Whenever I hear Neil Diamond's Cracklin' Rosie, I can't help but think of a guy I used to work with. Actually, we were both promotions interns for a radio station at the same time. His name was Bill, but we started calling him "June" because he was a Junior. He was a really funny guy, but he had a bit of an abrasive sense of humor. He was always setting somebody up to be the brunt of his joke. Sometimes it was kind of annoying, but I have to admit, he was funny...even when it was at my expense.
Bill and I worked together every Tuesday, and we were the only interns there that day. Tuesdays were generally Corporate Takeover day, which meant that Bill and I were usually faced with the task of hauling a bunch of swag to the office of whichever company had won the weekly contest. Our weekly trips were always an adventure because we always had either bad directions or were headed to a hard-to-find address, or both. Bill always drove because he was a smoker, and I wouldn't let him smoke in my car. He was definitely one of those guys who would never admit or even acknowledge the fact that he was lost...and we always were.
I can remember one time, in particular, when our travels took us to downtown Chicago, about as far east as you can go on Randolph without being in Lake Michigan. The thing that we didn't realize was that Randolph was a one-way street heading west. And there was also a Lower Randolph (screwy Chicago and its screwy lower streets...). To make a long story short, we circled around the Grant Park area no less than 10 times, each time ending up on Lower Randolph when we wanted to be on Upper Randolph, with Bill getting more and more agitated with each loop we made. By the time we finally figured out how to get to the building we were heading towards, he had eaten a bunch of the candy bars and stuff that we had brought to give out.
The other thing I remember from that particular trip was that he told me, as we passed over a drawbridge on the way back out to the west side of the city, that he'd like to be the guy who sits in the tower and occasionally has to raise and lower the drawbridge. He insisted that he would like either that job, or the graveyard shift at any gas station, because he wouldn't have to do much and would have a lot of down time to play his banjo. That's the kind of guy he was.
One of my favorite moments from my internship involved Bill and I traveling either to or from a Corporate Takeover. Once we got over the initial weirdness of the, "Um, do you care if we don't listen to the radio station that we are currently working for," Bill would station surf to the point I wanted to smack him. Then he would inevitably settle on something weird. One day, he paused on the Oldies station and Cracklin' Rosie came on. At that point in my life, I don't remember having strong feelings one way or the other toward that song. I certainly didn't mind it, but I fully expected him to change the station. Instead, he turned the song up REALLY loud. And then proceeded to sing even louder. Then I joined in, and for the next 3 minutes, we did nothing but drive and sing Cracklin' Rosie at the top of our lungs. We must have been a sight to behold. When the song finished, he turned down the radio and said, "Sorry. I just really like that song." And then we proceeded along as if nothing had happened.
When our internships ended at the end of 2001, we parted ways and I haven't seen him since. Occasionally he'll cross my mind, along with all sorts of other people that I wonder what the hell happened to. Today I heard Cracklin' Rosie on my way home from work and it prompted me to run a google search on him to see anything turned up. As it turns out, he's doing quite a bit of improv these days, which of course makes me insanely jealous. But I'm happy for him--I bet he's really good at it. And I wouldn't want the song Cracklin' Rosie to remind me of anyone else.