Young Abraham, or "Awesome Abe" as he called himself (no one else did), grew up in the lower-east side of Manhattan in a dilapidated apartment with his orthodox Jewish family. His mother, a housewife and his father a street vendor, Abraham did not live a life of leisure. In fact, it was his older brother, Jeremiah, who seemed to be the beneficiary of what little money was coming in. Abraham would often come home from school only to see his brother sporting his vibrant new slacks. He was immensily jealous of his brother; he seemed to have everything: a quick wit, handsome looks and an endless amount of women he sneeked into the bedroom that they both shared.
The only thing Jeremiah lacked was the very thing that Abraham exceeded at, school marks. Abraham spent afternoons huddled under his dusty sheets armed with his trusty pencil and paper pad. His parents seemed off-put by Abe's obsession with school work, fearing his social skills were deteriorating at an alarming rate. "Why don't you put your little pencil down and play a game of stickball with your friends?" his mother would implore. Abraham would just roll his eyes and pretend he didn't hear her.
When Abe's head wasn't in school work, he was fiercely attached to his phonograph. He had obtained the machine from a street vendor who had failed to sell the disheveled machine every day for the past year. Abe asked the man if he would trade the broken machine for his patched up shoes. Desperate, the vendor agreed. When his mother asked where his shoes had gone, Abe told her that his classmates had ripped them right off his feet (again). It only took a couple weeks of Abe's tinkering to get the machine in working condition.
His most prized possession was the only LP he owned: "Aftermath" by the Rolling Stones. He had found the discarded album melting in the sunlight of a nearby street alley. Though terribly warped, the album was still miraculously playable. Abe would listen to the warbled tracks of "Under My Thumb" and, his favorite, "Paint It, Black" with remarkable glee. Mick Jagger understood him. He had to meet him.
It was a sweltering hot day and Abe was daydreaming under his covers about his upcoming arithmetic test. His visions of being on stage with the Rolling Stones had gone the way of his "Aftermath" record, which was melted and worn so badly now that its tunes were no longer recognizable.
Abe's father came home with a look that Abe recognized immediately: he had had another terrible day at the market. "I just got swindled by some vagrant claiming he had tickets to the hottest new rock and roll band. I only accepted because I gave him some piece-o-junk typewriter that barely works anymore." His father discarded the tickets with his copy of the day's newspaper on the kitchen table.
Abe squinted his eyes to read the fine print on the cardboard tickets and just as "The Rolling Stones" came into focus, his pupils dilated and his eyelids shot open. "Dad, these are THE ROLLING STONES! The greatest band ever!"
"I don't care who they are. I've never heard of them and no one in this house is going to see them. Only reefer-smokers go to rock and roll shows and I'll be damned if I'm going to see my youngest turn into a war-hating hippie."
Abe had only heard his dad swear once before. He was watching the news and was saying something about rice patties, but Abe never really understood what he was talking about. But after seeing the fiery look in his eyes, he feared the potential of an angered father. He vowed to do whatever he could to prevent himself from seeing that side of his father ever again.
But here he stood, staring down the very same irate father who stood between him and his one-and-only dream. His eyed swelled up with confused tears. He ran the full gamut of emotions in mere moments. Anger, dread, devastation, jealousy were all bubbling inside his young head like an adolescent stew. He managed to squeak out a "Yes, sir", before speed-walking to his room where his emotions exploded into his feathery pillow.
After hours of draining tantrums, Abe had come to a conclusion: he was going to the concert, even if it cost him his life. His plan was ill-conceived, but it mattered not. His father was too preoccupied with work and his mother too uninterested to notice Abe's absence. The first thing Abe needed was a groovy outfit. Keith Richards wouldn't want to hang out with some square Jewish boy. He headed straight for his brother's closet and quickly found a neat-looking olive shirt, an oversized tie and leather boots that left plenty of space for his foot to glide in. With almost no real plan in place, Abe simply grabbed the tickets from the kitchen table and headed to the concert.
Abe was uncomfortable walking the streets of New York at night, but he kept his mind from worry by staring at the tickets and imagining the hours to come. Suddenly, he face went white. These were third-row tickets! That couldn't be possible! In an hours time, he would be mere feet from his idols!
He arrived at the small venue hours before the show started. He quickly found his seats, sat down and rested his hands on his bobbling knees. There was a strange aroma in the air, one that reminded him of his older brother.
As other began to file in, Abe would greet them with a friendly nod. "Yeah, I'm at a Rolling Stones concert. I'm cool. Just like you. Cool people nod to each other to let each other know they're cool," he thought to himself. The others looked right through him, but Abe didn't seem to notice or care, he was riding a high.
