My perfect day.
(Originally published on ABBAMAIL, Non ABBA Related and MySpace June 2008)

It is my birthday in a couple days and Fiona asked what I would like to do. I don't know. She said, well, then, tell me what your perfect day would be. I've thought about it and here it is.

My perfect day.

I wake up quietly, peacefully, in my own bed, around 8am, it's light and warm but not hot, Sebastian (my cat) is sleeping on the edge of the bed (not the middle), and I realize that I've slept soundly through the night, no nightmares, no sleepwalking, no critters in the house. I look around and notice that all my clothes are put away, and all my books and records are put away, there is plenty of shelf space. I get out of bed, pass the reflection of my naked self in the full length mirror, and think, damn, the new trainer and diet are really working! I wonder if I could get away with not wearing a shirt today, but I decide I need to be sensible. This is LA, but you can only get away with so much.

I go into my clean and large bathroom, have a refreshing shower in my redecorated and perfectly functioning shower, I don't need to wash my hair, it looks and feels great. My kitchen is clean, and light shines in through the clean windows. I feed the cat and the fish and effortlessly prepare eggs (over medium), bacon (crisp but not charred) and a mixture of chopped tomatoes and cucumber. While reading the newspaper (the economy is good, gas prices have been cut in half, and Hillary is a shoe-in), breakfast is polished off with a muffin and strawberry jam, which will not give me a headache and will not expand my waist line. The food nourishes my body and gives me energy, with no side effects, and my teeth do not hurt as I'm eating.

I sit down at my clean desk, my computer is working perfectly, and I check my email and there is no spam, no payment reminders, no forwarding of ridiculous things that I instantly delete and then feel guilty about. I See they've sent me a free pass to every movie at the Mann Theatres in Glendale for the next year. How nice! Messages from several of my close friends telling me about their terrific weekends, how healthy and happy they are, how much they miss me, and that they are soon coming to visit (but not all at once). Also messages from Wynonna Judd, Nancy Wilson of Heart, and Rickie Lee Jones, requesting help with their new projects, and since I'm a fan and have such vast knowledge and experience, they are offering me twice what they would normally pay.

A message each from Lisa Dalbello and Carole Pope, both of whom apologize profusely for not responding to my previous emails, but they've both had server issues. Both vow to have lunch with me next time they are in LA, which will be within a few weeks (but not the same day), and they both have projects they want me to help them develop. Dalbello is working on a new cd and needs a photographer and designer, and maybe a little help with the lyrics, and of course a guest spot on the piano parts if I have the time. Carole needs help with the Rough Trade box set that they have been trying to get out for six years, I'm the only one who knows all the material and can I please please please help tracking it all down and getting it mastered.

The phone rings, a young make voice asks if I am available to take a call from Richard Carpenter. Oh, I suppose. Rich is trying to get the material to release the Carpenters' tv shows on DVD, he needs help with the mastering and the bonus material, plus of course, the artwork. I think I can help you, Richard, let me talk to the people who put out the Captain & Tennille DVDs. While working on this project, we inadvertently discover two unreleased Captain & Tennille albums in the A&M vault, which upon release, hit the Top Ten on iTunes and the Billboard Album Sales charts. Toni and Daryl (The Captain & Tennille) are so grateful that Toni writes a song just for me (without naming me), which is released world wide and is eventually covered by over 47 artists in 12 different languages.

Happy to help with all of this, I have more than enough time in my life to do the work that inspires me, and thrilled to give back a little to those whose music means so much to me.

The phone rings again, a pleasant ringtone of "You Never Done It Like That" by Captain & Tennille, that they sent me for free and automatically uploaded into my new phone. It's John Taylor of Duran Duran, he is in town and needs a ride to a meeting in East Hollywood. He also wants to come by and play some of the new Duran material they have been working on, he wants my opinion and maybe a little remixing before it hits the streets. Oh, and Nick has been sick so could I play all the keyboard parts? Sure, John, for you, no problem.

We arrive at the meeting, my clothes fit perfectly, and my hair looks exactly like John's did fifteen years ago, in a word, spectacular, in fact, better than John's hair looks now (his hair is thinning). All the heads turn as we enter the room. The meeting secretary, a long time friend who has always been there for me yet never once asked for a ride home or a free revision on a business card design, rushes up to me, they've had a cancellation and can I please be the speaker for the meeting.

