I've Got To Be the First to Hear It
A tan 1988 Buick skylark chugged into the parking lot of the Wal-Mart like a chain-smoking rhinoceros with emphysema. It was exactly 11:47 in the PM. The car parked, illegally, in the handicapped spot closest to the door. The driver, Steve Abernathy, turned the key and waited impatiently for the car to acknowledge he'd disengaged the engine. Because Steve's vehicle was a piece of shit, this could take anywhere from 2 seconds to 2 minutes. Steve felt rushed, so the engine felt the necessity to continue running for a good 30 seconds before dying, briefly starting again, and finally grinding into dormancy. Once he was sure the engine was dead, Steve opened his badly rusted door and hurried inside the Wal-Mart.
Even though it was late, the inside of the store was lit up like noon on a cloudless summer day. One would think there was a small nuclear reactor in the basement from the way box stores use electricity. Oblivious to the myriad mass marketed goods on display everywhere, Steve made a beeline to the music section without even a pause to consider buying "The Breakfast Club" for $2.99. He checked his watch. 11:52. Wondering if he might get lucky- Steve checked the ‘K' section of the CD's, but the one he was looking for wasn't there yet. This was to be expected, the album wouldn't be "officially" released until midnight. With no alternative, Steve loitered until 11:58 before finally approaching a tired looking woman working behind the counter. Her name, as attested by her nametag- was Carole.
"Excuse me Carole- I couldn't help noticing you're not getting ready." He said.
"Getting ready for what?" She asked, wishing for the millionth time total strangers didn't feel the need to call her by her first name. She wasn't their buddy- and it wasn't like they ever introduced themselves in return- the one-way nature of the information flow made her uncomfortable.
Steve didn't look at her like she was his buddy. He looked at her like she was insane.
His response came out more like spit than like words, "The new album is officially released at midnight, and you ask me what you should be getting ready for? To release the music! At midnight! I have to be the first one to hear it."
A look of realization crossed the woman's face. "Oh! I see." She laughed. "Okay, then, what album are you wanting? Is there a new Radiohead album?"
Steve looked offended.
"No. Nothing like that. I am a Christian!"
"Uh, okay." Said the woman, shrugging. Steve looked to be in his 20's- Radiohead was the best selling group for kids in their 20's. "Then what are you looking for then?"
He paused. He never really felt right saying the name of his musical hero out loud. The man was such a genius- such a master of his craft- Steve thought everyone should just know who he was talking about. If the subject was music- who else could he mean? But obviously, like so many others, this woman just didn't get it.
Sounding exasperated, Steve told Carole what he wanted, "The new Kenny G album- his first new release in 17 months and 14 days.