July 30, 2009

Dan Aykroyd

Friday evening at the Lodge, in East Hampton, I walked in on the improbable vision of Dan Aykroyd working behind the bar. He shook a silver shaker and passed out rounds of triangle goblets of fluid bliss to awestruck spectators. He was there to promote his new line of brew, Crystal Head Vodka.

I went over to say hello and he introduced me as Foxenberg. Gotta love it! Dan emanates a humble, infectious contentedness and, along with his elixir, a merry time was had. And the martinis were delicious.

Turns out Dan was in town for many reasons, one being to ride the lead motorcycle and guide a parade for the Soldier Ride that honors America?s wounded warriors. This is a huge local happening.

The parade of motorbikes, bicycles, strollers, walkers and the Head Mobile (the Crystal Head Vodka official motor coach) would slither from Amagansett, and via Sag Harbor it would wind up in Montauk.

Before leaving the Lodge that night, Dan invited me to ride on the back of his Harley at the parade. I actually jumped in place at this invitation of the century.

Dan said: ?just be at the fire house in Amagansett, at 9am tomorrow?.

What I don?t say out loud is, ?Hi, my name is Christina, & I?m an insomniac?. Instantaneously, I activated panic mode at the thought of being anywhere at 9am. I dashed home to a bottle of sleeping pills.

The pills did nothing. Dread grew. I took more pills. Inevitably I did sleep, very deeply.

It was mid-afternoon when I awakened. I?d missed everything, and I felt a profound regret.

I tracked Dan down at the Amagansett Liquor store. I intended to apologize for my no-show. At the liquor store Dan sat behind a wood barrel and charmingly conversed with entranced vodka purchasing fans. The see-through liquid is bottled in a clear glass skull that ought to be macabre; but instead is witty.

Without compunction I lie and tell Dan I didn?t show up because I never in a million years thought he was serious. I didn?t have the nerve to admit I over-dosed myself on sleeping pills.

To my astonishment Dan tells me my failure to appear was a good thing! He explains he had to steer the hog at parade speed and it would have been hard for him to manage with my additional weight. I ignored the implication of the mass of my ass.

In a flash I saw it. Bugles would have been bugling. Marines in attendance. I saw myself hopping onto the back of a shiny motorcycle bearing our visiting super-star Dan Aykroyd. And then I saw us tumbling to the tarmac, on account of my own self.

I am in awe of our soldiers and would have had to kill myself if I had mangled their special day.

Everything had worked out perfectly. I almost fainted with relief.

Dusk was nestling into shadows and it was time for Dan to go perform at the concert. Without hesitation he surged with notable fortitude into the motor coach.

I asked him where he gets the energy to get through such grueling days.

He said, ?I feel like I?ve been run over by a truck.?

We rumble off-road, down trails switching left and right through the gangly forest. We?re in the backwoods of the Springs. It is creepy and coal black.

And then came looming flood lights and the outlines of a tent, white peaks pulled tight, merely a roof over a thick group of dazzling young faces. All of them solid looking and intense. I notice one handsome fellow walking with an almost imperceptible limp, my eyes gawk down to acknowledge an artificial lower leg. My heart explodes for him. I am paralyzed by the enormousness of what it all means and I cannot look at him again.

The band Booga Sugar is on the stage, everyone in position, belting out something noisy.

Dan storms up, and the crowd booms. Dan slams right into the song, he is a big man and he can dance like you wouldn?t believe. He went Cajun right before my eyes. Dan?s magnificent perfectly rhythmic hips beat out the bass of the ditty.

I watched the faces of the soldiers. These young people looking at Dan, their eyes, bullets, fixed on him. I saw them, twenty, maybe thirty deep, at the front of the stage, comfortably pressing into an almost solid entity. An entity of hopefulness, and scrubbed youth, and ravaged possibility.

Dan delivered the goods as only he could have. Those beautiful boys and girls, men and women, were lifted from the heaviness if only for the length of time they watched wonderful Dan give them that diversion of joy. And he did. I saw the glow on the faces of those soldiers, sort of a trance. It was magnificent.

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