Sure, I reply, always happy to share my story and wisdom. Everyone applauds as I stand and begin talking, and applause spontaneously erupts several times during my pitch. My wit is spectacular, my charm endearing, as I take the crowd on an enthralling journey about my upbringing, what it was like (terrible), what happened (therapy), and what it is like now (wonderful). There are gasps of horror as I recount how I felt growing up, somber nods of recognition as I talk about my tumultuous career coming to Los Angeles, and sighs of contentment as I talk about how at peace I am in the moment, how everything just seems to work for me, and how effortlessly happy I am with my life. As my time ends, John is the first to stand up, applauding and cheering with a wolf whistle. After the sharing, nearly everyone in the room comes by and shakes my hand, pats my shoulders, or gives me a hug. My hand quickly becomes full with little scraps of paper and business cards with personal phone numbers and email addresses, everyone wants to talk to me afterwards, everyone wants to spend time with me, but it is not a burden, and they understand that I do need a lot of alone time.

John and I have a delicious lunch at a small café on Vermont Street, we are interrupted a few times by fans, who are all polite and several request a quick picture with John. In many ways, I'm glad it's him and not me. I think, what a change from twenty years ago when being him was all I dreamt about. We stop at the independent book store and I find several new books that I want to read, all on sale 30 to 40% off, and I buy them all with my credit card which is not declined, and with the knowledge that I will have time to read them all and will gain enormous amounts of enlightenment and inspiration from each of them. I buy John two of my all time favorite books ('Running With Scissors' and the 'Time Traveller's Wife'), which delights him, and I know he will read them and we will spend hours talking about them over pie.

I drop John off at his place in West Hollywood and I drive home, noting how light the traffic is, stopping at the sheet music store on Hollywood Blvd, as several of the folios I had ordered have come in. I arrive at home and anxiously play through them, easily sight reading and playing every chord perfectly, including the augmented minor sevenths, and the sound from my piano fills the house with beautiful music. I am so inspired that I write not one but two news songs, one of which will go on to be recorded by Cher on her next album, the other will be optioned for a movie starring Bette Midler. I also write the words to a third song, but I won't finish it until a few days later.

By this time, it's time to meet my trainer at the gym, there is no traffic and it takes me minutes to get there, and there is a parking space right in front, with a broken meter, so there is no charge and no chance to get a parking ticket. When I go into the gym, the guy behind the counter mentions that there have been several requests for me to DJ more often, and they have decided to book me in three night a week at triple my current rate. They also want me to get a new sound system for the gym, in stereo this time, and build a better space for me to play, one that has lights. Perhaps even a video system. With no budget limitations. And I can put my name over the front door.

Lance has been waiting, but only for a minute, and he is happy to see me, his first question is, have you lost weight? Let's weigh in. And sure enough, down yet another three point two pounds since last week. Our work out it fast paced and intense, but fun and energetic. I can already see the results in the mirror, and notice that several people have been looking at my body appreciatively. Four or five people come up and ask me about songs I played last night when I DJ-ed, and how much they are looking forward to my next gig. One gives me a cd that I have been looking for for years, and two more give me cds of things they think I will like. How thoughtful.

When I arrive home, the mail has come. In addition to several large checks from publishers, there are nine or ten large packages on the doorstep. They are filled with books, DVDs and CDs, many of which I have been waiting for months to arrive, all of which I got at 50% off and free shipping. I spend the next hour loading the cds onto my computer and reading through the copious liner notes, remarking on how wonderful the packaging is and the bonus tracks are songs I never thought I'd find on cd. The mastering is immaculate, and the accompanying 5.1 surround sound DVDs are breathtaking, like hearing your favorite song for the first time.

I also receive a notice that my patent has been approved on a design I invented to store several thousand cds, in their original packaging, in the space of less than four vertical feet. There are seven companies vying for the rights to it, and when it goes into production less than a year later, it revolutionizes the way people can store cds, and once people realize that cds are still a good value, and don't take up too much room, several used cd stores re-open all over the country, and the music business begins a third renaissance. In my honor, I receive a lifetime 50% discount in all these stores.

I have time to leaf through all the magazines that arrived, I have subscriptions to all the magazines I like to read, including the expensive industry magazines like Billboard and Variety, all the gossip magazines, and of course all the music magazines from the UK like Mojo, Q, Word and Uncut. This is, of course, in addition to the standards such as Entertainment Weekly, Blender and Rolling Stone. I notice that in the recent issue of Interview, they finally published my interview with M Night Shyamalan, wherein he admits his overuse of the actress Bryce Howard.

My afternoon photo shoot subject arrives just on time, the natural light is perfect, and he's brought several changes of clothes, each of which looks incrementally more spectacular on him than the last one. We go down to the river to shoot and there are no homeless people around, no tourists, no fishermen. We are alone in this hidden oasis in the middle of Los Angeles, with no one around and no interruptions. He is relaxed anc comfortable, and my creativity astounds even myself. The shoot goes over schedule, but we are having such a great time that we don't even notice. When we get back to the house, the photos are stunning. Just stunning. One shot becomes the back cover of the newest Cowboy Junkies cd, and another is the cover of an Augusten Burroughs book, which he dedicates to me. Several are optioned for movie rights, and when one of the movies is a huge hit, thousands of requests come in for prints. The demand is so high that the first three pressing sell out completely. When the movie goes out on DVD, the pressing run goes into its seventh printing, and Toni Collette buys a 47 inch print, framed and matted, for her new villa on Mullholland. Laurie Anderson, visiting one day, is so impressed that she requests that I design a set and costumes for her newest show in Vegas.

