That night, do you remember that night? The three of us in your car singing Me and Bobby McGee loud and true and mostly on key. Our voices scraped raw by hours of karaoke and having to shout to be heard in the smoky car – remember when you could still smoke in bars? And being surprised that he could sing at all, because at karaoke he would always sort of speak-sing like he was too cool for, like, melody. His songs turned into spoken word poetry

Which was also a thing he was too cool for

Remember?

Remember how the CD deck in your car used to skip, once in a while, until you rapped the dashboard, and how you popped it out of its niche in the console when you parked outside my apartment? But that night it played smooth, and we sang out, “Feeling good was good enough for me,” and we floated home across the bridge

We were weightless and even the fog could not resist us

10 Comments

  1. sara lippmann

    So, Jenn I’m in love with this voice, from the very first line, the rhythm and pov — and I love how this voice carries us through. I am a sucker for any story on youth and lust and the recklessness and messiness and glory of it all, the invincibility, the raw voices, that I read this as sex — as a threesome. And I think that’s right but that’s how I read it, in case I’m widely wrong, and just projecting.

    If it is a threesome (or not), I wonder why the “he” goes unnamed. Does it create an undesired layer of distance? How might naming shore up some of that immediacy, and dial the urgency in the car?

    There is so much expectation/promise in the repetition of “that night” and “remember” that signals this is a small moment of before and after which they are irrevocably changed. (threesome!) But I do kind of hunger for a bit more delivery on that build-up, i.e. one or two more concrete details that speak to the heat of that night. I don’t need to see it, but I could. Either way, some kind of shown suggestion through choice detail — especially if my default read is totally off base.

    Which is to say, if you think you’re being “obvious” you’re not, and sometimes just saying it outright can increase readerly investment. We are already so attached to this voice. I want to be inside of this moment fully.

    And I so LOVE — we sang out, “Feeling good was good enough for me,” and we floated home across the bridge — that I’m not sure you need the last sentence. Weightlessness and irresistibility feel implicit — and I like the idea of ending on the image of the bridge (especially if it is a threesome, as there is good metaphorical symmetry there.)

    Thanks!

    • Jenn Rossmann

      Sara, thanks for this generous response — and thanks for the lessons and prompts that (finally!) inspired me to sit down and put some new words together this weekend. I’m already looking forward to working more on this piece — which yes, you’ve interpreted correctly!

  2. April Bradley

    Jenn, I love the details you reveal here like, “Our voices scraped raw by hours of karaoke and having to shout to be heard in the smoky car – remember when you could still smoke in bars?” I feel like I’ve been invited into an intimate conversation and I want to intrude more, know more about what I’m not supposed to know. Beautiful writing!

  3. Todd Clay Stuart

    Jenn, I love the inventive omission of hard stops in this. Almost like the narrator doesn’t want the memories to end. And the voice. THAT voice. Loved it. Amazing coincidence but just last week I was watching a video on YouTube about Janis Joplin, and Kris Kristofferson explained how Janis came about singing Me and Bobby McGee, which Kris wrote. Nice work!

  4. Nancy Bauer-King

    Jenn. Great opening and excellent voice. I was drawn right in and felt I was right there in the scene. I like the way questions carry the narrative – as if they were asked of me, too. This evoked my own memories. Beautiful. Thank You.

  5. Kristen Ploetz

    What I think I love most about this is the repetition of “remember” … haven’t we all been there, trying to convince another person who shared an experience with us of how it actually went down, at least in our memories which, as we all know, are always a bit foggy in some regard. It makes me also wonder whether the narrator is trying to convince whoever they are speaking to, or themselves. Don’t we also do that too? So it is many layers in play here with just that one word. And that last line is great with the use of “weightless” … how many times do we actually feel like that in our lives, but when we do? It’s visceral. Well done.

  6. David O'Connor

    Jenn, what a full scene painted in so few words, I can hear the music, feel the night. I like how it looks on the screen too, with solid paragraphs with stand-alone lines. That last sentence is a winner!

  7. Trent

    Hi Jenn –

    Agree with Kristen about “remember” as a kind of lever in conversation, and this illustrates that.

    For some reason, I’m drawn to the skipping CD – not just because it shows the markings of an era, with the tech – but how
    it might be a metaphor. Something that’s slight, but a kind of flaw – makes me think that shows a layer to the characters and
    how everything becomes later on… anyhow, kudos on the imagery!

  8. Meg Tuite

    Jenn! This creates a mesmerizing mood. I do feel like I’m in the car with them and everything is free. There are no worries. It’s gorgeous and palpable and doesn’t matter whether there’s a future or a past with these people. They are together and this night is the night. LOVE!!

  9. Laurie Marshall

    Too cool for melody. ❤️ I love these details and the moment of remembering you’ve shared here.

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