The car door slams, Mary’s dress waves. Like a vision she dances through the automatic doors as the in-store radio plays… Taylor Swift, it’s always Taylor Swift. I think they have her on an endless loop. Did you know Bed Bath & Beyond sells albums now? Neither did I, until I woke up on a shelf here one day, shoulder to shoulder with the soundtrack to the animated movie Trolls. I’m pretty sure we’re the only albums in the store. Are we actually for sale? Are we just props? All I know is, we sit on the top rack of a patio rug display on the outskirts of the Yankee Candle department. Talk about a runaway American dream.
Springsteen worked on me for fourteen months. He spent sixteen hours alone perfecting the Big Man’s sax solo on “Jungleland.” We made the cover of Time and Newsweek in the same week in October 1975. How many albums can say that? Not the fucking Trolls soundtrack, that’s for sure.
And yet, here I am, in a Bed Bath & Beyond in a half-vacant suburban big-box shopping center. It’s depressing as hell, but I try to focus on the positives. At least it’s not a CVS. And it’s pretty much me and a store full of women. See that redhead over there by the spa slippers? I’ve been watching her for a while. Shit, here she comes! OK, let’s do this… Wendy, let me in your giant cart, I wanna be your friend, I wanna guard your dreams and visions. Throw away the Miracle Bamboo Cushion and the Egglettes, baby. It’s all “As Seen on TV” crap, none of it works. But I work, Wendy. Put me on a turntable and I’ll show you what real happiness is. I’ll give you an endless summer night cruising the Park, running down the highways jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. Think the My Pillow guy can do that for you, Wendy? Remind me — how many albums has he sold?
Ah, no harm in trying. Jesus, I haven’t moved in weeks. Aren’t any of these baby-boomer women outraged to see the album that defined their senior year of high school callously displayed next to a tub of giant Toblerone bars? You’d think they’d at least touch me to make sure they’re not hallucinating. Wait a minute — am I the one who’s hallucinating? Maybe I’m living inside Bruce Springsteen’s worst nightmare: One day you’re the Boss, star of an acclaimed one-man show on Broadway, the next day you’re choking on Yankee Candle fumes in a Bed Bath & Beyond. From what I can see of it, this store rips the bones from your back, it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap, especially if you get stuck behind a woman returning all her bridal shower gifts for store credit.
Sometimes I stare out into the parking lot and daydream. I imagine that I can see a barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain. I close my eyes and see her float past the display of Brita filtration pitchers, down the long row of registers (only one cashier working at any given time), past the piles of memory foam bath mats, until she’s standing in front of me, with her long hair falling and her eyes that shine like the midnight sun. And she takes me (but if she wants to break me she’s gonna find out that ain’t so easy to do since I’m a 180-gram audiophile reissue), and we’re gone, on the wind.
But then I open my eyes and I’m still here in this Bed Bath & Beyond, next to — aww man, somebody bought the Trolls album. The weeks turn to months. I spin my wheels, stuck in a rut ‘neath this giant THIS HOME RUNS ON LOVE, LAUGHTER, AND WINE wall canvas that gives this fair city light. Wendy, oh Wendy… Someday girl, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place where we really want to go and we’ll walk in the sun. But till then, I smell like potpourri.