One night a couple of weeks ago, while I was home from school for the Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa-Godless Pagan Winter Solstice Human Sacrifice Extravaganza holiday season, I ordered a pizza from - of all places - a local pizzeria.
On the drive across town to pick it up, geriatric rock group Aerosmith's Grammy-winning masterpiece "Janie's Got a Gun" came on the radio.
I was alone, so I did what any self-respecting loser with delusions of rock stardom would do while driving alone: I sang along with the parts I knew (in falsetto), mumbled through the parts I didn't know (in falsetto), and bobbed my head back and forth in the chicken-like way popularized by Mick Jagger in the early seventeenth century (in falsetto).
I arrived at the pizza joint in the middle of the song. I was tempted to continue rocking out until the tune ended, but I feared that someone might walk by my car, catch sight of me, and - mistaking my world-class moves for the spasms and convulsions of a seizure - call an ambulance.
Reluctantly, I killed the engine and stepped out into the real world, where I had to admit that my rock-star delusions were just that - delusions - and that I possessed a sick, feeble mind.
"Janie's Got a Gun" was playing on the sound system when I entered the restaurant. Considering the limited selection of radio stations available in Saranac Lake, I didn't find this development especially surprising.
What I found surprising was that the lone employee standing behind the front counter - a bearded guy wearing a white apron over a black t-shirt - was quietly singing along in falsetto. What I found even more surprising was that he didn't stop when I walked in.
I was the only customer present, so at first I figured he must not have heard me open the door - he must have thought he was still alone. How else to explain why he kept singing? But when the pizza guy looked up from his crossword puzzle and spotted me, he didn't do what I would've done in his position: freeze in mortification, blush, and start clearing my throat, as if I'd only been coughing (in falsetto), not pretending I was Steven Tyler.
Instead, the guy behind the counter asked how he could help me. I told him I'd ordered a large pepperoni pizza under the name "Peaches" (an alias I use to shake the CIA goons I believe track my every move), and he retrieved a pizza box from the top of an oven. Ringing me up, he started to sing along with Aerosmith again, and I felt a twinge of envy at his lack of self-consciousness.
But I was less interested in my envy than in the fact that I hadn't immediately dismissed the pizza guy as delusional and feeble-minded, the way I dismissed myself as delusional and feeble-minded for singing along with the radio (and the way I feared others would dismiss me as delusional and feeble-minded if they heard me singing along with the radio - or, worse, if they saw me impersonating Mick Jagger).
The pizza guy sounded like a man trying to enjoy himself on a slow night at work, and as someone who had experience with slow nights at work, I empathized with him. Also, his singing had enriched my evening - it had turned an otherwise ordinary pizza run into fodder for a humorous personal anecdote.
As the pizza guy handed me my change, I allowed myself to think that maybe my singing along with the radio in the car wasn't any more deviant than his singing along with the radio at work. I was, after all, just passing my drive pleasantly, in the same way the pizza guy was passing his boring night pleasantly.
Of course, I did elaborate rock-star moves in the car, and the pizza guy only appeared to sing, so maybe I really was a deviant.
But then, as I took my pizza and turned to leave, "Janie's got a Gun" ended and Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" began piping from the speakers. I heard the pizza guy start to quietly sing along, and I looked back at him in wide-eyed horror.
I might have been a feeble-minded loser for singing along with Aerosmith and darting my head around like a barnyard fowl - but singing along with Journey? Moves or no moves, I thought, that was just plain sick.
Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at email@example.com or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.