Soon the time came for the band to take the stage. Abe was eager, but anxious. He double-checked his tickets. It was 8 PM, why weren't they playing? The minutes seemed like hours. He checked his watch. 8:13. His anxiety turned into deliriousness. He turned to his peers desperately trying to find an answer. Was his watch broken? Had he come on the wrong day? Were the Stones not coming?
"Chill, man. It's cool to be late," a long haired fellow assured Abe.
The thought puzzled Abe, but it actually helped calm his body, which was now layered in a thick coat of sweat.
Finally, the band emerged and Abe let out a high-pitched scream that was luckily drowned out by the hundreds of women around him. Abe nearly fainted at the glory of the stage, but was immediately startled by the volume of the band. He tried to ask the long-haired man if it was going to be this loud the entire show, but was cut off by the masses who were rushing the stage.
Abe's body was tossed around Mexican jumping bean until he finally escaped hundreds of yards further from the stage than he had started. He eyed the nearest security guard looking for a helping hand, but was soon lost in the music. How majestic it was! He had never heard the music so pure and unfiltered.
As The Rolling Stones belted out the final tunes of their hour-long setlist, Abe, desperately needing to wipe the sweat from his face, momentarily snapped out of his euphoria to reach for his handkerchief. It had been lost in his scuffle with the fans. Abe pushed his way back into the crowds in order to find his handkerchief or, at the very least, a discarded piece of paper to wipe his brow with. Eventually he found a small rectangular piece of paper, removed his glasses, and buried his face in it. As he removed the soggy paper from his chin, he noticed something strange about the paper. Then it hit him: backstage passes! What a swell night this had become.
Abe didn't even hear the final two songs before the Jagger waltzed off the stage. His mind swelled with images of him and The Rolling Stones discussing the origins of "Paint it Black". Abe had even snuck a piece of paper with his own poetry on it and fantasized of Mr. Jagger using it for inspiration on his new record.
When the show ended, Abe nervously approached the security guard standing by the back door entrance, fearing that he'd somehow know the pass wasn't his. He puffed out his chest, said nothing, held out the pass (hand shaking ever-so-slightly) and let out a huge exhale once he was granted entrance into the backstage halls.
The walkways were covered in a dense fog and the same aroma that Abe had noticed earlier. And the girls! There must have been hundreds of them! All of them dressed in curve-hugging neon dresses. It was magnificent!
Brimming with confidence after fooling the security guard, Abe was fearless in approaching the nearest woman, a tall brunette with voluptuous breasts.
"How'd you like the show, ma'am?" he queried.
"Uh..." she laughed, "Did you just call me ma'am?"
Shocked and confused by his terrible mistake, Abe struggled to formulate a thought, and before he could muster anything that resembled a word she had turned her back to him.
Distraught, Abe hung his head, causing his glasses to unhinge from his ears and fall to the floor. As he reached down to grab them, he noticed an image in a discarded bottle on the ground. It took him several moments to recognize the handsome man in the reflection was, indeed, himself. Excitedly, he quickly slid the glasses into his front pocket and strolled squinty-eyed to the nearest female, his confidence re-installed.
|An awkward moment, where Abe's impaired vision causes him to flirt with a guy he mistakes for a beautiful woman|
Abe was just in the middle of a rant about how the lyrics in "Under My Thumb" directly mirrored his own life when someone screamed out, "They're HERE!"
A wave of people flooded the hallways and, this time, Abe was the aggressor. Shoving several women aside, Abe tried to hop over the crowd to get a short glimpse of the band, who he was sure was waiting at the end of the hallway. Alas, his small stature was not enough to force his way near the end of the hallway, and he soon found himself outside the venue with other disappointed fans.
Mixed between exhaustion and disappointment, Abe contemplated one last charge to get face-to-face with the men he so worshiped, but even in his delirium, he knew there was no chance.
As he walked the barren streets on his way home humming "Lady Jane", Abe reached in his front pocket to don his glasses once again. As his hand slid down the silky pouch, he body became paralyzed in fear. They were gone. Not only had he escaped his home against his father's will, and stolen his brother's clothing, but now he had lost his expensive pair of glasses! He knew his parents would find out and he'd be in for the whooping of his lifetime.
Abe crept into his home and glanced at the clock. It was 1 AM. He stopped and smiled, realizing he had never seen the clock in this formation at night. He tiptoed into his room to find his bed occupied by another one of his brother's girls. Though this night, it didn't bothered him as much. Abe disrobed and rolled together his brother's clothes into a makeshift pillow. He switched on his record player and curled himself into a ball. The record whispered out a tune that resembled "High and Dry." As fearful thoughts of tomorrow's punishment ran through his head, Abe slowly wept himself to sleep...though his tears less frequent and his weeps a little less audible than on a typical night.