Sep. 16th, 2015

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I am somewhere in America, walking across a large shopping mall campus. I need to get to the Parkroyal Hotel to meet some friends, but I’m not sure where it is or of it’s within walking distance. I see a taxi and decide to flag it down.

The taxi is more like a van, and there are already some people inside, but the driver tells me it’s cool – it’s more like a mini-bus service than a taxi service. The driver looks familiar but I can’t place him. He hands me a business card – his name is Tom Petty.

Well that explains it.

The people in the van are a mix of passengers and friends (most of whom I assume are the Heartbreakers), and Petty jokes around with them – it’s like a party, though with no drinks. He pulls up to the front of what I assume is the main shopping mall building and drops off the last of the passengers, then drives off.

As we go up some kind of ramp next to the mall, I ask him if we’re going to the Parkroyal next. He says, “Oh, it’s over there on the left.”

I look out the window. From the elevated vantage point of the ramp I can see that the building we just left has a courtyard in the front, and the courtyard is the lobby of the Parkroyal. So we were already in front of it when he dropped off the last passengers.

“Okay, then just let me out here,” I say.

“Sure, just hold on a minute, I can’t stop right here on the ramp,” he says.

The ramp leads to a vast rooftop parking lot that is technically next to the Parkroyal but still a good distance away. He stops the van and everyone gets out – me, Petty, and the Heartbreakers.

“How come you didn’t just take me to the front entrance again?” I ask.

He scowls. “Because I didn’t want the reception that people were going to give me when I showed up! And they wouldn’t be saying ‘Cobalt!’ neither!”

I seem to remember that “Cobalt” was Petty’s nickname among his fans. I realize now what he’s talking about – he used to be a rock star, now he’s driving a cab, and he doesn’t like the assumptions people make about that.

“I got tired of the music business, and I have more fun driving a cab, but people see you go from rock star to taxi driver and they think it’s because you don’t have any talent anymore, or yr a loser! Well fuck that! I don’t need that shit!”

It’s at this point I realize two things: (1) he’s a little drunk and (2) he doesn’t look like Tom Petty so much as he looks like Gary Busey playing Tom Petty in a TV movie.

Petty sits down on a curb and starts to throw golf balls with enough spin that they rebound back to him. The golf balls keep hitting him in the crotch, but this is apparently on purpose, as he goes off on a monologue about how the only purpose of marriage is for a woman to legally and metaphorically kick a guy in the nuts.

I sit down next to him. “Bad marriage, huh?”

He gives me a look. “Like you don’t know. The media milked it for weeks.”

“I don’t know,” I shrug. “I don’t follow celebrity gossip or watch much TV. I don’t even know who you were married to.”

“Heather Locklear,” he says.

I nod. “Oh, right. I remember hearing about you two being a couple, but I didn’t follow the details. You wanna tell me about it?”

Petty proceeds to tell me about his marriage and divorce from Heather Locklear. The other Heartbreakers fill in some details as well. We all sit there casually throwing golf balls as the story unfolds, and by the end Petty seems to be feeling better.

“It helps to talk about this,” he say. “Especially to someone who didn’t hear the tabloid version first.”

“Yeah,” I say, “my experience is that it’s always good to talk to an outsider who doesn’t care.” When Petty frowns at this, I add, “What I mean is someone who has no stake in the game. Like when you know a couple that gets divorced and yr friends with both of them and they expect you to take a side, and they resent it if you try to stay neutral.”

He nods, then he gets to his feet. “C’mon, I’ll drive you to the lobby.”

And then I woke up.

DISCLAIMER: I'm pretty sure Petty's nickname in real life is not "Cobalt". But that's what he said.

Also, I have no idea if he was ever married to Heather Locklear.

Don’t do me like that,

This is dF


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