Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Hello, Classmates!

Can you believe it's been thirty years?

When that invitation arrives in the mail it strikes fear in the heart of most of us who have gone ahead and aged like mortals. I skipped the last one. It's not much fun to be the one who "got really fat" (I hope you read that in a stage whisper so I would/wouldn't hear you...) Who can forget the words of Suzanne Sugarbaker when she accepted an award for 'Most Changed' at her reunion on the They Shoot Fat People, Don't They? episode of Designing Women:

Well, this is quite a surprise. I guess maybe I deserve this award for the Person-Most-Changed, but (pause) not for the reason you think. Last night I got my feelings hurt because I came to this reunion thinking I was beautiful and what I find out was that I'm fat (pause) at least you think I am. But that isn't the biggest change in me. The biggest change is that the old Suzanne wouldn't have shown up here tonight. She would've just gotten thin before the next reunion and then she would have gotten even. But I'm a little older and I hope a little wiser than that person used to be.

A lot of things have happened to me. A lot of things have happened to all of us. Sandy Smothers was killed the night before we graduated. Diane Mitchell's got two sets of twins and Gayland Chadwick's working in the White House. We had a lot of dreams together and there's no point in pretending some of mine came true and some didn't.

I met a little boy from Africa tonight whose family died of starvation and I realized that I spent the whole day at home worrying about the fact that I had too much to eat. I'm not sure the old Suzanne would have appreciated the absurdity of that but this one does.

Some of you men wanted to know about my bra size, but I’d rather talk about my heart because (pause) it's a little bigger than it used to be. The old Suzanne wouldn't have forgiven you for the things that you said, but this one will. Because when I look around this room tonight, I don't see receding hairlines and the beginnings of pot-bellies and crow's feet. I just see all the beautiful faces of old girlfriends and sweet young boys who used to stand on my front porch and try to kiss me goodnight. And you can remember me any way you'd like, but that's how I'll always remember you.

And so I thank you for giving me this award for the Person-Most-Changed, however you intended it. I'm gonna treasure it because #1. I love trophies and #2. I earned it. Thank you.

Suzanne rocked, no doubt.

But I've never had Sugarbaker strength. I am not going into it feeling beautiful. I feel - ashamed. I hate that I will be judged by it, but I will. It's not fair, and it's not right, but it will happen. I don't know if knowing that - like I do - or not knowing it - as was the case for Suzanne - is worse. Just because it won't catch me by surprise, doesn't mean it won't hurt.

So why don't I just skip it, then, for Pete's sake? Well, blame FB for that. I've renewed contact with so many friends from that period of my life. We've shared our stories - our trials and our triumphs. I would hate to deprive myself of the opportunity to spend face-time with these people just because my face now sports an extra chin (or so...).

So I stress about it. I've stressed about it since the invitation arrived months ago. I stressed about it every time I saw a classmate on FB mention that they hoped they could drop ten pounds before the reunion. I could gain or lose ten pounds without it being noticed. I suppose there's a sort of comfort there. Nothing to be done about it - certainly no quick fix. I'm not going to look good - no amount of torture at this point - or at the point where I got the invitation - is going to change that.

I should be packing, today. Packing for our trip, that begins with the reunion and ends with the shore with a lot of relative-visiting in between. I should be packing. I should be making my house ready for the time we'll be away. But I'm not. I'm trying to do a hundred things at once and not doing any of them well. I'm sitting here with a rock in my stomach, certain that I'm going to hurl. I can't concentrate on anything. I am - in a word - manic.

What the hell?

I'm sure I'll be telling you in a few days about how much fun it was.

Pretty sure.

Mostly sure.

But right now? I'm just gonna sit my fat self in a corner and rock. And maybe hurl.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Once I Rose Above the Noise and Confusion

As part of our city's Picnic With the Pops series, we went to see Kansas last night backed by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. When I heard about the show, I thought it would be an interesting experience for Lea, who plays in an orchestra but loves rock - yes even classic rock. EsPECially classic rock. So we purchased lawn seats and marked the calendar.

The weather yesterday was oppressive. It was really hard to even move. But we carried on, like the wayward sons that we are. (I stretched for that one. Sorry.)

