The People’s Republic of Memory & Distraction

Dear Todd,

I was gonna start all coy like, I’m sure you don’t remember me. . . . Chances are if I remember you, you might still remember me. I will cop to having a most excellent memory. I also have no idea what your life has been like since like 1996. So who knows? Memory is difficult to pin down.

Need a refresher? I was the 6’5″ student newspaper arts editor/burgeoning alcoholic with the Superman tattoo in my cleavage and you were a band guy/bartender at The G.I. Sound familiar?

Anyway, Todd, you’ve been on my mind the past few days. My childhood best friend’s mom died on Sunday and it’s thrown me for a bit of a loop. I did not expect that. Grief, like memory, is hard to pin down.

Yesterday after work when I sat down to write about Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. I tossed on some Soul Coughing because I wanted something sonically busy yet lyrically comfortable. I was looking for something that might distract the grief part of my brain so I could write.

It kinda worked. I did not get the writing done, but composing this letter to you in my head while listening did momentarily distract me from sadness.

I don’t always think of you when I listen to Soul Coughing. I’m not a weirdo memory stalker. I have a long and storied history with this band and the early days of the Internet and one guy who sent me a signed Kurt Vonnegut novel for my 29th birthday. There’s a lot of people with the Soul Coughing tag in my heart.

But you, Todd, you’re the very first who got that tag. Chuck is probably number two because he would always shake his head at me whenever the song would come on.

“Why do you like this so much?” he’d ask.
And I’d just drunkly point to the air, convinced if he looked hard enough he could understand how rad that stand up bass is and he’d see how great this song is the second the high hat tinkled into the bass line.

I don’t think he ever saw it, but he’s still part of the memory.

Yesterday when I tossed on Ruby Vroom there you were the star of the memory. I closed my eyes and as soon as that bass started up there you were behind the bar at The G.I. making me a bloody mary with a side of lemon pepper popcorn. There I was thanking you kindly and begging you, drunkenly, to put on the counting song. Always with the counting song, remember?

Sometimes I would beg you to put Sugar in. Copper Blue, of course. “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” specifically.

You were so kind to me. Reminding me about 6000 times what the name of the song was (“Casiotone Nation”) and the band (Soul Coughing).

Todd, you might be surprised to learn that not only did I eventually remember the band and the song, but that I still know every single word to “Casiotone Nation.” Still. After 28 years. And they say alcohol kills all your brain cells. I sure as hell tried to kill ’em all, didn’t I?

Thank you for being so patient and generous with the CD player. I’m happy your memory has given me some lightness is in a heavy, complicated time.

Hope you’re doing well or howling at the moon or something equally fulfilling,
Jodi aka Chromes aka Chromey Zone

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