You can probably tell by my hair, but I’ve been in a band since I was 12. At the age of 12 you’re not necessarily in the game to make a hit with the ladies, excepting your Mom and Grandma, but it’s good to have a head-start for when you reach puberty. I wanted to play the drums, because I have four sisters and you’re not allowed to hit a girl, and it helps to hit something that can’t hit you back. My Dad, for reasons still unclear to me, insisted I play the trombone in the school band instead. I tried to make him understand that the trombone is simply a musical prop invented to steal the toupees off of cartoon characters. So I continued to moonlight on the drums, and by the time I was 16 girls could barely tolerate me, which was definitely an improvement.
Remember the good old days of rock and roll? If you do then you certainly weren’t there. It was a breeding ground for excess, and back then you could never have too much excess. If we played at the bar until 3:00AM it was an early night, and after we were done I could expect a hangover to replace the hang-under I had before we started. We were loud, we were raw and we were undisciplined. And that was before we even started to play.
Did I ever tell you about the drummer for the Billy Squier band? He lived in the area and used to come around to the local bar and sit in with my band. He wasn’t much use standing up, but behind the drums he was a monster. He had a lot of hair and a lot of cocktails, and that’s not a good combination if you also smoke. And the reason for that became apparent after one performance when he tried to balance his drink in one hand and his cigarette in the other hand, and had no more hands left for when he lit his hair on fire. It was up to me, who had limited training in firefighting, to extinguish my distinguished guest using my beer. I tried to do it as efficiently as possible, because I was looking forward to the rest of that beer, but I had to go all in when a smoldering brush fire popped up behind his ear. He didn’t seem to take much notice of the whole affair except insofar as his cigarette was now too wet to light except from the wrong end.
But that was 40 some-odd years ago, and looking back it seems that most were odd. All this time I’ve been going to band practice with three other guys, and it’s been like a fraternity party only with less rules. I was playing with a jazz group for months, and when I asked when we were going to perform in public they told me that they weren’t really interested in that, they just wanted to drink single malt Scotch and escape from their wives for a little while, don’t you? “Why would I want to escape from your wives?” I asked. Another time me and one of my old rock band-mates were haunting one of our old haunts and he said, “Do I have to remind you what I did in that corner over there?” “Refresh my memory,” I said. He did, and it was not as refreshing as I thought it would be.
But things are a little different now that I’ve started a band with two girls. In old days you’d be thinking, “TWO women, and YOU? They’re probably going to kill each other after they kill you first.” But this is a new day. There is less talk about imaginary feminine conquests and more talk about restorative yoga.
They’re younger than I am, so I thought I could be the model of bad behavior, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I’m the old dog that’s learning the new tricks. I’m learning how to burp in time with the music. I’ve learned a few words that only women know because only women need to know them. And they’re teaching me not to be anti-social about social media. The girls handle all their business electronically, set lists, lyrics, everything. Colleen was playing a tambourine with one hand and a drum with the other, and she was trying to turn the page on her iPad with her nose. We positively identified that it was her because she left her nose-print. She’s happy to blame any mistakes that I might make on me, and any mistakes she makes on “Mercury retrograde,” whatever that may be. I’m used to having EVERYTHING blamed on me, so I see see that glass as half full.
All of a sudden I’M the mother hen, and the world is finally upside down. Lauren was thinking about getting a tattoo, and I’ve been trying to talk her out of it. My opinion is that there is nothing a fat dude with a beard can draw on a woman that’s going to be much of an improvement over the woman herself. “Think to yourself what it will look like when you’re 90, and if you still insist on it after that mental picture, at least make it something that will look good with wrinkles, like a Shar-Pei.” The girls love each other, and now I have my hands full trying to keep them from trying the same tricks my sisters used on me.
Plus I’m finding out a lot of things I didn’t know before. I’m learning that nothing goes with rock and roll like an avocado salad. I’m learning that my hair looks best on Instagram when back-lit. I’m learning that good skin doesn’t happen by accident. And it’s all good. Perhaps Kiss sang it best when they sang, “I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day.” And to those of us old enough to have been in high school when that song was released, let me just say that at this point, I wanna rock and roll ‘til sometime after dusk, and party every other day. After that I could use a nap.
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