LIKE NEEDLE TO RECORD by Tomas Moniz

Terrance tells me choose a record and I struggle. He’s a new friend. A very sexy friend. I need friends. We have one in common, Metal Matt, who’s orchestrated this meetup, aka blind brunch date, slash hook-up. But with friends with records like these, you know. Plus I don’t want to offend.

There’s Rihanna, understandable.

Peaches, okay.

But the predominance of ‘80s music stupefies.

The closest thing to metal: Alice in Chains. I figure sure why not. I pull the album from the shelf.  

I say, How’s this, and hold the record high.

He’s in the kitchen constructing our bowls of quinoa and garbanzo beans and swiss chard (easier to digest than kale, I’m informed) real bacon (for him) and tempeh bacon (for me).

We’re both trying to get healthy. No booze. No wheat. No drama.

He doesn’t look up but says, Doesn’t matter.

I say, Honestly? Everyone always says that but really?

He says, If I own it, I should have no problem playing it.

I say, I agree.

But secretly I don’t. There’s times I want something specific, the long hard build up of doommetal or the fast punch in the face of thrash.

Everything matters.

This shit’s serious you know.

I pull the record out and it has this plastic sleeve that crinkles and bunches. I can’t imagine trying to slide it back on. I figure I’ll deal with the stress later and place the album on the turntable. The needle moves and the speakers crackle to life. But it’s not anything remotely like metal. These synthesizers hum, slow and rhythmic. Then another joins, an octave higher. A drum machine begins and bumps along. It all coalesces into this rhythmic clapping beat and all I can do is bob my head. Suddenly, Terrance races in from the kitchen with a spoon and acts like it’s a mic. He belts along with this nasally singer: This is not love / This is not even worth a point of view, and it’s the worst, most beautiful thing ever.

I say, This is not Alice in Chains.

He says, This, my friend, is the immortal Gary Numan.

I say, Never heard of him.

He says, Sadly, he’s mostly a trivia trick question because his biggest hit is called Cars and everyone thinks it’s by the band Cars.

I say, Wait. Are you serious? It’s not by Cars?

He smirks but says, I’m so glad you found it. I’ve been looking for it.

I say, You have?

And realize I sound so dismissive and he’s so cute.

He says, Sometimes what you need finds you.

I sit cross legged on the carpet in this one bedroom apartment and smile up to him. I must look some kind of way because he says, Let’s dance.

I say, It’s like 10:30 in the morning. I’m not only sober but haven’t even had any coffee.

He pushes me and says, You’re afraid you can’t dance because you’re sober and uncaffeinated?

He stares at me. He’s still holding the spoon up to his mouth. Like he’s hungry. I look at his chest and see he’s got a handmade tattoo of that trucker lady logo. I see the legs pointing toward his armpit.

I say, You want me to dance to this song?

He says, What would you like?

I say, Not the 80s.

He says, Fine, and kills the record player and steps to the computer on the coffee table and flips it open.

He says, How’s this playlist: Cali Love. Don’t ask what’s on it. Let’s just find out together.

I shrug like of course but I can’t help it. I step to the screen and see some names I know: Joni Mitchell, Missing Persons, Warren G and Kamaiyah. But then I see the A Tale of Two Andre’s album cover and the song “My Homeboy’s Chevy.” I click on it. It opens with Mac Dre saying, Stop thugging out and get your weed from the store the legit way. He begins to rap and we both bounce our shoulders to the beat. Then Terrance dances. And I dance. We keep two feet distance between us and then I reach a hand out and he reaches out and we touch. Like needle to record. Like voice track to drum track. Like welcome home and stay a while.

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