Gates opened at 6 and the show was scheduled to begin at 8:15. Since we just had lawn seats, we wanted to be there as early as possible. We packed up our chairs and our coolers, consulted the interwebs as to how to best avoid orange barrels, and off we went. Just as we were about to hit sit still traffic anyway, I turned to my handsome husband and I said, "Did you bring the tickets?" I usually don't even ask things like that because I am SO fearful of being perceived as a nag, but the look on his face when I queried proved that it was a valid question. And that he had not. So we took the next exit, went home for the tickets, and headed out with a new plan of action that would have us hopefully avoiding further delays. We would not be standing there, waiting for the gates to open, at 6:00, though, as is our usual way.

We actually don't even refer to being early (or PROMPT, for that matter) as being early, we refer to it as being Howardly. And since we are all Howards, when we are not Howardly, we get a little uneasy.

When we finally arrived on the scene, the lawn was quite full already. Groups of people were set up with picnics that put our coolers of beer and water to shame. I passed a group who had a beautiful rose and hydrangea centerpiece on a white tablecloth that was otherwise covered with rather gorgeous looking canapes. They were drinking white wine. Lots of people were drinking white wine. Damn. White wine would've been a WAY better choice. We were newbies. What can I say?

We found a spot behind a party that said things like, "Would anyone care for more shrimp roll?"

We said things like, "How 'bout a beer?"


"Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk."

(It's because Tom has a Three Stooges bottle opener. We're elegant that way. *belch*)

I mentioned the oppressive heat, right? I don't want to be one of those people who constantly bitches about the weather (some of you may remember my SAD winter), but it would be difficult to talk about the evening without at least giving it a mention. It was definitely a factor. I raided the cooler and tucked an ice cube into my ponytail (which had started out low and age appropriate, but when even that much hair on my neck became unbearable, it went high). That helped, a little. So I took another and rubbed my arms and then my girls' arms. And then I tucked one discretely into my brassiere. Decorum is highly overrated - I achieved a little comfort on an otherwise relentlessly uncomfortable day.

When I slipped my shoes off to try to cool my feet a little bit, my daughter commented on how swollen they were. I had that momentary panic wherein I envisioned myself not being able to put them back on again. "Your feet are so swollen - they're HUGE!" One daughter said, poking them.

"And you have hair on your toes."

Shoot. I'd been meaning to take care of that...

"You're like a Hobbit." This from my loving husband.

Some women's lovers compare them to a summer's day... Mine? A fictional creature with large, furry feet. I am livin' the dream, I tells ya. Livin' the dream.

The orchestra took the stage promptly at 8:15. Why have I not heard the Columbus Symphony Orchestra before? Oh. Probably because I am not a huge fan of orchestra music and I usually respond to the prospect of it by wrapping an air noose around my neck and pulling it taut until my tongue protrudes and my eyes cross. Mime is money. But this (because of the 'pops' element, I'm sure) was very accessible, even to an oaf like me. The conductor, Albert-George Schram, was supremely entertaining - I'm tempted to even call him - oh, what the heck - he was adorable.

When they broke for intermission, the sun had almost set. The evening became downright pleasant, with a gentle breeze. More talking about the weather. I'm sorry. When did I turn into the sort of person who talks about the weather? Ugh.

When they took the stage again, it was with Kansas. I really enjoyed the show - the full orchestra was really suited to their prog-rock sound. During one of the first songs they played, Liv compared them to Nightwish (as per Wiki: an award winning Finnish symphonic metal band). That's a high compliment from her, as she digs them a lot. It is a testament to my age, no doubt, that I really enjoyed sitting in my chair the whole time and clapping politely at the end of each song. That was - new - for this squealy fangirl, and I didn't hate it at all. Now I told you about the weather, right? It's not so much the heat, it's the humidity. Now get off m'lawn, y'damn hoodlums.

Kansas. Their music was an integral part of my high school years. It was wonderful to get those memories flowing - just in time for my high school reunion next week...

Kansas: I close my eyes - only for a moment, and the moment's gone...

Liv: It's called blinking, dude. People do it all the time. Drama much?

