Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Ballad of Steven Slater

Posted By on 08.11.10 at 10:57 AM

The phone rang. It was A.E. Eyre.

“I need you to plug my masterpiece,” said Eyre, “the ‘Ballad of Steven Slater.”

I didn't know he’d written a ballad of Steven Slater.

“You published it in March,” Eyre snapped, “in conjunction with my views on the half million dollars someone was giving to your local jingle magazine.”

I dimly remembered. Light Quarterly received the bequest. I couldn’t have been happier.

But I don’t remember any “Ballad of Steven Slater,” I told Eyre.

“I was calling it ‘The Stewardess’ then,” said Eyre. “It was a literary gem in search of the perfect title.”

Between us, Eyre is an opportunist in lifelong search of an opportunity. He rises each morning wondering if this is the day he’ll cash in. That day has not come.

Refresh my memory, I asked Eyre.

He recited:

I’ve seen London. I’ve seen France.
Even Gander once, by chance.
And from my jump seat in the sky
Where salesmen flying coach squeeze by
The wet spots on the nation’s pants.

But Slater isn’t even mentioned, I protested.

“Not mentioned exactly, but strongly implied,” said Eyre.

And it’s only one verse. Every ballad I know has lots of verses. I attempted to demonstrate.

“Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee…”

“I’ll call you back,” said Eyre.

Ten minutes passed. The phone rang again.

“Eyre here,” he said, and started in.

God knows Steven Slater tried.
Getting hassled. Feeling fried.
Until the day he grabbed a beer,
Yanked a handle, tumbled clear.
On the slide and off the schneid.

There’s your second verse,” said Eyre. “But schoolchildren will only be asked to recite the first one.”

I told him to let me know when it went viral.

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