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I Am Not Obsessed ... MAG
The Mantis are my favorite band. You probably haven't heard their music if you're under the age of 30. Unless, of course, you grew up in a house where music of the '60s and '70s was the only thing played.
I don't know though. There's something about their music that's different than even the Beatles or the Stones. It's stronger, more driving, more intense.
When I listen to their music, every single inch of my body and soul is completely filled with every chord and note and beat. It's like when the Mantis are blasting out of my speakers, there is absolutely nothing else. I'm in a shell, and nothing, nobody, can touch me except Duncan Flagg. He's the lead singer. I'm safe when his voice is ringing in my ears and down my spine.
You should see my room. I've got posters all over the walls, and even a signed record cover, framed. So every way I turn, he's staring at me, with his deep, gray eyes.
But I'm sounding like I've got some romantic attraction to this guy. I don't, seriously. I mean, he's in his fifties, anyway.
It's more of a longing, a desire to know him, to talk to him, to ask him question after question about his life, his music, his concerts.
So yesterday I decided, as The Mantis were playing on my CD player and I sat on my bed gazing at Duncan, I was going to write him a letter. It was like this overpowering sensation. I needed to make contact with this huge
enigma in my life.
Well, it's usually my style to get all excited about something and then forget about it little by little. But for some reason I grabbed my notebook and spent two hours writing Duncan a letter. It wasn't very long, but it had to be perfect, you see. I had to convey my feelings of respect, admiration, and curiosity without sounding like an obsessed fan. I made it very clear in my letter that I wasn't a fanatic who is psycho obsessed but I just wanted to hear from him. It is my dream of dreams (and I told him this) to meet and have a conversation, but California's a long way away, and how many people get to talk to their favorite musicians?
Finally the letter was done. It was, I hoped, strong enough to convey my powerful feelings, but not too strong to make him blow me off. I made a decision that nobody but I would know that I had written to Duncan. I have a nasty habit of telling my secrets to everyone and wishing I'd kept my mouth shut. They wouldn't understand anyway. I am the only one who feels this way about music.
So I sent the letter, snail mail, and waited.
I had it all planned out. He'd write back the day he got it, and send it express. He'd be so impressed with my words and my feelings, so relieved to open a letter and not see the rantings and ravings of a frenzied fan, that he would want to meet me right away.
I could picture him opening the letter in the sun-filled porch in his huge green backyard. Smiling and chuckling as he read it, then getting some paper from his study filled with cases of mementos and awards, and writing a long, detailed reply. He'd even offer to pay for my airfare to his home.
After five days, I started checking the mailbox every day. After a week, I thought maybe he was on a vacation. Surely, he would reply immediately if he had seen my letter.
It was hard not to tell anybody about my letter. I wanted someone to understand how important this was to me. I wanted to say to someone, "Duncan is reading my letter right now as we speak!" But I couldn't. I just couldn't. I knew a little piece of magic would be gone if I told one of my friends and they responded with a blank look and a "Who?"
One month later, I couldn't figure out why a letter from Duncan hadn't come. I decided the letter must have been lost in the mail. There was no other explanation. I knew, I just knew, that Duncan, that wonderful, beautiful, sensitive Duncan, would not have opened a letter from an admirer like me and not wanted to respond right away.
So I decided to move forward. I logged onto the Internet and found his phone number. Long-distance, obviously, but I'd just tell my parents I had called my old friend who moved out of state.
So I called him. What a thrill, to hear his voice (the voice that pumped through my speakers so often), so rich, so intense - over the answering machine.
I left a message saying I hoped he had received my letter, and if he hadn't to call me. Just to clarify, I reminded him that I was the sane, reasonable person who had written, not to be confused with an obsessive fan.
I pictured him walking into his study, perhaps after an afternoon jog, seeing the machine flash, and listening to my message. He would, of course, realize immediately what I was talking about and resolve to finish my letter before dinner.
That was the obvious response to the situation. I was positive that was exactly what he would do.
So I'm waiting and waiting for the call which I'm sure will come. It goes like this - I'll be sitting on my floor, my ear close to the speakers, blasting, as usual, The Mantis. The phone rings, and I lazily flip over to turn down my music expecting a call from a friend or my parents. So I pick up the phone. "Hello?" I say. "Hi, um, is this Stella Lewis?" The voice pronounces my name right, so I figure it isn't a sales call. "Yes," I answer slowly. Pause. I have no idea who it is. "This is Duncan Flagg. I got your letter." So I'm talking to him. I'm actually talking to Duncan. He called me! I've got to think of a response, quick. "Oh, hi ... Thanks so much for calling. What do you think of my proposal to meet for a while. You know, nothing big, just to talk."
"Oh, yeah ... hey, what's that I hear in the background? I can see you've got good taste in music. That's one of my favorite albums." We share a chuckle. "Yeah, that sounds really good. I'd love to meet you. You sound like such a reasonable person. What a relief to get a letter from a person who isn't obsessive and fanatic."
"Well, I'm glad you realized that. That's what I hoped to convey in the letter." Oh, so cool. So collected.
"Well," he says to me, "why don't I meet you at the Galleria in San Francisco on Saturday? I'll be at the Taco Bell at 1:00."
"Sounds great. I'll definitely be there."
"Bye, Stella. And thanks again for writing."
And that's how our phone conversation would go.
But it didn't. He didn't even call. So I decided to move on. Not with my life - but with the plan. It must be done. I must go to his house. I must see him face to face - not in a letter, not over the phone, but eye to eye.
Well, thank goodness for older friends with cars. Monday night was the best time, I figured. Everyone's home on Mondays. So on Monday, August 16, I left in the passenger seat of Riley's car, knowing the day would be the best one of my life.
Four hours of driving - and I'm sure you know what was blasting the whole way. Riley didn't say much, thankfully. When I asked him if he'd drive me 200 miles west and back again, he looked at his watch and shrugged. He's always good for a ride.
I can't believe I'm on my way to meet Duncan Flagg. I'll knock on the door of his well-kept house, Riley resting in the car behind me. He doesn't care much for the Mantis, but understands my passion, I think. He'll open the door ... and there he'll be, and there'll I'll be and I know I'll just be able to feel his power. I'll introduce myself and he'll invite me in and offer me a drink - soda of course. We'll sit in the cool, green backyard, and talk. He'll tell me his inspirations and sorrows. About the other members of the band, and all the fun they had together. And I'll listen and watch. Watch as his golden curly hair floats in the late summer breeze. I'll get his wife to take a picture of us. He'll show me all his awards and albums ...
"We're here." Riley's voice jolts me back to reality. I don't know if I was sleeping or dreaming.
"No ... we can't be here. This can't be it." The houses that surround us are falling apart, trash strewn around, no trace of anything green in sight.
"Look on the mailbox," he tells me. 446 Westbrook Road. That's the address.
"No," I whisper.
Slowly, I pick up my camera and slide out of the car. My footsteps, echo on the cracked cement walkway as I advance toward the peeling door.
Here I am. At the opening to what could be the most wonderful moment of my life. What could be ... what must be ... what might be ...
I raise my hand to knock. Look, it's trembling.
The door swings open. Who is this man, bent over, tangled grey hair, red bloodshot eyes, brown teeth. A crash startles me, he has dropped his bottle, and the vodka is coursing down the stairs, drenching my toes. He eyes meet mine, and I feel his power.
I turn, and go.