What Would Mick Jagger Do?
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The answer to that question can tell you a lot about a person. The Beatles were all love, hope, and positive spirituality. The Rolling Stones represent pain, loss, and temptation. The Beatles are “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Michelle”, “Something”, and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” The Rolling Stones are “Street Fighting Man”, “Angie”, “Under My Thumb”, and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).” The Beatles are saints and angels. The Rolling Stones are sinners and demons.
So, how would I answer the question? Therein lies my problem. I am more drawn to The Rolling Stones but I have lived my life more like The Beatles. Recently I have questioned whether this has been good for me. How do you live your life more like a saint when a sinner’s life might make me happier?
I should be more specific with my dueling angels and demons. I try to live a moral life in general. I am kind and generous with my family and friends. I try to be there for others when they need help. I am always there to lend a sympathetic ear. I have carried over these traits to my personal relationships. When I am with someone I tend to put my needs second. I internalize conflict until it goes away. I am accommodating and easy going. I try to be the best boyfriend or partner I can be. In short, when it comes to relationships I am The Beatles. The problem is this approach has gotten me nowhere. Maybe I need to lose the nice guy and become the asshole. Maybe I need to be more like The Rolling Stones.
There was one time in my life when I went down the dark path; when I went “Dancing With Mr D.” In the months following the separation from my wife I went into what my dear friend Paul Fain calls my “Man on the Mountain” phase. I drowned my pain in alcohol heavy and often. There was one bar that I favored for my numbing alcoholism. That bar is called Angles, and it offered everything I needed at that time of my life. Angles is in my neighborhood, which meant I could stumble home drunk without much difficulty (though the occasional bruises I would find when I woke up in the morning meant my drunk shuffle wasn’t completely without incident). The bar was rarely full and most of the patrons were older regulars. It is a place my friends like to call “an old man boozer.” I could sit at the bar and be anonymous and my heavy consumption fit right in with the other drinkers. In addition, Angles served good food because it was attached to a small restaurant. I could justify my binge drinking by pairing it with my need for a quality burger.
During the pit of my dark time I would go to Angles at least three to four times a week. Eventually the bartenders knew my name and had my Bud draft waiting for me by the time I sat down at the bar. I was rarely charged for every drink I consumed. Instead I would be given a round number bill that the bartenders thought was fair. In addition, there was one night when the bartender let me and another regular continue drinking after closing time. The regulars also came to know me as one of their own. Pretty soon guys that went by Gunnar and Fuzzy were my comrades in intoxication.
Unfortunately, there was another Angles regular I came to know during this time. My friends and I called her the Angles Cougar because she was older and flirty with all the younger men in the bar. There was one time when three young men from the Navy came were at Angles and she tried to go home with all of them. One fateful night the Angles Cougar focused her attention on me when I was at my most vulnerable. I was already pretty drunk when she showed up and I was contemplating calling it a night. She sat down next to me and soon enough there were a series of drinks waiting for us to consume. Not wanting to be impolite, I accepted the drinks, which included shots, and starting responding to her flirting. More drinks followed and then she propositioned we go back to her apartment. It had been over a year since I had sex and several years since I felt wanted by another person. I had never hooked up with a stranger at a bar nor engaged in a one night stand. In my heavily drunken state and desperation I agreed to go home with her.
What followed was a brief and emotionless sexual experience. It was all “Rocks Off.” Afterward I tried to play it cool with her but she started crying and asked if this meant we were now boyfriend and girlfriend. I told her to just enjoy the moment and I quickly passed out in her bed. I woke up the next morning with the worst hangover I have ever had and with an overwhelming regret for what happened. I quickly used her bathroom, where I miraculously did not vomit; put on my clothes; and wrote a brief note thanking her for the previous night. I tried to wake her up but she was just as passed out as I had been. I then made my quiet escape and started my walk of shame home. I realized that I had finally hit rock bottom.
My post-separation alcoholism ended that night. Things started to get brighter. Divorce papers were soon signed. I started thinking of all the positive directions I could take my life. Angles came to represent all the things that had gone bad in my life and the negative ways I went about dealing with the pain. I didn’t step foot in Angles for well over a year and a half, and only then did I go against my will. A close friend was experiencing a sudden death in his family and he requested a group of us meet him at Angles because he needed our support. During that one time back at Angles the bartenders, who were the same ones during my “regular” phase, no longer called me by name or have my drink ready for me. In fact, they didn’t seem to recognize me at all. Then again, I was barely recognizable to myself during those dark months. After my friends and I ate and had a couple of drinks, the Angles Cougar came in. I slammed down my drink, told my friends I would meet them at the next bar, and made my hasty exit before she could recognize me. I haven’t stepped foot in Angles again.
How does this all fit back in The Beatles and The Rolling Stones? In the days after my one night stand with the Angles Cougar, I informed my good friend Matt about the incident to let him know that I had finally hit my low point. Matt, an avid Stones fan, responded with the following email:
“Bravo, sir. Bravo. You asked yourself the question ‘What Would Mick Jagger Do?’ and you went ahead and did it. I wouldn’t suggest always following the WWMJD analysis, but in particularly dire circumstances (such as these) it’s time to break out the big ammunition. And now you can resume following the infinitely more sane ‘What Would Charlie Watts Do?’ logic, which will keep you out of any serious trouble. Follow ‘What Would Bill Wyman Do’ if you must. On weekends you can bust out the ‘What Would Mick Taylor/Ronnie Wood Do.’ Reserve your Keef for truly desperate times. By the way, under no circumstances should you follow the advice of ‘What Would Brian Jones Do.’”
I have been in two relationships since my divorce and in both of them I was my Beatles self. I was the understanding and easy going boyfriend. Both relationships ended in less than four months and with me experiencing hurt feelings. I became too emotionally attached to the euphoria of new love and I exposed myself to the pain that comes when that love is no longer reciprocal. My feeling is that if I would have been more like the Stones in these relationships then they would have lasted longer and I would not have experienced as much hurt when they ended. Maybe being the asshole is a way to protect myself until I am with someone that truly wants to be with me. Right now “Sister Morphine” seems a lot better than “Love Me Do.” I have to remember to ask myself the next time I meet a women “What Would Mick Jagger Do?” and then do just that.