Kids today. No sense of romance. No thirst for enlightenment.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We Had a Flood Once

In the summer of 1977, my friend Mary and I had a routine. We would walk to the local playground with our tennis rackets, hoping that the court would be taken so that we could just bounce our tennis balls off the side of the building. We called it practicing, but posturing would've been a more accurate description of what we did. Neither of us could play tennis for shit. But we sure looked good carrying a tennis racket in our white shorts. She had a sun-bleached ponytail that was almost white. I had the sort of tan you got back in the days when SPF was just a random combination of letters that might show up in your Alpha-Bits. We liked pretending not to notice people noticing us with our tennis rackets propped casually on our shoulders. We didn't particularly like tennis.

When we 'gave up' on getting the court, we would sigh, gather up the neon yellow balls we'd left littered along the wall, and head to Dairy Queen - where anyone could clearly see that we deserved a treat after our workout.

I never said it was an exciting routine, but it was a routine.

July 19, 1997 did not start out to be an exception.

We walked to the playground and found the tennis court to be uncharacteristically free. We attempted to get a little volley started, but I wasn't lying or even exaggerating when I said we weren't very good. One of us would serve; the other would chase the ball. Poetry in motion, I tells ya. The sky started turning dark and we decided it might be best to skip Dairy Queen and head directly home. As we started walking, it began to rain. When it became a downpour, we began to run. By the time we reached my home - less than a mile from the playground - the water was running over the curbs.

Mary only lived about a block from me, but she didn't want to walk it alone. I didn't blame her. The sky was black now, and the thunder and lightening were magnificent. We lived on a street that backs up on a wooded area, and we were hearing trees and branches fall. I told her to just come in and call her parents to let them know she was safe.

My house was dark.

We went in to find my sister - alone and pretty spooked. She is not easily frightened, so this was quite a testimony to the sheer scariness of the storm. My parents had gone out and hadn't made it back yet. The power had gone out. Mary was unable to call home - the phones were out. I imagine her parents were worried sick. The three of us huddled together and waited. We waited for my parents to come home, for the world to end, for power to be restored, for STRANGERS to come into the house - we didn't know what the hell we were waiting for - we were just waiting. We were pumped so full of adrenaline that every little sound sent us reaching for each other and squealing. I mentioned that it was a pretty bad storm, right? There were LOTS of little sounds.

My parents eventually came home, as the storm was beginning to subside. They drove Mary home and teased all three of us for being so silly.

Band camp was canceled the next day, which I thought was dumb - but I figured maybe the power was still out at the school or something. I took advantage of this by dragging my old white lounge into the side yard, slathering on the baby oil, and cranking up the AM radio. WCRO, the music you grew up with. I had barely gotten myself situated for optimal sun exposure when my sister came running out of the house. "You've got to see this!"

I didn't want to leave the promise of sun, and my mom never liked it when I came in the house when I was oiled up, but my sister knew all of this and still seemed pretty adamant. She waved me in to the family room, where I stood (hello? baby oil?) and watched this:

I threw shorts on over my bathing suit and my sister and I jumped on our bikes and headed to the top on the Inclined Plane - a great view of the city. We watched cars floating by in what had just yesterday been a river flowing through our downtown area. We freaked out a little bit when we saw what we thought was an arm, but realized was just a piece of a mannequin from a department store. Up on the hill - where we lived - it was just a morning after a bad storm. Down in the city it was devastation.

The people of our town jumped into action immediately. I have never felt a sense of community like I did after that flood. Popular slogans popped up: We Will Rebuild Together and Johnstown 3, Floods 0. Recovery was not easy and it was not quick, but it always moved with a forward momentum.

Mary and I continued to go to the playground and the Dairy Queen - things were the same, but different.

For years after that, if people cocked their heads when I told them where I was from, my stock answer was, "We had a flood, once..."

I know there have been much more devastating events recently - on a much grander scale - but this is the perspective from which I have viewed them.

It was yesterday, it was a million years ago.

It was thirty-three years ago.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Your Post

So if we were drawing a Venn diagram of my friends, the place where the circle containing people I actually know and people I know through the blogosphere would have a very small overlap. My friend Eric is one of those rare folks who would belong in that small overlapping area. A few months ago, I told him that I was going to write a post for him for his birthday to let him in on something he didn't know. His birthday was last weekend. I worked and worked on this post, but I found myself adding details to make it accessible to readers who DON'T know us that ended up making it cumbersome and - I thought - a little boring. So I wrote him a letter, instead. When Tom read it, he said - post it with a little note explaining why it's a letter. Eric agreed that that would be okey dokey with him. I hope this will suffice as that.