As the night falls, I stop in at the Spaghetti Factory, as they've introduced a new wheat free spaghetti, which tastes even better than normal spaghetti. I eat it just as I love it, with butter and salt and pepper. It is a delight. As I eat my third helping, without feeling bloated, I finish reading my latest novel, with some sadness because it has been such a thrill to read, and now it's over. But the written words have given me so much nourishment, and I rush home to write. I have been working on my third autobiographical novel, the first two went into the New York Times best seller list, and the advance orders on the third are already into six digits. The bloggers are rampant, speculating on what tasty nuggets I will reveal about my past, and how I turned all the negative experiences into positive ones, and because immensely successful. Beyond even the most fantastic of predictions. Yet I remain calm, centred and humble.

A phone call interrupts my writing, but I don't mind, I could use a bit of a break. I've been writing for hours and it's all flowing remarkably smoothly. An agent is calling because the four original members of ABBA have secretly reunited and are recording a tv show for VH1, at the Viper Room in Hollywood. It only holds 400 people, but Frida has specifically requested I be at the show, since the whole "storytellers" show was my idea. When I arrive, Benny is a bit frantic, trying to whittle the set list down to a 90 minute tv show. Don't worry, I say, play the full two hours and they can edit it down in post, plus they can use the extra tracks as bonus material on the DVD release. Oh, of course, says Benny. I'm so glad you're here.

The show is spectacular, they play all the hits in a stripped down, acoustic style, but with energy and class, each staring with a brief but interesting story of how the song came to be, who wrote what parts, and who the song is really about. They introduce one new song, a track that was recorded by Josefin Nilsson but really should have been an ABBA song, and now is. The encore is my favorite ABBA song, which is a B-side, "Should I Laugh Or Cry," Frida dedicates it to me live on camera and there is a flash of spotlight on me as she does. It's a little embarrassing, but I can clearly be seen on the DVD release without having to watch it in slow motion.

After the show, in the green room, Ryan Reynolds comes over to me, his shirt unbuttoned and his chest gleaming with sweat. "Rod," he says," thank you so much for sending over those ABBA cds when Scarlett dumped me at the altar. Those songs saved my life, and I owe it all to you." And he gives me an awkwardly long hug in front of all the paparazzi, which begins speculation in the press about our "relationship" which goes on for months until he finally relents and 'comes out'.

Home late, but still buzzed from the show, I watch a little bit of tv, there is a 'Lost' revival, three lost episodes and they are all Sawyer episodes, each featuring Josh Holloway with his shirt off, swimming, building a new raft, and digging a moat, the sweat is dripping down his gleaming body, but amazingly, his hair is still dry and looks perfect. While I am watching tv, Sebastian (my cat) sits quietly on my lap, purring and licking herself contentedly, and there is no scratching or hissing. She is in perfect health, as am I.

My mom calls just as I'm brushing my teeth (none of which hurt and there is no food stuck in them, and all my crowns are attached and fit perfectly) and she tells me she's got a new job at a publishing company in Portland, Oregon. She says they've offered her just under $300,000 a year, which is more than she needs, but we decide she should take it, and if there's too much left over she can always donate to my charity (Art and Music for Children worldwide, to which Elton John has already donated over ten million dollars) and get a tax write off. The movers are coming in two days, but they will be sorting and packing everything for her, so there's no panic. She will be buying all new furniture in her new place, so they are donating all the old stuff to charity.

I check my email again just before I turn the lights off, there are several messages but two stand out. One is from the former owner of Rhino Records, he's apologizing for the way he treated me with the whole store thing, and wants to send me a very large check to make up for all my work and effort. Also would I be interested in being senior designer and re-issue coordinator for his new label, which owns the rights to everything ever released on Warner Elektra and Atlantic. We'll see.

I also see that Greg Kinnear has written to me. Again. He's begging me to let him come back, he's quoting all these old love letters written by famous, worldly and educated men. How original. But Greg, how many times do we have to go through this. We chat online for a half hour, he begs and pleads and I eventually agree to meet him for breakfast in the morning. We'll see how it goes.

It's after midnight and I have a warm soothing shower and slip into my fresh clean bed. I lay down and listen to the gentle sound of rain hitting the roof and dripping down the spout next to my window. The rain clears the energy of the city, and my house, and my mind. Tomorrow, the trees will be clean, the sky will be free of smog and my head will be clear. And my hair will look fantastic!

Rod Reynolds, Los Angeles, USA


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