Sunday, June 05, 2016

"Hey, Stop Dogging Me Around”-With Blues Empress Koko Taylor In Mind

"Hey, Stop Dogging Me Around”-With Blues Empress Koko Taylor In Mind


By Sam Lowell


Frank Jackman had to laugh, had to memory laugh when he recently listened to the late great blues empress Koko Taylor doing her version of Dog Me Around, an old blues number that dealt with some two-timing, hell, maybe three timing guy, a guy who slips out the back door to his daytime woman after going through all his nighttime gal’s time, sex and dough, maybe left her high and dry to when she got in the family way when they went a little too far without protection one night. Frank’s laugh, his memory laugh when back to his youth, to the days when he first heard blues music, first heard the term “dog me around” from some old Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf record, some vinyl platter (yeah, it has been a while) except of course the sexual roles were reversed and it was some poor Joe getting two-timed, hell, maybe three-timed by woman, a woman who slipped out the back door to her daytime man after going through all her nighttime guy’s time, sex and dough, maybe left him high and dry with nothing but sore balls and nothing else to show for his efforts.

In those old days learning about the blues had been at the feet of his old corner boy Pete Markin hanging around Salducci’s Pizza Parlor who had introduced him, introduced the whole gang, Frankie, Bart, Jack, Jimmy, and a couple of others to the blues that was starting to make a come-back in the early 1960s after being beaten down the road can once rock and roll, no question a child of the blues at least according to later music critics and musicologists but at the time just seen as generational jail-breakout music, took over the airwaves of coolness. Markin was the guy who would, incessantly, give everybody the word that the blues along with the new wave of interest in generic folk music would be the music that would be a boon companion to the new wave of cultural events that would knock everybody socks off in those hopeful days.       

Yeah, Markin was a piece of work, a guy whose untimely early demise down in Mexico over some still undefined busted drug deal with some mal hombres from the cartel was still moaned over among his remaining corner boys when they gathered together. Frank had been thinking more and more about Markin, the old gang, and the old days lately since his retirement gave him time to think back to the “good old days.” Thinking too about things Markin would say, would put into circulation among the corner boys which would become the coin of the realm from that time on, or until he came up with something he liked better.  But this day Frank was thinking more about the times, the lifetime of times, when he had been dogged around, dogged around by every woman who turned his fancy. Every woman who had two-timed, hell, maybe three-timed him. Every woman who after spending all his hard-earned money, his time, his sex had slipped out the back door to catch up with her daytime man. Worse, worst of all the women who left him high and dry with nothing but sore balls to show for his efforts.

Who knows when the dog around started. Hell, Frank knew, knew straight up when the miseries had started, they had started with fair and blond Rosalind who to a twelve something boy was like some maiden out of a Walter Scott novel, something out of chivalrous times, started way back in sixth grade when he had filched an onyx ring from Jason’s Jewelry Store “up the downs” in North Adamsville for her as a sign of his true devotion and she had lost the damn thing the next day, and rather than being contrite about the whole affair had given him the big brush-off. Had gone off with her “day-time,” okay, okay boy Webb Myer as if he didn’t exist. (That “filched” by the way a more mature way of saying the “clip,” the “five-finger discount,” you know without paying that was one of the rites of passage in his corner boy society.)  

From there it was one thing after another tightly earned money spend on dates where there was “no action,” heck, maybe even no second date to propel any action with a series of chicks, the term of art for young women then among his corner boys, starting with Georgia, Linda, Diana, Joan, and half a dozen others whose names after a half a century had escaped him but their number was correct. You know the usual teenage male hunger not being satisfied in the stifling early 1960s red scare Cold War night. Nights when taking the losses hit hard, when “striking out” with some frivolous, lust-less girl, young woman, after all was the kiss of death for one doomed to social isolation when word got around that you had missed the boat. And the word got around quickly enough, quickly enough to make any mad monk NSA or CIA operative blush with envy.   

In young manhood, in college times, maybe as a reflection of the new breeze blowing times as he came of social and political age things seemed to get better for a while but this night he was not interested in memory laughter about successes, such as they were, but about all the times he had gotten the short end of the stick. That time with Irish Mary who led him a merry chase for almost a year who would see him on Friday nights, and only Friday nights for chaste dates who was sucking off and getting pounded by every guy around on Saturday nights, including his best college friend, or better ex-friend. A whole list of short changers, Fiona Faye, Marian, Terry, Leila, Jewel, Jewel the worse of the lot since after giving herself to him on a regular basis once he carefully coaxed her into “doing the do,” another old blues expression learned at the feet of Markin and the reader can figure out with ease exactly what that mean, she ran off with some carny grifter when the low-rent circus hit town and was never heard from again. (They, he and Jewel had bought a silverware set in anticipation of married life, ha-ha.)      

After college though, after the Army whatever silly childish complaints about two-timing women, frigidity, no action, whatever, he had previously encountered seemed like some so much gossamer wing when compared to the heavens and hells of three wives, three marriages and three divorces, complete with a parcel of kids (the kids, good kids and so left out of the memory grim laughter) bringing with those social disasters alimony payments, child support and several college tuitions, the latter which almost broke his spirit. Yeah, Annie B. a French girl whom he knew so well took him to the altar the first time claiming she was pregnant, which she was except by another man. A fact not known until after years of alimony, child support and college payments (again the kid, Luz, a beauty left out of the memory grim laughter). Took him to the altar and then ran back to Paris before six months was over to live with a boyfriend from Norway. Jesus. Then Ruthie R., the best of the lot who just liked to fuck a lot and with as many guys who were willing to indulge her, in the nighttime or day it didn’t seem to matter. Lastly Josie, Josie D. whom he had actually tried to connect with again several years after their divorce but by then although she said she might have been willing under other circumstances she was settled in with her Jewish dentist husband for better or worse. (Frank would in the age of Facebook connect again many, many years later when Josie D. was a widow but by then it was clear to both of them that “you can’t go home again.”)

Here’s the ironic part, here’s the underside of the “been dogged around” part. Our boy Frank whom you would have thought of as having learned a few lessons in life about being the major league strike-out king in getting dogged around as recently as two years before the night he was having his memory grim laughter session had attempted to rekindle an old high school romance after attending against all good sense his 50th anniversary class reunion. It worked for about as long as one would expect once the ex-flame, Diana, started taking about taking trips around the world (and not that “trip around the world” for those who remember that sexual expression of yore). A couple of months and then she went back to some car salesman who also wanted to go around the world to, ah, see places.

More irony? A couple of months before quite by accident he had run into a younger woman, a much younger woman who was looking for an older man to settle in with. Frank was all ears, as ready for the nth leap of faith against a sordid track record as he had been when fair and blond Rosalind beckoned. Of course with younger women older guys had best show plenty of appreciation, plenty of dough, for their even being allowed to breathe the same air as the lovelies. And of course that hustle was what Katerina was all about. All about the illusion of sex, about spending dough in very ingenious ways. Such a situation couldn’t last, couldn’t get past that wanting habits stage once a younger boyfriend surfaced out of nowhere (that is what she claimed anyway). Hey, any time you see Frank around getting ready to regale you with his sorry ass tales of woe about how he had been “dogged around” all his life look back at him with a very jaded eye, a very jaded eye indeed. Some guys are built for the tag.      

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