One year I wrote a post for my daughter, Lea, for her birthday. When she tried to explain this to her friends outside the blogosphere, she said, "My mom wrote a post about me for my birthday. It's kind of like when normal people write you a song." I don't know what world my child is living in - where normal people are writing each other songs all the time, but there you go.

Without further ado:

Your Note

My gift is my song, and this one’s for you. – Elton John

For the most part, I like people. I like talking and I like listening. I enjoy the exchange of information, philosophies and thoughts. I am a social creature. You know – on accounta being human and all. I crave human discourse.

When I was younger, thinner, and generally more attractive, this was a much easier need to meet. There was always someone on the next barstool willing to expand upon their theories. Often they were interested in hearing mine, too. Barstool philosophy, phone calls that lasted all night, confidently meeting friends of friends of friends – it seemed that there would always be someone to talk to. It never occurred to me that it would ever not be this easy.

But as I got older, bigger, and generally less attractive, meaningful chat with strangers became more and more rare. Apparently, in the eyes of strangers, the quality of my conversations was inversely proportional to the size of my ass.

This was hurtful and surprising at first, in the days when I would still freely turn to that stranger on the next bar stool, or on the next seat on the airplane, or in line at the grocery store – whatever – and expect a friendly exchange. I soon realized, though, that while this behavior was viewed as charming when I was generally attractive, it just became intrusive and creepy as I veered away from societal standards of beauty.

I convinced myself, eventually, that it was ok for people to discount my thoughts and words. I began to believe that I indeed WAS unworthy. And then – because that wasn’t bad enough – it got worse. I convinced myself that being in my presence was a burden and that no one should be subjected to it. And I accepted that.

I accepted it.

It got to the point that I could barely remember a time when it had been different. To tell the truth, it didn’t even hurt any more. It was just the way things were.

Enter you.

We met briefly at the first Martini Club and exchanged about three sentences – enough to establish ourselves as the matriarch and patriarch of the group.

The next month, you arrived first and I was second. You beckoned me over to the barstool beside you and we talked while the rest of the crew trickled in. When conversation at the bar became cumbersome, we moved the party to a table. You sat at one end and I moved towards the other. It was my natural impulse to give you a break from my oppressive presence. I would’ve done the same for anyone. You had been kind to talk to me so long at the bar. I was grateful. I was ready to give you a chance to talk to younger, thinner, more generally attractive and therefore obviously more interesting people.

You didn’t take it.

You caught my eye before I actually sat in a different spot and patted the seat beside you. I was startled. You wanted to keep talking to ME? Even when there were so many other more societally acceptable options available to you?

I loved you a little bit in that moment.

Finding common ground and enjoying someone’s company – something I’d done effortlessly and almost constantly a couple decades before – was happening again. It took me completely by surprise.

It shouldn’t have, but it did.

Since then my confidence, while still nowhere near the levels it hit when I was younger, thinner, and generally more attractive, has improved by leaps and bounds. I no longer just assume that my presence is an imposition and a bother. I’m learning to take it on a case by case basis. I can accept that people – really GOOD people – might – just might – be able to like me for me. I trust myself enough to at least make the effort to find out.

So happy birthday, Eric my friend. My gift to you is cluing you in on your gift to me. I think I got the better end of the deal.

I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words – how wonderful life is while you’re in the world. – Elton John, again. He’s very good. He’s no David Soul, but he’s still very good.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mommy's Alright, Daddy Not So Much

We had plans to see Cheap Trick last night. The blog title was set before we acquired the tickets: Mommy's Alright, Daddy's Alright, They Just Seem a Little Weird. It's blog titling 101. Easiest thing in the world. Perfect fit.

Except Tom didn't feel well. He was knocked out by a nasty cold? Allergies? I don't know, whatever the reason he was feeling crummy. So crummy, in fact, that he opted out of the show. My perfect title. Denied.

