8/10 Little Ms. Chatterbox

Words, words, words.

If you’re a lover of words – or at least the sheer quantity thereof – then you need to spend some time with my daughter. Taking the place of C last night, who was otherwise detained by work, my daughter spent the better part of an hour continually flapping her gums during our evening walk.

i won’t bore you with the details about what she talked about, because quite honestly, i’m pretty damned sure she covered every topic under the sun. She may have even mentioned you at some point.

All told, i think i might have been able to take up about 7 minutes of air time, but she covered the rest – with no commercial breaks. But don’t get me wrong – i’m not complaining.  Listening to her is much better than not.

Right before our walk, my oldest reminded me to “wear my ear plugs”. And how i wish i had to use the same advice with him. Unlike my daughter however, he is most decidedly mum on most points.  Even “i love you”s are acknowledged with mumbled “OK”s – if acknowledged at all. No need to ask that one how he’s doing either – both the ecstatic and the doomed are equally expressed with the same noncommittal monotone “OK”.

With both children “parenting” can be tricky. And by parenting, i mean keeping track of what’s going on in their lives and keeping up with how they feel about it. Whereas my son says almost nothing, my daughter says so much about any given subject, that you find yourself wondering, what exactly, she meant by all of it at the end.

In short, she’s going to be a Great sermon writer one day.

My youngest is probably the easiest to understand, but you might say that that is because of the three, he has it the easiest overall. Not being burdened with being “First Born”, he doesn’t feel the need to blaze any trails (so to speak), and not being a girl, he doesn’t feel the need to be, well, a girl (more to the point, a daddy’s little girl?). Of the three, i guess he gets to be – and feels most comfortable being – just him.

And the “him” that he is is a total nut case at times, engaging you in a topic that he himself forgets half way through the conversation. You’ll know it when it happens – his eyes turn sour, his lip curls down, and you can almost see the “wait… what were we talking about?” question practically sitting above his head like a cartoon cloud.

i can’t be sure if he feels most at ease because he is the youngest – and this just happens as a normal course of events – or if it’s because i made the bulk of my parenting mistakes on the first two. What i do know is that i love all three, each for their own qualities. Whether it be the mumbles, the incomprehensible insights or the verbal explosions of cascading words. Words, words, words.

Because whether they use a million words or just one, they fill my life with thoughts and feelings i never had before – maybe never would have had – had it not been for them being in my life in the first place. And while “love” itself is just another word, in this instance it has more meaning than i could ever express with any other.

8/8 as long as we’re driving…

Occurring en route to KFC with my youngest, who was at that moment joyfully snapping away (oddly enough) to Bobby Darin’s “As Long As I’m Singing”, the conversation went a little something like this…

So, do you actually like Bobby Darin?

“Yeah.”

All his stuff?

“Yeah!”

Now, is this just because i like him?

“No, I like him too”

So what’s your favorite BD song then?

“OH MY GOD daddy!  How could you forget my favorite BD song is ‘Artificial Flowers’???”

SORRY, i just forgot! It happens you know – say – what’s MY favorite BD tune?

(smile slowly creeping across his face) “Ummm, I don’t remember…hahahahahaha!”

See?!? Hahaha!

So, is there any kind of music you DON’T like?

“Not really. I don’t like all the new stuff though.”

Why?

“It’s all fake now-a-days. No real talent. You can tell it has a lot more machines making it than people. Besides, all of it is offensive and, you know, creepy”

Creepy how?

“Creepy like they say things that shouldn’t be said. Things that are disrepectful and hurtful. Things that are ignorant. No one wants to tell good stories anymore – they just sing about sex and money and getting drunk.”

In robotic voices…

“Yeah, like robots.”

You’re pretty well versed about music (and thinking to myself, life) for an 11 year old, you know that, right?

“Duh daddy! I’ve grown up with you like, my WHOLE life! And you’ve always had music playing. The stuff from all your binders and from your record collection. Of course I know about music and that’s why I like Bobby Darin.”

So, i’m kinda like a good influence then is what you’re saying?

(the same smile, creeping back across his face on more time) “You’ve got a lot of music is what I’m saying…”

just some of "the binders"

8/2 Live Aid, MTV and the (past) future Me

On July 13th, 1985, i spent the entire day glued to the television set. And i mean Glued. Bathroom breaks were kept to a minimum, and i even tried to ensure i stuck with the “shake it more than once and you’re playing with it” rule – all in an effort to ensure i didn’t miss a second of the show.

The “show” of course was Live Aid, and while its main focus was to help raise funds for the starving in Africa, it also served in opening a particular door for me that, once passed through, would forever alter the man i was to become.

i had initially plunked my skinny white behind down on my folks living room floor – right in front of the TV cart – in the hopes of seeing Judas Priest, and no one else. As mentioned previously, i felt Rob was the Cat’s Meow, and the particular brand of metal that Priest played was at that very moment also “opening doors” of a different sort (fodder for a different story altogether) for the future me as well. i started watching at the beginning of the day simply because i had no idea when Priest would be on, and i simply could NOT miss them – but by the time they did hit the stage, it was too late – my transformation was already underway.

Priest

You see, while waiting to see Judas Priest (which by the way, got cut off for a commercial break by my local station – right in the flippin’ middle of “You Got Another Thing Coming”!!!!) i also got to experience bands like Ultravox and Style Council. Artists like Adam Ant and Sade. Institutions like Elvis freakin-Costello. In short, i got to see an entirely New World.

And not just that, but a New World which seemed to be filled with people just like me – people who spoke directly to me with their song. Had i been “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes”? Yes! Had i been longing to see my “Walls Come Tumbling Down”? Yes again!

Ultravox

Honest to Jesus, until that very day, i had no earthly idea that there were others of my kind out there. Until that day, i felt that i would have to spend my life “wedging” myself into some random subset of people while “playing along”, all in the hopes that no one would notice that i didn’t “quite fit in” anywhere. It never once dawned on me that i had actual Tribe of my own out there.

Now, i might use a standard “small town” excuse, but i’m quite sure this lack of knowledge was more out of fear than anything else. Fear of what was “out there” and fear of what was inside of me. But when the World (as brought to you by Live Aid) snuck into my life, i was finally forced to see the truth – forced to see that my fears were not only unfounded, but a little bit ridiculous as well. There were many people like me, and i didn’t need to be alone or “wedge”. i could be who i was, and i was free to start searching out more of my kind.

And so i did. And i have Live Aid to thank for that, and for all the memories and joy that resulted. And i love it still because of that.

“So, what made you think of Live Aid anyway? Wasn’t it like, 8 million years ago?”

Well, more like 30 years, actually.

C and i happened to stumble upon a partial replaying of Live Aid (hell YEAH, the Queen set!!!!!) during VH1 Classic’s homage to the 30th anniversary of MTV. We had never really spoken of it till then, but we quickly realized that this event was equally as important to both of us, and she too, had spent the entire day glued. Tribe again – and this time with a woman i’ve enjoyed marriage with for many years…

We stayed up later than we should have – glued once again – just so we could see Freddy dance across the stage with his patented brand of full blown bravado one more time. And we both were able to relive our joy, this time together instead of alone.

And now i have Live Aid to thank for that, too.