Get A Grip

There are some bands that I consider myself a completist for and some I am fanatical about.

Aerosmith isn’t one of those bands. Do I own all of their albums? Yes. Have I seen them live on more than one occasion? Yes. Then why do I have the French pressing of Get A Grip in my collection? I have not the slightest idea.

Actually, I do have an inkling. I had heard about the album being the first one in 4 years being released. Back in the early 90s, any classic rock band that had come out of the woodwork to drop some new material, as opposed to the regurgitated greatest hits compilation, was a pretty big deal. I was shopping at the Compact Disc World on Route 1 and the cover caught my eye. Not the one with the big, pierced cow udder but the fuzzy one. Yes, the fuzzy one. In my naivete, in the back of my mind there are some times when I thought I stumbled upon something rare and it may be worth something someday. For the record, I am still yet to stumble upon that Holy Grail, and I don’t think I’ll have a clue what it is when I actually find it.

It was  a last-minute purchase. Basically, the better part of an hour had passed while I was shopping and there was nothing in my hands as I was heading out the door. There, on the top of the “New Releases” display was the Get A Grip CD with the French edition beside it. My wallet was burning at the thought of having something new to play in my truck. Did I want to pay the $11.99 for the regular “peasant version” or did I want to spend the $18.99 for the “Plebeian version” with the same number of tracks? Yes, I spent the money on the French version with the fuzzy cover.

I remember the first day of Senior year in High School as being cold, maybe a little frost on the ground. Not really that important as I had driven my Dad’s Cadillac that day while my parents were to be in New York at a business event. Knowing that my parents wouldn’t be home until later that evening, I convinced Dave to come home with me to watch a movie. Dave was a good guy, got good grades, and played in the marching band. I thought that if I were to associate with him, my social circles would expand and the quality of my social life would exponentially improve. At least, that’s what I thought.

On the way home from our first 1/2 day of Senior year. We stopped off at the video store where my family and I knew the owners quite well. I wasn’t 18 at the time, but was able to pick up a copy of Army Of Darkness (Dave’s suggestion) and Nurse Nancy. We had no interest in watching the porn together and all of my previous porn viewing was limited to an audience of 1. Wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I don’t remember caring much at all.

We got to my house and popped in Army Of Darkness. It was OK. I didn’t get the inside jokes from not having watched the prequels but laughed along as Dave seemed to like it. After polishing off Army Of Darkness, I can’t remember watching any of Nurse Nancy. I do remember Dave saying that he needed to get home and get some homework done. So we jumped in my Dad’s Cadillac and headed towards Dave’s house about 3 miles away.

In the car I had a homemade tape of Aerosmith’s Get A Grip in anticipation of Dave agreeing to the movie invite. I heard he was an Aerosmith fan and having the French edition of their latest album made me think I was a shoe-in to join his circle of friends. Pulling out of the driveway, I wanted to show off the low-end of the Bose speakers in the car. As the “Intro” thumped in, we were on the way to Dave’s house and then it segued into “Eat The Rich”. What happened after that, I am still trying to figure out why I did what I did.

We had the windows down and we may or may not have been singing along with the chorus. Where we lived was a lot of farm land and long straight roads. Going down one road that led to the Middle School, I made a right turn onto a road that I remember as being straight. I don’t know why I did it, Dave’s house was in the opposite direction. Firing on the adrenaline of the entire day’s events, I put the pedal to the floor and I heard all the horses under the hood roar into action. We hurled through space in a two-ton machine down a road that I remembered as being straight. The digital speedometer kept climbing. At one point it was only displaying the even numbers…64, 66, 68, 70…and so on.

The part of the road that I remember as being straight, was straight, it was the curve in the road that I didn’t remember. This wasn’t a new road. This was a road that I had traveled often, but never took into consideration the argument of speed vs. geometry vs. physics that day. As we approached the curve, I looked down at the speedometer. It read 85. I looked at Dave and he looked back at me. Scared. I slammed on the brakes and prayed that the ABS brakes would be able to take us through the curve.

They didn’t.

Hit a telephone pole, turned it into toothpicks, and split a Cadillac in two.

I blacked out.

I woke up with the smell of burnt powder from the air bag deploying and the engine still running. Asking Dave if he was OK, all I heard was, “Yeah.” I was unaware of the EMS team that was already pulling him out of the front seat through the rear of the car. That was the last conversation I would ever have with Dave.

Being in business, Dad had a cell phone in the car that was mounted just under the radio. I picked it up and called home, where my sister would be home from school. I can’t remember the conversation other than it being to get in touch with Mom and Dad. I don’t recall mentioning how bad the accident was, just that they needed to come home. The EMS crew told me to turn off the car. They were surprised the engine was still running as the gas tank lay about 100 yards away in a field. They pulled me out of the front seat, put me on a stretcher and we headed to the hospital.

All this time, I had a headache and a small cut on my wrist where I was cut by a piece of glass from the window that shattered upon impact. I felt fine, as fine as anyone could feel after they had been in an accident. Come to find out later, there was a sub-dermal hematoma on my right hip as well. Didn’t hurt, was just ugly to look at.

That night in the hospital was a blur as I can’t remember how much time past between when I was checked in, the anal probe for internal bleeding, and my parents showing up. I also don’t know how my mom’s friend Joan showed up. She may have been driving home, saw the accident, and got in touch with my parents. I know Joan was involved because, for some reason, she took my parents to see the car before she brought them to see me. In hindsight, it may have been a blessing.

Mom made me stay home from school for a couple of days and upon my return I found out that people thought I was dead. There was no outpouring of support, or a hero’s welcome (not that I expected one). The world just seemed to get on fine without me.

But Dave and I never spoke again after the accident. We would see each other in the hallway and avoid each other. At one point we were awkwardly in the same room and I was able to corner him to say a simple, “I’m sorry.” I didnt’ want to bring up the accident or how his head hit the windshield, just looking for some sort of closure.

And he just walked away. No response, no reaction, nothing.

1.Eat The Rich4:34
2.Get A Grip3:58
4.Livin' On The Edge6:07
6.Walk On Down3:39
7.Shut Up And Dance4:56
9.Gotta Love It5:58
11.Line Up4:03
13.Boogie Man2:17