.”

She looked like the saddest Duckling ever, and it almost made me wanna change my mind. But I knew I justed wanted Love from The Hottest Chick so bad.

After saying goodbye to the Duckling I went looking for her. But it had been too long, and she wasn’t in the same place. I finally found her outside leaving the party with some friends.

“This party’s lame,” one said.

“Yeah,” the Hottest Chick said. “Let’s go to NewYorkCity.”

“Yeah, Realities are so much more Real there.”

“Totally,” she said as they walked outta sight.

Then I went back in the party. The Duckling was gone by then, and El Puma was busy Mouth MeTooing some new chick. I awkwardly stood in the middle of the room talking to nobody for a second and then left the party alone again.

5.10 – Track #1 of The Great Trip Mix – Sam Cooke’s “Cupid”

“The Goddess of Music,” The Voice Professor said, “touches certain humans at birth, giving them The Gift to perform music at the highest possible level.”

“What about if you can cry you can sing?” I asked.

“If you can cry you can sing, yeah, but if you got The Gift you can cry and sing better, uh huh.”

“Alright!”

“All of our favorite musicians were Touched. Little Richard, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston… And I believe, tho raw and untrained, you have been, too.”

“Alright!!”

“Uh huh, but you have to understand, The Gift is a precious thing. It’s not enough just to have it, you have to take care of it. You gotta work really hard. You gotta almost pretend like you don’t have The Gift in order to make the most of The Gift. I can help you do this, but you gotta do exactly what I say, uh huh?”

“Uh huh.”

Then she handed me The Great List of Singing Rules.

- Practice every single day
- Warm up with nonsense words before singing songs
- Stand up straight
- Breathe
- Exercise
- Drink plenty of water
- No smoking
- No drinking
- No singing in the car
- No oversinging, especially right before a performance

I didn’t like a lot of the things on the list.

“Singing in the car?” I said. “But that’s where I do all my singing.”

 “Uh huh,” The Voice Professor said. “See, but what’s the most important thing about singing?”

“The Gift?”

“Nuh uh, the most important thing is air. You gotta think of your body as an air machine that needs to be operated correctly. When you’re sitting in a carseat, the machine is like a bent straw. You know what it sounds like when you blow thru a bent straw?”

“What?”

“Phht.”

“Oh.”

“When you’re bent you gotta use too much energy to get sound out, and if you blow too hard you could blow out your whole voice. You always gotta stand up straight to sing.”

“Alright.”

“The Rules ain’t always gonna be fun, but you still gotta follow em, uh huh?”

“Uh huh.”

“Now we gotta pick a song to practice all The Rules on and then sing at the Voice Recital.”

“But what if no one likes the songs I like?”

“That don’t matter, cuz you not gonna blow them away with the song, you gonna blow them away with the voice. Now how bout that oh-oh-oh-uh-huh song you were singing in class?”

“Faithfully?”

“Uh huh, who does that one?”

“Journey.”

“I have never heard of them before, can you play it for me?”

Then I brought it in, and we put it on. The Voice Professor turned it up loud and stuck her ears right up to the speaker and kept saying “uh uh” and “mm” and “I see.”

“Tell me,” she asked. “Who is this singer here?”

“Steve Perry,” I said. “The highest and most powerful voice in all of music.”

“Uh Haha!” she laughed. “Whatever you say.”

When she finished listening to the song, she gave one final “uh huh.”

“Yeah, I can see what he’s doing,” she said.

“What?”

“He’s doing Sam Cooke.”

Same Cooke was a high and powerful soul singer about having many Really Old Hits just before The Beatles started The Great List of Old Songs.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Steve Perry isn’t a true original?”

“You kidding, right? Everybody in music trying to sound like somebody else.”

“Even the Beatles?”

“Please, they were doing Chuck Barry and the Righteous Brothers and Little Richard and the hundreds of now nameless to history Rhythm&Bluesmen from the South who came before them.”

“No way.”

“Uh huh way. Now if you wanna sing like this Steve Journey we gotta go to the source.”

Then she put on Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.”

“Cupid” is a song about The Goddess of Love coming down from The Other World in the form of a winged baby and shooting arrows at Realities to make them fall in Love.

“Now listen to this,” she said. “Your boy may be high and powerful, but Sam Cooke is high and powerful and smooth, uh huh!”

She was right. Sam Cooke’s voice was one of the best I’d ever heard. He could give you The Chills just from one note without even knowing what the song was about.

“Go ahead and sing along,” The Voice Professor told me.

Then I did and I was able to nail it right away.

“Uh huh,” The Voice Professor said. “The Gift.”