Bob Marley
And the 3AM
wake up at three or so in the morning and my heart is going bang-bang-bang. It does that when I indulge myself --- when I have two margaritas instead of one.

In the old days, I could swill a dozen margaritas and then a half a bottle of brandy and dance all night on the table with a lampshade on my head and then come home and sleep like a top. No more.

One of the privileges of being a geezer is that they take away our pleasures one by one. Ten years ago they took away the food festivals, medieval dinners spent consuming whole beeves, lemon chicken swimming in lemon butter, three orders of banana creme cheesecake. After I topped 225 on the Richter scale, we --- my doctor and I --- decided I should be more selective about the things I put in my mouth.

Then they took away most of my drinking privileges. You're talking to a man who was famous for demolishing cases of Corona Beer, singlehandedly, and, afterwards, still talk. Now, a simple six-pack of beer keeps me awake most the night.

Finally, and not soon after, they decided to take away the pleasures of the flesh. You don't want to know the details. My doctor, who is getting to be quite friendly with me now, since I spend so much time with him, complaining about being a geezer, tells me it might be peripartum cardiomyopathy. Or maybe he said transgenital cardiomyopathy. Or perhaps transgenrational pheochromocytoma. In any event, I've pretty much stopped listening to him. I'm no longer interested.

Tonight, despite being on the straight and narrow (one thimbleful of mountain red, no Zabaglione or Creme Brulee, saying my prayers as I settle in) --- I wake up and my heart starts jackhammering and I know, with the certainty that comes to all of us at 3 AM, that I my goose is cooked. "Thank god I didn't pay American Express this month," I think.

I open the door to look out at the world before I say adieu. It's dark, very dark. They've turned off the moon. Most of the stars are fading fast. There is a bird nearby, in the arroyo, singing, "It's real, it's real, it's real." Funny, I never heard that one before.

I turn over on my other side where, because of my tinnitus, I can't hear my heart. The bird grows quiet, or maybe it just up and dies in sympathy. A Very Stupid Song starts up in my inner juke-box --- the one where you don't have to put in any coins, the one where they play the same song over and over again, about fifteen million times, till you get to know it perfectly:

    Please don't worry
    'Bout a thing
    'Cause every little thing's
    Gonna be all right...

My Hit of the Week. Bob Marley. He's not worried. And, being charitable, he doesn't want me to worry, either.

I am not very interested in Bob Marley. If the truth be known, I can't stand Bob Marley. I would prefer anything other than Bob Marley. Give me Smashmouth, The Cramps, The Pet Shop Boys, The Goo-Goo Dolls. Give me Leprosy, Dengue Fever, The Blind Staggers. But spare me Bob Marley.

He wants me not to worry, but I do worry. I worry about global overheating, or whatever it's called. I worry about the Lakers, whoever they are. I worry about the sudden drop in the Dow. I worry about Monica Lewinsky's tummy.

I also worry about my workers, and their goddamn boombox, which started all this. Juan and Chiro and Leopoldo play that Bob Marley song ad nauseum. They think that Bob Marley is the bee's knees.

Tomorrow I will ask Chiro, ¿Cuántas veces hay que oir ese pinche canción? (How many more times am I going to have to listen to this miserable jerk?) I've asked him this before, several times, so I am pretty sure he will say, "¿Quieres que lo quito?" You want me to shut it off. He's very amiable. He also knows where the next paycheck is coming from.

He will turn it off. But we've gone through this particular song-and-dance before. I know that an hour later I'll be hearing some advice. From one B. Marley, off in the distance. He'll be telling me I don't have to worry 'bout a thing cause he knows, he just knows that every little thing's gonna be all right.

--- Carlos Amantea

[This article first appeared in]

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