On the way to the concert, our heat wave was broken by a downpour. With the windshield wipers on full speed I was still blinded. I turned to the girls and asked, "How much do you want to see Cheap Trick?" They looked at me like I was both new here AND smoking crack. They weren't gonna let a little rain keep them down. I'll take this moment to digress and point out that last week when I borrowed Billy Joel's Cold Spring Harbor from the library, both girls said, and I quote, "I can't believe you're listening to this when there's Cheap Trick in your car."


Wouldn't be my first concert in the rain.

As we stood in line for the general admission show (numbers 13, 14 and 15 in line we were, thank you very much) I thought of another good blog title: Three Out of Four Howards Agree: Cheap Trick is Worth Getting Wet For. I hadn't thought about the double entendre evident in that one until just this moment when I typed it out (at the time, my meaning was infinitely obvious). I probably made the right call not going with that one, though.

As the rain died down, the line behind us grew. We - and the handful of people in front of us - were soaked to the skin. A guy came out in a Dream Police uniform, handing out VIP passes. Did he even approach us drowned rats who did the hard-core waiting through the storm? Aw, you know the answer to that. He approached groups of pretty women in their 20's. I suppose that's good. Pretty women in their 20's never get any breaks. Their lives are pretty tough. The world is most unkind to them. It was nice of him to bring a little sunshine to their dismal existence. (VIP passes, BTW, weren't - like - a backstage, meet the band sort of thing - it just meant they got to sit at one of the VERY FEW tables with chairs at a general admission outdoor concert.)

Oh well.

The girls walked in the gate before me and as my bag was being inspected, a guy giving out wristbands approached them and asked if they'd be drinking tonight. He was going to give my 14 year old and my 12 year old drinking wristbands! Never fear, MamaBear is here. "They will NOT!" He laughed and acted like he wasn't ready to give them each one (which he totally was). Oh, if I'd sent my babies to that concert alone or with friends...

T-shirts were purchased and we found an excellent spot in the wet grass (just behind the VIP section...) We spread our blanket and engaged in some people watching while we waited. The T-shirt slogans were excellent, but the mullet count stood at a disappointing zero. My favorite T-shirt of the night? Liver is evil. It must be punished. Runner up was a Blue Oyster Cult tour shirt from 1974. I wish I'd kept all of my concert T-shirts. I always wore them until they were unwearable then threw them out. Regrets.

A couple years ago I predicted the results of the presidential election based on T-shirts spotted at summer festivals. This year I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict a surge in popularity for hats, particularly for men. That might be wishful thinking - I really like hats. When I mentioned this prediction to my daughters they pointed out that there might have been so many men wearing hats because a band who hit it's peak of popularity in the late 70's is bound to have more than it's share of bald or balding fans. My girls are smart-asses. I don't know where they get it.

Squeeze opened up. They brought me coffee in bed and tempted me with the fruit of another. I thought they looked great in their suits and skinny ties. Took me right straight back (to when I was a pretty girl in my 20's and the world was a much kinder place). My girls thought the suits made them look old. Liv pointed out that the drummer couldn't possibly play his best constricted by a suit. They were clearly unimpressed. I was meh. They were fine, but they weren't who I was there to see. As far as openers go, I don't think it was a very good fit - which is always sort of unfair.

As the roadies took the stage to clear out Squeeze's gear and set up Cheap Trick's, my girls were enthralled. I sat back and watched them watch - making comments to each other as each item was brought out or unveiled. The lights went down, the spotlight came up, and we were treated to a pop-culture medley of Cheap Trick references and covers. My personal favorite?
Lisa: Haven't you ever listened to yourself on a tape recorder?
Homer: I prefer to listen to Cheap Trick.
Followed, of course, by Apu singing Dream Police. For a pop-culture junkie like me there really couldn't have been a better way to precede the show. Fun stuff.When they finally took the stage, the girls and I went into full-on squealy fangirl mode. I've seen Cheap Trick several times and I have never been disappointed. Robin Zander and Ric Nielsen are total package entertainers. (Also, Robin Zander is kind of sex on a stick - but I promised myself I wasn't going to objectify men anymore. Of course I've also promised myself I'd never drink again, on occasion, so...) They pulled out all the old stuff (No, that was not a double entendre. Get your mind out of the gutter.) and it sounded as good as it did the first time around.

