John’s Chicken A___ Heart

I didn’t realize that my blog was going to involve swearing.

As I was writing my blog-post the other day, I talked about fear. It reminded me of the time that I met the Tragically Hip in Omaha Nebraska. Specifically, it reminded me of Gord Downie’s personal signature for me.

I went to college in Northwest Iowa in the mid-nineties. Like any good Canadian, I was fiercely loyal to all things Canadian. When we heard that the Tragically Hip were going to be playing at a bar in Omaha, we all got in the car and drove there. It was fantastic. From what I remember the club probably held less than 200 people, and we had a great view of the band and the show. (As near as I can tell, I think this is the show. )

After the show, we didn’t have much else to do, and we were Canadian. So we waited by the exit until the band came out. There was a group of us, and when the band came out, we asked the band for their autographs. I don’t remember if we had sharpies, or if the band brought them out. Whatever the case, the group ended up signing my white t-shirt. It was awesome. I kept the t-shirt for years after, and wish that I still had it today (I don’t.)

And then Gord Downie signed my shirt. The rest of the band signed my shirt with thier names. Gord chose to draw a heart on my shirt. And then after asking my name he wrote, “John’s chicken assed heart.” I have no idea what he meant, or what he observed that made him think of writing that. But he was wasn’t wrong. I was timid, I was tentative, and I certainly wasn’t a picture of a confident leader.

Reflecting on what Gord saw, I wish I could have a talk with him about it now. I am sure he probably wouldn’t remember me, but I wonder what his signature was all about. Was it an observation? Was it just something to write? Why did he select me for this signature?

Sometimes you only know your part of the story. Sometimes the other side will never be told.