Vigil

Transcribed by: Tlyco@aol.com
Vigil. I don't know what a vigil is. I some idea, though, that it involves candles -- the lighting of candles -- the making and breaking of eye contact, sad shrugs and words that aren't like ::the sound of exhaling through one's nose:: ::a "tach" clicking of the tongue:: ::a "haa" sigh:: I've never been to a vigil. I've never been to a funeral. Well, I've been to some bad parties that people said that reminded them of funerals. The closest thing to a vigil? Three turtles I flushed down the toilet in 1973.

A vigil isn't even a funeral. It's like going to a drive-in with no screen. And, I've never been to a bad party that people said reminded them of a vigil. We all get through life scathed and unscathed in our own ways. Growing up? I owned four Toyotas that were in a total of fifteen crashes, but never. . .a vigil.

The bluest skies I've ever seen weren't in Seattle. The greenest hills I've ever seen weren't in Seattle. When I arrived in that coastal town, there was only shades of gray. I arrived in Seattle ninety minutes prior to the vigil. I hate to admit, but upon arrival, for a selfish, confused instant, I thought the attention might have been about me -- the same way I felt when I saw those kids who lined the hotel lobby in Winnipeg. I thought to myself, "Oh great. I've got to go though a gauntlet of hockey-jacketed teens, holding pens, screaming, 'My pe-een. My pe-een.'" But they were not there for me. They did not return my fake smile. They were there for the King -- the King in the big L.A. Kings' bus, that pulled up minutes after our. . .van. The hockey players got out -- suits on, broken noses, farm-born millionaires. And last. . .came Gretzky -- little, long hair, alone, and powerful, like Mother Theresa must have looked in her 30's.

Our Seattle van driver told me a good place to eat steak, that he had driven *Kurt* on New Year's Eve, and that he was *really* messed up. But, they always say that. Wherever they drive anywhere, ever, is always really messed up, which means they're probably just quiet, thinkin' about somethin'. I could just see two girls in a Seattle suburb, if Seattle had suburbs; I didn't know, I had just arrived. I hadn't even eaten my steak yet. I could just see two girls in a Seattle suburb:

"Well, what are ya gonna wear to the vigil?"
"Well, black, of course."
"But, what would he want me to wear?"
That's the point.

In my room, I just stared into the distance. Well, all right, I watched TV. I was torn between my own sleep and going down to the Square. I just didn't know if I was in the mood to see beautiful 17-year old children in dreadlocks -- white hippies celebrating dark death. Cynicism is my whisky, and I had a few.

So, are the other two guys gonna get a new singer? Robert Plant could use a job.

Would the Square still be full if he had simply slipped on a small hotel soap, gargled his tongue, and gone?

What if it wasn't a beautiful blue-eyed, black-hearted, blond boy? What if it had been someone like Aaron Neville?

Don't get me wrong. Someone sad and crazy had done something hideous and left a lot of stronger people behind. There was not a lot else to be said. And the next day, I went for a run along the ocean -- well, along an asphalt path along the ocean. And, twenty minutes in, I stopped beside some wood -- you know, planks? -- that someone had made to spell, "Bye Kurt." I took a breath, looked up at Seattle, and wondered: What didn't he see? And if I've ever been to a vigil, I guess. . .that. . .was it.


Credit to Bruce McCulloch/Atlantic Records