Friday, May 04, 2007
The Merchant of Menace (Or, Natalie No-Pants)
I have a few stories about Natalie Merchant from my college years. She owned a house near the rural, upstate New York campus of my school and was frequently seen out and about. Given that the population up there is sparse to say the least, Miss Merchant was easy to spot at places like the local laundromat, the hippie coffee shop, running through open meadows, etc. etc.
I won't bother to retell all of the stories here.
The gist/punchline/dénouement of each of these stories is this:
She's an asshole.
The other night, I was having dinner with my friend Torrey and our conversation somehow bashed into the topic of Natalie Merchant. I'm sure my eyes lit up with the possibility of telling and retelling and hashing and rehashing and remixing and remolding any one of my many stories about the bleating voice of political consciousness of late-1980s/early 90s alt-pop.
I started in on one of my favorite ditties - a second-hand tale from a female friend of mine. My friend saw Miss Merchant in the college's gym...later, she saw her in the locker room changing and had the courage to go up to her and tell her how much she liked her music.
Merchant, ever the fountainhead of charisma and charm, replied:
"I don't know what you're talking about."
As I relayed this tale to Torrey, he seemed unimpressed by the implied, God-she's-an-asshole ending, so I kicked it up a notch:
"I mean - can you imagine? She's sitting there all naked and shit, clearly lying about her identity. Who does she think she is?"
Torrey rolled his eyes and replied, "The poor woman is sitting there with her bush hanging out, and some rich hippy college girl is up in her grill. Of course she would act that way. I would have hit the bitch."
I then tried to save face with other tales of Merchant's public pissiness - all of which got shot down:
ME: What about the story where she...
TORREY: Freaked out at the Mexican restaurant about the vegetarian entrees?
ME: Or the time...
TORREY: She ignored someone at the landromat?
I tried to go on, but I realized everything else I had to share, I'd already shared and shared and shared.
I found myself deep in heavy Natalie Merchant syndication.
I was my own fucking re-run.