They performed one song from their Vegas Sgt. Pepper show - Magical Mystery Tour. I didn't like it at first, but by the middle I dug it a lot. I think covers of very popular songs are bound to hit you that way. It just took me a few moments to get into a new mode. Once I stopped trying to hear the Beatles and allowed myself to hear Cheap Trick, it was fun.

Lea was thrilled to see Tom Petersson playing his 12 string bass (Heaven Tonight was the first album recorded using a 12 string bass. If you didn't know that before, you've learned something new. You can go back to bed. Tell your boss/spouse/kids I said so.) Bun E. Carlos is not touring with them, although he is very much still in the band. Their tour drummer? Daxx Neilsen. Son of the venerable Rick Neilsen. Nepotism is alive and well and living in rock and/or roll. Rick and Tom switched their instruments out after almost every song - providing us with not only a kick-ass concert, but the opportunity to see and hear some of the coolest instruments around. Did the 5 necked guitar make an appearance? Sure did, but not until the call-back.

This was the opening night of their summer tour - I always love it when I get to hear a band early in the tour. If they come to your town, I hope you get a chance to see them. WELL worth the price of admission.

Feel better, Tom - concert season is just getting underway!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder

A week ago I dropped my child off at camp. She had been very excited about this camp for several months. The day before she was scheduled to leave, however, fear and doubt set in. She didn't know any of the other campers. She didn't know any of the teachers or counselors. She had never been to the university where it was being held before. The anticipation of the classes she'd be taking had fueled her enthusiasm for months, but in those twenty-four hours leading up to the actual drop-off more practical issues seeped their way into her consciousness.

She'd been to camps before, but she'd always gone with someone else. It wasn't the prospect of being away from us that concerned her - it was the prospect of being alone.

We drove to the university last week and got her set up in her dorm room. She had three roommates, one of whom had been there last year. The four of them went off exploring while the parents sat in the small room, waiting for opening ceremonies. Throughout said ceremony, she was on the verge of tears. I put my arm around her and she didn't shrug away from my embrace - which has been her MO of late. I pulled her close and she cried. Now she, not unlike her mom, is not a beautiful, single teardrop sort of crier. She is a full-face crier; red tear-stained face, eyes filled with panic.

This was what her face looked like when we left her with her counselor. I hugged her tight one last time, looking at her counselor over her shoulder as I did, trying to convey my message in a glance: "Please take care of her. Please keep her safe. Please make her happy."

As a teacher of young children, I had been on the receiving end of quite a few of those looks. In that same capacity, I knew that those kids were usually having a great time before their parents were out of the parking lot. I knew this. I said it aloud many many times on the ride home. My husband is a saint, actually, for not throwing me out of the car. It's possible that I was just a smidge annoying. I mentioned that I'm a full-face crier, too, right? Oh, yeah. There was nothing pretty about the ride home or the night that followed. My heart hurt. Not just my sentimental heart, either. I was having a visceral reaction to the memory of walking away while my baby was in tears.

It was a rough week for me.

They don't allow the campers to make phone calls - as is the rule at most camps - so that was the visual I carried with me. Thursday I got a note from her and a post card from her counselor and I breathed a little easier - but they might've just said she was happy to make me feel better. I breathed a little easier, but I remained wary.

When we arrived at camp yesterday for their Camp Review, other children were greeting their parents. I craned my neck looking for my daughter - people - parents and campers alike - were entering the auditorium in a steady stream - but where was my baby? The director took the stage. The Review was about to begin - still no sign of Liv. I may or may not have been silently weeping at this point. You'll never know, on accounta it was silent. And I'm very good at masking my emotions. Lady Gaga's poker face has nothing on ma-ma-ma-mine. Tom knew, though, or at least had a suspicion, because I nudged him and said, "They lost her and were just too afraid to call me and let me know." He gave that the reaction it deserved. His week had been rough, too. Living with a mama bear who's been separated from her (crying!) cub is, I imagine, somewhat less than delightful.

