Tuesday, June 28, 2005
It's Not Unusual
Tom Jones is the Man.
One of my earliest memories is repeated listenings of my Mom's scratchy LP of "Tom Jones' Greatest Hits" when I was 4 years old. Dad was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, so my family was living among the mountains and pines of the north. It's a beautiful place, but it is so close to the North Pole that for several weeks during the winter, it gets dark at 2 in the afternoon. And I mean dark. For a 4 year old, that's a tad confusing. Seasame Street is not even half over and all of a sudden it's nighttime. Combine that with snow, ice, and -40 degree cold, going outside to play is not an option. And some days the weather was so bad there would be no TV reception. Nothing but snow and snow. So, in order to entertain her very hyper toddler (and keep her sanity intact), my Mom would play albums for me on the monstrous record player that took up an entire wall of our house. I would sit next to the enormous cabinet, my ear close to one of the enclosed speakers, and I would sing along with whatever it was Mom pulled from the record collection. And my Mom liked to listen to Tom Jones more than any of the other albums in her collection. A lot more. To put it another way, I knew all the words to "She's a Lady," "Delilah," and "What's New, Pussycat?" before I could tie my shoes. But, as much as I enjoyed singing along with Tom's Greatest Hits, I didn't understand why my Mom liked listening to him so much. That is, until last Saturday night.
Imagine if you will, hundreds of women, of every age, race, and height you can imagine, all transfixed by a hairy, sweaty welcoming singing on stage. They scream, they swoon, they sing along. And with every song comes another pair of panties sailing through the air, like Victoria decided to give away every last one of her secrets, hurling each of them at the stage with the sexual frenzy of a giddy teenager. This is the power of Tom Jones, my friends, power I witnessed first hand at the Greek Theater last Saturday night. Thanks to my friend Staci, and the tickets she bought me for my birthday, I had a 16th row view of this unbelievable spectacle. Tom had every woman in the audience eating out of his hand. A wink, a smile, an extra-long final note; Tom charmed and excited the lot, flashing his million dollar grin to the crowd, hypnotizing each and every lady with his smooth voice, his tight pants, and his profuse sweating (two words: Niagara Falls). But Tom's persistent perspiration didn't matter to the ladies. They were his, and no amount of moisture could sway them. I'm sure some of them would have given up their firstborn child for one night alone with Mr. Jones. And the man is 65 years old. 65! One wrong move, one wrongly-timed gyration, he could fall and break a hip. Don't get me wrong, he puts on a hell of a show, but the man isn't as spry as he used to be. But despite the risk of bodily injury, Tom keeps going; one song after another, one dance after another, one sexual innuendo after another, all to the delight of his legion of screaming female fans.
Now I get why my Mom listened to him so much on those dark and stormy winter afternoons. It wasn't to entertain me, it was to entertain her!
I have new respect for the man, the myth, and the legend that is Tom Jones. If only I could harness a tenth of this man's mojo. I'm not asking for the power to make women throw their panties at me at will, just enough to make them at least consider the idea. Too much of Tom's mojo might be too powerful for everyday life. Strange women screaming at me and ripping my clothes off while I'm standing in line at the bank might be a bit awkward.
Fun, but awkward.