A Glitch in the System

I opened an email from Spotify this morning that looked harmless enough. Mark, 9 music suggestions for you, the subject line read.

Awesome. I love music. I’m always down for suggestions.

You listened to Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers, it screamed at me. You might like this song.

“Did not!” I practically shouted, startling Tara.

“Did not what?” she asked.

“Umm…nothing.” My shame over being called out over email for listening to country music was deep enough. I didn’t need to share this fact with the woman who is about to be my wife. But she pressed me, and I caved.

“Spotify thinks I’ll like some Willie Nelson song.”

“Why would they think that?”

“Beats me. Must be a glitch in the system.”

Only, there was no glitch in the system. The sad, horrifying truth is, I did – in a moment of weakness, and only once – listen to songs by Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers. I’m not proud to admit this, nor can I offer a reasonable explanation why I did it. I guess I was just in “one of those moods” that afternoon. You know, the kind where you abandon all semblance of good taste and do something entirely out of character. Like get an itchin’ to hear “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

Fine, Spotify. I did listen to Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers one afternoon. But I didn’t hum along, and I certainly refrained from singing any of the songs out loud.

Tense beginning to the week aside, I was actually somewhat happy to get to work this morning, because boy did Tara work me over the weekend. And not in a good way: she literally worked me. Saturday was spent cleaning and rearranging. While she was busy shampooing the carpets, I emptied out the storage unit (requiring multiple trips and lots of heavy lifting), hauled everything upstairs into the kids’ old bedrooms, and stacked it all in their closets. We figured, why pay $60 a month for storage, when we suddenly have all this empty space available for free? You can’t fault that sort of logic, but man, are my muscles paying for it. My lower back, and especially my calves, are aching, two days later. Must have been all the trips back and forth, up and down the stairs, up and down a ladder, etc.

“That’s what happens when you sit behind a desk all day,” Tara said, which made me feel kinda bad, but at least she didn’t say, “That’s what happens when you sit behind a desk all day listening to Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers.

(For the record, the Spotify email also said I might like The Velvet Underground since I listened to Sonic Youth and The Pixies. Infinitely cooler suggestions, so I was feeling somewhat redeemed, until I scrolled down further and found suggestions for Hank Williams and Merle Haggard “based on your musical tastes.” No! That’s bullshit! Those are not my “musical tastes!”).

Anyway. While Saturday, instead of hanging out around a campfire toasting marshmallows and drinking as originally planned – our spontaneous trip to Ely put the kibosh on a would’ve-been-fun camping trip – was full of backbreaking work, at least we got to start the weekend in style. Tara and I took a half-day on Friday, so we could go to the Multnomah County Courthouse to pick up our marriage license. The whole process only took about ten minutes, actually. It’s pretty painless: nothing required other than the bride and groom to show up in person and pay $60 in cash. Sentimentalist that I am, I was beaming the whole time. Tara kidded me for this, but what can I say? It was a huge moment. It’s not everyday one picks up a piece of paper legally permitting him to marry the girl of his dreams. Hey, I thought it was a big deal! Tara was too busy growling about “traffic in the city,” which just goes to show you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

Since we had a bunch of free hours to kill and were already in our favorite section of town, we decided to take advantage, which meant a stop at Music Millennium for some records, followed by drinks at A Roadside Attraction, a pretty cool bar right off Hawthorne that looks like an oasis in the city. The entrance is practically hidden by overgrown bushes, and when you step through the door, you emerge onto a patio covered with a tin roof and filled with picnic tables and lots of kitschy Hawaiian decor. We tucked ourselves into a cozy little hideaway and enjoyed a few strong drinks. Our friend and new Portland transplant Kara joined us, and after catching up we walked over to Lardo, a former food cart-turned-brick-and-mortar restaurant devoted to all things swine. And bread, since their menu consists of sandwiches, but what a variety they’ve got. The food was outstanding! Tara got the Smoked Coppa Cubano, Kara chose a Pork Meatball Banh Mi with sriracha mayo, and I opted for the Cold Fried Chicken with pickles, bacon, and spicy blue cheese. And we split an order of Dirty Fries which came with “pork scraps, marinated peppers, fried herbs, and parmesan.” Holy shit, the food was good (and cheap). We sat outside on a picnic table beneath festively strung white lights and watched as the sun sank beneath the West Hills on a perfectly comfortable Portland evening. Meanwhile, music played over the loudspeakers, and you can bet your ass none of it was Waylon Jennings or Kenny Rogers.

Friday evening, summarized.
Friday evening, summarized.

Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

14 thoughts on “A Glitch in the System

  1. I resent your implication (well, your outright shouting) that Willie Nelson is not cool. Kenny Rogers, Not Cool. Willie and Waylon and Hank–Cool. You cannot get cooler than Johnny Cash. EVERYONE knows that. Jeez.


    1. I agree with one thing here: you cannot get cooler than Johnny Cash. Amen to that! The Man In Black could teach every aspiring musician a thing or three. But the others? Just not my cup of tea.


    1. Thanks! Kind of a momentous occasion, huh? I still remember the day I picked up my first marriage license. And I certainly don’t rank that as one of the happier days in my life, now that I can look back on it. But it was memorable, and a big deal.


  2. Why is it that many people cringe when you tell them you enjoy some country music? I don’t listen to it a lot, but there are some country vocal artists that I really like and listen to. I love Bonnie Raitt (even though she is a mixture of genres), and I also love Martina McBride.

    ” Tara and I took a half-day on Friday, so we could go to the Multnomah County Courthouse to pick up our marriage license.”

    Oh, how exciting, Mark!


  3. I know how you feel. Sometimes Pandora is all like “You’ll like this song from Fiddler on the Roof” and I’m all like “No thanks, I don’t really want ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ stuck in my head all day.”

    Lardo is a sweet name for a restaurant. Sounds good and greasy.

    Biddy biddy biddy biddy biddy bum…



  4. I must admit that I sneak the odd country song when nobody is looking. Trouble is that later in the day, without thinking, I find myself singing it out loud. I do this to songs I don’t even like, or think I don’t like.


    1. I hate when that happens! The only worse thing than a songbomb is a songbomb that you don’t even like. For instance, what if Air Supply’s “All Out Of Love” was stuck in your head all day long? You’d be about ready to strangle yourself!

      Unless you like Air Supply, of course.


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