An Exclusive Excerpt of Steve Almond's Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, Part Two

Bob Schneider, rocker, object of Steve Almond's drooling fandom. - Jimmy Bruch
Jimmy Bruch
Bob Schneider, rocker, object of Steve Almond's drooling fandom.

Austin singer-songwriter/musician Bob Schneider is performing at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room on Wednesday, March 24. To go along with this appearance, we're going to run an exclusive excerpt from author Steve Almond's new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, which Random House will publish next month. Part one was published yesterday; part two is below, and part three will be published tomorrow.

How Not to Woo Your Mancrush Inside, I began sputtering in the precise manner I'd told myself not to sputter. I couldn't stop myself, because I'd grown up in the shadow of two handsome brothers and developed the common American misconception that physical beauty makes people smarter and nobler, and because I was seeing Bob at his ugliest and he was still better looking than Christ.

The living room was scattered with toys and the computer on the kitchen counter was flashing photos of his son. It suddenly seemed important that I inform Bob I had a wife and child, too, a life beyond the borderline creepy feelings that had brought me here.

Me: This must be your son. Very cute. What's his name?

Bob: Luke.

Me: Good name. Good gospel. How old is he?

Bob: Three.

Me: I have a daughter who's one.

Bob: Cool.

Me: So are you planning on having any more?

(Long Pause)

Bob: No.

Steve Almond, looking all coy, hoping Bob will notice.
Steve Almond, looking all coy, hoping Bob will notice.

Me: Stopping at one, huh? Yeah, my wife and I are thinking of having another, not really trying yet, but also not really not trying, if you know what I mean. Hahaha.

(Very Long Pause)

Bob: My wife and I separated two years ago.

Now many things began to add up rather quickly. Such as why there was no sign of his wife or child. Such as why Bob had been asleep at ten a.m. Such as why the premises exuded dishevelment. (What kind of woman allows a pile of white daisies to rot in her front yard?) A more observant person -- a writer, for example -- might have figured this out. I stood, blinking.

"I'm gonna go get dressed," Bob said.

I was ready to apologize and leave. It was obvious he didn't want to be talking to me. And in a weird way, I wasn't sure I wanted to be talking to him either. I'd forgotten the sheer dread that is a central ingredient of hero worship. But then Bob reappeared and said, "You wanna grab some breakfast tacos?" and my heart thumped out a YES.

The joint was called Jim Bob's BBQ. It was across the street from a mall. In fact, it was surrounded by malls. This was the new Texas prairie; Lowe's had run off the longhorn. Inside, the TV was tuned to Fox News. Bob ordered a Diet Coke and an egg and potato breakfast taco. The cashier set a Styrofoam cup on the counter for his soda, then handed me my change, which I immediately tossed into Bob's cup.

How to explain this action?

Near as I can figure, I was so determined to seem like the kind of guy who tipped, to impress Bob with my casual generosity toward the service industry, that I somehow managed to put aside the fact I had seen the cashier put the cup on the counter and, ergo, it was obviously not a tip jar.

Things were not going well.

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