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Nashville Scene Grown Up 101

The learning of self-control

By Walter Jowers

SEPTEMBER 21, 1998:  I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about politics. Sure, I vote regularly, and I know who all my representatives are. But as a general rule, I file politics away with stuff like the underground sewer system. I know it's there, I know I'm connected to it, but if I start pondering the fine details, I just get a sick headache.

Maybe it's because politics is mostly about directing the thoughts and deeds of other people. I can't stretch my brain that far. I get up every morning with a fairly simple plan: Do a decent day's work; be a decent husband, father, and friend. Most days, that's enough to put me in the Barcalounger by 6 o'clock.

So believe me when I tell you: My opinions on the president's current troubles are 90 percent personal and maybe 10 percent political.

Some years back, I traveled the South, playing in rock 'n' roll bands. All my friends were single male rock 'n' roll musicians in their teens and early 20s. We spent our lives in bars, surrounded by people who showed up drunk and got drunker as the night went on. Inhibitions were low. Hormones were high.

But even then, the guys who had girlfriends back home had two rules: 1. The 50-mile limit. You took a compass, you measured out 50 miles from home, and declared that circle to be the official-girlfriend zone. Unofficial girlfriends inside the 50-mile limit were prone to showing up at your house, while you were spending time with your official girlfriend. A lot of musicians ended up homeless that way. Some got their guitars smashed or had all their drumheads kicked in.

2. The rub-it rule. Of course, this speaks for itself. Even when he was more than 50 miles from home, a guy with an official girlfriend was still expected to hold out until the temptation became irresistible.

Now, consider that our president, a 50-year-old husband and father, had an unofficial girlfriend right there in the very house that he shared with his wife and daughter. Even worse, he did the first rubbing, according to the Starr report.

You'd think after going that far, he'd just go ahead and have a full-out, flaming, reckless affair, just to make it worth the trouble. But no, he settled for a series of mostly unfinished quickies and that lame cigar thing. All in all, a person could get that many kicks being in the studio audience for The Price is Right.

Here's the thing that makes me wake up at night pouring sweat: If the fully mature, 50-year-old husband/father/leader-of-the-free-world Bill Clinton had been playing saxophone for me in 1978, I would've had to kick his ass out of the band for a couple of reasons. First, he recklessly broke both the 50-mile limit and the rub-it rule. Second, he's guilty of purely half-assed saxophone playing. Furthermore, if he'd lied to me and left me unprepared for his unofficial girlfriend telling tales, banging on the motel-room door, and wrecking band morale, I probably would've pawned his horn for good measure.

Now, 20 years later, I'm a little more serious than I was in the traveling-bar-band days. I figure I owe my wife and child some respect, and I ought not to take silly risks that can embarrass them or wreck their lives. I don't think it's asking too much for the First Man--the reigning silverback alpha male in this country, the guy who controls the nuke button and influences the world economy--to meet these common-sense daily requirements.

I also think we guys ought to keep our lying to a minimum. If your wife asks if a dress makes her look fat, you say no. But if your wife asks if she should go on the Today show and swear up and down that you didn't diddle the intern in George's office, you tell her, "Nope. Better not."

Finally, when it comes down to hiring lawyers to say that a certain kind of sex might not be sex, I need to know two things: First, why are we arresting hookers who specialize in that kind of non-sex? Hmmmm?

Second, who buys that? Even my 1978 drummer, a backsliding multiple-girlfriend specialist if there ever was one, wouldn't have had the gall to try that story on a dead-drunk, unofficial, one-night girlfriend.

Visit Walter Jowers' Web site at http://www.nashscene.com>. Or e-mail him at walter.jowers@nashville.com.

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