And then she poked her head in. She was wearing zombie makeup. She searched the room and I waved, real cool-like. She returned my wave and kept searching. I wasn't who she'd been looking for. The punch in the gut of that realization was quickly forgotten, though, when I realized what it meant. She had friends. She was having fun. Wait. She was wearing zombie makeup?

The review began and we watched a chamber orchestra perform, followed by some improv, then a dance troop (S-S-S-S-A-A-A-A-F-F-F-F-E-E-E-E-T-T-T-T-Y-Y-Y-Y- Safety - Dance!) then a dramatic scene reading. I squirmed in my seat, unable to get comfortable. This may have been the natural result of spending a week not breathing with a sore heart. We want zombies! We want zombies! (That's what I wanted to chant, but I didn't because I have a lot of restraint.) Finally - zombies came on to the stage and fell into excellent fallen zombie poses. Someone hit play on the boom box. It's close to midnight - and something evil's lurking in the dark... the zombies, including my little zombie - my beautiful little zombie - fell into a step for step perfect (in this mama bears completely unbiased opinion) rendition of the Thriller dance. Who would've thought it would be zombies that brought me back to life?

On the way back to her dorm to pack up she chattered incessantly about her classes and her friends. She'd had a ball. She couldn't wait to come back next year. She wanted to go to college here - this campus was the best place EVER! She missed us, and her dog, and her rat, and her bed - but she didn't want to leave her friends or her classes or her dorm. She didn't take a break in conversation as she hit the button on the traffic light for a walk signal. We are suburban folk. A week ago she'd known nothing of waiting for signals to cross the street... She casually pointed out the buildings where her classes were, using the shortened nicknames of a seasoned student for most of them.

This was not the crying child I'd left behind five short days earlier.

This was a confident, happy, excited young lady.

I barely recognize her, but I think I'm gonna like her a lot.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hair Bands

Concert season is upon us.

I love concert season.

I love sitting outside listening to music. I love sitting inside listening to music, too - but just like everything tastes better at a picnic, everything sounds better outside. That statement is probably wildly acoustically inaccurate and my musician friends will be down my throat about it, but I think you know what I mean. It's a whole - thing.

Yep, I love concert season. But I hate the price-gouging and the monopoly the evil Ticketmaster empire holds. When our family of four decides to get tickets for a show, we know we'll essentially be paying for a fifth ticket in service charges. I don't begrudge them their right to make a buck - they do provide a service - but it has gotten really out of hand. You're going to charge me for the convenience of printing my tickets out on my own computer? Really?

And then the prices of the shows themselves.

Yesterday a friend complained that she'd wanted to take her son to see Eric Clapton and Roger Daltrey (OMG, I KNOW! Right???) but that the ticket price (pre- service charges and convenience fees) was $200. I thought my love for Roger Daltrey knew no bounds. Turns out I was wrong. I don't know where the boundary is, exactly, but it is well before the $200 mark - $800 for my family - before service charges! For that kind of change, I want Roger Daltrey to brush my hair while Eric Clapton gives me a pedicure. (Looks dreamily off into the distance... Roger Daltrey (looking exactly like he looked in Tommy when he went through the mirror) is brushing my hair with his shirt off and...)
Whooo! Back to reality!

A reality where I don't have $200 to plunk down for a show.

That same night - last night - the Scorpions were slated to appear in my town on their farewell tour. I didn't have tickets to that, either, because my daughter had an orchestra concert last night - and also because we can only budget so much money for concerts in 'the season' and that one didn't make the cut. Lead singer from the Scorps was put on bedrest - their appearance was canceled. Cinderella - who were scheduled to be the warm-up band - decided to do the show anyway. They were here - why not? They knew, however, that the ticketholders hadn't plunked down their money to see them, so THEY DID THE SHOW FOR FREE. How patently awesome is that?

I know - comparing Clapton/Daltrey to Cinderella is like comparing apples to tigers - also, it might border on the blasphemous. But come on! They did. The show. For free. They did the show so that disappointed fans would be less disappointed. I was so impressed with them - with that. If we hadn't had another gig to attend, we would've been there for sure - buying T-shirts and showing our support.

(Looks dreamily off into the distance... Tom Keifer (looking exactly the way he looked on the cover of Night Songs) is teasing my hair...)