Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid | AspenTimes.com

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

You know how sometimes you’ll think of a song and then you’ll hear it later that day? That sort of thing happens to me too often to be a coincidence. It’s convinced me that I must be magic.

Here’s an example: Once, at the bank, I was talking with a teller who I thought would be pretty cute if she lost 30 or 40 pounds. Just then, the Queen song “Fat Bottomed Girls” started playing over the bank’s speakers, and I knew my magic made it happen.

Recently, I returned from three weeks abroad to a Colorado in the throes of the hottest, driest, most flammable summer ever, so I decided to see if there was anything my magic and I could do about it. I thought maybe I could affect the weather by going for a hike.

I’ll admit that musical coincidences don’t necessarily give me the ability to influence the weather, but I figured I might as well take the dog for a walk and get some exercise after four hours on a plane. If I could make it rain, so much the better.

It was hot, and I wanted somewhere shady with a creek for Tansy to splash in, so I headed to a seldom-used trailhead called Rocky Fork. I usually have the place to myself, but on this occasion I found two vehicles and a woman tending to the ancient pit toilets near the parking area.

The woman accounted for the pickup truck. The other vehicle belonged to a father and daughter, whom I overtook a quarter-mile up the trail. They’d each brought a golf club – an iron – and they were taking practice swings in the tinder-dry grass.

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I passed by them with a half-joking reminder not to hit any rocks and cause sparks, and then Tansy and I continued up the trail. As I climbed one steep section, dark clouds began to mass overhead. I raised my arms to the skies and asked for rain, and soon it began to drizzle.

As I often do, I wondered just to whom or what I’d been talking – God, Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu, Krishna, Mother Nature, the universe. What was its real name?

I was listening to music, with my iPod set on shuffle, and at that moment, a song called “Crawshay” started playing. The lyrics begin, “Close your eyes, and look at me / For I’m deep, deep in your memory,” and the chorus goes, “But it makes no difference what you think of me. Once again I’m free.”

I imagined the lyrics as if God were singing them, and I realized they were right. God is deep in your memory; it’s not something you see with your eyes. And God is free and doesn’t care what you think of it or what you call it or how you believe it should be worshipped.

As that thought occurred to me, it began to rain harder, making me believe God approved of my assessment. Then, suddenly, I had the overwhelming sensation that the next song was going to be by Santana. Somehow, I just knew it.

It wasn’t. It was “On Broadway,” by George Benson.

Here’s a thing about me: I love to sing whenever I think no one can hear me. Right then, I was positive I had a whole valley to myself, so I started belting out “On Broadway” at the top of my lungs, and the clouds opened up, and it began to pour.

I was halfway through the final verse when two girls -sisters, clearly, and possibly twins – stepped from the trees about 20 feet away. I shut up and turned red with embarrassment, and the rain stopped.

Now, I’m not saying these girls were evil witches who magically appeared to counteract my magic and stop the rain, but they had no reason to be there, and they wore dark bandannas on their heads.

The girls both gave me terrified looks as they passed, and I realized they had been higher in the valley than I was when it started raining. Maybe I was the one whose untimely arrival had made the rain stop. Perhaps I was the evil one.

I was starting to think that might be the case because there’s very little evidence to dispel such a notion, but then it started to drizzle again, and a new song came on: “Everything Is Coming Our Way,” which begins: “Open your eyes. Let it begin with me.”

And yes, it’s by Santana.

Anyway, it seemed significant at the time even if it sounds stupid now.

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